Now That Was Awesome(-ish)
No, really. It was great.
With the end of the year approaching, I’ve found myself looking back at 2018’s rides. There have been some good ones and some nutty ones. I remember a particular zany outing in March. I was on my road bike dressed in my warmest kit. It wasn’t long before I found snow drifts blowing across the road. Where a fat bike with 4.5"-wide tires would have been appropriate, I struggled on my slick 25c treads. I’m sure the same thing will happen in the late winter/early spring of 2019. Later, the challenge, which is something you might have experienced after a ride that was equal parts silly, fun, difficult and kind of cool, is conveying just how silly, fun, difficult and kind of cool that ride actually was.
This past year, I have had some stunning rides. I was lucky enough to do a bit of riding in Italy and Spain. Of course, the roads were fantastic in those locales. Tamarac just twists and turns, and rises and lowers more in Europe. North American road builders are simply too good at keeping things straight and level.
In October, I went on a ride with many ups and downs, ones geographical, physical and maybe even emotional. It was the day after a cyclocross race. Kate Heckman (‘Enviliv Advanced Pro 0 Disc review,’ p.50), Kate’s friend Janine Gorman, ccm podcast producer Adam Killick and I headed across the Ottawa River on ’cross bikes to Gatineau Park, where we faced trails with wicked inclines and rocky, bumpy bits. They are trails that Michael Woods (p.30) is familiar with.
I, of course, took to the hills, hitting every one hard because, well, I can’t seem to help it when I see hills. Our destination was the old fire tower. The last time I had been to this tower was as a teenager. A friend of mine climbed up it, which was far from the safe thing to do. The fence that’s now around the base of the tower likely appeared because of my friend and others like him. The hole I found in the fence told me teenagers are still doing very silly things.
I did a silly thing on that ride, one that I’ve done many times before. I cracked. Maybe I thought I had more reserves shored up by a recent Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe I thought the ’cross race the day before hadn’t taken that much out of me. What I do know for sure is that the final 20 km of that 95 km ride were a slog. The leftover turkey I got my hands on after I climbed off the bike didn’t stand a chance.
It was that ride’s mixture of fun and difficulty that made it so good. Add in a bit of nostalgia and fantastic company, and you have something memorable. It’s the type of ride that Bart Egnal encourages you to do in 2019 (p.19), one that makes you say, “Now that was awesome.” It’s also a ride that had me rereading Molly Hurford’s guide to riding stronger in the new year (p.34), so I’ll be better prepared for more silly, fun, difficult and cool rides in 2019. At least, that’s the goal. Matthew Pioro