Friday, August 31, 2012

Not waterproof yet

So back on Sunday I broke myself. Fairly seriously.

This apparently looks much better than before it was set.

I had my appointment with Dr. Markus Bischoff, the happy-go-lucky Orthopedic Surgeon at Milton District Hospital. The x-rays above and below were taken at the beginning, through the hated splint and elastic bandage. I'm told they show that the radius (big, broken bone) is in what the doc says is pretty good position, but he was a bit concerned about the gap between my ulna (thinner, unbroken bone) and the little bones at the bottom of my hand.

Bad ulna! Play nice with the other bones.

He said it was a "borderline" case for surgery; they could go in and pin the radius, which had been shortened by the impact, to bring the joint into better alignment. I was told without surgery, I might have discomfort and a big lump at the outside of my wrist...but I also might heal just fine, with no pain. I've opted to go non-surgical and see how things go. The doc said they can always go in later and shorten the ulna (as in surgically remove part of my skeleton? *gulp*) if it's a problem.

So, I requested a waterproof cast. I've only been able to go for walks so far and hadn't showered, because Dr. Hassan had told me I'd be sent home in something that wasn't waterproof. He apparently lied, as that splint was just a couple of pieces of fibreglass and some fuzzy stuff underneath the elastic outer wrap:

..and I mean TIGHT outer wrap.

Request denied. Despite diligently having taken my anti-inflammatory meds (Naproxen) as prescribed and keeping the idiot thing elevated as much as possible, there was still too much swelling. I was told the Gore-Tex waterproof lining doesn't have as much give as the cotton batting they use for "regular" casts, so I couldn't have one until at least my next appointment the following Wednesday (September 5th). I would, however, be given a fibreglass cast, which would be a little lighter than plaster.

Was there any doubt what colour I'd pick?

I was given instructions for showering, urged to keep it elevated as much as possible, and sent on my way.

This probably isn't acceptable.

So we continue to go for walks only (ok, with occasional additional activities), and while I now have the use of my left hand fingers again, there are still many tasks that are just too bloody painful. I tried driving our only car - a 5-speed - yesterday. I can clearly do so well enough to fool even Tanker in the shotgun seat into believing I'm fine, but the pain in my hand and wrist when trying to signal or turn right tells me that I'm probably not ready to drive myself down to Michigan for the rally this weekend, and certainly in no condition to ride my motorcycle down.  

This is most likely frowned upon as well.
It never happened, though. Just clever photoshop. Really.
Stop looking at me like that.

For the record, I did actually finally get in for a shower. Good lord willing I won't need more than one additional wash up before my next appointment, since this is an almighty pain in the ass.

Funny looking produce.

Hopefully next week will bring a waterproof cast so I can actually get back in the pool and set up a bike on the trainer without fear of ending up with a manky, possibly moldy, sweat-soaked cast liner. The best news so far comes from last night's walk; for the first time, I didn't have to step very carefully to avoid pain from jarring the wrist, so I'm one step closer to being able to go for a run! 

To add insult to injury (ha, ha), though, the swelling dropped yesterday. I now have a rather disturbing amount of space inside the cast:

This probably shouldn't happen.

With so much extra room, the wrist isn't as well-supported as it could be, which leads to aching. Oh well, at least it gives me a great canvas to advertise my own idiocy!

I can write better upside down than I thought!

I just have to keep telling myself it should be less than a week before I can start some kind of training again, but all walking and no swim/bike/run makes K something something..

I even started my very own Tumblr..

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mine Over Matter Off-Road Tri - August 26th, 2012

This ought to be short.

Traditional 5hrs of pre-race sleep, yet I awoke without the usual race day energy. For some reason I was getting a bad vibe, but I passed it off - how bad could it be? I did, however, decide to rawk my 2-piece kit instead of my race suit in case I crashed. Still getting the sponsor logos out there, but not risking my fav suit.

