|Jim's all-road ripper, shod with 35mm Contis.|
With the first spring classic, the Steaming Nostril, within striking distance, Iain and Jim were not about to embrace the warm confines of their basements on Sunday morning, despite the emails flying about the drama unfolding between Milan and San Remo. No, cold be damned, they'd ride, as would I. Because its March.
-17 degrees celcius at 09:00 was the forecast. We didn't have to wait until morning to agree that was not going to be productive. Have breakfast, embrocate, drive to Wakefield, and roll from Pipolinka at 11:30. It'd only be -9 or so.
-9 or so is ok with a bit of wind cover. Part of the rationale for riding from Wakefield, rather than from home to Wakefield, was the cover provided by the ridgeline along Mountain Road, then the hills and tree cover further north and along Lac Bernard. Did I mention hills? Yeah, they are important to ride in March.
Once again, I was proven an optimist, as the wind prevailed far more than 'planned.' Overdressed as we were, I was the only one without cold feet. That might have had something to do with my front wheel calamity.
Iain and I were testing our VTTs on these roads for the first time. Expecting a decent dose of ice, this seemed prudent. Tubeless tires are generally pretty straightforward, but the odd time you can get thrown a curve-ball. I reduced pressure at the covered bridge, then noted a 'very flexy fork' on a fast descent. Sure enough, my cognitive bias (Brad had remarked on his impressions of the same fork a week prior) had me fooled: my tire was running low. I must have broken my valve's seal. I added air, but 10 minutes later, it was soft again, so I decided to install a tube. Thankfully, I was the only one to leave my tools at home. Jim produced his 32mm tube.
Valve off, tube in. Waitasecond. Valve lock-nut not un-locknutting. Not even Jim's Bowflex-Power could break the aluminum-brass welded interface. Goddammit. Iain and I brainstormed, thinking out loud, spitballing, just letting it flow, while Jim attended to some inconsequential issue with his bike. Eureka: shear it off. Cool, with what? My spokes are aluminum. They are like, $5 each or something ridiculous like that. Ok, so kicking it's a bad idea. Aha, jam it into a pedal and snap it off. Bingo, success. Perfect shear. Its off, tube's in, and I'm getting my third upper body work-out of the day: PB!
Weeee, a descent to set the chill right deep! C'mon, lets climb! Iain pumps the pedals to 'warm up,' which is code for 'drop us, and tune up for the Sreaming Nostril.' I get that, its cool. No really, its cool. I rode a bike at 129kph on rollers on Saturday night, I don't have anything to prove today (no, I'm not kidding. Separate post to come). That's code for 'I am a lightweight, drank two beers last night, rode a bike for 01:30, and feel weak.' Jim and I talk about Dave.
Iain's hammering, while Jim and I skinned ourselves, was ok. After all, it was windy, cold, and scenic. More importantly, it was necessary. The reality is that the conditions were just part of the story. Iain needed more than an endurance pace, and we chased, until we didn't. And in all truth, there was many an occasion that we remarked how good the conditions were. It was just hard. As in, 70km hilly mountain bike ride hard. Why not just ride the trainer? Jim's summed it up:
Today we do what others won't; tomorrow we do what others can't.
Its really that simple. If racing is on the menu for spring, you have to put in some really hard days before you can get to the good ones. It simply has to happen. We all need a good dose of HTFU once in a while, especially in March.
|Obligatory covered bridge shot at the Gatineau River. My Niner VTT's maiden voyage.|
|Hot water in bottle; fingers crossed....|
|Iain leads our trio over a short stretch of snowmobile trail from the Low Gazebo.|
|A different perspective of the Paughan Dam. 'Finally' we crossed and completed the RotD loop.|
|Bikes and the lake at the Dam. Same bars, rather different tires.|
|VTTs and wind-swept farm field, about to head into the tree cover....finally.|
|Iain and Jim, about to head into the trees.|