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Alive (and Kicking)

August 4, 2011

Today’s Ride: 60km—Hamilton Mountain and surrounds

Weather: Gorgeous

Back from Vancouver and itching to get on a bike. Much of my time in Vancouver was spent visiting bike shops and pining for a spin that never materialized. Vancouver’s changed dramatically since I last lived there (in 2000), and it’s a much more cycling-friendly city, with designated bike lanes and infrastructure readily evident throughout the city. Nice to see. But even harder when my bike was 3000km away. So, good to be home and great to get back on the bike today. It was a day for a lazy ride, just to get my legs back and get in a bit of exercise.

While Hamilton doesn’t typically evoke notions of natural beauty and scenery—the city is a recovering industrial steel town—its topography has created myriad waterfalls along its escarpments. And Coote’s Paradise, named after Captain Coote of the 8th King’s Own Regiment who fell in love with the waterfowl hunting along its shores, is an attractive (and restored) wetland—the largest on Lake Ontario’s western edge. I don’t often ride along the paved path along the bay front that starts at Princess Point, largely because the route takes me into the city rather than away from it, towards my preferred riding haunts.

Cootes Paradise, looking west. The hills in the distant background are my climbs out of the valley.

Today, though, after a brief visit to Pierik’s, it seemed like the soundest direction. I must admit I didn’t have much of a plan after that. I thought about wheeling up York Boulevard and towards Burlington, but decided instead to head up Queen Street towards Hamilton Mountain. The road up Queen Street is a nice climb; it was part of the World Championship Road Race in 2003, when Hamilton hosted the event. Unfortunately, when the road isn’t closed for racing, it’s a little hairy. No shoulder and a steep drop-off is a bit dicey. Fortunately, I had a bus behind me and the driver was evidently cautious about passing me on the tight road, which meant he served as a buffer against other traffic. I felt badly for slowing traffic, but was relieved to have a bit of help. At the top, I circled around Scenic Drive (which it is), cut through a suburban estate and made my way out into the country along Fiddlers Green.

The sensations were better than I had feared after two weeks without sustained exercise, but as I turned off Glancaster and onto Sawmill Rd., I was reminded of an addendum to my headwind-on-the-way-home rule: if you feel good on the bike, chances are you are enjoying a tailwind. Boom. It wasn’t the worst headwind in the world, but the smooth, fast pace I had managed along Fiddlers Green turned into a slower and more labored effort on Sawmill and Shaver.

According to my last post, I’ve been on the road to hell. Time in Vancouver was well spent with family—and evenings trouncing the kids at Chinese Checkers—but that left little time for blogging. To make matters worse, I left behind a folder full of reading/writing materials on Rwanda-related stuff I hoped to write about. I hope to get to that in the coming days/weeks.

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