Back In The Saddle
For me, the arrival of Spring also brings with it the desire to get back on my bike. Actually, the desire to get on my bike is generally a year-round thing. And while I do cycle year-round, the distances travelled in the winter months is generally very limited, without excess (or any) gear, and certainly doesn’t include camping. Or even an overnight stay for that matter. Some of that was about to change.Having spent the past month housesitting in Grand Bend near the shores of a frozen Lake Huron, it was time to move on. Not necessarily because I wanted to (I really liked the house) but with the owner of the house due to return, I once again was left with a somewhat “unstructured” schedule. And so, I found myself loading up my bike for my first fully loaded, long distance ride of the year. It was also my first fully loaded, long distance ride in cold weather. Ever. Destination: Kitchener. 125 km from Grand Bend.
For what it’s worth, I did consider the fact that pedalling 125 km for my first long ride of the season might be a bit ambitious. I dismissed it. But I did consider it. Note to self: Don’t be so dismissive. In my defence, the main reason I dismissed it was the weather forecast which called for fairly significant winds (30+ km/h). But they were winds from the west. Since I was going east, 125 km didn’t seem so daunting.
There are definitely a few upsides to cycling in the cold. My water bottle always had refreshingly cold water. There were no bugs. And, there was …. well … that’s probably about it. The major downside is obvious. It’s cold! To be completely honest, the cold was only a factor when I stopped. Although, that wouldn’t be true if I was heading into the wind.With this being my first long ride of the year, I planned on making it a leisurely trip. Eating regularly. Drinking lots of water. And resting as needed. My second stop of the day was at about the halfway point where I planned to eat the second half of my sub that I had bought at my first stop – the Subway in Exeter (first Subway reference of the year … please sponsor my next ride!). After about five minutes shivering on the side of the road eating my sub, I abandoned the idea of “resting as needed”. The wind was making it far too cold for this to be considered a rest. With the wind pushing me towards my destination, it was actually significantly warmer (and relaxing) to be on the move. And so I pedalled on.
The winds stayed strong and at my back for the entire ride, although I will admit I was starting to get a bit tired at the 80 km mark. How sad is that!? But I pedalled on. The worst part of the ride came when I got to New Hamburg where a somewhat heavy snowfall joined the scenario. Not enough to accumulate on the road, but enough to accumulate on me, my glasses, and my mirror. At one point I had icicles hanging from my mirror. I’m not even remotely kidding. Oh well, did I mention the visibility was low? I was less concerned about the fact that I couldn’t really see where I was going and was more concerned about cars being able to see me. Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic at that time, and the traffic that was there was kind enough to not run me over.By the time I arrived in Kitchener I was somewhat soaked (hmmmm … is it possible to be “somewhat soaked”?) but I was still warm. The roads were wet but the snow had stopped falling making the final 8 km rather painless. One might even say enjoyable. Even though I’ve done many 100+ km days, as I neared my destination I was pretty excited about the whole experience. If all goes well, there will be MANY more to come. Sooner, rather than later.
Distance travelled: 125 km
Time on bike: 5:00:00 (that’s an estimate, I need a new computer for my bike)
Average speed: 25 km/h (again, an estimate, but a pretty accurate one)