Loaded the car (late), got Tim Horton café mochas, and totally forgot to grab a bagel for my faithful sherpa and amazing husband. Feck..

Kelso Quarry
Arrived at the race site and picked up kit - number 213. Didn't seem to bode well, but again, I dismissed it. I was antsy about the weather, too - it was going to be an uncharacteristically sunny and hot day, whereas every other Element Racing event has been held in rain and cool, or at least overcast. In 2011 I did this same race at 17c with a bit of rain before the swim start. I feared the effects the day's predicted 30c and high humidity would have on me as I attempted to run up the side of the quarry.

Bright burning ball in sky!
As usual, I was the first one in transition. I'm a dork like that. I got set up, chatted with some other racers, forgot my water bottle in a portajohn, then struggled into my wetsuit,


Since only about 5 other women seemed to be competing in the full tri, odds looked pretty good for an age group award - I got 3rd in womens' 30-39 last year because there were only - you guessed it - 3 women in my age group. Victory through attrition baby!

Racked right by the bike exit.
I got in the water, warmed up a bit, then lined up and waited for the gun. Since there were only 49 people doing the full, it was a mass start, but not exactly crowded despite the quarry pond not being all that big.

The first loop went ok - I was sighting fine and holding feet, even passing some people despite having taken some water in my left goggle as I dolphin dived off the start. Got around the shore-side buoy, stood, ran while emptying my goggle, then dived back in. No water this time - awesome! I was stroking away, making decent progress, then suddenly there's a kayak in front of me waving me off to the left. I sighted on the wrong. Damn. Buoy.

Correction made, I start swimming back toward the outside of the course, but I'm pulling pretty badly to the right and miss the buoy a bit. I look around and can't see it, then a kayaker kindly points out that it's behind me. I swim back about 8 metres, pull a u-turn around the buoy, then continued on as if I weren't some kind of dumbass. I even passed another couple of people whom I assume must have either showed up late or had money riding on their being last.

Yellow line = second loop.

Rising from the water like some unholy leviathan, Tanker was sweet enough to cheer for me and tell me I'd done well. Who am I to argue? I wasn't quite last out of the swim..

1,000m swim: 21:41 @ 2:11/100m

I knew T1 was going to be a challenge, so I tried to take things slow and easy. Get wetsuit off, put on socks (which I don't usually do). Put on mountain bike shoes (which are slower to don than my 1-strap tri shoes). Don sunglasses & helmet. Run to bike mount line and realize my race number belt is still hanging from my handlebar. Avoid temptation to slap forehead, put on, get on, go.

T1: 01:26

The bike course starts with loose gravel, on which my tires felt kind of sketchy, then a nasty road climb up to the entrance to the mountain bike trails. I locked out Arven's fork, spun my way up in the small ring to try to prevent blowing myself up early, then hit the double track mild descent and managed to catch a sip off my bottle of lemon-lime nuun. Then I remembered to unlock the fork. 

I rolled through the open sections of trail pretty easily and was feeling good, then we got to the first couple of sections of singletrack gnarly stuff. I managed to thread my way through, and was actually enjoying myself and rolling over some things I'd had to walk last year. Back out into the sunshine for a bit, I came up to a rock garden that marked the entrance to another technical section, got my wheel stuck between a couple of rocks and fell over.

Artist's conception.

I seemed to be ok, so picked myself and my bike up and carried on. A friendly racer or two asked if I was ok, and I was, so they rode on. I passed one - a girl who I'd met in transition that apparently did Horror Hill and had read my blog - a bit later on the trail and asked if she was ok, since her bike was upside down. She said she was, so I rolled onward.

Mere moments later I was face to face with another, bigger rock garden at the start of the Rogue trail. It climbed up about 2.5-3 feet and had rocks almost the size of my head with a little pallet-sized plank bridge on top. I was pretty sure I had walked it last year - looked scary. I waffled and scrubbed some speed, then decided to go for it. I stroked as hard as I could in the last few feet before it to try to rebuild some momentum, got three quarters of the way up, got hung up, and fell over again. On the same side. Harder.

