Unlimited Youth

Posted: August 26, 2016 in Motivation, Uncategorized
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Just in case you needed some extra motivation today to get out there and at ’em, may I introduce to you Sister Madonna Ruder who, at 86 years young, has already completed 40-some odd Ironman competitions.

I mean, after the first two dozen or so, who’s really keeping track?

You can learn more about the “Iron Sister” HERE.

Happy trails today, sonny.

I like swimming.  You could even say I love it.  Of the three triathlon disciplines it’s probably my strongest and the easiest to be motivated to train for.  In other words, it’s not hard to talk myself into my pool or open water workouts.  I mean, sometimes it sucks getting up early n’ all but once I’ve done so I typically enjoy myself.  I can’t always say that about, say, running.

Anyway, as with most things though it’s not all unicorns, lollipops and rainbows and there is a not so “glamorous” side to swimming.  This blog post then is a confession of sorts to the kinds of stuff that, while we have come to accept as swimmers, we don’t necessarily talk openly about either.

So keep reading at your own risk.

  1. ‘Snot Enough?

Yes, we swimmers tend to get really phlegmy from time to time.  And I’m talking about huge, glistening streams of yellowish snot rockets hanging from our nose.

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Swimming tends to increase phlegm build up inside your sinuses shortly after or during a swimming session meaning that every now and again we’ll surface with an enormous nose goblin hanging from our snoz.

I mean, it kind of makes sense when you consider that while you’re swimming, you’re basically allowing water to naturally enter your nasal passages in a minor amount despite either holding your breath or exhaling when submerged.

And then there’s the whole humidity thing going on in most pools causing boogers, which are little more than dehydrated snot, to rehydrate and become more fluid.  This pairing of conditions causes them to break loose from the interior of the nasal passage.  And when you’re exhaling forcefully as most swimmers are apt to do, boogies might cling to stray nose hairs and such, which leaves you seeing swimmers with what looks to be an eel hanging from their nostril.

And what else is there to do but wipe it off and carry on with the workout?

Still want to keep reading?

  1. Who gives a flying fart?

Yup, we fart too.

Well, at least I do so I’m sure other swimmers do as well.  Around our house, we simply refer to them as “pool farts”.

giphy

As best as I can figure it, while swimming a swimmer will swallow little bits of air here and there over and over again, not to mention little mouthfuls of water.  It’s just inevitable.  It happens.  So eventually, that build up of air has to come out somewhere.

Now, usually, this is not big deal.  Seldom are they the nasty, toxic beer and sauerkraut kind of fart, but more the breezy release of air that wafts out harmlessly and ripples to the surface like a bubble lazily drifting up to the surface from the ocean floor.  For me, this happens most often when I do my flip turns and I push off the wall leaving a little string of bubbles behind me with a low, audible underwater moan as if a dying sperm whale somewhere in the pool has up and kicked the bucket and I have to complete the next 25m or so with this little pocket of air sloshing around underneath my Speedo’s.

But then there’s the good ‘ol post-workout pool fart as you’re walking back to the car afterwards and, man, do these ever feel good.

It’s the best part of the workout if you ask me.

However, sometimes, depending on what you’ve eaten the night before (if you’re swimming in the morning) or before the workout (if you’re swimming later on) where you rip what you think is just going to be a harmless little squeaker and what bubbles up smells like it came up from the bowels of Hell itself.  These are certainly the more dire of the two.  Here, the water fart is 100% unfiltered; the Platonic ideal, the form, the ‘fart-in-itself’ if you will.  An ordinary air fart is simply a shadow cast into the physical realm of this singular perfection but these monsters, the unfiltered variety gets trapped in the water only to burst and be released upon the surface like angry Krakon it is.   If you launch one of these in the pool, my suggestion is to bid a hasty retreat to the next lane.

  1. Pee that as it may

I’ve already professed before my feelings about pissing in the pool (click HERE); that being, you just don’t do it.

Period.

However, maybe I was a bit hasty because, well, I do.  I mean, I don’t…but I do.

Ya, know?

survivor-smile

Now I’m not talking about full blown streams of piss here as if I was out behind the wood shed after a few wobbly pops and conscientiously letting ‘er rip into the wind, no.  I’m talking more about little slips here and there.

Have you ever noticed that when you swim you don’t really have any sense of your bladder?  I don’t know why, but it’s not until I come to wall and stop when I become aware that, yeah, I have to take a leak…except, I have a few more 100’s to do and so I decide to hold it.  C’mon, you’ve all been there.  So I might do a fast flip turn and, oops, a little gets released.

What can I say?

It happens.

          4.  Poo too?

Yup.

Shit.

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The CDC collected samples from public pool filters and found that 58% tested positive for E. Coli, which is usually found in feces.

I’m not saying that swimmers take dumps in the pool, hells no!  But you also have to remember that there are often kids in the pool when you’re not there and, even then, humans have, on average, .14 grams of fecal matter on their butt when they enter the pool and can easily contaminate the water.  Multiply that by the hundreds of people who visit the pool every day and you’ve got almost a full turd floating around.

       5.  The Dirty Truth

How about showering first before entering the pool?

Ha!

Not likely.

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A 2012 survey by the Water Quality and Health Council concluded that 43% of North Americans don’t shower before getting into the pool. Somehow they think that the chlorine with automatically make them clean.

It doesn’t.  And that’s gross.

And considering some of the people I’ve seen enter my local pool, well, let’s just say I don’t even want to go there in my mind.

So?

How excited are you now for your next swim workout?

(Disclaimer:  This post was written not to be abrasive, accusatory or argumentative in anyway.  It was inspired by both something I am passionate about as well as some of the recent observations I have made over the past few years in pursuing and impacting that passion)

There are lots of unique “challenges” out there to incite and inspire healthy lifestyle choices like the “30 Day Plank Challenge”, the “Push-up Challenge” and the “Sun Salutation Challenge”.  Strava alone is full of specified challenges to swim, bike and run certain distances, or climb a specific elevation, or maybe “race” a certain event within or over a set period of time.  Others challenges are more aimed at creating awareness around a very deserving cause, charity or foundation and will, likely, ask you to video tape yourself doing something silly like jumping into snow bank naked or dumping a bucket of ice water over your head.  You can view my own HERE.

It’s all for fun.

Ultimately the point is to inspire and motivate others to do something healthy and positive while raising awareness around something important…be it whatever it is.

My own cause is helping kids, even more so in recent years when I actually become a parent.

