Randonneuse

For about half a dozen years or so I have been planning to take up randonneuring. There are many sports I find fascinating, like water polo and biathlon, but I would not try them if you paid me. Randonneuring, I can do, nay, I want to do.

I had put a few local events on my calendar this spring without any particular intention and even as far back as three weeks ago, considered them outside of my abilities. However, I have ridden over 1500 km so far this year including four 100+ km rides (in bad and worse weather). On paper at least, I was prepared for a 200 km brevet.

At Britannia Park I knew I was in the right place when I saw a titanium Marinoni with an extra large Carradice saddle bag and fenders. Our group consisted of three bona-fide randonneurs and me. The club policy is for at least one randonneur to accompany newbs as long as they can keep a pace that will allow them to finish within the 13.5 hours time limit. Unfortunately for him, though fortunately for me, one of the guys had injured his knee earlier in the season and was significantly slower than me on the hills. Though there was no way I could keep up with them on downhill or even flats, I was able to stay ahead on the hills. On a different course, this might have not made enough difference for me to keep up, but the route we had taken had 3500 m of climbing which meant that I did not have to put in more effort than I was comfortable with to keep pace and I was almost never the last.

We reconvened every so often at depanneurs, gas stations, pretty beaches or bakeries. The conversation was sparse but interesting. All of my companions had a few Paris-Brest-Parises under their belts and had been randonneuring for a while being some decades older than me. We tended to stick together on busier roads but spread out in the quiet countryside. One of the guys mentioned that randonneurs like solitude and as I zipped though the country road behind Mont Cascades I was glad to be able to gasp at the pretty scenery and sing through the rolling hills without an audience.

We rolled over the finish line within five minutes of each other, a few minutes short of 13 hours running time. I really enjoyed this brevet. I enjoyed the calm and determination that I did not experience to such an extent when I was doing Ottawa Bicycle Club rides a few years ago. I like that there exists an organised sport which I can actually enjoy. Whether I keep doing these events remains to be seen. I don’t see myself doing much beyond 200km rides and it is questionable whether I can keep depending on other randonneur’s injuries to keep me in the running.

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This is the only picture I took. I was hoping to take a picture of my brevet card but the team lead spirited it away before I got my phone out. As I was not dealing with the Twitter generation, I did not feel it appropriate to protest. Yes, my max speed topped at 65.5 km/h. Weeeee!

The next day I got to do another first. I was not up to biking so I got to sit on the back of my cargo bike for the first (and probably last) time ever.

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My legs are still kind of sore a week and a half later. It is a good sore though.

Montreal c’est toi ma ville

After agreeing to accompany Chris to Montreal for the weekend I was perplexed about what to do with kids in this place. We had some kid friendly plans but it all came to a naught. It took kids s whole hour and half to go through Biodome. The Science centre and most of the Old Port were on strike and the Redpath Museum was open any day other than the day we were there. So we did what one always does in Montreal. Walked forever, bought treats and revelled in the odd.

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Why not on Ontario Street

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Traffic gets refreshed on Sherbrooke

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Visiting La Fontaine Park by rail

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Upside down at La Fontaine

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Duluth

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Not another shoe store!

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I desperately need this artisan leather wallet to keep my one bill and the library card

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Coupe Bizarre moved a few blocks further north. This is what is in their St Laurent location now

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No comment

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Lemonade on St Laurent

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Getting around

Film: Felix and Moira

I did’t know what to talk about on the blog so Chris suggested I do a cost analysis for our minivan. I can do that!

Trip Frequency Km per year Alternative
Skiing 130km 15 times per year 1,950 km car share
Spinning, hockey and fitness classes 30km twice per week 3,120 km Car pool and car share
Grocery shopping 10km once per week 520 km Bike, car share
General shopping 40km once per month 480 km Bus, bike, car share
Visiting (Montreal etc…) 400km once every two months plus 40km per month 2,640 km Car share
Vacations 1200km once per year and 600km three times per year 4,800 km car share, car rental
Kids activities in bad weather 5km once per week for 20 weeks 100 km Snowsuits!
Total 13,710 km

With this mileage, and not including the cost of the van itself, the yearly price tag for operating our van, including gas, insurance and maintenance is $5,300. The same trips with VRTUCAR car share would set us back about $6,000. Apart from the cost, the closest depot is in Britannia which would be quite a trip to make twice a week.

Overall, with our current trip frequency, and the fact that every once in a while we do use a van in a way we just could not use a car (like talking the whole family and all our bikes somewhere) car share is not attractive at all.

On the other hand, getting rid of the second car and switching both of our work commutes to bike/bus combination saves us well over $1,000 per year amongst all other benefits.

Sorted out

Last week something unusual happened – I got rid of last unsorted box of stuff from my bedroom. Nine years after we moved into this house we are finally unpacked! Over the years I sorted out boxes and boxes of items around living room, office and the basement. It is not as if I haven’t been processing through the junk deposited in this room, but as the least public space in the house, the most unsortabe and unstorable of items would regularly get sent there. There was furniture from our old house that we could not make use of here, junk from other bedrooms as we made room for each new child, boxes of hardware, sewing and knitting paraphernalia, baby clothes that one kid outgrew waiting for the next one, overflow toys. On top of this, any time we needed to make the house tidy at the drop of a hat, we would just stuff everything in sight in bags and drop it off in our bedroom.

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Yet, over the years I also managed to contain this mess. We passed on baby items, gave the extra furniture away, matched the toys with the kid that was interested in them and sorted the proper storage of hobby items. It the place where there used to be banker’s boxes and more banker’s boxes of who-knows-what there is clear tidy space where a little red head can camouflage.

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I was surprised at how giddy I was when this last room was “finished”. We are cluttery people and I never expect to always have things in place but it is a nice feeling when you know that any room in the house is no more than two days away from being tidy. This in turn means that we could have the entire house tidy in less than a month – a theoretical possibility that is somehow comforting.

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Three cakes

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Harvest Cake ingredients (partial)

On the weekend I had friends over for some cake. This meant that I dropped everything and had three cakes ready for 7PM. It was hectic but I am glad I did it. I hope my guests liked the cakes – this (ok, there is more apple pie in another dish) is all that was left:

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The cakes were frazzled to reflect my state of mind while making them.