Sunday, March 13, 2011

Its in the air...

Sorry, I tried to get an action shot, but I couldn't convince Steve or  Todd to remove their gloves to snag an iPhone photo...this will have to do.
Confirmed, spring is in the air. Sure, when I say 'in the air,' I mean I can catch a fleeting whiff, little more, but lets not get caught up in that; its in the air. Do you know how I know? Riding. Outside. Twice. In a row.

Yep, its true, two consecutive days or riding out-of-doors. Not on the trainer, not on rollers, not on snow, not in a bar; on the road. Indeed.

Saturday was relatively balmy, striking a high of +4, and with a few interludes of sun breaking up the overcast palour, twas a beautiful day. Jamie and I struck out at two hour window to occupy, so we proceeded to hammer toward Wakefield. Despite a bit of headwind, we managed to make food time to the turnaround point 10k from the village, and our return was quick enough to afford us time to roll up Kingsmere road for a bit of steady climbing. The roads, while wet and apparently more pothole riddled than usual, were free of ice or other hazards, so all was good on that end. Despite over 1000k worth of time spent on the trainer since January 1st, I found myself pedaling squares more than anything else. I think the rollers are a bit better when it comes to maintaining technique. Ah well, its March. So a good ride on the books, about 70k all in.

Sunday proved drier but a bit colder than Saturday, +3, featuring a pretty stiff headwind from the North. Today Pascal, Steve and Todd were out, featuring a motley assortment of steeds. Steve sported his robust vintage Miyata touring bike, Pascal his trusty fixed gear Bianchi, and Todd was on his freshly fendered Steelwool Truffle Pig, courtesy of Brad's handiwork. Todd will post some photos of the ENVE cross fork mounting after a bit more tweaking; its a pretty ingenious set-up. No surprises on my part bike-wise; I rode my Steelwool Secteur 18, which is presently 'dolled up' with mismatch downtube shifters, impotent STIs, XTR rear derailleur, 105 Octalink cranks, a dinged up Open Pro on the back, and a weird Specialized handlebar that's wider than I like, but features elastomer suspension/vibration damping! And a high end carbon seat post. Yep, its a hodge podge for certain, but the Truffle Pig gets all my good bits, and will come out to play when its drier out. Or if/when I put fenders on it. Whatever, training/rain/spring bikes don't need to be fancy, they just have to fit well and roll. And have nice tires. And make you ant to ride. Check.

I digress. Our (s)quad carried a mellow pace north, and we found traffic pretty light and respectful. Nice. About 25k from town a rider approached. I could distinguish what appeared to be an OBC jacket, mitts, and a toque. Aha, John Large, out to Wakefield and back I figured. Great to see him out, smile on his face.

As usual, the low lying section of River Road along the water about 3k from town sported a few spots of ice, just like those packed onto numerous streets in Ottawa. Not a problem, these were easy to avoid. With a small group, we had no trouble avoiding all the holes on the road. This will be tougher in bigger groups, so if you are out, be wary. Also, as always, bigger tires make a big difference when hitting the odd hole. I like 28s and up this time of year...well, all the time really. 32c or 35c Panaracer Paselas make an awfully nice spring tire; changing flats in the cold rain sucks.

After the obligatory stop at Pipolinka, where I had an outstanding vegan apple curry soup, we enjoyed the tailwind all the way home; what a joy that is. Just outside town we crossed paths with Thom, Brad, and Martin, who seemed to have missed our meeting time by 2 hours. After a brief chat they were on their way to Pipolinka for coffee and snacks (yes, there is definitely a trend here). We missed our opportunity to get a great group shot...doh.

The distance was just right for Pascal's first outing of the spring, as the fixed gear was far from forgiving. He'll be out on his sweet Steelwool Rover next weekend, I'm certain. Steve too, I bet! We agreed its probably wise to keep the fixed gear to the flatter routes early in the year to avoid injury. Once the legs tune up, its great to get hit some hills and work on some strength. But pushing hard early is risky.

So 80k today, 70 Saturday, that's a nice even 150k for the weekend, about as good as one can hope for this March. The roads are bumpy but otherwise good, and temperatures above zero allow for at least a few hours on the saddle in relative comfort. Looks like a couple gorgeous days to come later this week, so I hope some of you have opportunity to get out and enjoy a spin. I think there will be more than a whiff in the air at +10!


Dominic said...

Nice...I was out in the Merrickville area on Saturday - there is 50% coverage on grass and the roads are bone dry.

I am taking Thursday off to go riding out there...

Matt Surch said...

Cool Dom. How is the traffic over there? Likely good terrain for fixed gears, eh? Do you have any routes you'd like to share?

Dominic said...

I have 2 that I really like...from Ottawa via Dwyer Hill ( it is dead on weekends) through Burritt's to Merrickville - about 140 return.

The other is a 70km gravel/road ride from my cottage near Merrickville....not that long but scenic and VERY quiet. If we had a few willing participants i would be willing to host a little "sportif" on this route in the next couple of weeks.

I have them both GPSed but the laptop they are on needs some recovery work.

It's amazing how much less snow there is 45 minutes south of Ottawa - they must have only gotten rain when we got snow last week.

rusty said...

Just bought a set of Paselas at Phat Moose today based on your recommendation. Will test them out on a ride to Wakefield this Thursday. High of 10 and sunny is the forecast!

Matt Surch said...

Sweet, pothole ready! Maybe I'll see you on the road on Thursday, I'll be doing a big loop...or at least that's the plan.