To this extent, I have supported the Strong Kids program at my local YMCA which provides healthy lifestyle programs and opportunities for disadvantaged kids.  Each year I swim 10 kilometers for Frank & Friends and participate in a Cycle-a-thon in support of the cause.

I have also just completed my 4th year working with the SunRype Tri-KiDS Triathlon series.  I started as a volunteer and have now graduated to becoming a part of the actual race crew responsible for organizing and running all the kids events in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.  Through doing this, I have learned just how important and vital volunteers are in making these events successful.

But the reality is, volunteers are not easy to come by and this never ceases to surprise me.

Most sporting communities with which I am associated tend to suggest that they are interested in “community”  and, often “giving back”.   I hear these two terms being thrown around a lot but, truthfully, I don’t always see these sentiments being put into practice…at least to the extent I think they should anyway.

My own triathlon group has this built right into their mission statement:

“…a supportive community of multisport athletes for all ages and abilities”.

 

It goes on to add:

“…as a club we train with a focus on having fun, building a sense of community, and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.”

Sounds great, right?

I agree.

So why then are volunteers often difficult to come by?  So I am throwing out another challenge to all my friends and peers:

The Volunteer Challenge.

My challenge is simple:  add one specific day or event to your calendar this season (or next) that involves sacrificing a bit of your time to instead help create a positive experience for someone else.

Period.

Full stop.

I’m suggesting that you actually go out there and volunteer for a group or organization that matters to you as a way of actually “giving back”  to that “community”  you are proud to be a member of.

Obviously, I am partial to kids and the SunRype Tri-KiDS organization in particular.  I mean, it’s the best of two worlds:  I get to help kids have a positive experience in their own triathlon endeavors and in doing that, I’m “giving back” and helping to establish the “community” that is very important to me.  I am encouraging then all my triathlon peeps (no matter where you are) to, similarly, also give it a “tri” (if you’ll pardon the obvious pun).

Here’s what you likely won’t get to do:

  1. Swim
  2. Bike
  3. Run

Notice that nowhere did I use the work “workout”.

But I’ll come back to that.

I do understand though why this might be intimidating for some.  They likely have a goal that they are 100% committed to and working towards.  Time is of the essence.

I understand that.

I’ve been there.

Really, I have.

But I have also learned this:  missing one long bike ride, or swim or your anticipated weekend LSD run isn’t going to solely cause you to tank on your being able to accomplish your goal…whatever it is.

It won’t.

Trust me.

In fact, it might just be absolutely the best thing for you in accomplishing that goal.

Allow me to explain:

Here’s what you will get.

  1.  A workout like no other

You may not be swimming, biking or running but, I assure you that you will be physically exhausted by the end of the day.  I guarantee you that you will be physically and mentally fatigued.  Often, I am more worn out after 8 hours of duty at the bike mount line than I am after any of my long workouts.  Everything is sore; my feet, my legs, my back, etc.  It is not an easy day but you’ll absolutely 100% have a smile on your face.  Can you say that about all your other workouts?

Think of it as a unique cross training activity.

  1.  Infinite motivation

I mean, c’mon!  If seeing a child complete their first (or third, fourth, or whatever) triathlon isn’t inspiring in and of itself isn’t motivating – particularly if they’re doing it with a smile on their face – I don’t know what does.

What I can also tell you is this, in my own big event back in 2012 (Ironman Wales), when the wheels started to come off and I started to go into that dark place that will inevitably come with long distances, it was the memories of some of these kids that helped inspire me to keep pushing and to continue moving forward to the finish.

And, hey, there will also be moments like this (click link below).

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5-year-old Wesley was one of our VIP’s this year.    Wesley, as a result of coping with and overcoming brain cancer, lost mobility in his lower body and the ability to speak.  Despite all this, Wesley managed to complete a triathlon…a fucking triathlon!  I will admit, that seeing this brought tears to my eyes and you had better believe that this is going to motivate and inspire me during those guaranteed dark points in my future events.

What motivated you on your last workout?

  1.  The ultimate feel good factor

Think about it, you will help to enrich an experience for any number of kids.  In an average day at the bike mount line, I directly interact (and hopefully, positively) with around 400-500 kids.  That’s a lot of impact to feel good about.  Yes, you will have the same opportunity to directly make the experience as positive as absolutely possible.  And as with anything positive, there is inevitably a darker  side and, usually, (for me anyway) this comes in the form of some parents.  It absolutely shocks me sometimes in regards to what some parents feel is appropriate “encouragement”.  My favorite so far is overhearing being yelled from the sidelines: “GO FASTER!  KEEP PUSHING!  YOU CAN BREATHE WHEN YOU GET HOME!”

Really?

The kid was 9-years-old…and in tears.

Brutal.

Now imagine if somebody had said, “You’re doing amazing!  Keep going!”, or maybe “just have fun”, or “wow, look at how awesome you are!”  instead.  What a different experience that would have been.

Well, you will get to be that  person.

And with people like that, your “community” can’t help but do well.

So, friends, peers, triathletes, I’m throwing down the gauntlet.

Go and volunteer!

And if not for triathlon or SunRype Tri-KiDs or whatever, get out there and actually do something to make that positive difference in whichever community it is that you feel so strongly about.  Forget about the all haloed “schedule”, or that today is supposed to be “long bike day”.  Instead, go out and give back whatever it was that inspired you to become a part of that community you love so much in the first place.

Be the change you wish to see in your world.

You won’t regret it.

The Roadrunner

Posted: August 17, 2016 in In Transition
Tags: , ,

When I was growing up in St. Catharines, Ontario, we lived fairly close to the Welland Canal.  For those you not in the know, the Welland Canal is a ship canal which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie., traversing the Niagara Peninsula from Port Weller to Port Colborne.  The canal forms a key section of the St. Lawrence Seaway, enabling ships to ascend and descend the Niagara Escarpment and bypass Niagara Falls.

So, yeah, it’s kind of a thing in this area.

Anyway, the canal played a major role in my life as a kid as we would take many a family picnic on the weekends to the Lock 3 Viewing Complex (now called the Welland Canal Center) to watch the ships pass.  When foreign vessels passed through we could toss coins out onto the ships deck and the deck hands would often toss back their own foreign currency (I still have these coins in an old tin on our mantelpiece at home – click HERE).  As a kid, this was my first exposure to the outside world.  Other times, we would walk our dogs down to the canal and play along the many footpaths that existed between the current canal and the old (3rd) canal which ran more or less perpendicular to the modern one.

