In the birdwatching world, there is an informal competition about who can spot and listen the most species of birds in a geographical area in the same calendar year. It’s a big deal an they even made a movie about it with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, it’s a good movie, check it out. I’ve known about big years for a while, even before the movie. And even if I’m no birder, I have always like the idea of a large challenge that is more of a marathon than a sprint contest.
So when I started off my cycling season this year on April 8th, I was not thinking of anything more than heading towards 100 daily commutes. It seem possible as long as I was willing to put in the 5 days week in the summer and trying ramping up to it as quickly as possible. So after a respectable 600 plus kliometer month of April, May 4th marked my first 5 day riding week and 1162KM as well as the introduction of the Green Hornet. June, July and August marked a crazy >1250KM three month streak. During that summer period, I rode to Quebec City on a tricycle to kick cancer’s ass and put in an Epic 8 Century Rides (Metric of Course EH!). In seeptember, I had my first real accident in years. I hit another cyclist head on while cheating my line and moving a littel agressively for a commute. I slight shoulder separation later and I still manage to put in 771Km and 15 commutes. October got things back on track with 17 commutes and 890KM. On October 23rd, I hit the magic 100 day commute. But the weather was great so I kept riding. For the week of Nov 2nd, I put in another 5 day commute week and topped it off with great Rotters ride to put in a 300KM week… IN NOVEMBER. Crazy Right. But this Morning I got up and looked out the window and then checked the forecast Sunny and Cold but DRY! So I put on my booties and my lobster mits, took a good dose of MTFU and then JFR’d into work for 7990. Tonight’s Commute 113 Back marked 8015KM so far.
The wildest part is that the season started off very windy and at one point I felt like I was going to blow my knees out on the fixed gear Peugeot. That’s when I decided to suck up my pride and make my daily ride along North America’s longest wind tunnel: the Lachine Canal a little easier and get myself a “real” commuter. A deep analysis and a few spreadsheets later, I picked up the Great Hornet from Martin Swiss in Westmount. The Hornet is a green Kona Rove (2013 model) with a steel frame, disc brakes, SRAM groupo, my Brooks saddle and some racks for my waterproof paniers. The Rove is a CycloCross adventure bike which is ideal for commuters who want a little weekend warrior gravel action. I swapped out the 32mm knobbly tires for some 28mm Gatorskins, kept the pressure at 90-95psi and re-leanrt to spin up at 90RPM to save my knees. After putting in over 5000KM on it this year in commuting and the occasional trip to the yacht club or Le Petit Train du Nord, I really grown to love riding it fully loaded. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still rolling at 30Km/h and occasionally attacking at 38-40km/h but this bike is about the ride and not the KOM. Especially after the accident, I realised how much I really enjoy the ride. Waking up to the lakehore breeze and then finding some post work zen on the commute home, thinking about that well deserved beer waiting for me on the deck. Because let’s face it, that is still why we ride.
I am sure there are guys out there that can put in 10,000 plus km in year. But for a father of four living in the Great White North with a full time job and a growing sailing addiction, this has been a BIG YEAR indeed. I have loved every kilometer of it and the pleasure sharing those rides with JubJub, Sudsy, Woody, Alister, El Capitan, Blair, The Hulk, Quadzilla, SnowMeal, Rooster, Doug, Luc, Fred, Martin, J-B, Simon, Pascal, The Rotters, Team Kat, Morgan Foreman, Les Boys, Shlowy, Maddy and Patate. I really want to thank you all for sharing the road with me on this Tour de Francois.