Thursday, April 14, 2005

How to fix a sweat (diary)

Today, I think the only thing I broke was a sweat.

It wasn't on account of the weather, or of me being overdressed. It was cool and I wasn't wearing too many layers.

I was coming home along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway on my bike (Southbound) tonight at about 10:30 or so, with my bright lights on and all sorts of gear on me, when I saw another cyclist ahead of me. This was at about Third avenue, and he was about a block ahead of me, with his dinky red rear LED flashing behind him.

I was trying to decide if I should cut across Fifth avenue to the other end of Queen Elizabeth Driveway. This would enable me to determine whether this was actually faster than taking Queen Elizabeth for longer, but with fewer (actually no) stops. I would just have to see where he was once I got to the other end.

I decided against it because I had a good speed going, and had no idea whether I would see him on the other side anyway, or if I would recognize him. So I followed him, and eventually caught up with him by Landsdowne park. But I had a trick up my sleeve: instead of following the road and going up the hill like he was planning on doing, I chose to duck down onto the pathway, which was near the canal, and therefore fairly level.

I turned on both my 10W and 5W front headlights, in case there was anyone else on there, and I kept my speed at about 30kph. Nobody else was on there, as I expected at that time of night.

I also kept in my mind that I would eventually see him at the other side, and wanted to make sure that he was behind me when I did. I emerged at the Bronson Avenue bridge and crossed the road diagonally, as there were no cars to obstruct me. I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw him a hundred metres or so behind me. His front light was as dinky as his rear one was!

I kept up the pace, and noticed that it was slightly uphill towards the Dow's lake Pavillion. I noticed this because my legs were getting tired.

As I came to the lights at Preston, I noticed the green light was a bit stale, but the white 'walk' symbol was still illuminated. I ended up passing the intersection before the amber hand started flashing, despite my hope that a red light would cut the other guy off and I could rest.

So on I started up the Prince of Wales hill, my legs already beginning to ache from keeping the other guy behind me. When we passed the intersection at the John Carling building, I noticed that he had closed in on me quite a bit--maybe 20-30 metres between us.

I didn't want him to pass me, so I stood on the pedals and started to crunch. A tip I read in Bicycling magazine is to alternate crunching a high gear while standing, and pedalling a low gear while sitting, in order to rest different muscles at different times, and increase your endurance. This I did, and it seemed to have paid off.

Coming down the other side of the hill, I saw he was much further behind me than before. His dinky little front light looked like a keychain ornament at this point. I planned ahead and got on the path at the last possible point--so I wouldn't have to worry about those poorly-built crossings that aren't quite level. This would take me straight through on a dirt path towards where I was going.

He had the same idea. I don't know if he was just following me, or if he did this too. Anyway, I didn't see him anymore once I turned onto the dirt path. I continued towards home, with no red lights to stop me. I slowed my pace so that I could calm down a bit, and pulled into the driveway.

I put my bike in front of the shed, and took off my pannier. I headed towards the front door to get the key to the shed from inside. On my way, I saw him pass by a cross street.

I tried to think of something to say, but not too derisive. I eventually shouted, "Thanks for the adrenaline!" although I think he was too far to hear me at that point.

Anyway, I had fun on this trip. When I finally came inside, my heart was still going fast, and I had to take a couple of puffs for my asthma. I peeled off my jacket, because I had broken a sweat. And I felt good, because that was the only thing I broke today.

- RG>

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