Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour 2009

I'm still at it with my old Fuji bike. I was hoping to dial down the uncool factor very slightly by thoroughly cleaning the bike and travelling with minimal baggage, but the weather forecast showed an unpredictable need for clothing on the road, so the rack and the blue rackpack went on as usual, to heck with style.

This whole spring has been exceptionally cool. The weather on Saturday was the usual brisk headwind, but under sunny sky with the perfect temperature for cycling in shorts and t-shirt, a little on the cool side so you don't sweat too much. For Sunday the forecast looked dire. What actually happened was a modest crosswind and light drizzly rain on the southern half of the ride, and no wind at all and overcast sky on the northern half. Quite cool, starting at 12°C in Kingston and not warming up past 18°C at any time during the day.

I'm not very fast. Even 2,285 kilometres of preparatory cycling, including one 160km ride and eight rides to Champlain Lookout, can't fix that. You can't just be a couch potato all winter and then dabble in cycling if you want to run with the athletes. The numbers reflect this. On the return trip I was riding with a nice trio of guys of whom the younger two were 53 and 58 years old, and they set a nice pace for me, in the flats and in the hills. Then two of them went off to do the "Challenge" extension (48km of extra hills)...

Others are fast though. At one point, stopped for a granola bar, a pack blew by, three abreast, in rigid formation (it always looks great when there is no wavering in the formation, everyone holding their relative position perfectly) and they must have been going at least 45km/h (flat road, good pavement, calm air).

The less organized packs are very tempting to join. The guy I was riding with and I did so when one oozed past us 15km out of Perth on Sunday, and we had a lovely fast ride with them to the rest stop. Later, just out of Ashton, I was feeling pretty tired and struggling to keep my speed up when WHOOSH... a huge pile of cyclists went past. This time I accelerated to match, and these guys were FLYING. We went about 15km to Eagleson Road at 40km/h. This was an amazing bunch... even though the core pack had vacuumed up all kinds of singles and small groups, it was still very disciplined, felt safe at the high speed, and went into single file when commanded. 25+ people falling into single file to let cars pass, I don't think I've ever seen that. That was so nice to ride with, though I avoided being rotated to the front, since I would have lasted about two minutes at that speed and didn't want to embarrass myself.

And so another year's tour is done and another certificate hangs on the wall, and I'm still a long-distance cyclist, even if I'm unfashionable and slow.

Ottawa -> Kingston

Distance: 178.2km

Riding: About 60% group, 40% solo
26.4km/h average speed while moving
20.0km/h average speed end-to-end
8:55 end-to-end
6:45 time spent moving
2:10 time spent stopped
79.2km/h maximum descent speed in Westport

Kingston -> Ottawa

Distance: 177.4km

Riding: About 90% group, 10% solo
28.0km/h average speed while moving
22.9km/h average speed end-to-end
7:45 end-to-end
6:20 time spent moving
1:25 time spent stopped
Oh yeah... I'm slow except when bombing down hills. Note the 79.2km/h. That's my record down the Westport escarpment, and my second-fastest speed ever. I totally went for broke, accelerated into the descent and then tucked in as tightly as I could. About 20m from the bottom, the bike started feeling a little unstable but I was almost down so I didn't touch the brakes. You only live once.

Pictures from this year

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