Monday, April 23, 2012

Trail ride perfection

While running a local trail on Saturday with Tanker chasing me on a bike, we discovered that part of the trail that had been closed for the last two years was finally open and resolved to return on Sunday to ride it and explore.

Broccoli-scallion scramble, peameal bacon and latkes with greek yogurt.  We take brunch seriously!

My day got off to a great start with a swim first thing in the morning. Despite it being a fasted workout, I actually hit a pace I've never before achieved for 10 x 100, and each one of my intervals was bang on time (ok, one of them was 1 whole second slower). I headed home and snacked on a microwaved sweet potato with almond butter and cinnamon, then went to wake up Tanker but ended up napping for an hour myself! Felt great afterwards, though, so I made us brunch while we listened to the Food Show on 570News and ended up winning tickets to the Waterloo Region Food & Drink Show.

The tube wasn't the only thing that was flat.


We had some running around to do before we could ride - Tanker had ended up riding my mountain bike to chase me on the run yesterday after discovering his rear wheel's valve had parted ways from the tube, and we didn't have a spare tube on hand. He'd also been in dire need of a new rear tire for months, so along with a couple of other errands we got what we needed from Grand River Cycle and got his bike ready to ride. Fortunately, while we didn't get out until later in the day, the weather cleared up significantly from the overcast and chilly temperatures of the early afternoon!

Closest trailhead to us.

We hopped on our bikes around 5:30pm and rode up to the trailhead at Kuntz Park, then set off on the trail under beautiful sunny skies. It wasn't terribly warm, but a base layer and arm warmers were all I needed to be comfortable, and Tanker was happy in a wind jacket.

At a bend in the river.

Most of the trail is easily navigated.

This was the first time I was riding anything but rail trail with clipless pedals on my mountain bike, but I never really thought about it until we got into one of the more technical sections - there are stretches of deep, poured gravel that are like riding through porridge, then washed out parts where the trail is covered in cat's head-size river rocks that bounce you around like crazy.

Looking back after riding through some rocks.

Looking down from the same point; this was the first place that I thought I could stop and get going again!

I was a bit nervous through the tricky bits, since my off-road skills are practically non-existent, but I gained more confidence as I rode along. Having just done Paris to Ancaster a week beforehand on my 'cross bike with clipless pedals, my legs seemed to have a clue about what they were doing and I employed the same mantra of "eyes up, light on the pedals" to get myself through. Fortunately,the technical bits are all interspersed with nice, easy stretches of rail trail where I could relax and grab a drink.

Dam on the Grand River and a fish ladder.

I actually managed to get comfortable enough that I stopped looking for the easiest way through, and started to challenge myself with bouncing over some of the bigger and looser rocks. I came through it just fine and really enjoyed myself! Tanker was much happier on his own bike with the new rear tire on it, too; he hates my full-rigid rig, and was pleased to have his full squish back!

Schneider Park at Freeport.

We rode as far as we could, across the river to Freeport, but the trail that will eventually extend from there hasn't been built yet. We could have gone back home via King Street, but we were out to ride trail!

Coming back through.

My trail riding partner and his boat anchor.

I had even more fun on the way back, just bouncing around in the rocks and slewing my way through the soft, poured gravel as the evening sun tinted the landscape with the honeyed colours of spring. I couldn't keep a smile off my face if I'd tried - the beauty of the valley, the excellent company and the joy of riding my bike all ran together in a river of delight flowing through my whole soul.

I love this photo.

Fern along the trail.

We rolled our way back to Kuntz Park and saw a bit more trail leading to an informational sign - we rode across and discovered the Clarica Lookout at the Betzner Farmstead, which affords an amazing view overlooking what will be a future extension of the trail. I can't wait for them to build more for us to explore!

From the Clarica Lookout

It was past 7pm by this point, so we made our way home with just one more stop at the top of the driveway for River Edge Golf Club, to take in a last panorama of the Grand River Valley.

A quick 5.6km transition run on legs that felt wonderfully zippy wrapped up a near-perfect day of training. Sometimes it just all comes together - when it does, it's pure bliss.

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