On Saturday, it was the 2010 edition of the Eastern Townships' Bike Challenge. The parents and I met near exit 78 (i.e. Bromont) and proceeded in convoy to the Bromont Ski center where the event started. Unexpectedly for the parents (but not surprisingly to me), the event was sold out of registrations with lunch, so the parents (who hadn't booked ahead of time) would have to fend for themselves. (I had signed up in March or April, along with the two other summer challenges and the Tour de l'Île.) On the other hand, I forgot my bike computer. (Consequently, all distances are based on what was marked on the map.)
The day was near perfect cycling weather, sunny but cool with only a light wind. I made fairly good time in the morning, but owing to a few minor events, left the start after the parents. I passed them in reasonable order, calling out to my father as I took his photo, the immortal family inquiry: "C'est encore loin, Grand Schtroumpf?"
My father was quite impressed with the ease I could take photos on the fly. Little does he suspect the amount of practice I have had doing it!
Like the other challenges, Saturday's event had a number of optional sections that increased or reduced the distances to be pedaled. I had intended to do the third optional section from the start. This added 16 km of flat terrain which promised "Bring me that horizon moments". However, as I was doing so well in morning, I was rather tempted to do another optional section that would have added 33, very scenic, kilometers. At the relevant junction, I stopped for a break and gave the option serious thought, but ultimately rejected it as those 33 km were quite hilly. As I did so, my father caught up with me but, failing see me, proceeded around the corner, then stopped for a break. I got on my bike and renewed the family whine-cry. After some chit-chat, my mother caught up with us, and immortalized us on digital camera.
I left them to their break, and pedaled off to Farnham, where lunch awaited me. I was about a third of the way into my meal when the parents showed up. My father inquired if I had anything to share with him (implying my lunch). I said: "Yes, some wisdom. Chances are, if you ask one of people working here, they will know where you can buy a lunch in town!";-)
The parents briefly debated the pros and cons of trying to finding a meal in town. My father seemed to think that they could survive on gorp and other munchies. I told him not to be so bloody silly. In the end, they found a Metro grocery store where they and "dozens" of other cyclists bought sandwiches and other sustenance. As they ate their lunches in front of the store, the store manager came out and handed out bottles of water to them! Kudos to the Metro manager. (I only heard of this after the finish.)
I was glad I had opted not to do the extra 33 hilly kms as I was short of energy after lunch. I hadn't done a long ride since June and I felt it. I was still rolling along, but there wasn't the same feeling of speed that I'd had in the morning. One highlight was the view crossing Autoroute 10 near Granby. As it was a fairly clear day, I could see Montreal loom in the distance, including St-Joseph's Oratory. According to GoogleMaps, the distance is approximately 70 km as the bird flies! Unfortunately, the zoom quality on my camera wasn't up to the task.
Shortly before, I finished, armour clad mountain bikers zoomed onto the road amongst the weary roadies. I had ambivalent feelings towards them they outpaced me on their fat tires. On the one hand, they were putting us to shame. On the other, they hadn't ridden 117 km! Also, chances were they were downhill cyclists who'd gone up on the chairlift!
I finished a very pleasing and solid hour before the parents. I was slightly worried about their non-presence at the end. It turns, they had also done the extra 16 km. I used my mobile phone to let them know I was on the verge of leaving. My father stopped to take the call, and thus was slightly behind my mother.
But they both got there...
On the biking today
...which is more than I can say of others. At the Library where I work, all too regularly, I too easily amaze my co-workers with tales of my physical activities. I don't set out to amaze them, they simply are amazed. In particular, there are a couple of adorable Jewish matrons, now in their mid-sixties, (i.e. only a few years younger than my mother). Quite a few years ago, I was telling them about the ninety odd kms I had skied in the Canadian Ski Marathon the weekend before. They were falling over themselves with telling me how I was in such good shape. I didn't feel I had done as well as I might have. Indeed, I was getting slightly embarrassed by their compliments. Eventually, I simply said: "My mother did the same distance as I did!"
Why do I mention this? Well, when I got to work this morning, one of my co-workers told me that the husband of one of the aforementioned ladies had suddenly died on Sunday. Massive heart attack, it seems. The funeral was this afternoon. I asked a couple of my co-workers for a lift to it, before one of them made a comment that it wasn't that far away. So I rode over on my bike. After locking it to a fence, I stashed helmet and other biking gear in my backpack and put on my black working jacket.
Between my backpack, my goy-ness and the fact I had never attended any formal Jewish religious observance before, I was somewhat at a loss as what I should do, and so opted to sit in one of the back rows. Fortunately, Jewish funerals are nowhere near as complex as Catholic ones, so there was nothing for me to mess up. ;-) It consisted of the cantor (at least, I think he was the cantor) beautifully singing the 121st psalm in Hebrew, a few eulogies and then a prayer in Hebrew, none of which I was expected to participate in! ;-)
I am not sure if I ever met the man, but I know and love my co-worker. From the eulogies, it seems he was a great guy. All I can say is that my co-worker is a very determined person, and if he wasn't worth it, she wouldn't have had him!
I hope that I am not being flippant about this sad event. I guess my point is to say how glad I am that my parents are only an hour behind me after 116 kms or so, and making jokes as they get off their bikes. I can only hope I will get to keep biking and bickering with them for many years to come.