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Shaking the Snake by its Rattle

September 16, 2011

Today’s Ride: 113km—Up Rattlesnake Point, back along Valens

Weather: Sunny, cool.

Old folk wisdom asserts that if you grab a rattlesnake by its rattle, it won’t bite you. I don’t know if this is true, or even if it is folk wisdom (I just made it up). But I did climb Rattlesnake Point today, albeit from the tail—side might be more accurate. Forgoing the steep ascent previously attempted on two occasions, I climbed up along Bell School Line, which is less severe in its pitch, but has two very intimidating steps, with long, steep inclines.

Today had a bit of everything in it. It was nippy—signs that fall was not just in the air, but present—and I wondered if I had made a mistake in opting for the short gloves. My stop at Domestique had as much to do with giving the sun a few more minutes to heat up the world as it did with the espresso. Both worked. I had a bit of a head cold—the first all year, if I recall correctly. It’s been tickling for the past couple of days, but I didn’t want it to interfere with the ride and managed to convince myself that a good ride would clear the sinuses. It didn’t work. Instead, I was laboring through heavy breathing for much of the ride, and elected to spin a higher cadence than push a bigger gear. On my way to Rattlesnake Point, I turned off Walker’s Line onto No. 4 Sideroad, which I mentioned a few weeks ago as being a great discovery. It didn’t disappoint, both the descent and then rolling through the valley (photo from top below).

And then on towards Rattlesnake Point along Bell School Line. While the climb isn’t as difficult as up the Appleby Line route with its switchback, it’s no picnic. The lower grade ascent is longer, followed by two longish and very steep portions. The difference is twofold. First, there’s less steep climbing, which is a good thing. Second, the fact that it’s split into two very sharp climbs is hard work, but both are manageable, especially with the (very) brief respite in between. It’s a good climb, though, and well worth a return visit.

Over the top and down towards Milburough Line and the Mountsberg Reservoir. I turned right on Watson, crossed the 401 and then left on Wellington County Road 36. This promised a light across Highway 6 and connected with Gore Rd. What wasn’t clear on google maps was that immediately after Highway 6, the road turned into a dirt road, so I rolled east along 6 to Leslie Rd. Trying to get back on track, I came across some construction on Wellington County Road 35 (you really wouldn’t want to get lost out this way: all the roads seem to have the same name!). The construction crew had dug a 3m trench across the road. 5-10cm separated the dirt in the trench from the paving on either side. I dipped into the trench, unclipped in order to stop and lift the bike up the over side, and then saw that the dirt had created a bit of a ramp over in the far corner where the road met the shoulder. Stupidly, I decided to turn the bike sharply in order to roll up. In the soft dirt in the trench, with one foot unclipped, the bike wobbled, and I went down. First time off the bike all year, and I had to do it right in front of a bunch of road workers and cars waiting for me to come through (one lane was closed). It wasn’t a terribly hard fall, although my left elbow and hip were a bit sore. The chain had also come off, so it took me a couple of minutes to get going again. The embarrassment was probably worse than the injury. Heigh-ho.

I worked my way home, and managed to get my pace and cadence back up again. Easy enough, since I finally had the wind at my back. Smooth sailing the rest of the way. If I’m not mistaken, this is the longest ride of the year that didn’t include a stop for lunch. With the cooler temperatures, it’s easier to go further without fading, but all the more important to remember to keep eating and drinking on the bike.

The chute down No. 4 Sideroad from Walker's Line.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. xyxax permalink
    September 16, 2011 2:42 am

    “I don’t know if this is true, or even if it is folk wisdom (I just made it up)”

    You’re folk, you’re entitled.

    Impressive mileage (kilometrage?) recently, btw.

  2. September 16, 2011 12:46 pm

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. It was the “wisdom” part to which I wasn’t sure I could lay claim. Also didn’t want to get sued by someone trying to pick up a snake by its rattle. The weather’s been great here, and conducive to riding; I’m falling into a pattern of writing three days a week and riding two. Very, very pleasant. Also beginning to think that the cold could just be allergies, which is also promising…

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