I went to push myself back up, looked at my left wrist (which I'd stupidly held out to break my fall), and knew my race was done. I lowered myself back down and called for help, using my right hand to hold my left wrist so it would be stable and I wouldn't have to see its funny shape.

Artist's conception.

Bike: 3.62km / 13:44 before DNF.

A male racer stopped to see if he could help. The racer from Horror Hill stopped and said she was a nurse. Between them they got the bike off me and contacted the on-course medics who came almost immediately, then they continued on with their race (thank you for your help!). The on-course medics helped me get out of the middle of the rock garden since the leaders were already starting to come through on the second lap, and I found a little rock off to the side to sit on while I sipped some water. James the medic apologized but said he didn`t have any splint material; looking around at all the bits of stick by the trail, I figured we were surrounded by some and suggested that a couple of sticks and some tape would at least stabilize it. He agreed, and we went to work.

The first version was even more hilarious.

They also called out Dave in the RTV (side-by-side) to come get me and Arven off the trail. We walked out through the open portion of the narrow trail, then ducked the tape onto a wider section that wasn't part of the course to wait for my rescue vehicle. I wasn't in great shape - in pain, bemoaning my first DNF, and thinking about the impact on the next few weeks' worth of events. We were supposed to ride our motorcycles down to Michigan for a rally on Labour Day weekend; I was registered for the Lakeside Olympic on September 16th; we were flying to Calgary on the 17th to visit Tanker's family, and we'd just registered for the Tour de King 50km mountain bike race on September 30th. I also had major run training to do for the Vulture Bait 25k trail race on October 13th and Horror Hill 6 hour trail ultra on October 27th. Hell, we were supposed to be going to brunch right after the race with our friends!

Down to the hangar with Dave in the RTV, they took away my sticks and gave me a cardboard splint. I also finally got to inspect Arven, who proved tougher than me - he's missing a bit of paint, but the carbon fibre frame and seatpost are both totally structurally sound. Wish I could say the same for my pansy-ass wrist! I'd also hashed the back of one of my Compressport calf sleeves on the chainring - craptacular. We found Tanker by transition, who was sympathetic about my DNF but glad I was more or less ok. He went to work packing up my transition area, brought me some dry clothes to wrestle my way into, and loaded up the bike on the rack for me. I loafed around and made friends with an ice pack.

Something's not right here.

Off to Milton District Hospital's emergency room, where over the course of 8-ish hours I heard "yeah, that's broken" from the admitting nurse, the physician assistant, the radiologist, the first doctor on duty, the day care nurse, the second doctor on duty and the anaesthesiologist. 

Aww, snap!

They had to remove the cardboard split for the x-ray, then I waited in the day care unit with the arm completely unsupported (except laying it on my lap) for over 4 hours for a bed with a monitor to come available. I couldn't have anything to drink or eat because they'd be knocking me out in order to set the bone, so I was in pain, raging about my own stupidity (why didn't I just walk the damned rock garden?) and its effects on our near future, AND thirsty as hell. They put an IV thingy in my right arm and asked that I be patient.

Doctor humour.

Fortunately the physician assistant took pity on my predicament and started a drip of Fentanyl. This made the pain much less significant in my universe, and I actually dozed off a couple of times.

Fentanyl goooooooooood.

3pm came and Dr. Chang was going off-duty, so Dr. Hassan (the new doc on duty) came 'round to see me and explain that they'd be setting the bone under sedation, but I'd still need to go see an orthopedic surgeon to find out if it would need surgery and hardware. He also told me that today's cast would only be temporary; the permanent one would be put on by the ortho doc, and I could request a waterproof cast then. Finally, somewhere around 4:45pm, a bed opened up and I was led in. I went bionic as the monitor was hooked up, then somewhat annoyed the nurses when my heart rate dropped first below 45bpm, then down to 39 and the monitor started to freak out because it thought I was coding. Ahh, endurance life.

