Caffeneuring 2017

I got really spoiled with weekend morning outings this year. We started out as soon as there was fresh snow. The best cross country skiing in the region is at the Gatineau Park, but this year we stuck to the Kanata Lakes golf course and the Wesley Clover grounds.

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Wesley Clover

Alas, this year there wasn’t much snow and skiing was icy. That only meant that the Randonneuring season started early…

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Temple’s Sugar Bush in Lanark

Followed very quickly with family coffee rides.

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For a very rainy year, we only rode in bad weather once or twice. This was one of those times – coffee and hail.

Then there were the early morning “let’s see how much biking we can get in before lunch” rides.

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Watts Creek Path – our usual gateway to anything east of Kanata

My goal this year to make these outings diverse and interesting – something for everyone. With that in mind we tried out Orienteering.

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Registering at a checkpint in the South March Highlands

I am picky about lake swimming but Meech hit the spot. Also, we did not get eaten by bears so win all around.

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Meech Lake

Getting kids biking is always challenging what with different levels of ability and interest. Markus’ best effort was eight kilometres on the bike and 1 and a half on a scooter.

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Enjoying the Bike Sundays (Parkways get closed to cars)

We visited all of our favourite joints, but also checked out some new locations. Tonique opened in Old Chelsea offering full breakfast just when and where you need it. Britannia and Westboro beaches now both have cafes on site. We made it to a few spots that were on the list for a while such as Equator on Churchill, Edgar in Gatineau and Constance Lake Lodge in Dunrobin. My favourite experience was at the Happy Goat Cafe in Baywiew. It was the morning after Canada Day and the staff handled hangover with enviable panache.

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First cup of coffee at Happy Goat (though a series of hilarious mishaps I think we ended up having three)

More than anything I really tried to discover new (to me) places to bike to. We enjoyed both banks of the Rideau River from the Hog’s Back to downtown. We checked out the neighbourhood paths between Bruce Pit the Experimental Farm. We found a better way to get to Manotick (conclusion: Cedarview/Jockwale – bad, Steeple Hill/Twin Elm/ Century – good). We explored gravel roads behind Carleton Place and just missed Dan on Grand Fondo in West Carleton.

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View from Morris Island Conservation Area

The prettiest place we’ve been to this year must be the Morris Island Conservation Area just south-west of Fitzroy. If you look at the above picture closely you can see the Cheanaux Dam, another one of my preferred biking destinations.

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Newboro 200

In actual Randonneuring news, I completed three 200km Brevets. What surprised me the most is that they do not seem to get any easier, at least not at this point. My goal for next year, instead of setting a longer distance, is to be able to eat a meal after I am done with the Brevet. At the end of the Newboro 200 this fall, we all went to a pub where the experienced randonneurs ate a full dinner wile us newbies could barely nurse a beer. Apparently it has something to do with pacing yourself.

There were so many wonderful rides this summer, I am having hard time listing them and not turning this post into a novel. I put together an album on Flickr, so if you managed to get to this point of the post and still want to see more biking pictures you can check them out there.

And with that, I am off to enjoy the ski season that just started…

Granby

We had a beautiful long weekend getaway in the Eastern Townships.

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We climbed Mt Sutton.

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Biked the Route Verte from Granby to Bromont.

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Visited the Zoo.

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Giggled at the 50’s diostopia of provincial Quebec.

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Had lots of treats…

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and all around great family fun.

Fifteen years

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1997

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2017

We celebrated our 15 year anniversary this week. We snuck out of the house and went out for yummy dinner in a noisy pub downtown. We are doing so well, but the kids and the jobs and responsibilities are piling up and most days we are so exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than being exhausted from wonderful things. There is nobody I would rather be completely exhausted with than Chris.

Film: Wonder Woman

While I generally really enjoy movies and shows with strong fighting women, over time I have become weary. It is an overused trope and it is easy to do badly. In the case of Wonder Woman, where the main character and her powers are divine, the concept works well. Ditto for, say, Dark Angel where Max is genetically engineered super solder. The concept strikes me as disingenuous where mortal women fight soldiers and win by strength rather than skill or wit.

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White Lake during the Chenaux 200 brevet

I bike a lot and try to do at least a few challenging rides over the season. Since I don’t like riding far on my own, a lot of the time I bike with men. This makes it difficult because there is no way to cover up for the difference in strength.

