Long Weekend Cycling Kicked my Butt! (And I liked it!)

This weekend, B and I finally kicked off the cycling season!  The weather had been so crap that I hadn’t the desire or the energy to pull out my bike and be rained upon so I held off going for any extended rides…until now.  This weekend brought with it the lovely sun.  B and I  took full advantage!  Well…after a few setbacks.

First off, Friday night we went out for dinner and ate at WASS Ethiopian Restaurant.  I have been there a few times.  Amazing staff, incredible food!  Be sure to plan a stop if you’re ever passing through Hamilton!

Saturday was gorgeous…high 20s, sunny and almost too hot but I’m not complaining since it was the first ‘almost-too-hot’ day of spring.  About time!  We headed out with our bikes securely attached to our rental car and stopped by Mountain Equipment Co-op. My new bike rack required some extra bits and pieces before it would attach properly.  I also had some items to return and other stuff to buy, including a new set of panniers!

Over an hour later…purchases were made and we were on our way!  I’ve noted the equipment I bought at the end of this post for those interested.

Sad to say…we didn’t actually get to bike that day. By the time we made it to Kelso Conservation Area (which took longer than normal due to the fact that I thought it was somewhere…where it wasn’t! Ooops) clouds had piled high in the sky, rain was threatening, and there was a queue at least 15 cars long waiting to get into the park.

So we gave up on biking for the day and headed over to Crawford Lake instead.  I’ve been there a few times but B hadn’t so we hiked around the lake, a meromictic lake (as B would say to me, look it up :P), and visited the reconstructed Iroquoian Village.  Awesome place to visit if you’re ever in the area!

Sunday, we finally got to go cycling.  We did a 7km route that we have biked in the past.  Fairly flat with a few hills, enough to kick my butt as my first ride of the season.  I have mapped the route on Google pedometer HERE.  It’s a lovely ride around the bay.  A good chunk of the route is part of the Waterfront Trail and is quite scenic with numerous benches along the way (and porta-potties for you brave souls!)

On Monday, we mounted our bikes onto our rental car and I drove us out to Hamilton’s Beach Trail (also mapped on Google’s pedometer), another lovely paved trail that runs along the shore of Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Burlington.  Very scenic and very flat, so quite an easy ride.  The only drawback is that it is a popular spot and you have to be well-aware of all the people sharing the trail: walkers, rollerbladers, other cyclists, dog walkers, lovebirds etc etc….It’s a multi-use trail after all! 🙂

We cycled an 8km length of trail to the ends and back, so 16km overall.  Sure, as I said, it was a flat easy ride…but for me, the one who hasn’t really biked since last summer (when I maxed out at 20km), those 16 flat kilometers kicked my ass.  It is presently Tuesday evening and I am still having trouble walking up and down stairs!  Hehe

Of course, it’s a good hurt.  It means I pushed myself a little further than normal.  Which, I plan to do again and again.

The goal?  To cycle THIS 35km route by the end of June.  From there, who knows??

So, overall, our first cycling weekend was a great success, albeit with a slow start.  We had a good time, took in some lovely scenery, spent time together and got some exercise…not to mention kicked it all off with some fantastic Ethiopian food!

Now to plan for next May’s long weekend! *wink*


For those interested, here are the items I bought for my bike with a short commentary on each one…

MEC Micro Wedgie Cycling Seat Bag

I love this little bag.  It fits perfectly under my seat and is just large enough for my Blackberry, small wallet, keys and camera.

MEC PF-2 43L Cycling Panniers
So far, I’m really liking this pair of panniers (I bought the grey/black style).  They have a number of small pockets and are a good size for my purposes.  I haven’t packed them full yet, still getting used to having them on the bike.  They do add a little bit of weight, while empty probably a couple of lbs, but overall SO much better than having to don a backpack while cycling.

MEC Seatstay Rear Cycling Rack

This rack is awesome for carrying weightier bags.  Not to mention, the price was right at $15.  Installing it though, was quite the pain in the ass, as B can attest.  The screws that came with it had heads that were so big, they would have interfered with my chain so the guys at MEC gave us flatter headed screws (not to mention they had to saw off about 1/4″ since their replacements were too long).  I also had to buy a separate bag of hardware as the metal clips that secure the rack weren’t long enough to reach my bike frame.
Regardless, for $15 I definitely think this item was worth the trouble.  I think B would agree since I’ll be the one carrying all our stuff when we pack up the panniers! 😉

MEC Bicycle Frame Bag

B used this frame bag over the weekend.  Another great buy!  It isn’t huge but is just big enough for a few necessities.  The one downfall I’ve noticed so far is that it interferes slightly with my water bottle holder, which is also placed on the main frame of my bike.