What a Difference a Day Makes

Titanium Man is a wimp. He doesn’t work hard enough. So I’ve stopped riding with him. Instead I am riding against myself.

I have settled into a groove of three different routes. They all suit my morning schedule. I try to get in two rides a week before heading to The Firm (good intentions and all that). In principle I should be improving with each ride, and I usually manage to leave my former self behind, but not always.

I attribute this variability to a number of factors: the hours of sleep I had (more is better); pre-ride nourishment (smoothies are great, bacon and eggs are deliciously leaden); frequency (regular training helps); heat dissipation (shirtless is more effective – sorry, no photos); and that great indefinable: psychological state of mind. All of which makes me realize how much performance testing must be an art as much as a science.

My routes are all on our cottage drive; each one has stories from 20 years of weekend travel that I won’t bore you with here. I will not point out where I rolled the van after hitting a deer, or where I hitchhiked with my daughter, two dogs and three cats after a breakdown.

Patrick noted in an earlier blog that not all “centuries” are equal, with terrain having a major influence on effort. My rides bear this out.

Hardwood Lake to Denbigh Hardwood Lake to Denbigh

Tory Hill to Paudash Lake Tory Hill to Paudash Lake

Hardwood Lake-to-Denbigh is only 17 kms but it takes almost exactly the same time as Tory Hill-to-Hardwood Lake at 24 kms (44 minutes). The long hill at the start of the ride tops out at 12%. It will beat you up if you’re not careful. Two years ago I burned up the pavement getting to the top of that hill where I simply stopped and got off the bike – smartaleck.

Hardwood Lake to Denbigh 1 House outside Hardwood Lake just before the start of the climb

Hardwood Lake to Denbigh 2 Many of these old homesteads are disappearing. They, like us, are subject to the ravages of time.

Bancroft to MacArthurs Mills Bancroft to MacArthurs Mills

Bancroft-to-MacArthur Mills looks benign but the little spike at the end peaks at 13% and is followed by a 15% drop – the downhill is harder than the climb. This ride is almost the same distance as Tory Hill but takes 10 minutes longer.

Griffith to Bladk Donald Road Griffith to Black Donald Road

Finally I have a weekend route from Griffith-to-Black Donald Road. This is a beautiful, beautiful piece of road. It follows the Madawaska River before turning cross country over rolling hills that thread past cottages nestled on lake shores. Traffic is non-existent and the cottages are hidden from view – you could ride this road and not see a single soul.

Madawaska River The mighty Madawaska

It also has a lot of hills. After 50 minutes I found myself asking whether I wanted to finish the ride. I guess this is my current psychological endurance threshold. However I kept with it – Titanium Man was pacing at 130 watts (weakling!) and I almost managed to stay with him to the end. But halfway up the last of three hills (6% climb) I had to drop off. It took 90 minutes to finish.

Temperatures rose to plus-10 degrees yesterday and then dropped overnight to minus-8. Any streets that aren’t clear are a skating rink. Cycling isn’t safe yet – there’s no point in taking a fall and breaking a hip (or worse).

She may be a-comin’, but she ain’t here yet.

6 comments on “What a Difference a Day Makes”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Tory Hill to Paudash Lake reminds me to remind you: the lonely road photo ?

    Kern wrote: I have never ridden this road. Mary has ridden it (twice), but not me ... that's a whole other story ...

    The Madawaska photo is very fine. The cloud just above the sun seems to cast its shadow above itself, as if the sun is beneath it. Taken with a Canon G7. My Canon G9 would ruin the image with a white vertical streak where the sun should be.

    Keep it up Kern. Imagine the day of the year's first outing on tarmac.

  2. Mary wrote:

    Kern what a magnificent world you live in. Truly stunning photography. I can only try to imagine a life without cycling every day. During our own 'cold bit' – hardly call it winter compared to yours, I felt very frustrated not cycling, and perhaps that was only for about a 10 days over our entire winter (so far).

    So what it must be like for you...... ? 🙁

    Never used a turbo bike before, yours does sound sophisticated which must improve things a bit, rather use a bike than not, even a static one.

    When does your 'mud' season start? Your Big Thaw?

  3. Kern wrote:

    The 'mud' season starts mid-March and can extend to early-May – there's four feet of frost that has to work its way out of the ground and that takes a long time.

    It is a magnificent world we live in Mary, but familiarity breeds ... well, familiarity. We were talking last night about this year's ride(s). I suggested to Mary doing not be an adventure – there's not much different on those roads for us. And the sparseness has its limitations. There aren't nice, quaint villages with toasty pubs and homemade food to stop at. Europe is truly ... European, I guess. The grass is always greener.

    Patrick, I forget – what is it you have reminded yourself to remind me about?

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Ah. Tory Hill to Paudash Lake reminded me to remind you about a whole other story that you didn't yet tell. The lonely road photo and why Mary was there at 8.30 on a Monday morning.

  5. Kern wrote:

    Ah, Patrick, the old lonely-road-photo-whole-other-story story. Well, to be honest, it isn't much of a story. But I can make it into one if you want.

    There are three themes that tie together.

    One: The cottage. You may have gathered we spend a fair amount of time at our cottage, which is unique in many respects and has decades of personal history. However, the cottage has one signifcant disadvantage. It is a very long distance from Ottawa – almost 4 hours driving one-way. So our "commute time" is always a factor in our weekend plans.

    Two: Incompatibility. Mary and I are incompatible in many respects. Actually, we're not incompatible (or we wouldn't be together), but we have many basic differences. Some of these are easily managed (she must drink while eating; I can finish an entire meal before taking a sip), others require adaptation (she is an early riser; therefore I am an early riser). (I won't comment on our different styles of bicycle riding.) It took me some time in our relationship to realize these difference are easily managed with just five little words: "You're right. You're always right."

    Three: Circumstance. At the time of this photo I was adjusting from European time, so my body clock was getting me up in the middle of the night.

    So, the long and the short of it is that on a fabulous, sunny Sunday in autumn I let Mary talk me into driving back home very early on Monday morning rather than spend Sunday afternoon in the car. And that's when the photos were taken.

    Of course, that happened to be the one Monday morning that my boss wanted to see me right away.

  6. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Kern. My five little words are: "Ah yes. Sorry, I forgot." (the same idea)

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