Victoria Day ride

Victoria Day is a long weekend (a.k.a. bank holiday) in Canada, during which the Queen’s birthday is celebrated. Sort of. In cottage country May 24 is the traditional cottage-opening weekend after a long winter, although openings have been earlier in recent years due to weather changes.

Canada’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth. I am not a monarchist per se but I do have great respect for the Queen. More importantly, I strongly believe there are great advantages to having a constitutional head of state who is remote, non-partisan, and powerless. This arrangement twice served our country very well during the last minority government. It is, in my opinion, clearly superior to a presidential system.

Our own Victoria Day activity was a Sunday morning ride. We left the cottage in long sleeves with the sun filtering through new spring leaves along the cottage road. The road was freshly-graded and dusty. There was a fresh set of moose tracks by the beaver pond. At the highway we changed to bare arms.

Our route was not a long one. In the nearby village some local kids were jumping off the iron bridge into the river. “How’s the water?” “Great!” “Freezing!!” We passed the occasional cyclist riding in the opposite direction as we rode up rolling hills towards Minden, where there is a 10 km climb we wanted to try. The climb is not that bad. In fact, there’s not a lot to it except for a short, sharp section right at the start. Once we were over that section, the road settled back to its accustomed pattern of rolling hills, but always rising.

At the top of the 10km we made a turn and things became “interesting”. We weren’t the only ones who had been climbing. Temperatures had been steadily rising since we had left and it was now well over 30 degrees in the shade.

On the open highway with no shelter the sun was fierce. And, of course, the “againsterlies” started blowing. Both our energies flagged. The chain came off during a shift from inner- to middle-ring, and we tipped when Mary unclipped on the “wrong” side (we caught ourselves on time). Water was warm. Water was low. The chain came off again.

By the time we made it back over the dusty road to the cottage we were both beaten up. A snack, a cold beer, and a nap were in order. When I woke and stirred, both legs seized in a massive, powerful and very painful cramp. My inner quads were trembling with no hope of controlling them.

Leg cramps have hit me before after a hard ride, especially during or after sleep. It feels like my muscles are spring-loaded and ready to overreact at the slightest provocation. The only way to manage the cramps is to stay very still and breathe deeply until they pass.

I have been told that drinking lots of water helps avoid cramps, and was careful to stay hydrated. However I don’t stretch after riding. I should probably develop the habit.

4 comments on “Victoria Day ride”

  1. Mary wrote:

    We are getting a bank holiday on Monday (May Bank Holiday) really looking forward to it, because we are getting a temp of 19C – Boiling hot! :) Dunno how you cope with 30C, it would have me in a melted pile.

    Do you get a celebration Kern, for the Jubilee year as well – as a Crown State? On the Isle of Man, we get a long weekend, as we have Jubilee day on the 4th July, then our Parliament Tynwald day on the 5th July running into the weekend.

    I find the Royal Family interesting, and I love the history of it all. I dont really follow the day to day Royal Family stuff, as we dont have a televison set, and to be honest I rather like the historical facts over the new, but the Jubilee will become an historic occassion, although I will likely be on my bike, enjoying the extra day off that is tagged on our usual Bank Holiday at Tynwald.

    I do love those little snippets of animal wonder you slip in... the moose tracks. They would we wonderful to cycle past. Nothing more exciting then sheep where I live. You keep reminding me on how very close you are to nature in Canada.

    Cramps. I am a lucky lass, as I dont really get these, even after a long hillly slog. But, having a husband with epilepsy, I am aware of the horrendous pain cramping inflicts upon some. Maybe Garry has some tips on avoidance.

  2. Have you tried a small pinch of salt under your tongue as soon as the cramps start. It helps when I get thigh cramps. You probably do need to hydrate more. Hope this helps

  3. Kern wrote:

    Thanks for the tip, Brenda – I'll try a pinch of salt next time lightning strikes :) .

    We just had a visit from Charles and Camilla, Mary – that's the extent of Jubilee celebrations for us. I don't follow the royals (at all). I just happen prefer constitutional monarchy as a form of government.

    Have a great ride this weekend! Let us know how it goes.

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Mary wrote: I do love those little snippets of animal wonder you slip in... the moose tracks.

    Me too. A reminder of the big natural wilderness I imagine most of the surface of Canada to be (let me know if I'm wrong... LOL). I can never nap, incidentally. Sandra naps easily and wakes up fresh. Not me. Either it's daytime (awake) or night (sleep).

    I've no view on our monarchy except that it seems a stabilizing influence and a money earner for Britain.

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