Sunday, 25 May 2014

On events of this year's Défi Métropolitain

For various reasons, I have not been on Leonardo much this year, and to be honest, I am a bit out of shape.  As the Tour de l'Île this year allows me to tour completely the Island of Montreal, (a 130 km circuit), I thought I should push myself today and do the 148 km version of the Défi, particularly as conditions in the Lanaudière region (where the event took place) were near ideal. At least in the morning.
Unfortunately, the cutoff for the 128 km route was very near the start when the conditions were idyllic (sunny, not too hot and no wind).  So I went on the 148. By about noon, I was still 20 odd klicks from the lunch location and there was an irritating looking zigzag in the route which could be easily skipped.  So I did, saving me about 8 kms.  I rode into the lunch stop just as my parents were leaving.  We exchanged a few details of our mornings which included a haphazard statement about my father having lost the route on account of someone falling off his bike in front of him.  I was unimpressed at my father's navigational ability.

At some point, I passed a sign which rather caught my eye.
 Apparently, Chartier family is large enough to have 2 companies. Also, the fact that Benoit Chartier has brought his daughters into the business is interesting. ;-)

After lunch, the wind picked up but I wasn't terribly concerned as the route back to the start was such that I would benefit from the prevailing wind direction on the final 30 kms or so.  Or so I thought.  Instead, the wind was coming from an atypical direction from off my starboard bow or so making the last 30 kms a serious frustration, only partly relieved by the sight of at least 8 parachutists coming down around Saint-Esprit.

Quite perplexingly, I got a few drops of rain from mostly clear blue skies.

I arrived at the finish a little before 5 PM, which was not that long before the sweeps arrived blowing their whistles.  I did get a massage from the people advertising a drug store chain.  The parents, who had arrived an hour and a half before me, having done about 100 kms, offered to pick me up at the start, thus speeding their departure.
My stats for the day were a riding time (excluding stops) of 6 hours, 33 minutes and 37 seconds; a total distance of 143.34 kms; average speed of 21.8 km/h and maximum speed 45.4.  My bike computer records a theoretical and rather fictitious calorie expenditure of 2116.9.

As we drove back to Montreal, my father elaborated about how the fallen cyclist had been unconscious and was believed to have suffered a heart attack, leading to the fall.  He wished he had known CPR.  According to one of the biking volunteers my father later encountered, he was hauled off to a hospital in Joliette.

After supper at Chalet Bar-B-Q, the parents dropped me off at my flat, just as a thunderstorm broke.  I indulged myself in one of my regular habits, namely a nice hot bath and a hair wash.  I then began to do some web surfing to catch up on comics, social events and news.  The latter proved surprisingly relevant.  On the CBC News website for Montreal there was an item about how a failed Montreal mayoral candidate had died.  Clicking on it, I was amazed and a little shocked to see that the details corresponded with the fallen cyclist my father had seen.  The only "divergent" detail was that the event was described as a "bike race" rather than a tour.  The Défis are not races.  They exist to spread the joy of riding.  However, I can easily see this as a journalistic mistake.

More shocking to me was the fact that the politician was "only" 71 years old, between the ages of my parents.  He had been aiming to complete the same 100 km version of the Défi that my parents did.  A little alarming.

Monday, 19 May 2014

On my probable route from Clearwater to Kelowna and other topics

I had a conversation with Margo earlier today in which she expressed curiosity about my route from Clearwater to Kelowna.  For the record, the current plan is Clearwater, Kamloops, Merritt, Princeton, Penticton and Kelowna.

There was more, but a browser crash killed it. Enough for now.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

On the state of my plans regarding Via Rail

Booked to Clearwater! Yeah! Much relief.  Also, it turns out that going business class from Montreal to Toronto is only about $20 more, which is easily worth it, based on past experience.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

On preparations, updates

I have had my summer vacation dates approved at work so I can start the business of making bookings and the like.  As luck would have it, there are seat sales on right now with WestJet and Porter so I have already booked flights to Winnipeg and from Sault Ste-Marie with those airlines respectively.

Via Rail is "annoyingly" having a 50% off sale right now which doesn't cover September which is when I will be travelling on it. There is still plenty of time to wait.

In order to gain an authoritative idea as to the logistics of getting off the Canadian in Clearwater, I made an electronic inquiry with Via Rail.  I received a clear, positive answer which included plenty of useful information.  I will keep a copy the email with me.

Monday, 5 May 2014

On preparations for the biking season

Leonardo's rear wheel

In order to avoid the spring rush, I took Leonardo into my usual bike shop for a tune-up in March. Of particular concern was the rear wheel which was a bit loose on its axle. Consequently, I pointed it out to the person who accepted the Leonardo. (I must getting old as he really seemed like a kid!) He didn't think it was that significant, but duly noted the "gripe" in the work order. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from the bike shop to the effect that the rear hub was in need of repair and that the rim of the rear wheel was very worn from the brakes and therefore I needed a whole new wheel. There was a somewhat apologetic air to the voice at the other end of the phone which I tried to sooth by pointing out that I had expressed concern about the wheel at the outset and that the wheel had seen me through at least 12,000 kilometres on roads of very varying qualities on three continents, in 5 foreign countries (the United States, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Australia) and in all 10 Canadian provinces (if only briefly in Ontario)!  In other words, I thought I had got my money's worth out of the wheel and would be quite happy to pay for another one.

A new rain jacket

The saying goes: "April showers bring May flowers."  Well, April ended with some serious downpours which carried on into May. One in particular caught me in my soft-shell jacket at work. Riding home, I noticed that the waterproofing had weakened and when I got inside my flat, I stripped off and made a mental note to renew it's waterproofing.

I also decided to wear my proper biking Activa rain jacket for the remainder of the week! However, as I put it on the next morning, I noticed that the inner waterproof lining had a large U-shaped rip in it that boded ill for its ability to actually repel water, its primary function.  I had recently had resewn a bit of the collar and despite infrequent washings, it had grown very grubby, something that was much more obvious when the hood was attached.  I bought on the same trip to Vancouver (and indeed at the same shop) where I had bought Leonardo which made it about seven and a half years old.

I consulted with Margo who noted that she and Chris had disposed of their Activa jackets of roughly similar vintage last year on the grounds of age.  She suggested that I look at the jackets offered by MEC, namely the MEC Derecho and the Showers Pass Transit or Elite jackets.  As this advice suited me, I went to MEC to shop after work on Friday. I picked out the MEC Derecho in red and the Showers Pass Transit in "Yelling Yellow" (a lemony yellow).  After much hemming and hawing, I decided on the Derecho and went home, then put it on to go to a friend's apartment.  I stopped along the way and realised I had made a serious mistake as the Derecho doesn't have pockets suitable for stuffing your biking gloves into when you stop briefly for something.

A fatal flaw for me.

Anyway, I went back to MEC the next morning and returned it and bought the Showers Pass Transit jacket.  The Shower's Pass Elite jacket wasn't a contender for a number of reasons.  A. it was much more expensive than the other two, B. it didn't have enough pockets, and C. it wasn't available in Montreal!  I had examained the women's version of the Elite enough to determine its unsuitability in the pocket department.

Taking a bike on Via Rail to Clearwater, B.C.

Being a anxious if anticipatory traveller, I have spent probably too much time researching travelling with a bike on Via Rail. While Via Rail's website has lots of information, given the size of its network and relatively small size of Clearwater, B.C., I have been unable to deduce from the website if it is possible to take a bicycle on the train to Clearwater.  Three separate inquiries with user-friendly liveware have produced three different answers, namely "Yes", "I am not certain" and "probably not".  As these responses pretty much run the gamut, I have resolved to get a proper answer in writing from Via Rail. A pity that the information isn't clearer.

A cartoon

Spring is pothole season in Montreal. This cartoon rather exagerates the severity of them, if not the indifference of City Hall: