My first 200 brevet of 2018 was a beautiful ride through Lanark Highlands cottage country. Because there are no supplies along most of the route, this ride is supported by a randonneur driving to control points with food etc. The controls were not dictated by corner store and restaurant locations so the route was absolutely gorgeous with minimal “transit” stages.
I had been training for this ride since February having missed it last year due to some newbie mistakes (not training enough…). It was early May and we showed up at the start wrapped up in winter gear. There is no spring or fall in this part of Canada. It is really cold until it gets really hot. We met summer at the second control.
I scrapped the winter wool off, got sunscreen out and continued the ride in shorts and t-shirt. There was significant debris on the road from the winter road maintenance and April wind storms. Most of the climbing was contained between 40th and 90th kilometre. This is also the most beautiful part with rolling hills and pine forests.
The perfect quiet was interrupted by cheerfully painted souped up Subarus (and occasionally equally funnily painted non-Subaru) every few minutes. I noticed that the drivers were wearing helmets. Then a Gothbaru labeled “Rally medic” passed by, then a car with flashing orange lights and CB antenna. Finally a souped up minivan labeled “SWEEP”. They did not appear to be driving dangerously or even speeding, but when I later mentioned this to Chris he said that what I saw was probably an illegal rally. It looked a bit too expensive to risk detection to me so we looked it up and it was organized, publicly advertised and completely legal and family friendly. You could meet the drivers and check out the cars as part of the event. The area is apparently filled with snowmobile trails and what I saw was the transport stage between two different racing areas. Having ridden the public roads around there, with all the hills and forests and lakes, I can only imagine that the snowmobile trails must be just perfect for rally racing.
The controls were at highest peaks and perfectly spaced. Anytime I got tired and started wondering why I am doing this, I would look at my cue sheet and realize the control is just a few doable kilometres up from there. After a lovely picnic lunch on a lake in South Lavant, much of the route was downhill.
There was more farms and “permanent residences” as we approached Perth. I took a quick break when the road was blocked by a couple of people trying to get a runaway cow back inside the fence. I passed by a snapping turtle. Those guys make other turtles look modern! In Perth I needed a big break and a full dinner. We stopped at the pub for this purpose. I hemmed and hawed for a moment and then ordered a beer also. We had a flat and familiar 45km left. I knew I could finish the ride but I was doubtful that I will enjoy it (in the end it was fine). I figured I had an amazing time up until this point and might as well pat myself on the back and enjoy the meal.
We’ve signed the kids up for orienteering this spring. Though I’ve always liked doing outdoor activities I find that I am doing these more than ever. They suit the point in the life we are at now.
The kids are old enough to enjoy outdoors and hiking or biking etc… is something we can all get something out of while spending time together.
I have been carving up chunks of time to go on bigger bike rides including randonneuring. It is my calm time.
And here are some action shots (in the reverse order from the Ravelry page above):
I am reluctant to knit socks as they don’t last very long, they are not as visible and you can get better foot coverage from the machine made ones you can pick up from Costco in a stack of a billion. However, I had sock yarn and it was just asking to be made into socks. Chris is happy with the result and they have not worn out yet.
Not only is Markus really enjoying the owl hat, but he found a green balaclava I made for Trevor many moons ago and always wears it underneath. This solves the problem of hand knit hats not being tightly woven enough to keep warm since he is technically wearing two hats and the owl has a tree to perch on.
Hippo mitts were made for a friend. Markus liked them so he asked me to make alligator mitts for him. They are not complete yet as I am improvising from the hippo pattern and there is a lot of fiddly detail and sewing so it is taking a while. Hopefully they will be done to be worn this winter.
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.
Alas, this year there wasn’t much snow and skiing was icy. That only meant that the Randonneuring season started early…
Followed very quickly with family coffee rides.
Then there were the early morning “let’s see how much biking we can get in before lunch” rides.
My goal this year to make these outings diverse and interesting – something for everyone. With that in mind we tried out Orienteering.
I am picky about lake swimming but Meech hit the spot. Also, we did not get eaten by bears so win all around.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…