Author Topic: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++  (Read 10143 times)

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #90 on: August 20, 2021, 04:04:20 PM »
John, if it weren't for the orange stripe in the middle of the road aligning the photos on the West side of the Atlantic, you could have taken those in the Green & Beloved Isle.

We have white strip in the middle of the road, separating lanes, and orange lines indicating the hard shoulder, beloved of cyclists; the photo shows a small road already too big and busy -- the council doesn't paint lines on the best roads for cyclists -- for social cyclists because the "hard shoulder" is non-existent and there are lots of blind spots where a speeding driver won't see cyclists until he's right on them. That road is only suitable for hardened acolytes of John Forester's "Take the lane" persuasion. Tell the pol responsible for banning cars in the Gatineau we have an honoured place for him in Ireland.



We look forward to your report of your mini-tour. May all your hills be downhill and may the wind ever be behind you.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2021, 04:09:09 PM by Andre Jute »

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #91 on: October 10, 2021, 02:04:33 AM »
Andre, the notes and photos of my mini-tour are not quite finished...

Instead: Last overnight camping trip of the year

On Tuesday/Wednesday this past week, I took advantage of a benevolent weather forecast to make one last overnight trip of the year: an afternoon ride N and W of Ottawa to a campsite in Fitzroy Provincial Park, on the south bank of the Ottawa River, returning home the next morning via the Québec side.  Total distance would be about 115 – 135 kms, depending on the return route.

The weather proved to be nothing short of brilliant for riding: sunny and warm, with temps around 19 or 20 and gentle winds.  And, the foliage was just beginning to turn. Photo 1 below shows the Old Carp Road, leading NW out of the city towards the small agricultural village that has now morphed into a suburb within the extended boundary of the metropolitan area. 

Photo 2 below is in West Québec, a view across a field of canola (or mustard?) towards the Eardley Escarpment, the ancient granite ridge that parallels the northeastern bank of the river.  (Most of my photos of this area are taken from atop that escarpment, usually from Champlain Lookout.  A plaque there informs the reader/viewer that 12,000 years ago, “The spot where you are standing was under 2200 metres of ice.”)

Leaving Carp mid-afternoon on Tuesday, I saw a touring bike and rider coming my way.  He waved me down, and I stopped to chat.  Andrew was riding from BC to Newfoundland, and could I give him directions to a motel in Kanata, a western ‘burb of Ottawa?  I couldn’t but I could tell him how to get through Carp to a main street in Kanata, where he could almost certainly get the info he needed.  He was riding a heavily loaded Surly Big Dummy – see Photo 4 below, with his bike posed beside Bay Lakes in Banff.  Andrew told me he was 50, riding across Canada after finishing a career in the military.  He’d been a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, so we compared notes briefly, myself and my wife from military families, but not members the armed forces. He mentioned that he’d been born in Uganda, and I asked how that had happened. His parents had been missionaries, and he’d been born just as Idi Amin had seized power; and after that, his parents had returned to Canada. 

What a spooky coincidence:  I had been in Kampala in January 1971, around the time he was an infant.  At that time, I was ¾ of the way through a grand hitchhiking-bus-train-and-boat journey through East Africa, from the Luapula Valley in Zambia to Kilimanjaro, Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kampala.  That city was full of mobile gangs of armed men, some in uniform, some not, and there was a Seriously Bad Vibe—although at that time, regular citizens had no sense of the horrors to come.  I left as quickly as I could, taking the SS Victoria across the big lake, and then train and buses back to my teaching post in Luapula. 

We exchanged phone numbers, and I wished him bon voyage and good weather.  If/if the weather holds, he could reach The Rock by the end of October.

Fitzroy Park was maybe 10% full, so I found my favourite campsite beside the small carp river, near its confluence with the Ottawa. Photo 3 below shows Osi the Raven in Updated Touring Gear mode:  Lightweight Altura Vortex 30-ltr panniers in front; a Revelate Sweetroll 11-ltr handlebar bag attached to my Thorn Accessory bar, stuffed with my rain gear; a small (4 ltr) Axiom handlebar bag atop that, carrying odds & ends but also serving to protect my Sinewave charger from the elements, because the Sweetroll left it exposed; and my medium Revelate Tangle frame bag replacing the usual large ditto.  The Arkel Ultra-lite panniers at the rear are unchanged, as is my Tubus Vega rack and my Tarptent Moment one-person tent.

