Tuesday, 5 June 2018

On the 2018 Tour de l'Île

I volunteered again as a Bénévélo Méchano this year. For various reasons, my friend J.-P. didn't do so. The weather was about ideal. Coolish, but warm enough for T-shirt and shorts and very sunny. The wind was out of the East (mostly) which was about ideal. 

I took the Metro to Sherbrooke Station and headed to the Sun Youth Building to pick up my stuff from Vélo-Québec: a red t-shirt, inner tubes, various bits of paper and lunch. The Sun Youth Building was formerly the Baron Byng High School which is most famous for having been the Alma Mater of Mordecai Richler. After 30 minutes of waiting, my team set off for Parc Avenue to await the start of the Tour. 
While I waited, I stood around occaissionaly waiving my pump, hoping to attract customers. A couple of them came. I was dealing with one man with a bike featuring inner tubes with Schrader valves (i.e. the common ones). There seemed to be oil in the valve for some reason. As I was filling out the tires, the valve stems inflated, which was odd. As I was finishing with the second tire, the valve exploded, to my consternation and that of the rest of the team. The decision was made to replace both the inner tubes.

Not long after the start of the Tour, I was flagged down to help a someone with a flat tire. He was apologetic about the bother. However I assured him that A. it was my job for the day and B. owners of Devinci Toscas had to stick together!  Like me, he was riding a Devinci Tosca! Quite possible the same model year! The problem turned out to be the failure of the rubber at the base of the valve stem. 

A few kilometers later, I heard a bang and a hiss from the bikes in front of me. I saw someone veer towards the sidewalk followed by some friends and then myself. He was pleasantly surprised by my appearance, making favourable comments about the high level of service! His Schrader valve stem had blown apart much like the one at the start. I replaced his inner tube with a Presta valved one. It was a bit weird as all the flats I encountered that day involved stem failures.
Nearing the back river, some firemen had extended a ladder over the road as well as a sprinkler. While on Gouin Boulevard, a first aid Bénévélo flagged me down to ask me to raise the seat on his young daughter's bike. He was a bit apologetic until I explained that people riding bikes with seats far too low was some of a pet peeve of mine! I was only too happy to raise her seat.
 
Later, the route took us through the Lafarge Quarry and cement plant. As per Lafarge's more or less standard procedure, there was carefully clean heavy machinery lining the route for the perusal of the cyclists. There were also employees wearing long-sleeved T-shirts with the Lafarge logo on them to talk to cyclists wanting to persue the machinery more closely, and to prevent the cyclists from getting too close!
Also as per standard procedure for Lafarge, the drums on the cement trucks were turned so that the brand name was very obvious. I have written about this more than once.

The one downside of the day was that there was no milk left at the end.

Mummy writes:
My stats for the Tour de l’Île:  9 km to the start, 66 for the tour, 9 km back. 

Perfect weather, cool and sunny. 

We met Joey (Michael was in Hong Kong) on the Charlevoix bridge as usual.  We were there at 7 having breakfasted, so pretty early.  I was worried about running into and having to go around all the people lining up for the regular Tour de l’Île, as we had to pick up Hugh’s bib, which for some reason had never arrived by mail.  In fact there was nobody lined up to start, they were still getting everything set up.  They had a package ready for Hugh, it all took practically no time.  So off we went. 

There were several streets where there were lots of tow trucks blaring warnings, then hauling off the many many parked cars.  There must have been every tow truck in Montreal out making money.  I wondered if they had unfairly put up the no parking signs after everyone had gone to bed, but I’m sure they really didn’t.

We stopped for a red light and the young man volunteer was very enthusiastic and insisted of taking selfies with each of us.

The Rivière des Prairies was very impressive.  A strong east wind (Daniel would say the weather gods were on our side, for once) against the considerable current.  No boats out, but one sea plane.  So many pretentious houses, a few lovely old ones, quite a few modest 1950s ones.  Lots and lots of small parks by the river.  And a big one near the end of the island.  Hugh and Joey followed the 60 km tour signs to lunch, I went over the bridge, tough against the wind, to Repentigny, then back with the wind, just for fun, and joined them at lunch.

Back along Notre Dame mostly.  Lots of bike path.  Joey was impressed with how many bike paths there were.  She has always done the closed streets version of the tour.  We took a detour into a park to watch the shipping.  Eventually we joined the closed street tour, then Hugh and Joey went straight home and I went to the finish.  Going up Berri, I was impressed at how many quite small children were able to pedal up.  And quite a few people who looked young and fit were pushing their bikes.

So many people at the finish.  I got our chocolate milk and headed back to Daniel’s before 2.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

On Metropolitan Challenge with perverse winds

The Parents and I participated in the Metropolitan Challenge today. We drove to Vaudreuil and met a friend of my Mother's at a breakfast restaurant. We were initially going to be 5 for breakfast, (my Parents, my self, the friend and a friend of hers). However, it turned out that my Mother's friend had also invited another older couple and her friend's twin sister and her significant other. As it was a little past 7 AM, the waitress barely bated an eyelash at the ever increasing number of patrons.

One of the problems with the Metropolitan Challenges and Vélo-Québec's other Summer Challenges is that owing to various geographical issues, they tend to start out going East with the prevailing winds before turning West again so you have to bike against the wind on the way back when you are tired. This year, the Metropolitan Challenge started in Vaudreuil and headed West before turning back. The weather gods were not amused and therefore ordained that Easterly winds should be the order of the day. They also ordained a mostly cloudy day with a spot of rain. Thankfully, I missed the direct rain. However, late in the day as I was going down a hill, a passing car got me with a puddle splash. This was not appreciated as I was tired, being somewhat out of shape for various reasons.

