Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bike Clubs in Ottawa

The Ottawa bicycle club, or OBC is Ottawa's largest bike club and the oldest in Canada. Among other clubs it has a reputation for being elitist or dropping slower riders.

I have ridden with them for this season and find it a wonderful bike club. I have met nothing but great and helpful people and had some terrific rides. The OBC does not live up to the bad press!

If you are like me, once  you start to ride with a club, boredom will quickly set in. There are clubs that do not ride as a peleton and sometimes form pacelines but mainly just strung out in a group at a sort of speed. This bores me to no end. The OBC has speed ranges but that does not mean that as a group you can't go faster or depends on the group. At times I have cut my pace and at other times asked that the pace be is a group effort. The joy is the fact that you can vary and the routes are always interesting. I also like the fact that we do not stop for long lunches. I don't mind a lunch if the food is exceptional, but often I find all a lunch does is  slow you down and  does nothing to enhance the ride. It is easier and more efficient to pack snacks and eat as you ride. The point of a ride for me is the fitness aspect and the technique. Unless I am on a multi day tour, I will almost never stop for a lunch. (Coffee is another matter!)

Today I did a shorter ride against a very heavy wind. Unfortunately for most of the ride the wind was against us. I 'pulled' the group, meaning I led the group as I am used to wind. At the end of the ride we had a picnic...again I met new and fascinating individuals all of whom share my love of cycling and bikes in general.

A club like this strives for excellence but there is really no room for arrogance. Trust me, you will always find a better cyclist than you, and certainly one with more experience. Today for instance, I learned that I had installed my seat bag upside down. It puzzled me why it was so awkward to access and  now I know.

If any of you are interested in cycling in Ottawa here are the clubs that I have tried and some I have not:

The CCTS..this is a great club made up of retirees. The problem is finding leaders for rides but overall a great experience. They ride Tuesdays and Thursdays

Kanata Nepean Bike Club:
 While there are speeds they don't ride in a peleton, and stop for long lunches. I have found safety to be an issue here as they do not know how to ride in a group and many don't like drafting which really makes the ride a lot easier. This is more of a social club. If  you are interested in improving yourself as a cyclist or trying a time trial, racing or reliability rides,  I would not recommend this club.

Arnprior Bicycle Club
A full service bike club with racing and very well run. A bit of a drive for us in Ottawa.

 The Ottawa Bicycle Club
Truly has something for everyone, socials, numerous rides and is fantastic. You will never be bored here folks.

Other clubs
Women on Wheels , Velo Plaisir and West Quebec Wheelers

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ottawa Bicycle Club

The Ottawa Bicycle club or OBC has been around for over 100 years, it is a full service bike club with racing, tours, socials and is a lot of fun. The OBC rides in a peleton or a pack, which means that you can do a ride with them, and arrive home at a reasonable time and not exhausted.

Today was an exceptional ride. Not only was it beautiful but it was heartwarming. I wanted to ride at my usual speed but saw that my friends were riding at a slower speed. I opted to join them. In our ride was a young student from Brazil he had a heavy mountain bike and was having difficulty keeping up. I rode with him sharing my energy gels and encouraging him. He had a wonderful ride but the ride became magical for him and for me, when the OBC tour director offered to give him his son's racing bike. This will enable our student to ride much faster with less effort.

Doug also rode with our friend, assisting him. The kindness shown to a foreign student who did not have the lightweight machines we have has forever cemented the OBC in my mind as the best bike club I have ever been involved with. Conrad as I called him could easily have been dropped, or dismissed as 'not ready'. There was none of that.

Bike on my friends

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In praise of classics

I have a 35 year old Cambio Rino bicycle. A steel 10 speed racer that was developed by an Italian and built in Canada. It was Canada's answer to the flood of imported racers. Unfortunately, it did not last.

Cambio Rino was ahead of its time and at the time was a state of the art bike. Now they are collectors items. I have a beautiful one, all original parts including the toe clips and leather straps. I wrapped the handlebars with  white cloth tape and applied shellac as it would have been done at that time. I am told this bike once raced in the Velodome of Montreal!

There is a lot of difference between my classic and my contemporary bikes. First off my newer bikes are much lighter and more comfortable. My other bikes are made of carbon and the other is chromealloy. My newer bikes have far more gears and I am more upright. I can ride great distances with them. They seem effortless.

The Cambio Rino is fast but also you are in a much lower or more aggressive position. Don't even think of applying the brakes if you are on the hoods. You have to break in the down position to avoid the pain.

At first I thought I would miss all the speeds but not really. I managed to get up a hill at a good speed all in the large ring. The friction shifters are also easier to maintain.

Of course, I can't ride this bike as a regular ride because I could never replace the parts but for an occasional ride like today, and for my charity ride on Saturday it is a bit of Canadian history. Granted 35 years hardly positions this bike as an antique but given the rapid changes in bike technology and technology in general, 35 years is an eternity.

One may very well ask, if the newer bikes are more comfortable, lighter and more responsive why would I even bother with this bike?  Perhaps for the same reason that people restore and drive old cars...because we can and because it takes us into the past.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How primitive we were

When I was a child, my father told me stories of walking miles to school with frozen molasses sandwiches through deep snow. He would tell me this to contrast his hardship with the ease of my life as I would board the military blue bus to take me to school through the snow. I remember thinking how primitive were the times in which my father grew up. For example I never had frozen sandwiches, my lunchbox contained devilled eggs and mushroom soup but never frozen sandwiches. I had a sophisticated meal not primitive frozen sandwiches!!

 My lunches were the same..devilled eggs (it took me years to realize this was an appetizer), campbells mushroom soup and an apple. My breakfast consisted of puffed wheat or cream of wheat. (I dislike wheat to this day!) and suppers were beans, or corned beef hash or well cooked steak and potatoes with Dijon mustard. Sometimes our grocery store had coconuts, which were in my mind the most exotic of all!

My parents would shop and there would be a choice of two mustards, two types of cheese, yellow and orange, campbells soup, eggs, milk, bacon and probably a dozen types of breakfast cereal and two or three types of jam. It was easy, there were few choices.

Today's parent has to choose from an array of hundreds of mustards, jams from all over the world, a bewildering array of soups and cheeses from around the world and exotic fruit (not just coconut). There is a pantheon of juices, drinks, even yogurt has become a designer element.

Today if I told a child what I had for lunch they would no doubt give me the same bewildered stare that I gave my father when he would tell me his stories of his walks to school, which were longer with each telling of the story. What? No artichoke dressing? No raspberry coulis on organic fudge brownies? No horseradish with cranberries atop their ham sandwich, on organic bread? And how could we have survived without a fruit cup of a variety of fruits..not just a few bruised apples and the occasional squashed grapes.

How could we have endured long days of academic ardour without organic snacks or fortified juices..we drank totally primitive

Karine's Blog

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