Monday, August 27, 2012

Take 30...I did! :D

I hadn't had an omelette in ages so the one I ate this morning (Sunday, August 26th) to fuel me for the day's planned excursion was especially good.

I also hadn't done our usual Sunday bike day trip since early June. The summer was just wretchedly hot and stiflingly humid. I wouldn't have made it - well, not the whole 30 kilometres. So, today's trek would be particularly good given the less hellish conditions.

The morning air was perfectly clear and had that lovely haze so often seen here in late August. The light breeze was from the southwest (by my reckoning). We left early, in fact quite early, and took our usual route along Hunt Club Road, up McCarthy and along Southmore. We wound our way through familiar neighbourhoods, greening up once more from the recent showery weather that brought relief to us all. We safely crossed Walkley Road, meandered through a few more streets and then found ourselves at Mooney's Bay Park.

We cycled past people who were playing tennis at the enclosed courts and who were clearly enjoying themselves. It took us little time to get through the park and it was at that time we realized that motorized traffic was still permitted on Colonel By Drive. Therefore, it wasn't quite 9:00am (told you we left early). Having a few minutes to ourselves, we decided to just park our trikes under the shade of a tree and take a bit of a break. After a few minutes, my impatience grew too much and decided that we can risk riding our trikes on roads occupied by cars. It would only be for a few minutes anyway.

Colonel By was very very lightly travelled by the time we swung onto the road itself. This is pretty typical for the Sunday Bike Days here in Ottawa, I feel. My experience has been that most people don't venture onto the closed-to-cars roads until closer to 10:30 - and here it was not even 9:00. There were a couple of cars driving on the road, hoping to get past the barrier At Colonel By and Hog's Back Road before it closes at 9:00am (the barrier is moved to allow cars off the road, just not back on). The fresh air felt great, especially as the day was already starting to warm up. I didn't feel too tired and actually managed to get some good speeds on my trike.

We passed the usual groups of cyclists, joggers, roller bladers and dog walkers. Some were on the actual cycle path that runs along Colonel By and some were on the road itself but all seemed to be having a good time of things.

Admittedly, I was getting tired (MS does that to me, especially when it's warm) and I mentioned to Adam that I might want to turn around and start the return trip around the Campus area. "Campus" refers to that part of Colonel By that abuts the Campus transit stop at the University of Ottawa. However, when Adam replied that the end of the line is only another 2 or 3 kilometres beyond the Campus area, I saw his point and agreed to finish the whole trip.

We made it to the exit barrier, pulled over, took a few minutes break, sipped some water and then turned to head back home. By that time, the light southwesterly breeze had picked up - I believe the term is "freshened" - so it would take a bit more energy to get home. Yet, I didn't care. I was feeling good having made it all the way out. I would have to make it all the way back and I did.

I'm really shaving off what kilometres I need to meet my goal of no fewer than 300 this cycle season. Next weekend, Labour Day, will be the last weekend of the Sunday Bike Day so any trips after that day will be limited to the bike paths only. I don't care. At this rate, I may actually complete my goal. Stay tuned. I will.

Tally for all three days was 30.0 kilometres done. That leaves me 56.3 to go as of today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three nice days...three awesome trips!

I should add, though, not in a row. Nevertheless, I did do three trips, two of which were the get-out-while-you-can kind. Still, those count, don't they? ;P

The routes were all the same although today's included the Blohm-Karsh circle just east of Conroy and Lorry Greenberg. At least we didn't run into any suicidal squirrels. We also didn't encounter much in the way of traffic. At this time of year, when the mornings have just a hint of cool to them but heat up very quickly, it's important for comfort's sake to head out early in the day. This often results in having to contend with rush hour, lots of city buses and - soon - school buses. But, like my last trip, there were precious few cars. That works for both of us as I'm sure it works for car drivers, too. Having to negotiate around each other can be a little tricky, given that trikes are just not as fast as Toyotas so not having to do that kind of thing today only added to the pleasure.

I trike to get exercise and to relax. That doesn't mean I set no goals just that I don't get too antsy about achieving those goals. To that end...

Tally for all three days was 30.5 kilometres done. That leaves me 86.3 to go as of today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another two trips to add

It seems this year that I write new Catrike entries for every two trips done. I'm not sure why that is but it doesn't seem to matter much.

The first trip was one Adam and I did this past Saturday. The weather has been marvellously unstable. The rains we were finally experiencing and soaking the ground resulted in moments of blue skies and bright sunshine followed by dark grey clouds and lashing warm rains. Without delving too deeply into a meteorology lesson here, the cycle can be summarized like this:

  1. the sun comes out, heats the moist air and the air rises into cooler air above
  2. the air hits the cooler air, condenses and releases its moisture only to fall as rain
  3. the rainshower passes and the sun comes out
  4. go to 1.

At any rate, wanting to take advantage of the mostly blue sky, we left and headed east towards the library. Yes, we both saw the dark grey rolling mass approaching but we also thought it would just pass us to the east as so many of these rainshowers do.

