Sam: I love cycling, I love riding with friends, I love introducing people to road cycling, and I love the trip out to Port Stanley. Win, win, win, and win! So when Susan suggested that we get in some rides together before the Friends for Life Bike Rally which we’re doing together (by the way, I still haven’t even reached the halfway point for my fundraising goal and it would be very lovely and much appreciated if you could sponsor me here) I thought immediately of that destination. I also invited a bunch of other Fit is a Feminist Issue bloggers along for the ride. Nat and Cheryl couldn’t come so in the end it was Kim, Susan, our friend Sarah (who’s promised to write a blog post in the future) and me. It reminded me of last year’s group ride,Four Feminist Philosophers and the Welland Canal.
London to Port Stanley is one of my favourite rides. When I ride 100 km, I feel like there ought to be a destination and Port Stanley feels like a reward at the end of 50 km. There’s Lake Erie and there’s coffee and a few places to eat. The ride just has a few rolling hills, nothing too serious, and you stay on quiet country roads for almost the entire trip. You can see our route here. I’ve been wanting to introduce someone to the virtues and charms of this ride after having failed in epic proportions with Tracy last year. (Don’t worry, our friendship survived.) See her account of the saga, Epic Ride and Some Reflections on Learning to Like the Bike. I think that if you don’t like that ride, you probably don’t like road cycling and so I was a bit vindicated by her more recent blog post Road Biking and I: Not a Good Match.
Anyway, we had a great ride. Aside from taking on the role of navigator and keeper of the map (not my usual thing) and getting us lost and adding an extra 10 km to our trip, I’d be keen to do it again. Our clue ought to have been that headwind! We had a headwind all the way there and then about a 1/3 of the way home, it came back. Headwind, no more tailwind. That should have let us know we had gone left instead of right and were headed back to the lake.
We ended the day in the hot tub and that felt pretty good too.
Susan: 100km is a lesson for me in energy management. I am what one may call rather inefficient with my energy intake. While this advantages me in the patriarchy in ways that I’ll critique at some later date, it’s difficult for me when prepping and recovering from endurance activities. I had a spectacular time winding down to Port Stanley and back. I learned tonnes about group riding and started to grasp all I still have to learn skill-wise. I felt pretty good considering and I thought I was eating enough. But the next morning I felt like road kill. Flat and motionless. I have come to understand this is what happens when I create a profound calorie deficit over a one day period. Bottom line…I can’t be doing that. It’s brutal. Need more fooooood!!!!!
Kim: This was the weekend of competing cycle invites: Sam and our feminist bloggers’ group were heading out to Port Stanley, the lakeside resort town south of London, while my and Sam’s formal cycling club, the London Centennial Wheelers, were ALSO heading for Port Stanley (though using a slightly different route). I had to decide which group to ride with, knowing each would be a very different experience. The club ride would be quick; I ride with the “B” group at LCW, which averages around 30kph on many tours, sometimes a bit less. There would also be a bit of ego involved in that ride; the male/female ratio in LCW is uneven, and I knew that, especially on the return journey, some of the guys in the group (and a few of the women too!) would more or less be racing each other home. (I wasn’t sure I was up for that on a Saturday morning.) On the flip side, I knew the bloggers would be a more social group, meaning a relatively steady but much slower pace; at the same time, that ride would be a chance to catch up with friends, share tips and best practices, and enjoy a lovely day in the countryside. Weighing my own competing needs (a fitness ride; a ride that felt good in body but also in soul), I opted for a hybrid: I would ride down to Port Stanley with Sam and co, then ride home alone at a quicker pace that fit my own training regime.
This plan worked perfectly. On the way out we held 20.5kph, partly because Susan and Sarah are a bit less experienced than Sam and I, and partly because we were heading straight into the wind most of the time. Sam and I took the lead, helping Sarah and Susan develop their drafting technique; this also allowed us to get our heart rates up and our bodies warm as we fended off the breeze. While riding in pairs, Sam and I chatted about life, work, and riding; I made her share some sprint tips with me, too. By the time we got to the Port, Sam and I had had two solid hours in heart rate zones 2 and 3, and we’d all had some great conversations and enjoyed some beautiful scenery. Then, we ate some yummy baked goods, drank some proper coffee, and I headed off home, retracing our steps and taking advantage of a nice tailwind. On the homeward journey I tried to keep my heart rate up around zones 3-4 as much as possible, and I managed a very respectable 31.5kph average. A perfect day, then: a long, slow ride that was also enormous fun, followed by a quick, pacy trip home that ticked one of my training boxes. Thanks, ladies!
Sarah: I’m not the kind of athlete that has training goals and a regular schedule of activities to keep me in top condition. I’m an inveterate “weekend warrior” more inspired by camaraderie … and challenges. So when Sam put out the call for a 100+km feminist fitness bloggers’ ride, I couldn’t resist – even if it meant promising to actually (gasp) write something to join in the fun.
Aside from foolishness, the other thing a successful weekend warrior needs is enablers. Fortunately Susan lives close enough that I was able to squeeze in a couple of training rides chasing her, since a 5km commute to work is not enough to build the endurance (and what I fondly call “butt calluses”) needed for a whole day on the bike.
The 120 km round trip to Port Stanley was a ride of a lifetime for many reasons – perfect weather, smooth flat roads devoid of cars – but none more awesome than drafting behind cyclists who could easily outpace me, but instead patiently paused at the top of each hill to wait for my sorry out-of-shape self to catch up. I’ve never ridden so far or fast in my life – it felt a lot like flying (except the aforementioned hill climbs).
As one might expect for a weekend warrior, I did come out the other side a little worse for wear – bloodstained socks from a tumble after forgetting to unclip, nasty foot cramps in the last few km, but thanks to Sam’s unparalleled recovery regime (hot tub and ice cream) I did manage to complete a weekend warrior double-header by doing the Urban Land Institute’s Tour de Toronto (http://toronto.uli.org/events/tour-de-toronto-bike-tour-2015/) on Sunday. It took us almost as long to do a mere 40km, but there were a lot of stops for coffee, pastries, beer, and stories from industry experts about planning, developing and building some awesome new spaces.
I may have finished up the weekend with a long and impromptu nap. I blame the beer. And the enablers. Thank you all!