On some occasions, my buddies and I would ride our bikes along the Canal Rd. which ran alongside the entire length of the canal in St. Catharines down to Lock One where my dad worked nearby at a factory.  I remember these bike rides as being long, arduous trips that took most of the day.  I now know, of course, that the total round trip distance was only around 25 to 30 kilometers or so but, still, when you were riding an orange Schwinn bike with a banana seat and ape handle bars, it may as well been a stage of the Tour de France.

I bring this all up now, because one of the features I remember well from the Welland Canal, as popular as any of the ships we saw regularly, was a guy named Dennis, or as my dad had nicknamed him, “The Roadrunner”.

On any given day, most days usually, you’d see Dennis running along Canal Rd. down to Lock One and then back again.  He’d be lumbering along the side of the road (this was long before there was a convenient footpath), topless, with a steely look on his face.  Now, knowing how far that distance seemed on my bike, I thought Dennis must be certifiably superhuman.

In essence, Dennis was my earliest recollection of long distance running.  I wondered what would drive someone to run such long distances.  Did he do it voluntarily?  Did he actually enjoy  it?

Judging by the expressionless look on his face, I couldn’t tell for sure.

God only knows.

Now, contemplating both the distance and time it must have taken him to run that distance, never mind the frequency in which he did it, well, let’s just say that my tiny little lizard brain just couldn’t conceive why anyone would do such a thing.  Not knowing anything about marathons or endurance sports, I just figured he was crazy.

Why am I bringing this all up now?

Well, let’s fast forward nearly 25 years to 2012.

This was the year I first really got acquainted with long distances as I was preparing for my Ironman.  My weekly mileage on the road that year averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70 kilometers a week depending on the schedule.  Often, I used the same Canal Rd. route for these runs.  Needless to say, I had lots of time to think and reflect and, of course, some of those random thought processes have already been recorded here in these blog posts.

One of the things I sometimes found myself thinking back to (especially when running Canal Rd.) was ‘ol Dennis and how incredibly superhuman he seemed to me in accomplishing what I had originally thought to be the impossible.  I often used that memory to keep me going, knowing that, yeah, it is possible.  I mean, never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought that I’d ever be that crazy to run those kinds of distances regularly but, hey, here I was…doing  it.

It was  possible.

Motivation sometimes comes from strange places, what can I say?

Now, fast forward again to just these past few years.

Often my runs will take me along the Friendship Trail which runs near my house in Ridgeway (where I live now), which spans between Fort Erie and Port Colborne.  When I’m not running along it I might cycle it as a convenient thoroughfare to either end in order to begin my long bike rides out to Niagara Falls, St. Catharines or out to Dunnville and Nanticoke, or simply (as it was today) to get to the YMCA’s that are also conveniently located at either end.  The trail is also popular with other local runners, dog walkers, recreational cyclists, hikers, etc.

Periodically, I’d see this other runner out on the trail, usually in the sections that were the most remote and removed from the other nearby townships which the trail runs through.  For whatever reason, this runner intrigued me as he seemed so….familiar, for whatever reason.

Then it hit me:  Dennis?

Now, bearing in mind that this was approximately 25 to 30 years later, how odd would it be that this same guy would suddenly appear in my area…much less running!  Doubtful he would remember who I was anyway.  I mean, I was just a kid then.  Sure I used to deliver the newspaper to his mom and periodically, he’d be there and say ‘hi’; he was a friendly enough guy, of course.  But, still, 25 to 30 years is a very long time.

Anyway, on Monday I was riding the trail to the Port Colborne YMCA to teach my spin class and, low and beyond, there’s this guy….topless, lumbering along with that oh, so familiar steely glare on his face.

I decided to take a chance.

“Excuse me, are you Dennis (last name withheld)?”

The reaction I got was priceless.

I mean, really, when a weirdo dressed in a Lyrca cycling kit stops you in the middle of nowhere, and identifies you by name…well, just imagine the look of surprise you might have on your face.

That was exactly the look I got just then.

Long story short:  it was him.

The Roadrunner!

Small world, eh?

I rode alongside him for a brief spell and explained who I was and, yes, he even remembered me (or, at least he was polite enough to fake it anyway).  I told him of my own long distance experiences over the past few years and how I had often thought back to him running along Canal Rd. as a kid, and how much motivation those memories had provided me in those dark moments that will inevitably come at certain points during long runs.

Then I told him how crazy I thought he was and he laughed (thankfully).

It turns out that Dennis now runs “Pony Paradise” at Saddlebrook Farms in Sherkston where, as it just so happens, is where I tend to see him running the trail.  Obviously, Dennis still runs, albeit not the long hauls he used to.  He keeps his distances short (approximately 5 or 6 kilometers) and regular and prefers the trail because it’s “peaceful”.

I guess that answers my question from way back when: yes, he must really  enjoy it.

Now I’m not going to wager how old Dennis is these days but, let me put it this way:  if I’m still running 5 or 6 kilometers with any regularity in, say, another 10 to 15 years or so – and enjoying  it – I will be very pleased with myself indeed.

Again, motivation comes from funny places.

It does bother me a bit though that Dennis, at whatever age he is now, still looks better with his top off than I ever have or, likely, ever will.

Good on ya, Dennis!

On Monday, I took Daisy in for her annual check tune up to in.cep.tion cyclery.  I figured it was high time since I’ve been putting a lot of kilometers on her this summer as I am apt to do every year and, being an older bike, I like to ensure she is in good running order.

Among the list of things I wanted accomplished this time around was to have the rear cassette cleaned out as it appeared as if a squirrel had proceeded to build itself a nest in it for all the gunk and road debris that had built up in it the past few months.  I thought this was normal.  However, upon pick up the next day, Brandon (the proprietor of in.cep.tion cyclery and ‘go-to’ guy for all things bike) dropped a little mechanical science on me regarding how to properly maintain my bike chain and, ergo, my rear cassette.

And, yes, I agree, for most cycle guru’s out there this might already be common knowledge and likely prompt a “What the fuck Terry, really?”  but, for all the other mechanical buffoons out there – like myself – this was a great learning opportunity that I thought I could share; basically, how to properly oil your bike chain.

For most, this probably seems like such a no-brainer thing to do requiring very little knowledge and mechanical aptitude; drop a few drops of oil on the chain, spin the pedals a bit and, Bob’s your uncle, you’re set to go.   How hard is that?  However, as it turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong.  As I learned yesterday, there is a preferred “process” involved in effectively unfunking (ie. lubing) a bike chain that will both significantly improve your ride as well as limit the amount of wear n’ tear on the chain itself over time.

