Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crystal and Simon go for a bike ride

Saturday was 27C, Monday was 30C so we went for a ride Sunday when it was showery, windy and topping out at 11C. I would say mad dogs and Englishmen but that would be to do my wife a disservice. The positives were two and a half hours on the road enjoying two-wheeled marital bliss and a season's first foray onto the Gatineau Parkway.

In the summer the Parkway is closed to vehicles every Sunday morning - until then it is closed to vehicles full stop. Imagine that, a hilly, tree-lined, tarmac road winding through the beautiful Gatineau Park and accessible only to bicycles. Strange but wonderfully true. In fact Ottawa and its Quebecois neighbour, Gatineau-Hull, deserve never ending praise not only for the Parkway road but also for the endless bicycle/pedestrian pathways, particular the many, many kilometers stretching along the banks of the Ottawa river.

Ignore the grey skies and relish the blacktop (click on the pics for full size):

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Summer's knocking

The hottest day of the year so far saw the leg warmers come off for the first time much to the excitement of, well, me. I went out on my own today and tried to push it a little which saw my average speed up to 28.1 kph for the 118 km loop. That pushed my HR to an average 149 for the 4.5 hours that I was out and gave me distinctly wobbly legs for the rest of the day. But in my unscientific training world I am sure that those hill bursts close to max HR will be adding some strength to my legs.

So, I often read The Original Big Ring's blog for two reasons: (i) it's a good source of info for riding routes and general biking inspiration and (ii) it's just a very entertaining read! Big Ring's wife works with my wife Crystal hence the connection. Anyway Big Ring rides with the intriguingly named Vegan Vagabond so as I am climbing out of Wakefield I think I recognise aforementioned Vegan (whose real name at that point I do not know) at which point I will let her pick up the story... "Are you the Vegan Vagabond?"

And here is the route:

And finally today it is confession time. I think I am a closet Lance Armstrong fan. This goes against all my instincts: brash Texan, egocentric competitor etc. But the guy is fascinating and if you take his story at face value it is one of the most extraordinary in sport. Add to that the Tour de France, drugs aside, is possibly the greatest sporting event on earth and I am hooked. So my daily surfing routine now includes Lance's twitter feed complete with nauseating "hey y'all"s and a blow by blow account of his nightly dining habits. But some great pictures and a fascinating insight into the comeback trail of a 37 year old 7 times Tour winner and cancer survivor.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Long and wet

From the beautiful hills of a sunny day in Quebec to a hard slog out west. A strange thing happened to me today. 2 minutes out of the front door at 7.30am my shorts were wet which in itself is not unusual as the road spray kicks up. What was different today is that the water came with grit and for the next 7 hours my sandpaper shorts proceeded to injure me quite painfully. So much so that there was blood on my shorts. Not a pleasant experience. I have photos to show the damage but thought it best not to pubish for everyone's sake! I think the combination of dry weather recently and the city street cleaners pushing the winter dirt around led to my predicament.

In short Ottawa to Jo-Anne Mandy's parents place in Golden Lake; 181 km; 7 hrs in the saddle, 8 hrs of heart rate monitor activated, during which avg. HR 140, cals burnt 5248.

Was it worth it? Training aside, after a rainy Saturday riding, we woke to this today:

Friday, April 17, 2009


A scorcher today - 19 degrees no less - and a repeat of the beautiful McGregor lake loop. But this time instead of the busy 307 back into Gatineau we hopped off onto the aptly named Montee Paiement (after Simon missed it once in a hopeful attempt to 'bypass'). Paiement (French for payment) is a great road but at the end of 120 km ride it has a nasty kick in the form of a seemingly endless series of mini-climbs. Anyway, today's purpose was to hurt the legs a little and push the pace so really it was ideal!

Photos: Simon looks relaxed (note that he is not pedaling); Chris less relaxed (note that he pedaling up hill, seemingly at some pace).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Before and after

Ok, I give in...

Before before:

Before (once we'd taken up the carpets):
During (sanded):

After (2 of 3 coats applied):

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beautiful Quebec

A New York state teaching test, 10,000 words of Open Univeristy dissertation, two trips to Potsdam and 348 km on the bicycle have kept me away from the blog for the last ten days. It all came together today with a 118 km spectacular to Wakefield and around Lac McGregor in Quebec with Chris and Greg. I finally took camera with me but the batteries died so here is someone else's picture (thank you "LeGeddy") of what we saw but you'll have to imagine the blue as white, still mainly frozen over as the lake was.

The other big news is that we are now 1 day away from fully finished floors and 2 days away from an inhabitable house. I never new I could get excited about floors but they look stunning. I love the fact that we have these natural wood floors and we can now see every whirl, knot and unusual grain in every board. If you going to have a chunk of nature in the house you may as well appreciate it. Pictures to follow the grand opening on Monday - I don't want to spoil the surprise!

And finally, today's route:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Well, +15C is extreme and sunshine with it. That was Saturday and I took full advantage once I had broken free of the chasing pack (Deb, Jay and Crystal) and was back on the Gatineau Riviera heading north to Wakefield. Pictures to follow - our new home is a technology-free zone until Acanac telecoms have the good grace to reconnect us (update 2/4: reconnected!).

The beautiful Gatineau river:

The old Wakefield bridge:

The long and open road:

Sunday came and the rain fell. Perfect weather for plumbing. Having been reduced to a single cold tap in the house I taught myself (yes I am very proud!) to take apart, repair and replace taps and pea traps. And the action on the new downstairs bathroom taps... let's just say smoooth! Overnight I have been transformed from a don't-touch-a-thing tenant to a fully fledged house proud odd jobber. And let's face it, if you are planning to live with a tap for many years, it may as well work nicely. Same theory applies to spouses. Maybe.

There's only one way to tear yourself away from under the sink - hot yoga. An hour and a half in a 37C room with 20 or 30 other sweaty people is good for the soul. That's what Yogi Bikram says anyway and who am I to argue with someone who can tickle his tonsils with his big toe (I made that up).

Back in the merry old US of A today pondering a 10,000 word Open University assignment and an almost impenetrable medical insurance system that is still not paying up for my sprained ankle of last November. I could bore you for hours. Well minutes at least.