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Quyon ferry ride back to Ontario on Cheanux 200

Riding with Randonneurs has worked so far since the speeds they keep to are manageable for me. When biking with friends, I keep the directions to myself so they have to wait for me at intersections.

Is Nature the one with the bugs in it?

Our three camping trips in four weekends adventure concluded with a wonderful outing to Algonquin park, but let’s start from the beginning.

Camp Fishy

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Sometime in early June the boys convinced me to take them to the outdoor megastore and buy them fishing rods. So I did. Then they quickly concluded that we have to go fishing. We decided to go to Gatineau Park and check out the campsite next to the yurt we stayed at this winter so we can compare and contrast. Because our primary purpose was to fish, Markus called it Camp Fishy.

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Our secondary purpose was to see the Lusk cavern. We checked out the cave from the outside as the water was really high so I was not comfortable going in there with Markus. We might come by later on in the season when there is less water and we are better equipped to waddle through it. We managed to avoid rain (it rained while we were sleeping) and added a short canoe ride. I enjoyed the camp ground by Lac Philippe but because it was rainy the fully forested sites were a little cold and very full of mosquitos. It would be a great location during the summer heat.

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We finished the trip with a brunch in Wakefield

Beaverbrook Camping

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Our neighbours put together a group camping trip to Long Sault. This is the second year we’ve joined and we had tons of fun. After some hemming and hawing we decided to brave the weather and head out to camp late Friday night. We arrived at 11PM and were only the third of six families that were going to arrive that day.

Beaverbrook camping is great for letting the kids run around with their friends and the adults chat and relax. Like last year, we visited the bird sanctuary with enough kids (eleven) no birds were to be found.

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(Thanks Dan for the photo!)

We also visited the Upper Canada Village ’cause it is there!
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There was a pretty hilarious thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon which reminded us of the pitfalls of setting up the tent in the middle of the night. I was taking a nap during the storm and relived of the ’90s waterbed craze.
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We had a lovely pot-luck and a huge campfire in the evening. I am not sure about exact numbers but I think there was about eighty people in our group.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed a leisurely ride along the Long Sault Parkway.
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Elite Beaverbrook Camping

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Car camping is all well and good, but nothing beats Dan’s backcountry trips. By now, Owen had broken his arm and had to sit this one out. We are assured that Chris and he had fun. Trev, Markus and I headed out to the Algonquin Park to join three other families. We picked up our three seater canoe at Achray and paddled from the Grand Lake to the far end of Stratton lake where our site was.

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Eight kids, of which mine were the oldest in the group, made for a busy picture.

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The visit to the High Falls was definitely a highlight. The water was too high for us to feel comfortable going down the slide, so we left that to the twenty-somethings who always seem in abundance on this spot. We found a nice pool to splash in. Despite the high water and this being relatively early in the season, the water was much warmer than last time.

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The trip back was made somewhat challenging by the wind. This was the first time I was steering the canoe the whole trip. Trevor did a fair share of paddling and I was pretty impressed with his stamina. I was also very happy to have such awesome friends who made canoeing with kids, which would otherwise be stressful, so much fun.

Film: Djeca jeseni

I was complaining to my awesome trainer Laurie how I am all achy this year and that I am a little concerned that I will not be able to do all the rides I have planned. She asked me to compare my spring rides for last and this year… So here it is:

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I ramped up slowly last year, but this year I started too fast and needed to take some time off to recover. Lower mileage in May and June also has to do with my family schedule, the weather which has been of particularly rainy disposition and my preference to ride with company and all the trappings that come with that. Randonneurs’ schedule starts the second week of March (the rides, though scheduled, are not done if there is ice on the road or the weather is bad enough that no-one feels like riding). Populaires (any ride below 200km) fill up March and the first brevet (200km) was in early April. Though I had no problems with the populaires, I found the first brevet quite challenging. In the future, I will make a point of putting in a few more kilometres before getting into brevets.

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Britannia Beach this Sunday

I’ve had some trouble with my setup. I tried out a new saddle but it did not work out and I had to put the old one back on. Also, my handlebars keep drooping! Must get this fixed and get back into form!