For the past eight years I have been lubing my chain the same way – the way I was shown how: drop a few drops of oil on my chain where it sits on the rear cassette (see below), and run it through by spinning the pedal backwards.  Presto!

Good to go.

1

Wrong.

First off, you should never drop the oil on at the rear cassette.  What I was basically doing was gunking up my rear cassette so that during the ride all the dust, grit and gravel I was inevitably riding over was being drawn up into the cassette and sticking there.  Hence the rats nest of shit that had built up in my rear cassette.  All this grime was essentially wearing down my chain prematurely each time the cogs passed through this tangled mess of debris.  Secondly, in applying the oil in this manner, I was dropping the oil on the top of the chain.  Now think about it, the top part of the chain isn’t really what comes into immediate contact with either the front or back cassette, or rear derailleur for that matter.  No, the bottom does.  So why am I applying oil on the top then?

Because I’m a total idiot, apparently.

Instead, I should be applying the oil to the bottom of the chain and, then, not over the rear cassette.

Here:

2

This way when you run it through the chain by spinning the chain backwards, it is more effectively lubing the actual parts of the chain that will come into contact with the rest of the bikes drive parts (ie. the cassettes and derailleur’s).

Makes sense, right?

 Let’s review:

3

Now, here’s the critical part.

Once you’ve applied the oil and run it through:

WIPE IT OFF.

Yes, wipe it off.

hioly shit!

I know.  It blew my mind too.

Before you begin riding, take a rag and gently hold it against the chain and continue back pedaling lightly in order to wipe off all the excess oil.  I know this might seem counter-productive, but the only oil that is really necessary is the oil which has seeped down into the chain cogs themselves as that essentially what comes into contact with the cogs of the front and rear cassettes.  Any extra oil on the top or bottom of the chain is only going to serve to further gather up more unnecessary road crap and then proceed to drag it all through the cassettes, which you definitely don’t need.  In essence, once you’ve finished this process, very little oil should come off at all if you were to run your fingers along the chain.  Currently, if I were to do this with my chain (well, prior to today anyway), I would be looking at grease marks which would likely never come off without removed a layer of skin.  And, heaven help me if it gets onto my cycling kit.

Just ask Kelly.

Honestly, how many times have you ended up a ride with that toothy imprint where you your right leg had briefly rested against the chain wheel; affectionately known as a “shark bite”.  Ideally, that should never happen.  Me?  I don’t consider it a ride unless I have to practically take a Brillo pad to my calf in the shower afterwards.

To me, this bit right here was a total revelation.

So I took Daisy out for spin today with her new clean and improved cassettes and here’s what I noticed immediately.  She sounded better and she rode smoother.  Sure, having just had a proper tune up certainly would have had something to do with this but, I’m also wagering that not having to have the chain pass through such crud in the rear derailleur had something to do with it as well.

So for those of you who were either shown how to do this seemingly basic bike maintenance procedure incorrectly, or just plain didn’t know any better (I fall into both brackets apparently)…now you do.

Happy riding.

Swim Goggle Showdown

Posted: August 1, 2016 in Equipment, Swim
Tags:

A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of my weekly swim workout when suddenly my trusty pair of TYR swim goggles snapped mid-interval.

Shit!

I’ve had this pair for the past four years and, really, four years is extremely long in the tooth for a pair of swim goggles so I can’t really complain as by this point they really owed me nothing.  Fortunately, I always carry a spare in my swim bag so it wasn’t a big deal and, besides, being the lazy ass I am, I just tied up the broken straps on the goggles and carried on to the end of my workout as I didn’t have much longer to go.

See what a clever monkey I am?

IMG_0739

Of course, this was only a temporary fix, meaning that I would have to acquire another pair eventually but for the time being, the band-aid fix was good enough.  As luck would have it, a few days later, Tri-Boutique, where I got this original pair featured an online sale so, of course, I clicked on the link, selected the exact same pair of goggles and proceeded to the check out.  Except this time they wanted an arm and a leg; $49.99 for the goggles themselves and then another $19.99 just to ship them to me.

That’s almost $70.00!

The first time I bought my TYR goggles I was using a coupon that I won from a race so I only had to pay for shipping and, really, $20.00 for a pair of quality goggles is a bargain indeed.  Except now, Tri-Boutique was only willing to offer me a deal if I spent more than $100.

Fuck that.

Sorry, Tri-Boutique.

See ya.

I am a cheap fuck, I admit it (click HERE  for more “Tightwad Triathlete” posts).

I opted then to go down to the local TrySport Niagara in Port Dalhousie, which specializes in triathlon and swim equipment figuring I could find the same pair minus the shipping costs.  However, when I walked into the shop I was dismayed to find that they didn’t carry my precious TYR brand.

Shit x 2.

You see, I am a helpless creature of habit in that once I find something that fits me and works well I tend to stick with it at all costs; I am loathe to change anything.  Call me obsessive-compulsive, I don’t care, I am loyal to what I like…sue me.  So when I realized that Trysport didn’t carry my brand I almost walked out then and there.  But, still, I needed new goggles and my imminent cheapness wasn’t about to let me spend 70 bones on them elsewhere so I reluctantly continued browsing.

At TrySport they only carried the Speedo brand.  Now, I have nothing against Speedo, don’t get me wrong – my swim trunks are Speedo as are some of my other swim equipment – however, I have never used Speedo goggles  before and that, to an obsessive-compulsive creature of habit such as I am, is scary business indeed.  The immediate good news was that the goggles were cheaper than the TYR’s would have been through the Tri-Boutique website, and that wasn’t even taking the shipping costs into account.  That basically equates to a savings of almost $40.00 right there.  So I bit the bullet and bought a pair of the most basic, inoffensive pairs of Speedo’s they had on the rack; skeptical as I was.

Today I tested those new Speedo’s.

Fit:

TYR:  They fit well, but they tended to give me those temporary black eyes after long workouts.  I realize that I could have fixed the problem by loosening the straps a bit but I like my goggles on the tight side, what can I say?  After four years, they fit (ie. seal) just as well as they did the first day I used them.  Yes, they were old, moldy and scuffed up as all get out but they never – ever – let in so much as a single drop of pool water.  Ever.

