Sunday, 9 September 2012

On making lemonade out of life's lemons

John and Caitlin's cake had lemons made out of icing on it in reference to a geek variation on the saying "When life gives you lemons, made lemonade." I am not sure what the geek variation in question is.

Anyway, I had the opening to put the saying into effect in yesterday, in this year's edition of the Eastern Townships Challenge bike tour put on by Vélo-Québec. This year the event started and, alas, ended at the Sutton Ski Hill which is up a 4 km long hill which is quite a challenge to face at the end of the day. For a complicated set of reasons, I drove out from Montreal to Sutton in a rented car with Leonardo in the back in time to meet the Parents for breakfast shortly after 7 AM. This entailed waking up a little after 5 AM, which is outside my comfort zone.
After breakfast and the obligatory "cheese de groupe", we set off on our respective bikes, speeds and routes. I left a few minutes after the parents, but, as might be expected, I passed them not too much later.
This Challenge (or Défi)'s route was comparatively challenging compared to those of the two previous years. This, combined with the cold I'd had a week earlier, meant I never intended to do the maximum distance. In addition, there was a strong, unsettled wind that gusted from various directions, most of them contrary. It was also quite humid which, combined with the warm weather, meant I was drenched in sweat. I put a bandanna under my helmet to keep the sweat out of my eyes. When I took it off at lunch time, it was completely soaked.
I did do one of the optional extra segments. It was the hillier, but shorter segment starting in Mansonville and going beside Lake Memphremagog, as I knew it was a very pretty area. The problem with the extra bits these Défis is that I rarely pass people on them as they tend to be the domain of the serious spandex types who have faster bikes than my Leonardo, not that he isn't reasonably fast. However, in the hilly Townships, his extra weight compared to carbon fiber bikes is a distinct handicap. Conversely, his granny gear is a distinct asset on the steepest hills. Near the end of the optional section, a faster cyclist called out (in French) to: "Courage!" My translated reply was: "The important thing is to finish," as while I wasn't as fast as he was, I was still going a respectable clip and I knew I would get there. It wasn't a race.
 After rejoining the main route, I zipped through Bolton Pass which was rather dramatic but unfamiliar bit of the Townships. As luck would have it, the Parents had arrived a bit before me at the lunch stop in Knowlton.
We ate lunch on a bench dedicated to a friend of some friends of the family.

The wind seemed to pick up after lunch, and became, if anything, stronger, more chaotic and unpredictable. This sapped my strength. I stopped at the bottom of the hill leading up to the finish to muster my energy. While doing so, I commented to someone: "Maintement, le calvaire commence." In fact, I was being hyperbolic as it wasn't that bad, though Mummy went to spare Pappy the task by going to meet him at the bottom with the car. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the humidity was draining and I drained the equivalent of more than 2 litres of Gatorade yesterday. Stats: 5 hours, 39 minutes and 11 seconds of biking; 121.10 kms covered; an average speed of 21.4 km/h and a maximum of speed 64.3 km/h.

Driving back to Montreal, the storm the weather had been hinting at struck with a vengeance. The rain was so intense that visibility dropped to next to nothing. The car shook from the wind and the driving rain. The average speed on highway dropped from over 100 km/h to the 60-70 range. I really didn't like the situation so I took the first exit and stopped the car in the parking lot of a defunct restaurant.

I briefly pondered what I should do while waiting out the storm. I quickly noticed that I was really quite tired between my early start and the physical exertion. Consequently, I took out my contact lenses, reclined my seat and closed my eyes for 15-20 minutes. I didn't sleep, but I would have been surprised if I did. Still, it was a relief, hence the title of this entry.

Incidentally, the storm spawned at least one tornado and cut power to 90,000 customers in Quebec.


Susan Gwyn said...

Did you notice several vans marked 'Abandon' going past us? Quite a few people opted out before the finish. Susan

Margo and Chris said...

I understand the Geek version is:

“When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don’t want your damn lemons, what the hell am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life’s manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I’m the man who’s gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I’m gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!”


Susan Gwyn said...

In fact I met Hugh very near the top of the last hill. I only spared him 3 minutes. Susan