Pretty much everything worked well, with one exception. The Vortex front panniers offer a considerable weight saving (almost 3 lbs) over the Arkel Dauphins they have temporarily replaced.  Their fastening apparatus of straps and clips is fiddly in the extreme, however, a world apart from the Arkels’ hooks-cams-and-cord mechanism.  As an example: My Arkel Ultra-lites use an elasticated hook to mate with the lower V of my Tubus rack.  Why could Altura not use something similar with their Vortex bags?  Instead, the rider has to thread a Velcro strap through a clip, and to do so by feel, as there’s a pannier in the line of sight.  It’s lighter than an elasticated hook, I guess, but after spending some minutes trying to get it to co-operate, it felt like an unnecessarily elaborate rip-off.  :(

The night in Fitzroy was memorable for not-so-happy reasons. The setting was beautiful, and the birds—especially the geese, prepping for their southerly trek—magnificent as always.  But, the night was more humid than anything I can remember—heavy dew, buckets of condensation everywhere, and dense fog.  Anticipating a long steep (12%) climb up the Eardley Escarpment, I had cut a few corners on weight, too, including departing from my routine of packing a tarp.  A “good idea at the time” turned out to be a classic false economy – the tarp would have ensured a much drier breakfast and quicker packup.

As it turned out, I left the campground an hour-plus later than I normally would, and decided not to climb the scarp after all, opting instead for a shorter return route.  Happily, that included part of Québec’s Route verte cycling network, which led me past the colours in photo #2.  And, I dodged an often busy secondary highway, reaching home instead via the cycle paths on the Québec side of the river.  The Eardley climb will still be there next year.

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #92 on: October 10, 2021, 04:38:16 PM »
Osi the Raven is very elegant on his own shooting stick! And I hope you have an email address for the cyclist you so fortuitously met on the road, John; that's a postcard-perfect image of his bike against an almost incredibly pure background. Such whites in the clouds...

Another fascinating report, for which thanks. Is that rape-seed, the acid-yellow stuff? A few years ago we had fields and fields of the stuff here when there was some kind of a EU bounty on it for use in making biofuel.

From the icy lines down the mountain (left over from last year or has it snowed already this year?) it looks like your estimation of further touring possibilities this year is spot on.

We've had a miserable week, rain, cold, wind -- and then suddenly a lovely few days of late summer - if you overlooks some clouds, always an Irish condition -- in West Cork in October. During the misery, on the principle of what you can't see can't give you the willies, I went for a ride before light but dawdled along the way to sketch an inquisitive calf so that I reached home at dawn, just at that moment between night and day in which my bike-Olympus, wide-open, could capture some details of a late-Medieval village, including what a good job the BUMM Cyo lamp was doing: 




John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #93 on: October 10, 2021, 06:06:46 PM »
Thanks, Andre - always enjoy reading your comments!

Yes, Andrew's photo nicely explains why Banff is so celebrated/mythological.  A comparable cross-reference:  Some years back, the CBC ran a contest, asking listeners/viewers for their "Seven Wonders of Canada".  One of the Splendid Seven--justly so, I think--was "Prairie Skies".

Closer to home, there's no ice on the escarpment yet, though there are some permanent streams and many more seasonal ones, which flourish in the spring run-off.  This photo does show the stark granite face of the scarp to good effect.

The field is likely canola, renamed from rapeseed. The "ca" first syllable is a nod, I think, to the colossal production of the seed on the prairies -- that is, in years when the "normal" rainfall of 10-12 inches comes as it should in late spring.  This year, it didn't, and I understand that the crop is down about 75-80%.

And thanks too for your village-hill-at dusk photo.  Jeez, I'd nearly forgotten!:  the gloom calls to mind the timeless comment by Yogi Berra, shifted from catcher (=WK) to left field in the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, after his knees could no longer take the crouching behind the plate: of the shadows which made the ball often unplayable and caused him to miss an easy catch, he said, "It gets late early out there!" (Apologies for that run-on sentence...) [two colons, indeed  :( :( ]

Cheers,  J.

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #94 on: October 10, 2021, 10:06:39 PM »
Some people will never be forgiven two colons; with those who write better two colons aren't even noticed.

