Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Letter to a friend

Exploring: this is fun and were having it.

I have been exploring, and having fun (maybe too much fun?). So I did another big ride in the nice hills north of Thetford Mines in the start of the Appalachian hills. This is my third visit here and this time I started in Plessisville. Again there were a lot and lots of hills, this time with 7000 ft climbing (!!!), and happily, descending too. One hill, was 1000 ft up a crazy steep dirt road to the village, but then 1000 ft downhill in 7 km on the newly paved road on the other side - heaven and hell on the same hill. This was Vianney, which I had a feeling in my gut would be both very good and very bad, and it was lots of both.

The main bad thing besides the Vianney dirt hill was that there was not enough light for the ride length of 150 km, I finished after dark (and I don't mean after sunset, I mean after real darkness has arrived), but I had a light and reflectorized clothing, and a good paved shoulder on the final main road. I was sure happy to finish, because by now the mood of the ride had transitioned from recreation.... to survival!

Bird of prey sizing us up, how would we taste for his breakfast?

The ride's purpose (besides excellent hills and scenery) was to continue my explorations in this region, it was my third visit here - three weeks in a row. In these three visits I rode 425 km and 16500 ft climbing, and yes my legs are getting a lot stronger. (It might be time to do the famous Vermont six-gaps ride)

This was supposed to be a 124 km ride, but I forgot to map the first section that was away from highway, and I missed one turn (the map was clear and I definitely should have looked at it before I passed through the village!), but these are some of the characteristic adventures of the exploration ride genre.

I have to say that the perfect hot summer weather of last week was gone and I had to wear vest, arm warmers, tights, and neck and ear warmers all ride. WTF!!! And the winds were gusting up to 49 km/h. This plus the hills really screwed my avg speed, it was down in the high teens and this meant 8 hours in the saddle out of the 9.5 hours of the ride. Still, I was having good leg strength all ride, even at the end, which was a BIG surprise! One person even cheered me on when I was standing up on the climb back up the hill after that missed turn. This was a surprise, and definitely helped the morale!

Anyway, that was a good ride, and I am progressing towards developing the "keeper" ride of the region that hits all the good parts of this region. Towards this goal, starting in Plessisville is a good thing, and the Vianney hill from St-Ferdinand is also a highlight. And the scenery is extremely nice.

This ride had some unnatural sights, such as...

The blue tree is definitely not as nature intended.

Outdoor cactus garden in Quebec?

Man-made mountain scenery


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