Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A metric century

Things have been lovely but busy here in Montreal. The SO and I relocated all of things from New York in July, and we've been busy setting up our new apartment here. All of my spare time has been taken up with little projects around the house so I haven't had much time for sewing, but we have had some time for a few little bike adventures. Our new place is just a block from the Lachine Canal bike path, which connects up with the Route Verte network of bike pathways that runs throughout the province. You can bike for miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers!) on nice, paved bikeways.

This weekend we decided to try for a metric century (100 km, or 62 miles). I love hitting little bike milestones, and this seemed like a totally doable goal even though I haven't been riding all that much this season. The furthest I'd biked in one day up to this point was around 56 miles, so it wasn't that much more mileage and many of the routes around here are dead flat (nothing like hilly upstate NY!).

It takes a little while to get out of town and through the suburbs, but parts of the urban bikeways are still really pretty. The photo above is taken along the bike path that runs on top of the Champlain Bridge ice control structure. It's a 2 km long barrier that spans most of the river and it's closed to cars, so you can take it easy and look around while you bike across.

We headed down towards St Jean sur Richelieu, a small town about 50 km from Montreal. We took the Route Verte on the way down, which goes through the countryside a bit and then follows a canal all the way into the town. This was one of the nicest stretches of the ride, but unfortunately I was also the most tired for this part -- by the time we were approaching the town it was mid day and I was hot and hungry. Being out in the sun for 6 hours was probably at least as challenging as being on the bike for six hours; I really don't do well in the heat.

But, we made it through and found a great little pub for lunch. I can't remember the name of this place, but I really hope that if we ever bike this way again we can find this place. It had a huge, shady patio with Adirondack chairs, ping pong, a foosball table and even a bike parking area. I got a giant plate of nachos and a beer for lunch. These were seriously cheesy and giant, I didn't even finish half of them! All that good cheese gone to waste...

Prying myself out of that Adirondack chair after lunch was difficult, but the SO was determined to keep us on schedule so that we could make it home before it got too dark. Somewhere after lunch I hit my stride, and on the way back we only made two brief stops (for a popsicle, and to enjoy the view from the other side of the river). By the time we made it back to the Lachine canal the sun was getting low in the sky, just in time to give us a nice view on the way home.

It took us about six hours of riding time, with a total distance of 108km and an average riding speed of about 11 mph (17 kph). I was trying to keep it slow so that I wouldn't wear myself out, and in retrospect I think that this was a little too slow -- my butt hurt more than my legs at the end of the day, so I think I could probably push a little harder. This trip was almost exactly 2/3 of a century ride (100 miles), and honestly, I can't imagine biking 50% more, even on those flat bike paths. But then, I certainly didn't imagine myself ever biking 100 km a few years ago, so maybe I'll make it to an imperial century yet!