Closest to a thumbs-up I can manage.

I was fed oxygen, ketamine and propofol, and the raging disco party that always seems to accompany knockout meds replaced mundane consciousness. I giggled my way through a second set of xrays and probably screamed "WHEEEEEEE" inappropriately as I was wheeled back into the day care unit. I remember Dr. Hassan and the physician assistant laughing at me when I popped my still-crosseyed head up, looked at the clock, and chortled that I'd lost an hour and a half. They said "yes you did", despite it only having been an hour or less. They seemed to get a real kick out of my gibbled self.

What blows is that the damned thing hurts more now, after being set and splinted, than it did even sitting unsupported for hours on end. I was eventually released around 6pm (having arrived at 10:15am), given prescriptions for Naproxen (a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory) and Percocet (which are like Mickey Finns, only doctors give them to you instead of rapists).

20 for 2 days?

So now I get to go see Dr. Bischoff on Wednesday at 3:15pm to beg for a sport cast and hope that I don't need any further metal in my body.

The moral of this story? Apparently I will do anything to avoid running up the Niagara Escarpment in 30 degree heat.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Things not to do this weekend

Sunday at Puslinch Tract

Red badge of courage, 1 week from race day.

On the bright side, I'm unbroken. The bike is unbroken. I'm a little bruised, but still ready to race at Mine Over Matter on Sunday. Well, ready as in having done one ride on my new mountain bike since the above incident without crashing.

They've apparently taken a half-kilometer out of each loop on the bike course, but we'll still have to go bombing down the ski hill and then climb up again - apparently the ascent will be up a different section this year due to construction at Glen Eden to replace one of their lifts, but I'm sure it'll be just as punishing.

My gravitationally challenged arse may be 10lbs lighter than last year, but the lovely cool temperatures we've been experiencing for the last week or so are disappearing into a soupy mess of 30+ celcius and high humidity. They're talking about a smog advisory for the weekend. Joy.

LeMond said "It never gets easier, you just go faster". In this case, I say "it hurts even more, and you go even slower". Guess as long as I don't go for another flight over the bars I should be fine, right?


In other news, Tanker gets his new mountain bike this evening. It's kind of nice to know that it wasn't just me - my old Kona rigid just isn't all that great to ride on XC trails, even if you're closer to the right size for it (it's a 19" frame, and was always a bit big for me). After a weekend of Tanker wrestling it around Shade's Mills and the Tract, he was heartily sick of poor old Dusty. It looks like he'll be converted to single speed at some point and hang around as my snow bike. Sorry buddy, it's not me - it's you.

Artist's conception.

Now where the hell are our Awesome Straps?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lost my excuse for trail suckage

I used to race mountain bikes downhill. I was young and dumb, with zero regard for my personal health and well-being. That latter part hasn't changed a whole lot, but I did spend the best part of 15 years without riding a bike on anything more technical than a potholed road and turned into a bit more of a wuss.

I still have my last DH bike - a 1995 Kona Hahanna rigid with a full chromoly frame and probably one of the last hand-welded quill stems out there. His name is Dusty, and he's been my reliable companion since I was 15 years old. He's even been stolen twice, but came back to me both times! Yes, even as a downhiller I eschewed suspension; I tried it out, but I was slower and I hated that more than anything (see comment above about regard for my own skin).

The huge Canadian Tire saddle bag is actually older than the bike.

Tanker and I have actually been riding a little bit of trail in the last couple of years. Well, a bit of singletrack - we ride a whole lot of pretty crushed limestone multi-use trail on the cyclocross bikes. In any case, the years away from bumping around on rocks and roots have turned me into a total weenie with the bike handling skills of a stunned chipmunk. Wait, I take that back - chipmunks are far more at home in the woods than I am.

Freaking out over a little switchback in April 2011 at the GORBA trails.

Knowing that I'm pretty much hopeless as a cross-country mountain cyclist, of course I sign up for a bunch of off-road events. I did Paris to Ancaster in both 2011 and 2012. I did the Chicopee 4-hour Drain last year; a 4-hour (duh) race doing loops around the trails at Chicopee Ski Resort. I built some skills, and occasionally punctured myself.

Yes, I did a 4hr XC race in Chuck Taylors on flat pedals.
That's still not as dumb as trying to cycle up a ski hill.

All of this helped immensely when I did a little race called Mine Over Matter at the Kelso Quarry. This off-road tri starts with a swim in the quarry pond then takes you up the Niagara Escarpment to the mountain bike trails at Kelso/Glen Eden - another stinkin' ski hill. I'm sure to people who are comfortable on trails these ones are easy-peasy, but I saw them for the first time still slightly gibbled from the 1km swim and absolutely gasping from the huge climb out of the quarry floor to get up to the trailhead, petrified I was going to break my fool neck! Still riding on flat pedals, I ended up dismounting and walking my bike over or around a lot of the obstacles - rocks, big roots and piles of logs.

And up part of this hill. My chubby arse isn't made for climbing!

I did actually make it through unscathed, and thoroughly enjoyed the race even though I was firmly - and I mean firmly - back-of-pack. I even did some more trail riding before winter settled in, and managed to get to a point where I even tried a couple of black diamond-rated trails without dying. I discovered I could roll over some things in my way, and my primary issue was lack of confidence.

Fast forward to this year, and Tanker finding a set of Crank Brothers Candy pedals (same kind I have on my CX bike) in a clearance bin. I figured I'd risk $40 and my collarbones trying out clipless pedals on the trail. 

How bad could it be?

Taking them out to a local trail with some soft, poured gravel, some seriously rocky sections and some rough climbs, I discovered that the people who'd been trying to convince me to ride clipless on my mtb weren't actually trying to kill me. It was easier to spin smoothly through the loose stuff, I had way more control riding over obstacles, and I actually found myself choosing the more difficult line through the (quite easy) technical sections rather than looking for the easy way out.

We headed out to Puslinch Tract on the Victoria Day weekend to try out the new pedals on some "real" trails and had an absolute riot. I only fell over once (while stopped, with my foot already down. Don't even ask) and I gained a lot of confidence, though I'm still a bit of a weenie and always seem to find some rock or root on a big climb that stops me dead and makes me dismount. 

I'd already signed up for Mine Over Matter again, so I knew that the new skills would be a huge asset. Tanker kept insisting that if I was going to be racing off road I'd need a new mountain bike, but I was a bit resistant to the idea - Dusty is still operational, even if he is now old enough to vote, and I figured Tanker was probably more deserving of a new bike since his 40lb Raleigh Tim Hortons Roll-up-the-Rim-to-Win full-suspension bike was rapidly deteriorating. He told me he didn't care, that his bike was ok, and that since I'm the one who races I should get a new bike. I was actually set to go take a serious look at a couple when our roof crapped out, thoroughly depleting any resources we had to spend on anything else.

I found out recently, though, that I have a bit of money coming my way. I decided that maybe it was time to look at what might be available on sale, as the 2013 models are launching as we speak. We headed over to the best shop in Cambridge for off-road cyclists - The Hub - to see what we could see.

Minutes later, I was in love with a Louis Garneau Apex Elite. He was black, he was pretty, and he was fun to ride!


I actually ended up nipping over to another shop that had a couple of 29ers on sale to try them out before I finally committed - I rode a Trek Paragon and a Giant XTC 2, but simply didn't like them as much as the buttery, snappy, flickable Apex Elite. Back to The Hub, I got the bike for an astonishing 42% off MSRP!

