We’re now well into fall and winter is starting to arrive. For many, this means setting up the trainer or signing up for a spin class and riding indoors. For others (like me), it means getting out the warm clothing layers and getting out on the gravel roads!
First, a bit of history: I started cycling in the 1990s as a mountain biker (discounting rides around the neighbourhood as a kid). I used to ride once a week in Dundas Valley before mountain biking was popular. When I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club in 2002, I bought a used road bike and joined the group rides, although my passion was still on the trails. Continue reading
I’ve always thought that weather is perfect when we’re not talking about it. It’s easy to say it’s too cold or too hot or too humid or too windy or too wet to go for a bike ride. 2017 has been an interesting year, weather-wise. Summer was probably “average, in terms of temperature and rainfall, but it seemed like we didn’t have the heatwave that we normally get, and it seemed to rain every few days.
2017 marks the third year that I’ve signed up for the Share the Road ride (Greg’s Ride). Each year in September SharetheRoad.ca organizes a charity ride to raise money to support their cause. I have previously blogged about the history of Share the Road here. Founder Eleanor McMahon has created an amazing program to support cycling awareness and infrastructure across Ontario.
I’ve been at my current day job for about six years, and when I started in 2011, the commute was a short 9-10 km distance that I didn’t cycle enough. I even had the luxury of secure bike storage, a shower, and the Grand River Trail. In March of this year, my employer moved to Guelph, and my commute jumped to about 22 km. Strangely, I’ve commuted by bike this year a lot more than in previous years when I had a shorter commute.
I am a cyclist. I’m a mountain biker, a roadie, a gravel cyclist, a fat biker. A commuter, a touring cyclist, and an occasional racer I ride 12 months of the year. In temperatures from as high as 35 C to as low as minus 25 C. In snow, rain, wind, sun, clouds. Up hills. Down hills. Fast. Slow.
It’s been an odd summer. We haven’t had the normal heat wave, and it seems like we get a good rain storm every few days. I’m not one to complain a lot about the weather, but as a cyclist, I’m always paying attention to it. I’m finally at the point in my concussion recover that I feel like I can ride a little harder and a little further, and now, the limiting factor is my lack of fitness, rather than my concussion symptoms. I’m not entirely symptom free, but I’m feeling better with each ride.
In my hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo, we’ve been extremely lucky to have one of the best mountain bike trail systems in Ontario. The Hydrocut has been a favourite mountain-biking destination for many years, with as many as 40,000 riders visiting each year. I first rode these trails more than 20 years ago (around 1992) when I heard a rumour that there were some trails “behind the landfill”. After lifting my bike over a fence, I discovered a hidden gem of a forest with a confusing network of trails with elevated platforms built between the trails in some areas.
Finally the nice weather is upon us! And I’ve been able to enjoy the sunshine by riding more. This includes some city riding to local destinations, and a nice weekend gravel grinder with my riding buddy Ron (founder of Contrabean – a local coffee roasting company). Ron and I used to ride a lot together and we entered many mountain bike events (24- and 8- hour relays, and Crank the Shield). Times have changed but we still enjoy getting out.
Finally, after half a year, I joined a group ride. I started the weekend gravel grinder rides with the Waterloo Cycling Club about five years ago and these rides have been very popular in the fall, winter and spring. Last fall, I was able to find a good group of folks to lead these rides in my absence. This Family Day weekend, I was able to join for these gravel grinder rides for the first time since the spring of 2016.