Saturday, 10 September 2011

On Continental TravelContacts, rolling in the Townships

I did the Eastern Townships' Challenge bike tour today. As I wrote earlier, the route this year was on very familiar roads. Most notably, it went through North Hatley, my home town. Having lived in Montreal for a baker's dozen of years, there were some changes to some familiar sights, but also a lot of nostalgia. One relative downside was that I was frequently tempted to take some of the shortcuts that I knew of. The only temptations I gave into were those to use a pair of bike paths on the rail bed of the Massawippi Valley Railroad: first from Beebe to Ayer's Cliff and then from Capelton to North Hatley. The former shortened my distance a bit and let me avoid the 143 between Stanstead and Burrough's Falls. Both of them let me avoid a number of relatively unnecessary hills. As my total distance was 152.38 km, I think I was justified. The theoretical distance was approximately 154 km.
I did this on my relatively fat 700x37C Continental TravelContact tires. I didn't really need such heavy duty tires, but today was my main chance to try them out before Australia. I went like a bomb on them. At lunch time on this cool but sunny and nearly windless day, I had an average speed of over 25 km/h! Going down the legendary Katevale hill, I hit 74.8 km/h! That is my highest biking speed ever! I am now totally sold on the TravelContacts!

Admittedly, there may be a math factor involved as the tires may have an actual circumference less than their theoretical circumference. This is important as the circumference is fed into my bike computer so it can figure out how fast I am going and how far I have been. This also calls into question a previous statement of mine that wider tires are typically slower. I will need to figure this one out.

Of course, it wasn't all cruising and claret, so to speak. My bum was sore at lunch, and remained so until I lowered my seat slightly. The after-lunch portion was a bit of drag. I had to remind myself to pace myself rather than let myself give into the urge to push myself too hard in order to get over the frustration of not going faster, especially as I knew that I would be facing the long and steep hills out of North Hatley on the way to Katevale. There are two hills. The first goes by the old family summer house and ends with a decent downhill that is utterly ruined by the fact that the pavement is poor and it ends in a rough wooden bridge just before a longer and steeper climb. The surface means you can't convert much of the kinetic energy you gained going down into potential energy, i.e. altitude on the other side. As I was aware of these long climbs, I stopped in North Hatley to attach my iPhone to my handlebars and play Midnight Oil on it to give me a boost. Just after I got into Magog, I began to feel some pain in the big toe on my left foot. After a while, I changed my socks from lightweight biking socks to heavier wool ones. This seemed to help somewhat.
My parents also participated in the Challenge. My mother did the basic route which was theoretically about 110 km, and she came out with a total distance of about 111 km. My father “wimped out” ( ;-) ) in North Hatley with a distance of 78.52, thus avoiding the 35 odd km to Orford and the associated hills as North Hatley is distinctly lower than the Mount Orford ski center. (Of course, he then mowed the lawn which is something I would ride 35 km to avoid doing!) My mother finished before me, and I was very glad she was there as I could let her do the driving back to North Hatley, right away as I was somewhat exhausted. I could have driven home, but only if I had waited about a quarter hour.

1 comment:

Susan Gwyn said...

I take issue with the word 'wimp' for your father. He is 69, he has myasthenia gravis, did bike 78 km and went home to mow the lawn!