Of course, I couldn't take it home right away - it had to be given a pre-delivery inspection by the shop owner, and it was nearly closing time on Saturday anyway. I wouldn't be able to make it before they closed on Monday, so I'd have to wait until Tuesday evening before I'd actually get my new ride! Talk about keeping a turkey in suspense. I tried to settle for reading up on some of the new things I'd be dealing with; suspension fork and disc brakes and carbon fibre, oh my! I also started ordering some of the things I'd need for him; a multi-tool with Torx and a disc brake wedge, a mini pump, a shock pump and some frame protection. I also ended up re-fitting Dusty for Tanker, who decided that perhaps my old friend was a better bet than his rusted old boat anchor.

Finally Tuesday rolled around, every minute of my workday seeming to take an hour, and we probably set a land speed record getting to the shop to pick him up. I'd named him in the meantime - Arven, a derivative of the Breton name HervĂ© meaning "battle or carnage worthy" - and arrived at The Hub to find this:

Cliff destroys me!
I grabbed a cycle computerchainstay protector, spare tube and a Big Air cylinder, then had to go hit the pool rather than going straight home to get Arven all kitted out. Probably one of the worst, most lackadaisical swims I've ever done - I just wanted to go ride my bike!

Pretty boy.

Finally home, Tanker wouldn't let me futz around with my ride until I'd got my run out of the way. He'd smurf kick me if I went near the bike! Grumbling, I went and ran 6.5km, then came home and fell to work. The Candy pedals were installed, my Velo Pronto SI-WZ1 saddle and bottle cages went on, and I managed to get the cycle computer hooked up and working. I took him for a little spin around the neighbourhood, then finally started dinner...just after midnight.

About to head out for the first real ride.

Wednesday evening Tanker and I headed out to the Kuntz Park head of the Walter Bean Trail to give Arven a bit of a taste of off-road goodness. They'd filled in the rocky sections with crushed gravel, but I could still get an idea of his handling in the soft, poured sections and see how he reacted to climbing on a loose surface.


While my saddle was still a bit low (fixed when we got home; was too excited to remember to bring tools with me) and I think I'll probably drop at least one spacer from under the stem, I had an absolute ball! It was an amazing evening; Tanker and I rolling along while the sun set, spotting deer and herons all along the trail. We finally got home just after dark, I went out for another run, then made a few adjustments and test rode Arven once more. I think I'm close to having him dialed in!

Meanwhile, Dusty has been reborn as Tanker's new trail machine - I think the two look pretty happy together:

I'm so happy my old friend won't just sit around gathering cobwebs.

We'll be heading out to Shades Mill Conservation Area on Saturday afternoon to ride their technical-but-not-very-challenging trails and do an open water swim, then back to Puslinch Tract on Sunday to really put him through his paces. I have to come to grips with the fact I no longer have riding a bike old enough to vote as an excuse for my poor performance on trails, but if the first bit of riding has been any indication I won't be able to wipe the grin off my face until well after Mine Over Matter!

I think we're going to be good friends!

I can't tell you I'll be any faster, but I may at least come out a little less beaten up - I just have to try not to wreck myself getting to know the bike before the race!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Active tourism rawks!

After an enchanting day at the Stratford Festival on Saturday, July 28th, Tanker and I loaded up our motorcycles and headed out on Monday, July 30th for two nights in Quebec City, a night at Stoneham Resort, then two nights in Montreal.

My bike and my awesome touring partner.

We started off in Cornwall, just passing through - I managed to get a run in, though it took somewhat extraordinary means and a bit of pre-planning:

GPS? Whassat?
Then it was off to Quebec City, where our hotel was just around the corner from Parc les Saules, where a beautiful pathway runs through the woods along the Saint Charles River, crossing over it several times via footbridges. It made a beautiful, if very hot (30+c), evening run, and I even found a concert just starting up at an amphitheatre in the park!

View from a bridge.

Cooler than running on the street!

Lovely winding pathway.

Looking down into the river valley.