At some point in the morning, I passed a motel in Coteau-du-Lac where I had spent the last night before completing AMUAM JuNITO. A little later, I passed a house to which an extension resembling a castle had been added.
My stats for the day were 6 hours, 11 minutes and 51 seconds of biking; covering 131.3 kms at an average speed of 21.1 km/h with a maximum of 55.0 km/h.  The circuit was advertised as 127 km, but owing to a difference in the route between the issued map and the actual route, I made a wrong turn at the start. Mummy did the nominally 104 km version, (her recorded distance being 105 km) and Pappy did the 79 km version.

Part of me is tempted to get a "Whee!" bike for these events.

Monday, 21 May 2018

On the first run of the year on Leonardo

I was prepping Leonardo for its first ride of the year. The plan was to go to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue and back. However, when I dug out my rear saddle bags, I discovered that the shock cord on the right one had broken. Given that I bought them in 2006 and got tens of thousands of kilometers out of them, a little wear and tear is to be expected. I looked on the MEC`s website and discovered that replacement "MEC shock cord and J hook assemblies" are available so I decided to incorporate this errand into the trip. It was not the easiest trip I have made to MEC. I kept getting shuffled back and forth between the bike repair department and customer service. I eventually got my hands on two them. I bought two because I figure that after nearly twelve years of usage, chances are, the shock chord on the left is probably ready to give up the ghost, so why not do some preventative maintenance?
Shockcord and J Hook Assembly
While I have biked around the Western tip of the Island of Montreal several times, one constantly inconstant factor is the route on the Northern side of the Island. The problem is not a lack of bike paths. Rather it is a surplus of bike paths which lack an overall pattern or consistency to them. I got on one which, after many twists and turns, dumped me in the middle of the Bois-de-Liesse Nature Park which is very nice but wasn't really where I wanted to be. I worked out a route to Gouin Bouvelard Ouest and stayed on it until it ended in Senneville. In some ways, it was very interesting as unlike most roads in the West Island, it wasn't laid out as a suburban road. Rather, the gentle curves and the old buildings along it revealed it to be an old rural road which had once served villages, now consumed by suburbia. It later hit the shore of Lac des-Deux-Montagnes where I saw large, smooth shelled turtle sunning itself on a log.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

On a late start

Well, it has been a slow start to the year's biking partly induced by nasty weather here in Montreal. We had freezing rain a few weeks ago and call me a wimp, but I am not going to start biking on a day when freezing rain is in evidence.

Then I dropped my iPhone on the second biggest toe of my right foot causing a significant and surprising amount of damage and pain. As in |"I will probably lose the toenail and I may or may not have fractured the last bone." It was painful enough a day later that I sought a medical consult which suggested the treatment I suspected: apply Polysporin and wrap the toe in a bandage. While this was not a tremendous upset, it was enough to delay the start of biking to work by a week or so.

On the plus side, earlier this week, a co-worker pointed out a Vélo-Québec intiative of a month-long Vélo-Boulet (translation "Bike-to-work") website where you post how many kms you rode per day and why. So far it has been 15 kms to work. Slow start.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

On a couple of moose news items

Well, this is my first blog post of the year. It has been a cold and snowy winter so far, so no biking to report. I do have a couple of moose related news items that I have been wanting to share. The first comes from Newfoundland by way of the BBC. Good show there. The next is about a moose being released into the wild after being looked after by humans here in Quebec.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

On good and bad news relating to my trip to the Yukon

I fibbed a bit in the first version of this entry about my trip to the Yukon. At Margo's request on behalf of Louise, I had left out my guessing that Louise is pregnant. At that point, it was still early days and Louise, for all her virtues and abilities is something of a worrier. Being a worrier myself, I can very easily relate to her anxiety. If I remember correctly, the baby is due in January, which of course is a fine month to be born in.  As Louise's status is now been released to general public, I have updated the entry.  I wish her and Thomas all the best.
The bad news is I got an email from Margo today saying that David, Karen's husband, has died. He was the one I went on a short hike near Whitehorse with. Apparently, he was hiking in Scotland and suffered a heart attack on the West Highland Way. While he was no spring chicken, he was full of life when I met him barely two months ago. He will be mourned and missed by many.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

On recent biking related articles in the news

Well, first off, it seems that Montreal bike cops have just proven their chops with the arrest of a drug dealer who was on the American most wanted list.  This not only garnered them kudos from local media, but also the BBC. *

 The BBC also had an interesting article about the relative suitability of biking clothes as regards MAMILs and their ilk. I am afraid it kind of misses the point at one level, namely the posterior level. Assuming you are doing more cycling than puttering around town, going on longer rides will be much more pleasant with proper bike shorts. Not necessarily tight lycra, but something appropriate. Also, it delves into European bike commuters in contrast to British MAMILs which fails to recognise the fact that Europe has a great many MAMILs of its own. It is simply that they make up a lesser percentage of the overall cycling population.
 
* I don't bother with American news sources, but they have likely covered it. Part of me wants to look at Fox News coverage to see what umbrage about the Northern hippy cops they can extract. It is a small and ignorable part.