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Roly's Ride

 

Picture from a previous adventure

From: Roly Mailloux

Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 14:49
Subject: It's A Small World and The RLCT

Some of you already were aware that I planned to cycle from Ottawa to Kingston and back over the past weekend (June 7 & 8) on the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour organized by the Ottawa Bicycle Club. There were three options (1)The Classic (177 kms both ways) (2) The Century (100 kms both ways leaving/returning Perth) or (3) The Challenge (not sure how many kms but one rider in our group did 214 kms from Ottawa to Kingston). I opted for the Classic. I left Carleton U at 6:45 Saturday morning with 8 other cyclists. We turned left on Col. By, crossed over Hog's Back Bridge and continued along Meadowlands. We hadn't even gotten to Fisher when our most experienced rider called out that he had a flat. He then quickly proceeded to give us a "How to change a flat tire 101" clinic and in less than 5 minutes we were on our way again. We cycled along Meadowlands, left on Woodroffe, right on Knoxdale, right on Hunt Club, left on Robertson, right on Hope Side Road,  left on Eaglegson, right on Flewellyn and into Ashton for our first pit stop. Fifteen minutes later it was back in the saddle again and off to Perth for lunch. Everyone was feeling the heat and to top it all off we were pedalling into a fairly strong head wind. After a half hour break we headed for Westport. Lots of hills. The combination of heat, head wind and hills was starting to have an effect on my legs, more specifically my hamstrings. I had to get off several times and walk up the hills to work off the cramps in my inner thighs. Eventually we made it to the gas station in Westport but it was a zoo. Peter, who had stayed with me to keep an eye on me in case I "bonked" out on the highway, suggested we cycle up to the North Crosby Community Centre (another 4 kms up the road) where there would be refreshments. When I turned onto CR 10 and started up the hill I made a mistake and shifted to a harder gear when I should have shifted down to a lower gear. Once again I had to get off and walk up the rest of the hill. Eventually I made it to Shillington Park where the rest of the group was waiting. By this time I had done 124.59 kms in the heat, with a strong head wind and lots of uphill. My hamstrings were like violin strings especially when trying to climb hills. I decided to call it a day and wait for a SAG wagon to pick me up and take me and my gear the rest of the way to Kingston. As one of the guys in the group pointed out I at least had the satisfaction of being able to say I had cycled further than those starting out from Perth and only doing The Century. I swallowed my pride and told myself better to be safe than to risk tearing a hamstring.
While waiting for the SAG wagon to arrive I noticed that the person who was operating the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) had Veterans plates on his pickup truck and was wearing an HMCS Ottawa hat. There was a lot of "chatter" on the shortwave radio and some morse code. I mentioned I had been a Radio Man in the Navy before joining Foreign Affairs. He then asked me if I knew Scotty Wensel. I said I knew a Ron Wensel who was married to a french girl from France. He said Ron "Scotty" Wensel was his good friend and they had been Radio Specialist together. He also mentioned that they had had quite a "vacation" in Hawaii. Before I could get the details of this "vacation" out of him a support van arrived but was only able to take our bikes (there were 3 of us waiting for a ride) to Kingston. There was a lot of confusion, a lot of chatter on the ARES, there were bikers dropping all over the place. I was able to determine there were 3 SAG wagons, 2 support vans, numerous stations and base control. At one point one of the persons manning one of the stations was asked how he was doing. He replied "I'm ready to be turned over". I guess there wasn't much shade where he was located. Eventually a SAG wagon arrived with 5 persons in it. The driver, the radio operator and 3 passengers (1 male and 2 females). The rear seat had been removed so there was really only seat belts for 5 passengers. There were two bikes in the back cargo area plus a cooler and a couple cases of bottled water. The driver said he could fit a small person in the back or the two girls providing they were agreeable. This freed up two places in the van. The dilemna was now having to decide who would get to go and who would stay behind to wait for the next SAG wagon to show up. I was prepared to wait as I knew the others had been waiting longer than I had (3 hours at this point in time). The guy who had been waiting the longest insisted I go first probably because I was the oldest and because my legs were really cramping up. There had been nowheres to sit while waiting so I had tried to lay down on the grass while waiting. After a half hour of lying in the shade when I tried to stand up my hamstrings had completely cramped up and I was barely able to walk. The ARES guy came over to help me get my bike and gear together and helped me get to the van. In all the confusion I forgot to get his name.
