Bicycling over the hump

by Raymond Parker on November 24, 2008

in Adventure, Autobiography, Cycling, Training, Video

Not over the hill

Is it fate that the place I hail from—Wednesfield—is named in honour of the same Anglo-Saxon/Teutoic hero as my favourite day of the week?

Some call it “hump day,” as though it were something to be “gotten over.” For me, though there will undoubtedly be some climbing involved, Wednesday is a desert to be savoured, with coffee.

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“The Field of Woden”

When Ken Bonner first invited me to join the Wednesday Coffee Ride, three-and-a-half years ago, I must admit I was somewhat nervous.

I was still recovering from radiation treatment for cancer (and resultant muscle wasting) when I met Ken and several other cyclists on May 25, 2005, for the jaunt out around the Saanich Peninsula to Sidney, BC. It was also just my second ride of any length, after gall bladder surgery, 6 weeks before.

Ken had assured me the pace would be moderate, but even after I dawdled back to my house, stopping for a second coffee along the way, my speed still averaged 23.5 kilometres-per-hour over 108 kilometres.

The next week, I added an afternoon ride to total an “Imperial century” of 161 kms. Later that summer, I returned to randonneuring and completed 200, 300 and 400 km brevets.

In the last three years, only the occasional flu, injury or conflicting obligation has interrupted attendance. The weather has to be pretty extreme to keep the Wednesday “hard core” at home.

I recall the winter of 2006, when, as folksinger Gordon Lightfoot once put it, “the storms of November came early.” On the same day winds flattened the ancient cedars of Stanley Park, carried away rooftops and restricted ships to port, Bonner and I were struggling to avoid being blown, bicycles and all, into the flooded fields bordering Martindale road. The ducks and geese, huddled in the lee of the roadbed, eyed us suspiciously, fearing they would soon be sharing their flooded shelter with two crazy pedallers!

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Coffee with Woden

The Coffee Club ride has become an important part of my cycling calendar. Of an annual average 8,500 kilometres, Wednesdays make up around 3,000, generally ridden at a faster pace than the rest of my training. It is not uncommon in summer to end up with an average near 30 km/h. When I do ride faster, it is due in no small part to work invested in the Wednesday “peloton,” which contracts and expands with the seasons, from a half dozen to 20 coffee addicts bicyclists.

Speaking of work, since I am still a junior (non-retired) member of the “team,” my last job was arranged around the schedule of the Coffee Club. That is, I was able to swing a mid-week “weekend.”

Here’s to the Wednesday workout. Where else better to study at the cleats of a two-time Olympic coach and bike fitter, swap stories with one of the world’s best randonneurs, drink coffee and trade notes and boasts with a crowd of cycle-centric enthusiasts?

Not least, as illustrated in the accompanying video, where else can I find roads so reminiscent of the quiet country lanes of my English youth (now, incidentally, clogged with motor traffic)? The loop I cycle on Wednesday is one of the most scenic anywhere, taking in seashores and farmlands, highway and byway.

Caffeine facts
  • Caffeine belongs to the group of drugs classified as xanthines
  • Is a mild diureticWorks by blocking brain’s neuroreceptors for adenosine
  • U.S. Olympic Committee considers it a “performance enhancer” screens athletes for drug
  • effects take about 30 minutes to peak
Caffeine effects
  • Increases sense of well-being
  • Decreases perception of fatigue and drowsiness
  • Increases alertness
  • Increases flow of thoughts (not wisdom)
  • Increases mental endurance
  • increases physical endurance
Related VeloWeb Stories:

Wolverhampton Wonderer Putting down Canadian roots | Cougar, Cougar, Burning Bright

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