Speedo:  Damn, these things feel amazing.  The goggles are smaller than the TYR’s and fit directly into the eye sockets, and thanks to the soft silicone gaskets around the lenses they are about as comfortable as you will likely ever get.  It’s like having your eyes protected by little rubberized clouds.  Only time will tell though if the seal remains as good as they did with the TYR’s.

Visibility:

TYR:  At the beginning of the workout, the TYR’s are great.  You can see though the goggles clear as day and underwater, you could find a tiny earring from the other end of the pool as there is minimal distortion (and once, I did).  However, as the workout progresses, they began to fog up badly (As most goggles do) so that after every interval I had to do the ‘ol “Spit n’ Rub” to clear them up again.  This happened so regularly that I even considered listing this routine in my actual workout as I did it as much as I did any intervals.  It had become habitual through the absolute necessity to continue seeing clearly.

Speedo:  Similar to the TYR they are perfectly clear above water, however, they did distort my vision beneath the water.  I found this kind of troubling given the clarity I had become accustomed to with the TYR’s (assuming, of course, that I had just done the “Spit & Rub”).  However, after 60 minutes, there was literally no fogging whatsoever.  Like none.  In fact, I just left them on between intervals as there wasn’t really any need to remove them.  Of course this is likely just because they’re so new but, hopefully, the anti-fog coating will last longer than they did with the TYR’s.

Look:

TYR:

TYR

They make me look like Bono back in the 90’s (click HERE).  Booooooooooooooooooooooring.  That look (and U2 for that matter) stopped being relevant eons ago and nobody much cares anymore.

Speedo:

Speedo

Oh yeah, that’s some total Mark Spitz level kind of coolness going on right there.  Minus the million dollar ‘stache, of course.  Dare I say it:  I actually look faster.

I mean, really, you can be the ultimate judge, of course, but my vote is still for the slick looking Speedo’s.

So, for the time being, it’s so long faithful TYR goggles and hello Speedo’s.  May you serve your job as well as your predecessor’s…or else (click HERE).

Tour De Waterloo

Posted: July 12, 2016 in Bike
Tags:

A few weeks ago, seeing as how I had originally planned to be away out east – you know, competing in an Ironman competition (click HERE and HERE for the whole story) – I had some time off from work with which to relax.  Now, I recognize that there were about a thousand things I could have been doing like ticking things off my wife’s “Honey Do” list but, truthfully, I was feeling a bit morose about the whole failed event; disappointed and frustrated.  I ran the whole gauntlet of being depressed as if I had actually failed at something.

Silly, I know, but there it is.

Instead, I read, drank beer, and felt sorry for myself while listening to a buttload of sad records.  Honestly, I accomplished little other than being a lazy arse and driving Kelly completely bat shit crazy (mission accomplished on both regards, by the way).  I decided then that maybe a little “Cycle Therapy” might be order.

Hello, Waterloo!

This area (ride) is pretty familiar to me for many reasons of which I will soon explain, and I’ve cycled this particular route a few times now.  So I guess you could say it’s becoming a bit of a tradition.  Each time I go back it feels a little bit like a homecoming of sorts for other reasons I will also elaborate on.  The “tradition” started four years ago when Kelly planned for us to join what was then billed as “The Butter Tart Ride”, organized by one of the local cycling clubs.

Butter tarts and bike riding, what’s not to love about that?

Together we cycled 112 kilometers through Amish and Mennonite back country, gobbled butter tarts by the mitt full and otherwise enjoyed each others company on what we would come to affectionately refer to as the “Boogers, Ball Sweat and Hoark” ride.  It’s a long story.  I remember it being brutally hot out that day but together we soldiered through the heat and had an extremely agreeable time.  The next year my father passed away and remembering how therapeutic I found that ride the year before, I returned again and plotted out a 95 kilometer route that, while still following some of the same roads as the Butter Tart Ride, also took me past more of the area that I am familiar with and have a strong connection to.  This time the ride was solo and I pedaled along at a pace that I am more comfortable with, with fewer stops.  Not that stopping for butter tarts is a bad thing, mind you.

When cycling alone, I can turn my brain off, turn the pedals over and just get lost within myself and the passing landscape in state of Zen that one can only achieve through effort and pleasing exhaustion.  Call me crazy.  I may not have gone as far, but by the end I was still thoroughly spent and more at ease with my swelling emotions.  Last year I couldn’t make it out for one reason or another, so I figured I’d resurrect the trip this year in lieu of not having an A-race to compete in; a total lemon vs. lemonade kind of dealie.

I searched out the route from my Garmin.Connect data and, this time, made more mental notes of what I wanted to see and accomplish.  Namely, retracing certain aspects of my childhood when we used to visit this area on family trips to stay with relatives.  I wanted to more thoroughly indulge in all those memories from my past and let them flood into and out my brain like water through a pipe.  Except this time it would be from the saddle of my trust steed, a Trek 1000 road bike that I have affectionately nicknamed “Daisy” (don’t judge), and not the backseat of my parents old cream colored Volvo.

Fortunately, my relatives now live in not-so-far away Waterloo, a bustling metropolis of 120,000 people (depending on what school term is currently in session), which provides the perfect launching and ending point for the trip.  Also, having attended the University of Waterloo back in the early 90’s, I am also very familiar with the north end of the city and downtown core which definitely adds to the whole “Trip Down Memory Lane” purpose of the journey.   Convenient, right?

My Aunt Kathy now lives around the corner from the campus – quite literally.  I arrived around 11:00am which was definitely a bit later than I had originally planned, thanks to on-going construction, detours and a dodgy GPS device which thought it was best I take the slowest and most inconvenient route possible.  I also have to say that I’m sure the Waterloo city planners also intended for motorists to be required to stop at some intersection other every 3.6 nanoseconds or so.  It felt like I spent more time sitting at traffic lights than I actually did making progress towards my destination.  But I eventually arrived, set and ready to get on with the journey.  After a quick chat with my aunt and tire pump up, I headed out of her driveway eager to get going.

me

I knew that leaving a bit later meant that I would also be dealing with the mid-day heat and humidity but I have learned to cope with both in as long as I keep moving as I can usually generate enough “breeze” to convince myself that I am actually cool.  The only real unfortunate thing was that almost from the get go, I was cycling directly into a headwind and for that I have no easy fix, so I consigned myself to the fact that it was potentially going to be a very challenging day.  Regardless, I was under way and feeling pretty good about it.

The 2016 edition of the Tour de Waterloo was officially underway.

