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Debris on the Road

August 25, 2011

Today’s Ride: 75km—Walker’s Line, Zimmerman, Lakeshore

Weather: Windy, storm coming in

We had an impressive storm last night. Heavy, heavy rain and high winds. The power went out around 21:30 and stayed off for more than twelve hours; I left this morning before it had come back on, which meant the first port of call was Café Domestique for an espresso. I like to think I’m not a caffeine addict, but a shot of something seemed like a good start to the ride.

Today’s ride was supposed to be around 95km, but a midday storm encouraged me to cut short the final loop and descend the escarpment for home. Probably the right choice: on the descent, my rear wheel was all over the place, which was a bit alarming at high speed. The rest of the ride, however, was terrific.

I headed out along Snake Rd. and Sideroad No. 1. I missed its continuation after Guelph Line earlier in the week, which was a nice, swerving descent. Not too long, but a bit of fun, and then carried on the descent on the other side of Guelph Line. I’ve recently mentioned that I like Walker’s Line—nice road, but impressive bluff on the left and rolling countryside falling off on the right. Something almost English about it. It was heavy work riding into the wind, but then I made one of those magical discoveries. The next road parallel to Walker’s Line is Appleby Line, probably about a kilometer away. Slogging up Walker’s Line, I turned right onto Sideroad No. 4, which I’ve never tried before.

And shot down a long, straight, very narrow road with trees overhanging to give it a tunnel kind of feel. At high speed into the valley between the two main lines. Just as thought I must be at the bottom of the valley, the road swerved left, then right, and then sharply left, continuing the descent. Finding an exciting new road is an incredible feeling in itself; finding such fun in the new road made my day. The rest of the ride could have been a disaster, and I still would have come home with a big grin on my face. At the bottom of the valley, the road snaked past some small farms and pleasant houses—the well-paved road still barely wide enough for cars to pass each other, which qualifies for tiny around these parts. And then a short, quick climb to get up to Appleby Line. It was like returning to the real world from some fantasy.

Down Appleby Line to Lake Ontario, and then follow Lakeshore Blvd. homewards. The edges of the lake must have received the worst of last night’s storm. Lots of debris along the road, and a significant number of big branches and trees had been toppled in gardens and parks along the way. I’ve learned to stay out of the bike lanes and gutters after heavy rains—lots of gravel, sticks, and other obstacles block the way.

Just as I hit Harvest Rd. and had planned to run across the top of the escarpment over Dundas, the rain started to come down quite heavily. I had seen it rolling in, and the winds had been high throughout the ride. After the lightning from last night, I thought it might be best to avoid getting caught in the deluge and turned for home down Sydenham.

Fitness is a progressive thing, but it seems to work in steps or plateaus instead of some kind of steady progression. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve clearly managed to jump another step or two. The pedaling is easier and smoother; the bike is going faster; I’m more comfortable and recover quickly from heavy exertions; and I don’t seem to be fatiguing at all. I’ve read that in cycling getting over particular thresholds—putting miles in the legs—makes its own difference. It might be that simple. But it sure is more fun to feel stronger and more confident on the bike.

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