We were wrong.

By the time we got to about 1 or 2 kilometres from our house, the few telltale drops had multiplied into a light drizzle. By the time we exited the road and onto the bike path near the library, the light drizzle had - um - matured into a drenching rain. We wound up taking shelter at the library drive-through book drop off (yes, those exist) and just waited the storm out. Soaked to the skin, we decided to just head back home but we didn't go directly home. Instead, we took a roundabout way to get there. We also noticed that the streets were bone dry - as though the rainstorm we had been caught in hadn't even touched the place a mere few blocks away.

No matter, I had a lot of fun and, besides, what gets wet will dry.

The second trip was one I took myself. It was the trip we had originally planned to take on the Saturday. As Adam had other things to get done, and before the day warmed up too much, I decided to head out on my own. Once again, I rode towards the library, dodging puddles and some amazing frost heaves and other potholes. This time, I zoomed beyond the drive-through book drop off and continued onto Lorry Greenberg. It was mid-morning so there were no cars around in any great numbers. There was, however, a squirrel who seemed bound and determined to get hit by a vehicle no matter what. That vehicle would turn out to be mine.

Squirrels aren't known for their intelligence but I like to think that they, like all animals, have a natural tendency to avoid getting injured or killed...not so with this squirrel. I saw him well back and I had assumed he saw me as well. I approached. He stood on someone's front lawn and seemed to be watching me, timing things as to maximize his chances of getting hit. Sure enough, as I cycled along, he darted out in front of me only to get his furry tail just lightly nicked by my front left wheel. There's no point in slowing down or speeding up as they can adjust their leap to accommodate your speed. The squirrel was okay as he just tripped a bit and then ran off. Maybe he was heading to the nearest major road so he could play dodge ball with the cars there.

Squirrels are just phenomenally stupid.

Nevertheless, no one was the worse for wear and I successfully did my run along Lorry Greenberg, past Conroy and onto Blohm and around that suburban area before reversing my tracks. Like Saturday's extra venture, I turned onto Albion Road and rode up there to get home - just to get some extra distance there.

Tally for both days was 19.1 kilometres done. That leaves me 116.8 to go as of today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The trend goes on...

As mentioned earlier, we've been mired in a summer of high heat, wildly swinging humidity and utter drought conditions. People's lawns are predominantly brown (well, except for those who ripped out their dormant lawns and replaced them with fresh sod) and, overall, the population has become rather cranky.

This is what climate change looks like - increasingly unpredictable weather where places that don't normally get drenched year round are dealing with endless floods and places where rainy periods are reduced to parched landscapes.

This has translated into a really good season for triking, though. The days, though getting noticeably shorter, remain sunny, windless and inviting. So, I went out accompanied by both Adam and Rachael.

This morning's venture had us heading east toward the Greenboro branch of the library but then continuing along the neighbourhood streets towards Conroy and to points beyond. It was a lovely journey out this morning and, best of all, before the real grit of the day's heat could settle onto an increasingly weary city.

This was a quick out and back returning the same way we went out but, as always, it was really good to get out.

Tally for today was 9.8 kilometres done. That leaves me 135.9 to go as of today.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

5.4 and 6.1 - this kind of triking is lots of fun!

OMG I am so sorry for that awful title. I really have drifted into the horrible world of really bad rhyming couplets, haven't I?

Anyway, the first trip saw me heading out on my own and, essentially, following the same route we did last time. The day was hot, dry and with very little wind. I was glad I wore my shorts in the +30C weather.

My venture also had me taking note of the number of people who seemed to have replaced their sun scorched drought stricken brown lawns with much lusher and much newer sod. I'm never sure why people do that kind of thing since brown grass isn't dead but just dormant. Once it rains again the grass will soften once more and become the vibrant emerald green we are so used to seeing...and expecting. However, thanks to the spectre of climate change, what would ordinarily be a summer of sunshine and rainy periods has, instead, just been a summer of desiccating, parched landscapes reminiscent of places like Arizona and not Canada's capital city.

The second trip I took, a couple of days later, had me following the streets and intercepting the bike paths towards the Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library. As with my earlier trip, the day was hot, sunny, dry and with no wind to speak of. I set out, not having any particular goal in mind but to exceed the 5.4 kilometre trips I had been taking. The pathways encircling the library are very well travelled by cyclist, jogger and stroller alike but what really got my attention was the condition the pathways were in.

If you think that it's fun cycling along pathways that are not much more than a collection of frost heaves, potholes and cracks the size of the San Andreas fault lines then you would be mistaken. I found myself weaving around the worst of the potholes, cracks and other nasties as though I were a downhill skier. It got to the point, though, where my eyeballs just couldn't handle the relentless bumping and bouncing around so I switched to the side streets around the library - at least just until my eyeballs could stop bouncing around and my vision was restored to something useful.

No matter, though, I had a lot of fun and my ever trusty catrike survived the whole eyes, however, took a little longer.

Tally for both trips was 11.5 kilometres done. That leaves me 145.7 to go as of today.