Monday, 21 October 2013

Cycling around Montreal...again!

The start of the journey on the Rue Sainte-Catherine.
The last time I was here it was late August 2012. Now it's October 2013 and it's a little colder. I had planned to take out one of Montreal's famous Bixi Bikes yesterday (Sunday 20th October) but a mixture of that slight bite in the air and general fatigue meant I postponed it until today. Even today was kind of on a whim. I was walking down the Rue Sainte-Catherine, a street that disects Montreal from one end to the other almost, except that this time, instead of going into the main shopping drag, I went the other way where things got a little ramshackle in places: graffiti on the walls and general sleaze. As I say, I was on foot, but then I spied a row of Bixi Bikes and decided that I'd go for it.

Every time I take out a bike, be it in Germany or San Antonio, it doesn't matter, I'm still going to get problems and once again, I spent hours trying to figure out what to do, and eventually discovering that the process was quite straightforward.

The port area adjacent to Montreal's old town.
Once the bike was out, I headed further along the Rue Sainte Catherine, moving away from the shops in the centre of town and heading God knows where. The traffic was mild so there were no problems on a safety front and the bike seemed to work well, even if the brakes were almost non-existent. I reached a busy road (Avenue de Lorimier) and had to turn right and there in front of me a huge bridge. I turned right on to Boulevard René-Lévesque Est, and followed an equally busy road using a two-lane cycle track, which took me back towards the city via the cobbled streets of the old town and, indeed, the old port where I stopped and took a shot of the Bixi with a boat in the background, then I jumped back on, retraced my steps towards the old town and enjoyed the tranquility of the ride.
The cobbled streets of the old town...

The skies darkened, threatening rain, but it was holding out and I was enjoying the fresh air as I found University and followed it all the way back to the Rue Sainte-Catherine where I turned left and headed back towards the bike station from where I had released the bike. Then, having replaced it in docking station, I walked back up the street, stopping in a small café for a tea and a pastry and then heading back up the Rue Sainte-Catherine towards the hotel. I stopped off at an excellent music shop – Volume – that sold some great old CDs.

All the photos on the journey were taken on my new iphone – which I needed because my old phone was only tri-band and most of the USA and Canada requires quadband. I know, very boring, but as I spend a lot of time 'over here' I needed to sort the phone out. And also I'm a big kid who loves silly gadgets.

As I write this, it's 2329hrs at home in the UK and 1829hrs here in Montreal. It's not a bad place.

The Bixi Bike station on Rue Sainte-Catherine

The rider's point of view...
Further along the route...on the Avenue de Lorimier

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Fantastic Saturday, rainy Sunday

This weekend the BBC weather people got it right: they said – or rather their map indicated – that there would be rain during the night and then, by around 7am, the rain would move north, leaving the South East clear. I remember the rain in the night. It poured down and I could hear it hitting the conservatory roof, but by 7am, while wet and grey outside, the rain had stopped. When Phil arrived we both look skywards and while there was a nagging feeling that we might get a soaking en route to the Tatsfield Bus Stop (always a safe bet destination in rainy weather because it's covered) I put my trust in the weather people and headed off to Warlingham Green where Andy was waiting (and feeling a lot better after his cold).

From left: Andy, yours truly and Phil at Tatsfield Bus Stop, Saturday.
As we headed off along the Limpsfield Road, the skies above brightened, revealing blue skies and white clouds. We turned left just after Warlingham Sainsbury's and took the slow, more scenic route to the bus stop, albeit a slighter harder route in terms of general exertion. The quiet roads are far better than the 269, which always has cars racing in both directions. With the more scenic route we can talk more, except when we reach Hesiers Hill, which needs all the concentration we can muster. Hesiers is dangerous: a steep downhill lane with a couple of nasty blind corners. Only fools would descend without a wary hand on the brakes.

Once at the bottom, like a roller coaster, the road takes an upward curve and becomes Beddlestead Lane, a long, slow climb towards Clarks Lane, but very scenic with empty fields left and right and sunshine creating a strobing effect on the eyes through the gauze created by the shrubs and bushes.

Last week mist and horses, this week a hazy sunshine.
Reaching the bus stop is always a delight, especially once the tea and cereal bars are brought out. We chatted about what we'd do if won many millions on the EuroMillions. I said I'll buy a huge house on the South Coast, one with plenty of space, and then I'd build a ghost train and have it so that the entrance and exit – you know, the swing doors the trains crash through – are on either side of a grand fireplace.

