Monday, October 01, 2007

Shawbridge-Rawdon - where's the bridge?

Laurentian autumn colours and hills

More colours, and more hills!

Colors and darkness, oh-oh!

I went for a new ride on the weekend, I have a good exploration-urge which my out-in-the-boonies bike rides satisfy, but I do need a constant supply of new rides. So I had read a quebec cycling forum about riding in the laurentians near montreal, heading northeast and back. Shawbridge to Rawdon, return via Chertsey, Esterel and Ste-Adele. Hilly was the basic message. Good enough for me, I got out the google maps, and finessed the route (now the route-path on the google maps is, drag and drop, and makes route definition very easy and fun, and best of all: precise! With the route in hand I had a very good idea where I was going, so at 12:10 pm I left in the car. That's a bit late. Ok, that's very late.

At 1:28 I left the car behind and I was on the road on two wheels. The first part went well, outwards in a north-east direction. There were constant hills, then lake, then constant hills, etc. One big lake (lac Achigan) had a big hill when leaving the lake side. Long and steep. The test for this is simple: did a cement mixer drop some of its' load on the climb? If so, then it's a steep hill, and here was lots of cement on the road. This hill killed, but eventually I got to the top, and on the other side was typical twisty laurentians road, except 1) I was descending for a change, and 2) they was new pavement (also a change). So this part was a real highlight. Gravity was my friend for a little while.

The next good thing happened when I reached the point where I had a choice of little loop ride or big (i.e. longer) loop ride. I here arrived in less than 2 hours, so I figured I had time for the extended play version. So I headed towards Rawdon, figuring to turn off on a sideroad through scenic wild lands. (this was on my map). I found the turnoff that would take me in a loop around and back to the section of the ride I like to call "homeward bound." It's always a good feeling when on a new road, and you take that turn, and it's homewards direction, which gives the happy feeling of maybe I will survive todays epic-death-ride!

Anyway to make a long story short, I was almost done this section of road, when I arrived at the bridge only a few km short of rejoining civilization and heading home at Chertsey. Great I thought, another route puzzle solved, so here I turned.

And then stopped abruptly.

Ok, this was the road, but where was the bridge? I was at the river, and all I could see was a construction project with no bridge.

oh f**k s**t no.

Despite my detailed examination, the only option was to backtrack, although everyone tells me today that I could have waded across the river (There was a rope) but drowning or immersion therapy wasn't what I had intended for today's entertainment.

While backtracking, I noticed this important sign

With this little situation adding to the recipe of todays ride, I had no choice but to put the hammer down and (since it was now downhill) go fast! I definitely made good time retracing my route.

Next decision-point was for me to decide if I wanted to abort the return leg of the ride and just retrace my outward-direction section. Aww hell I thought, I can do a bit of riding in the dark, while still optimistically believing that a) the sun will set later than it does, and b) that I was riding faster than I was (meaning I thought I would sustain this downhill speed for the next 3 hours.... not likely now that I have the benefit of 20:20 hindsight).

So I was back on my original circuit, but I was behind schedule. So what happensd next: steep long hills! yes, and more cement on the road. I decided that since I had been hammering for two hours, a little walk up this hill with a pause at the top would re-energize me, so that's what I did, and the break paid off in more ways than I expected: in no time it was good pavement and mainly-descent back to the laurentian autoroute corridor area and the area around Ste-Adele.

Here I noticed I was crossing the P'tit train de nord bike path, and as this was my plan, I took this excellent downhill path back to the car, about 20 km. Since it was geting darker and darker, so the bike path, which was dowhill, would boost my avg speed and cut some km's off the ride. In fact that had been my plan, I just wasn't sure where I'd join the path, this spot was earlier than I had planned, but it worked out perfectly.

And then a deer darted out inthe path in front of me - Aieee!

but Al-Deeraida didn't take me out and I got back to the car in one piece, but with some extra clothing, cuz when the sun goes down, like it did 30 minuted before I finished the ride, it's gets cold!

So to summarize: an interesting ride, but too many cars and bumpy roads and not enough bridges! But it was still 122km of fun. Maybe I have to get an earlier start than leaving home at 12:10 pm!

My average speed was 23.2 km, which is interesting, my warmup seems to take about three hours, because I am noticibly faster on the second half of the ride than the first half (and it's not just because its the downhill & tailwind leg. )

If I need to be more depressed, I compare my speed to the new record for the marathon set on the weekend: the marathoner's avg speed was 20.26 km/h running for 2 hours. If he has three hours to warm up his speed would have beaten mine!! Seriously, those marathoners are wickedly fast. And, well, they don't do it on the hills, like I had to do. Still, that's quite a job that guy did, but I am quite happy to have survived my own little adventure.

Here is a link to the route map, it turned out just like I planned....almost! (link) important: this route includes the missing bridge.

ATTENTION the bridge is now replaced and open.


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