Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday 's events including an act of heroism

It was another beautiful day here, hot, sunny and clear. And our last serious cycling day, so we treated it with all due seriousness. Today's ride was planned to start at 9:30, but because of my flat tire Nick and Howard rose to the challenge, changed the tube and an hour later we were off.

The route started from home so we could avoid the agonizing tetris-like process of fitting four people and four bikes in a Yukon with a bike rack intended to hold 3 (but could only really hold 2.) We chose to skip the hours of riding in contorted positions (Pam and Ellen -- you're amazing) and ride out from Summerside.

The plan: 25 miles out from here to towns unknown, which turned out to include Wellington (notable for it's spotless bathroom) and Ellerslie, our final destination. Hell of a town, Ellerslie. We finally found a post office where Ellen could mail postcards to her kids. A convenience store was handy so Pam could buy treats, and the four of us lunched at a place called Kenny's. (Howard and Joanne turned back earlier to keep the ride manageable.) Lots of photos in front of Kenny's in honor of Ellen's eldest son. Surprisingly big menu including the traditional poutine (Nick ordered and everyone shared.)

Interesting ride. The gradual but constant uphill on the outride strongly suggested a gradual but constant downhill on the return. But it didn't turn out that way. Theories abounded for the difficulties we encountered:

  • wind -- the likely cause. Strong headwinds neutralized any advantage
  • the earth's rotational pull -- Nick's theory. Not even momentarily plausible
  • the most bizarre (mine, I blush to say) -- that the ever-present and ever-friendly road crew somehow manage to change the direction between our start and our return.

In any case, a challenging but very satisfying 49-mile ride. We congratulated ourselves endlessly and incessantly. Happily no one was around to hear us in all our insufferability. It was easier than Tuesday's 42-miler. And I find my mind gets completely lost but very focused on converting kilometers into miles, and back, and back again. That and the scenery are for me completely fulfilling.

Ellen chats when she rides, and we all take turns chatting back, but the rotation system works -- she talks for the entirety of the ride, and the rest of us (literally) cycle in and out. A harmonious arrangement.

A heroic moment: on the way back we stopped in Wellington to use the facilities. Ellen and Pam got there first and left their helmets on a post to signal to us that they were there (the mounted helmets strangely reminded me of Lord of the Flies.) A french-speaking couple was nearby, and in the blink of an eye grabbed Pam's helmet and made off with it. In a flash, Nick was on his bike, caught up with them and got her helmet back. Thieves? Kleptos? Cyclists in need? We don't know, but it was Nick the Lionhearted to the rescue.

The rental bikes were collected by Smooth Cycle at about 4:30, punctuating the official end of our cycling time together. But we have a few hours still left. Ellen, Joanne and Pam are resting; Howard is securing a hotel room for himself and Joanne in Quebec City, what I'm doing is patently obvious, and Nick ran out to get a few staples (we turned Ellen on to my favorite breakfast cereal which Nick prepares with nuts and fruit.) I'm staying awake and busy; if I lie down for even a moment I'll be out for the night. And that would be a criminal waste (a misdemeanor if not a felony.)

Dinner at 511, at the new Credit Union Place. Nice place with au courant cocktails (rare here in sleepy Summerside.) I accidentally called the wrong number when I tried to make a res, and the person at the other end was more than a little surprised by my question; turned out I'd called McDonald's.

I'll chronicle anything newsworthy about tonight in tomorrow morning's post. Photos to follow.

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