Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Double Cross III Redux

The Rock, Meech Lake. We used to ride down its deadly.
Most Ottawa valley residents have likely noticed a fair bit of anomalous weather of the last couple decades. When I was a kid, the seasons seemed to turn over fairly consistently, including winter, which I tracked carefully due to my hockey obsession. Spring tended to really be in full swing around Easter, and summer was summery. Fall was nice for a bit, then gray. Then we got hit with the ice storm, a few winters with little snow, a winter with MASSIVE snow, the warmest March ever, a summer/fall with the most rainfall ever, and just this past weekend, the warmest, most beautiful Thanksgiving weekend ever. At least, that I've heard of. So sometimes climate change sucks for us in the valley, and other times it rules. This Thanksgiving weekend it ruled.

After a great CX race in Renfrew on Sunday, a bit of swapping was required to get bikes Double Cross ready. With the forecast calling for nothing but sun and temps in the high 20s, water bottle cages had to be mounted. With many leaves down, and plenty of rocks on the route ahead, carbon tubulars and the like were puled off, and aluminum rims shod with higher volume tires thrown on. Unless you are a honch like John Large, in which case 28c slicks would do. Pack the saddlebag with treats, and off to Gamelin to assemble.

The before-math.
Sunday saw an outstanding turnout for the ride. Despite many potential riders having other holiday commitments, 50-60 folks showed up at the gate, ready to donate to Bicycles for Humanity and take in a terrific ride. After pulling in an incredible $465 in donations for B4H and distributing cues to all the riders, we were off shortly after 9. 
Rolling out on the Gatineau Parkway before it became a parking lot. Maybe tour buses instead of cars would make sense?
We set a mellow pace down the Gatineau Parkway to start, and kept that up until Scott Road, when Pascal, functioning as ride marshal, let us know that the riding was getting dicey in the back, so we ought to pick it up and string it out. So we did, and I think that helped smooth things out. The front group continued a quick pace once we hit the trail, and continued on, making good progress, while groups naturally formed behind. Before we knew it, we were all reconvening at Pipolinka, and enjoying coffee, soup, sandwiches, empanadas, and baked treats. Phil and his crew were ready for us, and I think everyone enjoyed their fare. 

Steve was in the house, glad he made it. Jamie on the left.


Steelwools were in ample supply. Truffle Pigs flank Steve's Rover.

Aarg, the cougar was all over Buffalo Rider's back...

Ahhh, the valley....
Once all the other groups had rolled out, our green machine hit the road. Once on trail again, we were all treated to fresh sand (!) dumped on the steepest pitches. With much effort, the first few were rideable, but the last was impossible. None of us could conceive of a reason why the NCC's contractors would think it wise to dump masses of sand on steep pitches of trail. It is dangerous going down - imagine trying to steer around a family with a dog in sand - and it is generally almost impossible to ride up. Plus, it will not be a stable surface to weather rain. I hope more work will be done to these sections to make them both rideable and safe. Building them up into ridges, like on Penguin, would not be wise, so I hope that is not done. Trails like that are deadly.
Alex and Iain, soaking up the sun.
Wrapping things up, many folks caught up with each other at the gate and either rolled home or headed out for a drink on a patio. We can only hope for weather half as good for next year's ride. We'll very likely maintain the same route, as it seemed to balance all the elements we want (distance, smoothish trail surface, limited foot traffic, scenery, interesting trail features) the ride. We do have longer CX bike routes that might appeal to the more adventurous out there, so if you think you'd be interested in tackling an epic route next summer (also self supported, yada yada), let us know.
Thanks go out to Greg Cosgrove for another great poster, and of course, to all the riders (not least Greg from Kingston!) for coming out to make the ride so much fun. An extra big thank you to everyone for your generous donations to Bicycles for Humanity. The $465 will be very much appreciated by the fine folks there; shipping bikes to Africa is expensive!

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