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #95 on: October 10, 2021, 11:09:21 PM »
 ;) 👍

John Saxby

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #96 on: October 30, 2021, 07:40:44 PM »
Last ride of 2021?

Maybe not yet -- last year, I was up in the Gatineau Hills with my buddy Dave on Nov. 8, and in past years I've been there in mid-November. Either way, though, there's a good chance that in six weeks' time, people will be cross-country skiing on the parkways.

Yesterday was a bright sunny-and-cool late fall day, a brisk northeasterly signalling the forecast rain to come.  Busy with with domestic chores and administrivia, I took just a short two-and-a-half hour ride up to the Pink Lake lookout.

The geese are still out in their numbers, munching the grass beside the river and poo-poohing feeble human claims to hegemony over the bikepaths.

In the hills, the  autumn foliage is now very muted.  The dominant colours are brown and grey, with some splashes of red or yellow remaining, along with the green of the conifers (though even they are looking a bit tatty). On a more positive note, the woods are once again full of sunlight for the first time since spring.  (Photos # 1 and 2 below.)
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 07:43:00 PM by John Saxby »

Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #97 on: October 31, 2021, 06:35:05 AM »
What more can you ask in the northern hemisphere than a spot of sunshine at this end of the year? You deserve it for the cancellation of your trip Down Under.

Misery here, lashing rain for days on end, one day of inconveniently-placed part-sunshine when I've already done my penance on the treadmill, makes me, as it does you, yearn for years past when the stopped cycling deep into November or even almost until Christmas, and started up again not too long after New Year. We were harder then. Curse the pandemic.

I've been meaning to ask you about Pink Lake: every time you show it, there's a deep vertical edge, and the whole thing looks like a spent volcano catching the runoff. Is it a swimming lake, or are there no shallow ends to it?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2021, 06:39:45 AM by Andre Jute »

John Saxby

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« Reply #98 on: October 31, 2021, 02:57:55 PM »
Thanks, Andre.  A little about Pink Lake:  it's named after an early European settler, who got a land grant in the early 1800s. (There were a number of such grants made to Irish and U.S. settlers in those days -- there are a few hillsides in the Gatineau where apple trees signal a former farm orchard.)

It's a meromictic lake, one in which the layers of water don't mix.  I understand that in Pink Lake, there's no oxygen below about 15 metres. It's steep-sided, and fairly deep, over 30 metres, I understand.

Swimming is no longer allowed -- since the 1960s, phosphate runoff from the road has encouraged the growth of algae, so that the lake turns green from early June onwards.  One summer in the early 1960s, when I was in high school, I visited my older sister and brother-in-law, who were living in Ottawa at the time, and we went for a swim at the northern end of the lake.  There's a convenient shelving rock there, one of only a couple of points where a swimmer would get easy access to the water.  It was a lovely swimming hole, as I recall--cool, steep dropoff, no algae when I was there.

The Gatineau area--much of Western Qué, across the river from Ottawa, is full of outcrops of the Laurentian Shield, obdurate ridges, cliffs and crevices of ancient granite. Their absolute height above sea level is limited--highest spot in Eastern Ontario, for example, is a round-top "mountain" about 650 metres high--because the glaciers did such a thorough job of gouging, scouring, and flattening the PreCambrian rock.

Some wildlife relics of that era remain: Pink Lake harbours a little stickleback fish which once lived in the saline Champlain Sea that once covered the area after the end of the last Ice Age.  It has since adapted to the desalinization of the waters. (How it manages with the algae on one hand, and the lack of oxygen on the other, I don't know, but it's obviously a resilient little thing.)

Cheers,  J.


Andre Jute

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Re: Rides 2021 +++ Add yours here +++
« Reply #99 on: October 31, 2021, 11:23:54 PM »
Thanks John. Great knowing someone who knows all the words. I realized long since, of course, about when I took up hillwalking and then cycling in the countryside, that I didn't have the topological and geological vocabulary, and it was impressed upon me again when I recently read Stephen C Meyer's books, which starts (for me anyway -- his description of the key event begins in an early chapter of Darwin's Doubt) with his demolition of Neo-Darwinism at a visit to the Cambrian Shale in the Canadian Rockies made famous by Walcott of the Smithsonian -- that I had learned less than I might have; for many years scientific friends held a hatchet I took decades ago to statistical cheatery in Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker, which undermines his entire argument. Still, I spent the time cycling instead...

Good on you, robber.