Eventually we made it to Kingston after stopping several times on the way to make sure other cyclist who were resting along the side of the road were OK. By this time it was going on 6:30 and the support people were beginning to tire and wanting to go home for dinner, etc. All riders said they were OK and would make their way to Kingston on their own. I passed 2 guys from my group who still had 20 kms to go. They really seemed to be struggling. I then passed the remainder of the group who were approaching the outskirts of Kingston at Hwy 401 and only had 6 kms to go. Once I arrived at the Finish I looked for my bike but it hadn't arrived yet. I checked in and got my key (C502 in Victoria Hall), picked up my bag and walked over to my dorm room for the night. It was very clean, the bed was made up with fresh linens, and there were clean towels, a facecloth, soap, drinking cups and a floor fan. I went back to the Finish and was able to collect my bike which by this time had arrived on top of the support van. Put my bike away in my room on the 5th floor, had a shower and walked over to Ban Righ Hall for dinner. Met up with the other guys from my original group plus those who had cycled from Perth. Lots of terrific food, desserts, drinks, etc. I really pigged out. After dinner we walked over to the beer beer and headed off to bed.
I managed to get a half decent nights sleep. I had done a half hour of stretches before going to bed and another 40 minutes when I got up. I also took a couple of Advil before going to bed and a Celebrex in the morning. Walked over to breakfast at 5:30. Met the others who planned to depart at 6:30. Quickly ate breakfast. Again stuffing myself with scrambled eggs, sausages, waffles/syrup, juice, bananas, etc. Checked out of the dorm and dropped off my bag to be trucked back to Ottawa. Met the others and after the compulsory photos departed for Westport at 6:45. All went well and I felt great. This time I decided to stay in my "Grannie Gears" all the way. Even when I was going down hills. We arrived at the Shillington Park/North Crosby Community Centre around 9:30. The person manning the ARES was still the same guy. I went over and said hello, thanked him once again for helping me the previous evening and asked him for his name. George Ward. So Ron Wensel if you are reading this George sends his regards. 
After a short rest in N. Crosby we headed out for Westport and the Mother Of All Hills. I had been warned by several people who had previously cycled RLCT that this was a real killer but Barrie Thomas had told me that it was do-able as it was at the beginning of the second day's ride and therefore I should be much fresher. Barrie was right. I managed to peddle my ass all the way up that f...ing hill without having to get off and walk as I noticed many were having to do. Mind you I didn't fly up that hill like some of the guys on racing bikes but nevertheless me and my Rocky Mountain Sherpa 10 Touring bike made it. BTW I forgot to mention that on the way down I clocked 64.6 kph just coasting down Westport Hill. Had I been pedalling I'm sure I could have topped 70 kph.
Well to make a long story short we finally arrived back at Carleton U around 5:45. Managed to down a couple of beers and drove home. The temp. gauge inside the car was reading an outside temp of 33 C. Not sure what the humidex reading was. When I got home I weighed myself. Before leaving I weighed 203.2 after the ride I was 199.2. I had finally broken the 200 lbs barrier which I have been trying to accomplish for over a year now. For those of you who like to keep stats the following are the readings from my bicycle computer:
Day 1 TRP 124.59 AVS 19.63 STP 6:20:48 MAX 64.6 DST 1058
Day 2 TRP 179.63 AVS 22.67 STP 7:55:20 MAX 57.8 DST 1238 (What a difference a tail wind makes).
I don't have Ron Wensel's e-mail address so if anyone of you should happen to have it I would be grateful if you could let me know what it is so that I can pass this along to him.
For David Smith: George Ward says he lives in Westport. He drives a black pickup truck. Perhaps you know him? If not he would be a great guy to get acquainted with as I'm sure you would have some interesting stories to swap.
Cheers, Roly

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OFARTS Canada 2008 Old Foreign Affairs Retired Technicians, Canada The opinions expressed here are those of the contributors. Accuracy of facts has not been verified in all cases.