Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oakville to Acton: Niles's First Big Test

Yesterday, buoyed by excellent weather reports, by sightings of fall leaves, and by my burning desire to ride my new bike, I set off at 8.30am to the Exhibition GO station to catch the train to Oakville. From there I headed north on my favourite ride, a circa 110km loop up and through the Escarpment to Acton, and then home down quiet country roads.

It was a wonderful ride. My greatest concerns going in were, in order: uphills and downhills. I figured my 42x15 fixed gear wouldn't get me up the steepest climbs, and worried the steepest downhills would tear my knees off. As it happened, I did have to walk Niles up one steep hill and parts of the two big climbs. But my knees remained intact, and all that spinning didn't even bother me much. My legs, prone to ITB problems are sore achilles tendons, felt perfect after the ride. Otherwise, his gear was perfect, allowing me to spin comfortably along flats and to get out the saddle and speed over rolling terrain. To give some indication of whether Niles was well matched to the terrain, I finished the ride half an hour faster than I ever have before, despite the on-foot climbs.

The things I was most looking forward to were the falling leaves and, well, riding Niles. As for the leaves, I'll (ahem!) leave that to the photos to describe, and note that walking up those two hills gave me a nice opportunity to slow down and take them in. As for Niles, he is definitely my favourite bike: he holds his line perfectly, allows me to react quickly and change my course, is smooth and comfortable, looks very nice, and keeps the mud and dirt off of me.

And now some photos:

Niles patiently awaits our train at Exhibition.

Just out of Oakville, we turn down Lower Baseline and notice this sign. I hope the construction relates to the awful bridge.

While crossing said awful bridge, the view was not so bad!

And here is the new bridge they've built. This will make next year's riding much nicer.

Climbing away from the bridge; one of the manageable climbs, and a beautiful one.

The Escarpment in the distance...

My first big climb. I made it about to the shadows before I had to get off and walk.

The Escarpment from which I had just descended.

... And the next Escarpment climb. I made it this far (almost to the top) before having to get off. Looking back.

Nassagaweya Esquesing Townline — the Grand Bois 28s made this gravel feel pretty smooth, but I couldn't help wonder what the 42s would have felt like...

At my destination.

The Tim Horton's had a lineup all the way to the parking lot. So we settled for chocolate milk and chips from a convenience store and ate here, in front of the Sen Sen Chinese restaurant.

A self portrait at speed, as I arrived back in Oakville, with 40 minutes to kill before my train arrived.

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