I chose the quickest route of the city that I knew figuring that I could do the reminiscing around campus later when I got back into the city.  Let’s just say I was eager to get out of Suburbia.  I headed out west down Westmount Rd. North and, coincidentally past my old dorm on campus where I lived during my first year of university back in 1994, exactly 22 years ago.   At the time I lived (if you want to call it that) in the Village 2 Residence and as fate would have it today, I rode right past the window to the very same room I lived in East E.  It didn’t look like there was much life going on around the Village today as the drapes were all drawn and there were was absolutely no sign of student life whatsoever, given it would likely be the summer break for most students, so I rode on.  It’s not like I have terribly terrific memories I wanted to relive here anyway.  After all, how much fun can one possibly have living in a room the size of a broom closet and where everything – furniture included – is permanently fixed down?  But, hey, just for shits and giggles, here’s a throwback picture of that very room from back in the day:

pic1

My old dorm room along Westmount Rd.

Looking back at it now, it almost seems like I was in fact having fun.

Huh.

Anyway, it was then a left on Columbia Rd. past more residences and the Trillium Lake Valley and right on Erbsville Rd., past the shops and strip malls of Erbsville and, eventually, a pretty lake belonging to a local conversation area of which I forget the name.  What I do remember about it though is the big climb up and past it…a sure sign of things to come.

pic2

Unknown Conservation Area

At the end of Erbsville Rd., you come to a tee at Kressler Rd.  This is what I consider to be the actual starting point of the bike route I had planned.  It’s evident that once you get to this point you are no longer in Kansas.  The city is now behind you and you have officially arrived in the country.  All this constitutes approximately 10 kilometers of cycling.  Had I known I was this close to the countryside back in university, or had the required energy levels to do so, I might have been more inclined to make an effort to get off campus more.

A quick dog leg to the west and then to the north and you’re on The Weimar Line, one of the major thoroughfares.  Upon doing so, this is the sign that greets you:

pic3

How awesome is that?

Unfortunately, just a few meters beyond that you are greeting with this gentle reminder:

pic4(1)

Remember that you would see this exact same sign every, oh, 1.2 km.

So, sure, there may be lots of horsies and wildife to behold, but it’s still not going to be any easy trot through the pasture, so to speak.  And it wasn’t.

The Weimar Line, as scenic as it is, is basically one challenging hill after the other, over and over again, requiring nothing short of a total Sisyphean effort.  Making matters even more challenging was that I was also riding directly into a strong headwind.  With no buildings or man made structures to protect me (one of the few benefits of city riding), the wind was more or less blowing across the open fields unobstructed so that it was at times, like riding into a brick wall.  In fact, as I worked my way up each climb, instead of a nice downhill descent as a reward (after all, what goes up must eventually come down), I was greeted by a strong gust of continuous wind that would require me to keep working at turning over the pedals lest I should get blown back up and over the top of the climb again…backwards.  What a rip.

Regardless, the landscape down the Weimar Line to Bamberg is breathtaking.  It runs pretty much straight as the crow flies for 5 kilometers or so past stately country homes, rolling meadows filled with hay bales, old barns, and expansive pastureland with herds of galloping ponies.  And every inch of it you have to earn, as I mentioned before. In total, it took me exactly 12:01, averaging 25.8km/h; good enough for 666th position among other cyclists, according to Strava.

Weimar Line

That’s not an entirely impressive time and I could certainly do better, but I was too busy enjoying myself and taking in the sights and smells of horse shit and dried grass.  That’s not to say however, that I wasn’t working.  To effect, I don’t think it’s any through any mere coincidence that I ended up 666th over all.  I genuinely thought at times that I could feel Lucifer himself prodding me along up the road by sticking his pitchfork in my ass.  Coincidentally enough, I also passed this sign:

pic6

Little did I know at the time that this sign was actually in reference to myself.

It was also somewhere along here that I passed my first Amish horse and buggy, of which there would be many more over the next few hours.  I would have taken a picture to post here, except that I know the Amish hold humility as a highly-cherished value and view pride as a threat to community harmony.  They literally take “Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image” (Exodus 20:4) to heart and they would prefer to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they left, not by physical appearance.  So I refrained from doing just that.  Besides, I’ve seen ‘Witness’ and wouldn’t want to end up laid out by some Amish poser with a well timed Harrison Ford-style haymaker to the bread basket (click HERE).

I will say though, that there is something hugely satisfying about passing a horse and buggy on your bicycle.

I should also mention here that the last climb into Bamberg is a real doozy.  Just look at this gradient:

Bamberg Climb

This little bump here in the middle may only constitute a mere 380m of elevation, but it took me exactly 2 minutes and 50 seconds to grind up and over, good enough for 643rd spot on Strava.

Big whoop.

I will concede by saying that on the left hand side as you climb, there is the most spectacular farmhouse and working farm you have ever seen, complete with vegetable garden, pretty flower beds and a clothes line with wet laundry flapping in the breeze.  When was the last time you’ve actually seen laundry on a clothes line?  It was something right out of ‘Little House on the Prairie’.  I have expected that Laura Ingalls herself would come running out of the house, pigtails trailing behind her, to cheer me on as I struggled up and over that damn hill.  But she didn’t and I almost died.  I did, however, finally make it over and pressed on.

Anyway, continuing down the Weimar Line, not to mention up an over another stupid amount of hills, you eventually end up at the end of the line at Hutchinson Rd.  I turned a sharp left here and made my way towards the Township of Wellesley.

Wellesley is where my relatives lived for many years when I was a kid and this is where my family would venture out to on Christmas vacation.  So I am quite fond of the area.  Wellesley encompasses approximately 277.79 km2 and had a population of 10,713 as of the 2011 census.  Most of the residents likely will not have a home phone, access to the Internet or have the faintest idea about Pokemon Go!   The town of Wellesley’s original name was Schmidtsville, derived from its founding settler, John Schmidt.  But In 1851, the town was renamed Wellesley after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the eldest brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.  The community quickly grew to be the largest economic centre in rural Waterloo Region, then called Waterloo County, with a wood mill, feed mill, grain mill (which still stands today after being constructed in 1856), leather tanner, cheese factory, restaurants and housing, and many other businesses that also brought much trade to the town from the nearby farms and farming villages.  It was in here that Kelly and I stopped for our first butter tart on our ‘Boogers, Ball Sweat and Hoark’ tour, at a cute country style deli on Nafziger Rd.  It was also here that I had a colossal (not to mention embarrassing) wipe out on the curbside outside the shop.  There would be no butter tarts today, however, and I pressed straight down Queens Bush Rd. through the center of town past the local post office, feed store, pharmacy and a village market.

