Sunday, 27 May 2012

On the day's activities

I got up at sparrow's fart this morning, a.k.a. 5:55 AM. Far too early for my tastes, but today was the Défi Métropolitain, and therefore worth it. I had arranged to meet my parents at the Chez Cora in Beloeil at 7 AM (the time it opened on a Sunday) (I had rented a car for the day). Despite my parents best efforts, they made it, a little before opening.
After breakfast and getting slightly lost in the wilds of Beloeil, we set off at around 8 AM. The parents on the 97 km (advertised) version and myself on a longer edition. How much longer was a decision I had decided to leave until a point North of Rougemont where I would assess my condition and the weather and opt for the 147 km (advertised, see below) version or skip 22 km of the route. (Owning to the significant popularity of the Défi, the 97 km are sent clockwise around the general route, whereas the other distances go counter-clockwise.)

The day provided near optimal conditions with cool but most sunny skies and no significant wind. To begin with, I rolled up the Richelieu river to near Chambly. The route veered inland for a bit before crossing the Richelieu at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. As I entered that town, I stopped to help a fellow cyclist change an inner tube. My main contribution was to provide him with the services of my Topeak Road Morph pump with pressure gauge. He had a CO2 thingy on hand, but he was most impressed with the Road Morph. St-Jean-sur-Richelieu seems to have an excessive number of railroad tracks to cross given its size.

The section of the route for those doing the 147 km or 125 km versions of the Défi had relatively few cyclists. Those that thought themselves tough enough for it were mostly faster than me on Leonardo. I mentally "grumbled" that the problem with doing the full distance was that there was no one for me to pass! ;-) I rather regretted this thought shortly afterwards when the less ambitious people returned to "my route". The road was positively and dangerously clogged with people riding side-by-side and the like. One particularly annoying group was a bunch of spandex types on fancy bikes rolling as a "peloton" at little more than 25 km/h. I passed them with ease. Some of these pelotons are composed of real idiots. I have seen them too often in dangerous immobile bunch partially blocking corners at intersections as they decide which way to go.
As I left the lunch area, I caught sight of this older couple in matching stripey t-shirts.

Relatively shortly after lunch, I came to the junction where I would have to decide how far I would go. Still undecided, I stopped at a convenient and safe entry to take a break and assess my situation. There was another middle-aged gent there doing pretty much the same thing. We chatted for a few minutes about our respective assessments of the conditions. Dare I say it, but I think he made the right decision for to opt out of 22 kms of road, based on his significant paunch and the way he spoke of the day. I also made the right decision to commit to the "full" version of the tour.

The first hills of my day rose at Rougemont along with a number of orchards and vineyards. Leaving the town of Rougemont by a up and down road that included some rough sections of road, I came to the Ciderie Michel Jodoin that in the spirit of generosity and self-interest had made its washrooms available to passing cyclists. I repaid them by buying a bottle of cider and by giving them props in this blog entry. ;-)

I stopped in the town of St-Damase to buy a bottle of Gatorade. As I poured the contents into one of my water bottle, a local (at least I presume he was a local) asked me what all these cyclists were doing there? Was it for a cause? I said it wasn't for any particular cause other than the pleasure of cycling. As a short hand explanation, I said it was organised by Vélo-Québec sort of like the Tour de l'Île only longer. As the local went into the dépanneur, another Défi cyclists, (hardcore, older and spandex) said I was wrong as the Tour de l'Île was for families and kids. I explained that the local probably wasn't that aware of cycling maters and that my explanation was close enough for him. After all, I quipped, he was a "civilian". ;-) I am not sure the hardcore type agreed with me.

As I neared the end of the tour, the mood amongst the cyclists around me, became quite chatty. My take was that "we" had nearly done the "full" distance and thus could relax as we had proved ourselves. Not that we didn't have some significant challenges. One section of road near the town of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was so bad it seemed like something out of the Paris-Roubaix. Then there was a steep 100 m climb over the corner of Mont Saint-Hilaire. However, we knew that it was downhill from there. On the downhill section, I commented to one of my fellows that he was quite musical on his Opus bike and wearing Allegro gloves! He was A. amused (the important bit) and B. hadn't thought about his choices in that way.

Owing to announced construction (and therefore congestion) on the Champlain bridge, I returned to Montreal on the Victoria Bridge. This was the first time I had driven across and it was a bit unnerving. I felt that the Dodge Caliber I had rented found the steel surface to slick for its liking.

While I checking my email after dropping off the car, having a pint of milk with maple syrup and a bath, I noticed that there were spots on the back of my hands.
After briefly wondering if I was coming down with a rash, I realised that today was the first day I worn some newly acquired Planet Bike Taurus crochet leather biking gloves for long periods in bright sunshine. I hadn't applied much sunscreen to the backs of my hands, so the holes in the crocheted backs to the gloves had let in the sun!

I then moseyed to the Burgundy Lion, a pretentiously and aggressively English (as in England) pub, for some darn good but calorific grub: fish and chips followed by sticky toffee pudding washed down with a pint of beer from a local microbrewery and some cask strength Springbank. The waiter asked if I wanted some ice for the single malt and wasn't offended when I formed my hands into a cross to ward off the evil he was suggesting! ;-)

One thing that did go slightly wrong was that my bike computer was shaken loose from its mount three times and thus didn't register my complete distance. I have made plans to change its mount.

My stats are: 6 hours, 12 minutes, 21 seconds; distance: 152.24 km; average speed 24.5 km/h; max speed 47.4 km/h. The difference between the measured distance (152 km) and the advertised distance (147 km) can be explained by the fact that there were a couple of route changes from the map a little before St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

My parents opted for the 97 km version. My mother's stats (used without her permission, ;-) ) are: time: 4 hours, 48 minutes; distance: 99.91 km; average 20.7 km/hr; max: 42.9 km/hr. My father's stats are: time 4.53, distance 98 km, average 20 km/hr, max 43.2.

In other news, when I was reading the news on-line this evening, I was interested to see that a Canadian has won the Giro d'Italia for the first time. I don't follow pro-biking for a number of reasons. However, I am chauvinistic enough to say "Good on you, Ryder Hesjedal!" Sue me if that makes me a hypocrite.


Susan Gwyn said...

Hugh's stats: time 4.53, distance 98 km, average 20 km/hr, max 43.2.

Why did I go farther than he did? Well, when I was 7, Donald pointed out that my front wheel goes farther than my back wheel, because I wobbled. And my sensor is on the front wheel.

It was great to see everyone out in Chambly enjoying their bike paths (we were there about 1 pm)... even if it did slow us down!


Bikemoose said...

Between acceptable margins of error, slightly divergent routes and the possibility that one or both of you may not have set your wheel diameters as accurately as possible, I would have been very surprised if you had exactly the same distance.