The run being approximately 6.75km from the hotel door, around the park and back, I was able to see much more than I would have if we'd just gone for a walk. Of course this came at the price of running several short, sharp hills as the trail thread its way in and out of the river valley.

That's as steep as it looks.

The next day we left the hotel room just after 9am and didn't return until after midnight. We parked the motorcycles in Vieux Quebec and proceeded to walk the Citadel, Battlefields Park on the Plains of Abraham, the old city and about a million stairs:

l'escalier Cap-Blanc, 398 steps

Stairs to Levis: unknown stair count

l'escalier du Casse-Cou: 59 steps
Not pictured: the stairway down from Levis, l'escalier du Faubourg (99 steps) down from Terrasse Dufferin, or the few other 10-15 step staircases we walked. Quebec is kind of all about stairs. After walking the best part of 15 kilometers throughout the day and being out very late to see the fireworks that kicked off Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France, I decided to forego running.

The next day saw us roll out to Parc de la Chute Montmorency to walk another bunch of stairs (mostly down) and another few kilometers to get all of the views of the falls.

Across the suspension bridge, down the stairs, along the basin and across the footbridge from which this shot was taken.

Both of us still being in our motorcycle boots and at the very limit of our comfortable walking distance in them, we decided to take the cable car back up to the top.


Then we rode off to Stoneham Resort in the Laurentian Mountains with the intent of hiking some of their trails, but we arrived around 6pm and were told that no maps were available (as the trail oversight is done by the town, not by the resort), and that the pool and hot tubs closed at 7pm. Given that the sun would set early nestled among the peaks, we opted to play it safe and go for a dip instead. It was the only pool on our tour, and it's still tri training, right?

It's a tough life, I tell you.

The following morning we were on the road to the jewel that is Montreal. We checked in at the Ritz-Carlton (don't ask - just roll with it), had the concierge make dinner reservations for us, then did some walking and a bit of shopping (I got new Chucks!). It was getting late, so we hopped on Bixi bikes to get back to the hotel. 

We paid $15 per bike for a 72hr pass, which includes unlimited trips up to 30mins.
You can end a trip at any of the 400+ stations in the city, wait 2mins, then start a new trip!

I managed to get a run in just before dinner - up Mont Royal! I started at the base of the trail on Avenue des Pins and ran up, up, up the switchbacks to the spot that overlooks the lake by what looks like a big cement inukshuk, then turned around and ran back down. It was pretty dark, so I got the crappiest photo of all time at the highest point I reached:

That's the lake in behind me, though it was mostly empty.

We spent all of the next day touring the city on foot and by Bixi - the bike lanes in Montreal are an absolute delight! The city truly is Canada's leader in using cycling to reduce traffic congestion in the downtown core.

Full dedicated lanes, separated from the rest of traffic.

While the photos don't show it, there are literally thousands of cyclists in downtown Montreal.
The cycle commuting culture is thriving in the city!

We hiked back to the top of Mont Royal as well (more stairs), for the breathtaking view that daylight affords:

The whole city at our feet.

We eventually made our way back to the hotel, cleaned up from a ridiculously hot day (35c with humidex of 40+!), then hopped Bixi once more to ride to our Saturday night dinner. On the way back, we even saw a police-escorted all-nude critical mass ride!

This doesn't happen in Ontario.

Sunday morning brought our exit from Quebec, through on-and-off rain (and even hail - ouch!) to Kingston. Fortunately we were off the road before the enormous thunderstorm hit and didn't get too wet walking to the LCBO or to the magnificent Indian restaurant where we had dinner, but I didn't feel safe running unfamiliar streets in chancy weather so opted to take the day off from any other activity.

The final total was about 41km of walking, 25km of cycling, 17.5km of running, a bit of swimming, and an incredible number of sights and experiences we never would have had if we'd simply acted like "regular" tourists. I also managed over 11.5 hours of aerobic activity during the week I was on vacation, so perhaps Mine Over Matter in just over 2 weeks might hurt just a little less..