This entire area is also the setting for the annual Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival of which I am also well acquainted.   Periodically, my family would make the bonus trip up in September to visit with the relatives which, for whatever reason, always welcomed us back even after allowing us access to their home for a week already that past December.  The festival, founded in 1976, attracts a few thousand visitors to the grounds located at the Wellesley Arena and Community Center during the weekend-long festival.  The festival begins with a community pancake breakfast at the crack of dawn and continues with a smorgasbord at noon, not to mention the apple butter and apple cider available all day long.  There are cider tours, coach rides, quilting bees, remote-controlled boat races on the nearby Wellesley Pond, horse-shoe pitching competitions and a classic car and tractor show.

*sigh*

Good times.

At the top of Queens Bush Rd., I turned left on Greenwood Hill Rd. and up an extremely scary looking hill that leads back up to the Weimar Line completing the loop through Wellesley proper.   It was here on our butter tart ride that I waited for Kelly to get to the top.  Here she is at approximately the half way mark, ready to toss up her butter tarts:

pic7

Don’t laugh though, this climb may be short but it’s a total bitch.  It took me a whole minute and 45 seconds to breach the summit (good enough for 483rd spot on Strava).  I thought it would be altogether appropriate to have a Sherpa greet you at the top with an oxygen bottle.

Here’s the results:

Greenwood Hill

How the hell the KOM on this segment navigated this hill in 35 seconds averaging a speed of 44.3km/h  I’ll never know.  I suspect doping.  However, providing you are observant around the half way mark of the climb as your lungs begin to explode (especially given how hot it was out), you might notice this beauty on the right hand side:

pic8

On the other side of the hill is a more modern and fancy residence complete with a private pond, gazebo and floating jungle gym.  As gorgeous a property as it is, it seems extremely out of character with the rest of the landscape.  But, hey, power to them as I would have loved to have been able to jump in that pond at that point.

At the top, I kept climbing up and over the Weimar and down again…into another headwind.

FML.

This, however, was a stretch of road that I had really been anticipating since I left.  For here, at #2039 Greenwood Hill Rd. is where my cousins lived.  To say I have fond memories of this place would be understating the obvious.  I remember my cousin Jodi tangling her hair up in the tire swing out back, getting trapped half way up the tree house in the field beyond the backyard and having to be rescued, waking up Christmas morning with chicken pox, mountains of presents piled up under the Christmas tree, huge roaring fires in the afternoon as the snow slowly piled up outside.  Man, those were the days.  I also remember going for my first “jog” here along this very stretch of road, when I stubbornly followed my Aunt Kathy until it was impossible to keep up and I was abandoned to play in a snow bank by the side of the road until she came back to collect me.  In total, I think I made it about 50m from the house or so.  Now, she has no recollection of this whatsoever and swears that she has never ever jogged in her life, but the memory is so vivid in my mind that I can’t imagine how it could not have happened.

Anyway, the house is one of only a few residences along this stretch of roadway which definitely adds to its quaintness.  Back then, it was a log cabin style residence and features a gi-normous wood burning stove in the family room, perfect for Christmas eves and mornings; especially for disposing the small rain forest worth of wrapping paper we inevitably tore through.  Its new owners have now covered up the log exterior with a soulless cream-colored vinyl siding and have paved the driveway, but I was pleased to see the same huge bay window in front.  Back then, this was about as “rural” as I thought you could get.  It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere but, then again, anywhere where I could cross the street to see cows grazing behind barbed-wire was about as rural as I could get; city slicker as I was.    I would have stopped and peeked inside the window had there not been a Dodge Caravan parked in the driveway.  Can you just imagine the reaction of those people had they found some stranger in a skin tight pink and purple Lyrca cycling kit pressing his nose up against their front window?

“Honey, fetch my shotgun.”

Shortly afterwards, I turned right on the Hessen Strasse, which more or less parallels the Weimar Line meaning I had to deal with all those hills again in reverse order.  And let me assure you, they are no less challenging in the opposite direction.  In fact, they’re longer, meaner and nastier.  And any notions I had of finally having the wind at my back were immediately vanquished the second I turned onto the Hessen Strasse; Mother Nature was definitely having a dig at me today.

Similar to the Weimar Line, the Hassen Strasse is beautiful…maybe even more so.  There are the same vast expanses of open pasture land, quaint little churches (one of which we would visit on Christmas Eve) and maple syrup farms as far as the eye can see.  If you stopped to have a swig at every maple syrup farm along the Hassen Strasse you would surely have type 2 diabetes by the time you navigated it’s entire 10 kilometers or so.  One day, I might even put this to the test.  It is along here though that you begin to come across a lot of little roadside “aid stations”.  This one was located approximately half way up another stupid climb:

pic9a

That’s one of the reasons why I love the Amish and riding in this area in general.  They may not like you very much or care to do business with you directly, but if you’re inclined to leave a buck for a cold can of Coke left in a grungy old cooler at the end of a remote driveway, so be it.  Other unmanned roadside stands (if you can call them that) will have bouquets of flowers, home baked goods, bottles of water, and excess fruits and vegetables from their own gardens.  Garlic scapes were certainly in season as that what was primarily on offer.  You really don’t need to bring any GU gels or protein bars when you have all this instant nourishment available on the honor system by the roadside.  Likewise, who needs Clif bars when you can have a home baked Amish-style fig cookie?  I love it.  I could pedal for hours after one of those things – and I literally did.

Here’s another more “elaborate” one:

pic9b

Around this time I passed another horse and buggy.  As I approached it from behind, I noticed two little faces pressed up against the back window watching me ride up on them.  Two little Amish girls were sitting in the back seat of their family carriage on their way to market or whatever with their father.  As I passed, the stern looking man never gave me so much of a sideways glance, which given what I happened to be wearing, seemed kind of surprising, but such is the Amish’s ability to block out the rest of us “English”.  However, I did manage to get a quick and nervous little wave from one of the girls before she instantly snapped her gaze straight ahead again as to not be noticed by her father.  I flashed her a little smile but I don’t think she noticed.

Turning left on Kressler Rd. again, having completed the first big 40 kilometer loop of my route, I headed north towards Heidelberg.

Oh, and I also passed this:

pic10

Yeah.

Weird, right?