I've given up buying Lotto tickets because I don't believe in the ticket price rise from £1 to £2. It's all about greed, hence my decision to no longer bother, although I will continue with EuroMillions at work   and I might buy a Lotto ticket once a month. However, whenever I'm in a supermarket I always think, 'ah! I'll buy a Lotto ticket!' And then I remember that it's now £2 and I think of the fat cat bastard – there must be one at the top of Camelot – and then I decide not to bother.

Andy's bike on Warlingham Green
Sunday – rained all day, 

The same BBC weather forecasters who predicted Saturday's weather were equally right about Sunday's. What was annoying about Sunday was me leaving my mobile phone in the bedroom as both Andy and Phil sent out messages. Andy's was 'abort' due to rain; Phil's read, "BBC forecast is 'mist' 7am to 8am then 'heavy rain' 8am to 6pm. Just thought I'd ask what the likely consensus might be before I start the bacon sandwiches!"

Now, had my mobile phone been on the desk or anywhere downstairs I would have read this (and Andy's text) and sent back an 'abort' to Phil.

Moments later Phil sent another text, which again fell upon deaf ears; "Past the point of no return. Bacon going in now..."

I, meanwhile, had prepared the tea and was ready to go out. But now I'd checked my phone and seen Andy's 'abort' text. Phil was on the doorstep in high viz jacket and waterproofs. The rain had started, he said, and it sure had. "Let's not go, it'll be unpleasant," I said – or words to that effect – but as Phil was up and dressed (and certainly prepared for a ride) he said he would press on, so respect is due to Phil for a second ride in the rain, alone.

Before he set off, Phil gave me my bacon sandwich. I had a bit of work to do so I ate it in front of the computer screen. In fact, the only bonus in there being rain this morning was that I got my work done early and could chill for the rest of the day. I didn't do much: we had stir-fry and noodles for lunch followed by a drive to mum's for fruit cake and tea, then we bought a cake in Waitrose and the plan now is to sit and watch The Mayor of Casterbridge on television.

A strange-looking mist on Sanderstead Green last weekend.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

More photos from the weekend's Sunday ride....

On the slower and more scenic route to the Tatsfield Bus Stop

Horses with a bit of barbed wire and a pheasant or two
These shots were taken on Sunday morning's ride to Tatsfield Bus Stop. We went the slow way and, in fact, it could be argued that we should always take the slow route. It's a bit of a haul, but it's safer and more of a work-out, especially riding up Beddlestead Lane, which is a gradual climb all the way to the top.

It's worth mentioning, perhaps, that the weather is beginning to close in; whereas this time last year, the cold had already arrived, if you go back to early October 2011 we had 29-degree heat. This year, the summer has been amazing. Yesterday, for example, was a beautiful day, but I'm hearing reports that the cold weather will soon be upon us, meaning that we'll need to switch our rides back to meeting on Warlingham Green at 0730hrs instead of 0700hrs. This morning it was dark at 0630hrs and let's not forget that the clocks go back at the end of this month. Soon there will be frost on the grass and on car windscreens and the very prospect of wrapping up in scarves and many layers of clothing will not be appealing. Still, it has to be done if we're going to keep on riding. Even those horses in the photograph above will be wearing their winter coats soon.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tatsfield Bus Stop – the long way

Andy aborted due to illness, leaving Phil and I to ride out at the slightly later time of 0700hrs (normally it's 0630hrs, but soon, due to the winter, we'll be switching to meeting Andy at 0730hrs at Warlingham Green).

A wonderful day for riding and we decided to go the long way to the bus stop so we could chat without worrying about riding two abreast. It was a good ride, fairly warm and while we didn't have any cereal bars or bacon sandwiches, we had tea and that was good enough.

We probably chatted too much as we finally left the bus stop around 0930hrs, getting home just after 1000hrs.
Horses in the mist.

Took some great images, well one good image, and here it is, courtesy of yours truly.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

10-miler to Ledgers Road and back...

Yours truly on Ledgers Road, 5th October 2013 – good weather too!

I know that I could easily cycle 10 miles before work and put it to the test this morning, albeit leaving at 0900hrs (and returning at 1000hrs). It's five miles to Ledgers Road and, therefore, five miles back, which as we all know is ten miles...burning 450 calories.

The Kona Scrap at the five-mile point. Time to head home!

How much weight can we lose riding our bikes?

Just been checking out the calorie-burning potential of our cycling. It looks as if we can burn off around 1,365 calories on a Westerham ride and a shortish one-hour ride, to say Botley Hill and back, would burn off around 350 to 450 calories depending on which on-line calculator you rely upon. Considering men are supposed to take in roughly 2,500 calories per day, we're 'quids in' at the weekends so...bring on the frankfurters!