Saturday, 7 September 2013

On "starting at the top"

Way back in the mists of family lore, that is to say circa 1982, my brother Stephen completed five sections of the Canadian Ski Marathon, a number then unheard of in my immediate family (though not unknown as my aunt Margo had previously secured a certain immortality by doing a Coureur de Bois by skiing all ten sections of the tour.)  Afterwards, he was asked where did it hurt. He coined a family saying (and we have many) by saying "Well, starting at the top..."

I feel a bit like that today.

I participated in the Eastern Township's Challenge, which started in Farnham this year. After meeting my parents at the Belle Province in Ange-Gardien (a.k.a. St-Proche-de l'Autoroute and Kilometer 55) for breakfast, we drove into Farnham for the start. Based on weather reports, standard weather patterns and topographical curves, I concluded that the easiest lengthened version of the tour would be to take the first optional section which added 34 kms to the standard 100 km route.

After passing a string of DOT 111 tanker cars parked on a railway line, doubtless waiting for the MMA to haul them to St-John, New Brunswick via Lac-M├ęgantic, I headed North along a road that lay next to the Farnham Garrison of the Canadian Army. I picked up a tailwind that alarmed me at a certain level as I knew I would have, not only go against it back to Farnham, but also for the bulk of the ride. Returning to Farnham, I passed a small number of soliders carrying a lot of kit and rifles marching slowly away from the main part of the base. They didn't look very happy. A little later I heard gunfire as I pedalled steadily against the wind.

Fifteen kilometers after rejoing the regular route, I paused at a junction for a break and to decide which way I should go. On the left was the start of the optional section that cut 26 km off the total distance. On the right was the regular route. I haven't done much excursion biking since the Scottish trip. I was very tempted, heck, sorely tempted to opt for the shorter route which would have resulted in a 110 km day. I went right.

This was pretty. Pretty scenery and pretty frustrating as it was in open pastures into a rare South wind. It did take me to Lake Champlain for the first time in about thirty years. However, I wasn't very happy. My back has been giving me issues for the last few weeks and it played up again under the relative strain. Consequently, when I got to the lunch stop in Frelighsburg (after 95 kilometers and up a dirt road) I asked at the First Aid truck if they had any Advil or the like. I was displeased to learn that by law they couldn't give even such basic medicine out!  After lunch, I found a d├ępanneur which sold me some Tylenol.  After that, it was a slog over some hills and a stop for a bottle of local wine before an illegally rapid (65.6 km/h) descent into Dunham with the wind behind me.

By the time I got back to Farnham, I had covered 139.71 kilometers and was quite tired. The parents had got there somewhat earlier but were waiting for me with chocolate milk.

Between the relative lack of training and other issues, I rather ache right now, despite a nice hot bath and a couple of gin and tonics. Mind you, my average speed was 21.3 km/h which is respectable given the wind.

My mother writes:
Your father and I biked 105 km.  My average speed at lunch (or was it Philipsburg?) was 17.7 km/hr.  After lunch there was the wind behind and lots of downhill.  I felt I was tootling along often at 25 or 30.  And my avg at the end was 17.7 km/hr!!

Did you read the sign on the Anglican church in Philipsburg? That church, the third in Philipsburg, had its cornerstone blessed by Archbishop Bond (my great-great-grandfather).  It was on Montgomery Road. The Montgomerys were second cousins, Bond side, of my mother.  There was a George Montgomery. who was a judge and bird watcher and Enid Montgomery, his sister, I think, who was married to a MacFarlane.  She was character, lived and farmed in Philipsburg, was a vegetarian, which caused my mother much anguish when she came to lunch.  Rather resembled the White Queen (Alice in Wonderland), straggly white hair and vague, is my memory.  There was a son, Hugh.  Still around??  Canada411 has a J R MacFarlane on Montgomery Road.

No comments: