Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Third Time's a Charm

It was done just right.

Knowing myself, I can be very lazy, especially when it comes to exercise and being active. Sure, I love to get on my bike and take long rides, to push myself to cycle to work and take a meandering route home. I have enjoyed joining a cycling club and participating in group rides that have taken me to new areas on the outskirts of our fair city.

But to get on my bike to do a vigorous workout, to build muscle and get a good cardio workout, I tend to say, "no, I think I'll sleep in," or, "no, I think I'll have that pint of ale."

I prefer being a couch potato to being any sort of athlete.

I get on my bike because I enjoy it, but because I have signed up for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour for the past three years, I know that in order to come close to reaching Kingston and making it back to where I started, I have to train. I have to ride extended distances. I have to practice going up hills.

I've explained my first trip, in detail, of how I didn't train and struggled all the way to Kingston, over the 177 kilometres, and how, thanks to my wife injuring herself and not being able to ride on the second day, I saved myself from injury, or worse.

Last year, I trained more. I rode long distances. I swam regularly. I ate right. The ride from Ottawa to Kingston was challenging, but I felt great when I arrived. The next day, I felt confident that I could make the return journey. And then, 60 kms into the voyage home, something gave in my left calf and I was forced to stop.

This year, I promised that I would complete the route, or die trying.

But then, the weather was bad and many days of planned rides were lost. I got sick. On the week before the ride, I fell and fractured my wrist. And yet, I was determined to make the ride. Only, in the week leading up to the ride, I decided that to ensure that I made the return trip, I would start in Perth, would complete the Century Tour.

It was a smart move.

The day was gorgeous: not a cloud in the sky, not too warm. A gentle breeze, in our favour, at our tails. This year, the route for the Century Tour differed from the Classic Tour, which took you from Perth to Kingston via Westport, Perth Road Village, and Inverary. This year, where the Classic Tour continued on that route, the Century Tour took us south from Perth, through the Narrows Locks, where the Upper Rideau Lake meets Big Rideau Lake, where, two years ago, my family and I paddled a canoe through the locks as we travelled from Kingston to Ottawa.

Stopping at the Narrows
The Century Tour continued to Crosby, then Elgin, then Battersea, and then into Kingston, via Montreal Road. The rest stops were perfectly spaced at about 25 km apart. Our first stop, at the Narrows, provided shade and a cool light breeze from the lakes. In Elgin, we stopped for snacks and to refill our water bottles. In Battersea, we snacked and had a bathroom break. And, before we knew it, we were in Kingston.

The hills on this trek were gentle, by comparison. On the Classic Tour, hills were long, steep, and discouraging. On the Century Tour, to Kingston, the hills rolled gently, ascents took less than a minute, and the roads were largely downhill.

We made it to Kingston in record time. Where we allotted five hours to complete the journey, we completed it in less than four, averaging almost 26 kph.

The return trip saw almost identical weather, and though our muscles were a little sore from Saturday's ride, and the route saw more climbing, we met the challenge with little difficulty, getting back to Perth in about four hours and 15 minutes.

What was great about this ride, besides the fact that we actually finished it, was that 100 kilometres was just the right distance for us (it was actually about 101.5 kms each way, but who's counting?). We were challenged without risking harm. We enjoyed the ride, rather than simply enduring it.

My wife and I were able to commit to a ride and stick to it. Despite the obstacles I faced leading up to the tour day, I was able to get from point A to point B, and from point B to point A, without killing myself.

It was done just right.

(The doctor was right, by the way: my wrist felt every bump, every step of the way. But it was worth it.)

Near Jones Falls: on another journey, we canoed under this very bridge.

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