The RFAD training rides begin
By Claire McFarlane
Photos by Tammy Thorne
Since the thought recently occurred to me that I may not survive the Ride For A Dream experience -- a 500-plus km ride to Montreal to raise awareness to end violence against women -- if I don't start doing some kind of training, I accepted the offer from dandy's editor-in-chief, Tammy Thorne, to do a long ride through Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery. We'll do more training rides (and dandyBLOG posts about them) soon on the lake shore and Toronto's fabulous car-free islands.
This was my first time biking through that part of the city and I found the cemetery itself to be quite lovely, especially with everything starting to bloom right now. The roadways surrounding it, however, have spotty bikeways and high speed limits for motorists which makes for a slightly uneasy bike ride. I was surprised, for example, as we biked along Heath Street to later find out that it is, in fact, a signed bike route. The motorists had little regard for us and zipped by very quickly, without giving a proper berth. The only marked lane we saw on the way there (even though Tammy had planned out a nice route for us) was on Poplar Plains/Russel Hill Rd. where the white lines are fading, and there is construction on the southbound bend that takes up the whole lane.
Fortunately, there is lots of architectural eye candy to gawk at (and to purchase!) on the ride to and from the cemetery, which helped make up for the poor on-street cycling conditions.
The Mount Pleasant Cemetery connects to the Belt Line cycling trail and is home to some very beautiful flora. On the trail and in the cemetery some of the trees are labelled to help inform people like Tammy and I, who know very little about tree and plant identification.
Even the bike racks at the cemetery are beautiful, although, we couldn't figure out why they are located almost in the middle of nowhere rather then in a spot where they might get more use.
Although my (temporary) new wheels - the Avail 3 donated by Giant - are fantastic and perfect for this ride, there are a few things that are very different from my old hybrid commuter bike that I haven't quite gotten used to yet. For one thing, the braking is very different, the mechanism is of course similar but because the positioning is new to me. I realized fairly quickly that I have to apply a lot more pressure towards the end of the brake lever in order to stop quickly. I may see some pinky finger exercises in my future.
I realized that toe cages are also very alien to me as I kept (nearly) falling over every time I had to put my feet in/out of them. However, I'm happy to have them since these devices stop your feet from slipping off the pedals which seems to happen to me fairly frequently on my commuter bike.
It also occurred to me that I may have to invest in a good pair of cycling shorts... for obvious reasons.
I'm sure that these things are all part of the performance bike learning curve and that I will soon adapt to them.
The RFAD team departs the week after next (June 1 at Yonge-Dundas square) and I could not be more excited! I'll be blogging about the ride -- my first ever long distance ride -- all along the way.
dandyhorse will be raffling off these sweet wheels at our launch party in June too. Details coming soon!
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