Anyway, there’s not much to write home about Heidelberg aside from its being nearly 200 years old.  There’s not much even there aside from a stop light intersection, a garage and The Olde Heidelberg Restaurant of which I have never visited (maybe someday).  Really, it’s a reference point on my route to turn left on the Lobsinger Line into St. Clements and then right on Herrgott Rd. to Wallenstein.  Neither of these routes are particularly enjoyable riding as they roughly paved, and busy thoroughfares for traffic and large trucks so I just boogied along them as quickly as possible to get to my next intended destination in Elmira.  In fact, I will likely seek out an alternative route altogether on next years’ tour.

I will pause here for a moment however to point out that one of my stops is at the General Store in Wallenstein.

pic11

By this point I am at the (more or less) 60 kilometer point of my tour and could generally use some sustenance in the way of a cool beverage seeing as how there is very little shade along the road out here…anywhere.  The last shade I passed through was likely back at the University Campus.  It has been my habit to stop here for a Coke and give my ass a brief break while I’m at it.

Now, say what you will about the Amish and the Mennonites, but they generally aren’t very welcoming of strangers for one reason or another.  Each time I am in their presence I do my best to be polite and courteous and mind my own business.  When I entered the store, I was greeted by no fewer than 13 ladies in their traditional plain dress.

I gave them my best non-threatening smile.

Nothing.

Not.  A.  Single.  Response.

Then again, considering that I was dressed like somebody who was about to be shot out of a cannon, maybe it was too much to take in all at once.  Maybe they were just stunned?  I tried for a little friendly small talk by confirming with them that Elmira was in fact just up the road.

Nothing.

I thanked them for my Coke and told them to keep the change.

Nada.

So much for “Where Friendly Neighbors Meet”, and I exited the store to allow the women to return to their scowling.  While sitting on the porch though, a huge Parmalat truck pulled into the parking lot beside the store.  One of the scowlers (about 70 years old I might add) came out of the store, jumped on an old forklift and proceeded to unload about a dozen palates of ice cream out of the truck and into the back of the store in seconds flat.  I guess the Amish and Mennonites really like their ice cream.  So say what you will about the Amish and Mennonites, they sure can drive a forklift.

I continued on to Elmira, about another 7 or 8 kilometers along Country Road 86, where I had planned to have lunch.  Elmira is the largest community within the Township of Woolwich in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.  While the land comprising Elmira originally belonged to the Huron followed by the Mohawk Indians, the first settlers arrived in here in the late 18th century.  In 1798, William Wallace (not this William Wallace) was one of the first settlers in the area after he was deeded 86,078 acres (348 km2) of land on the Grand River for a cost of $16,364.  In 1806, Wallace sold the major portion of his tract to Mennonites and the rest, as they say, is history.  There is obviously still a strong Mennonite influence in the area.  Each spring, beginning in 1965, tens of thousands of people gather in Elmira to celebrate the return of spring and maple syrup as part of April’s Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

My usual stop is at the Elmira Donuts & Deli off the street a little behind some shops.

You can see my little jog back to it here:

Elmira

It’s nothing fancy.  Believe me.

See?

pic12

But they do have one kick ass tuna fish sandwich and the Mennonite proprietors are a little more welcoming than the ones in Wallenstein.  Not much, mind you, but a little.  I will usually pass 20 minutes or so here on the front stoop in the shade thoughtfully noshing on my sandwich and whatever cookie that happens to catch my eye and do my best to “blend in”, which is not at all.  I consider this to be my half way point, even though it’s really more of my three quarter point.  Regardless, I know it…I like the tuna…so I keep returning.

Such is life.

From here I zip out of town as quickly as I can down Arthur Rd. and right on Listowel Rd. and back out into the countryside.  A quick left turn onto Three Bridges Rd. and, low and behold, I experienced my first tail wind.  Amazeballs.  Finally!  I amped up the turnover of the pedals and applied a little extra effort and eventually was cruising down this nice scenic stretch of roadway at an average of 36.9km/h  and at one point I was sailing – effortlessly I might add – at 47.2km/h.  After 70 kilometers of head winds I was determined not to waste this brief opportunity.  My effort was good enough for 15th position over all on Strava this year, covering the distance in 5:26.

Yay me.

Turning left on Hawkesville Rd., I pointed my bike towards popular destination tourist town of St. Jacobs.  First known as “Jakobstettel” which means “Jacob’s Village”, the village was settled in 1820.  The St. was added to the name simply to make it sound more pleasing and the pluralization was in honor of the combined efforts of Jacob C. Snider (1791–1865) and his son, Jacob C. Snider, Jr. (1822–1857), founders of the village.  It now pedals that heritage to tourists who have come to experience the “Mennonite Lifestyle”…which is entirely laughable.  Basically, I consider it as a necessary obstacle to endure on way back to Waterloo.  I mean, it’s a nice enough village, don’t get me wrong.  There’s lots of artisans, and a thriving market and yadda, yadda, yadda.  But the hapless throngs of people and touristy bullshit piss me off.  It reminds of own town of Ridgeway which practically triples its population in the summer when the “out of towners” flood into town and literally proceed to take over the beaches, shops, restaurants, etc.  It’s enough to drive you insane, so I get out…quickly.  And that’s pretty much what I did today in St. Jacobs.

Funny thing though, in the 30 seconds or so it took me to pass through the village I probably had my photograph taken about a dozen times.  Do tourists really think a Mennonite would be caught dead on a high performance road bike…and dressed like this?

The fuck.

Anyway, shortly afterwards there is a fun stretch of road along King Str. which takes you pretty much back into the city of Waterloo again.  “Fun” in that it is downhill and protected from the wind.  Eventually you pass through Wagner’s Corner and onto Weber Str. which will take you back into downtown Waterloo.  I spent a little time passing by the old familiar haunts of my University days and much has changed.  There is a significant amount of new high rise buildings now on just about every corner.  Waterloo, it seems, has been very busy.  I also passed though the campus quickly and it too has changed drastically; most of which are the students.  Did I look that young when I was in university?  Anyway, I was hot, tired, and getting instantly annoyed with all the hipster beards and toques on campus (seriously guys, it’s JUNE!) so I made my way back to my Aunt Kathy’s and a well deserved beer…or two.

All in, I covered 95.3 kilometers in a little under 4 hours, averaging a speed of 26.8km/h, which seems miserably slow.  I know.  But given the ridiculous amount of climbing I did today (almost 2,000m to be exact), I’ll take it.

Until next year.