Monday 25 August 2008

Weeks (and weeeeeks) Past Norfolk

Weeks have gone by since participated in Le Tour de Norfolk (July 19), which in our case consisted of a 40km bike ride (there were longer and shorter routes) along the rural roads around Delhi, Ontario. Besides being busy, I have resisted writing about this event in order to gain some perspective. In short, there were some things that could have gone better, but overall, it was fun. We may even do it again someday.

It was a really hot day, but a lot of the time on a bike you don't really notice--as long as you keep moving. Once we got out of the city of Delhi, into the open country, we went at a fairly good pace and it was really pleasant. Tim and I had walkie-talkies, so we were chatting back and forth about things that we were passing, the different crops growing in the area and other stuff. The kids fell asleep in the Chariot as usual and the first third of our 40km ride went by really quickly.

Some parts of the 40km route overlapped with the 160km route being attempted by other more avid cyclists. It was amusing at our first rest stop to watch the 160-ers swoop in on their amazing road bikes, chug Gatorade, fill their water bottles and then zip back out onto the road. We dawdled a little bit at the rest stop to give the kids a break from the Chariot and Istra ate an embarrassing number of cookies (which were free), announcing each one to the guy manning the rest station. To our chagrin, we discovered that the rest stops had "operating hours" and we probably wouldn't make it to the second one before it closed. We stocked up on water and granola bars before we left.

Not only was the second rest stop closed, but it was also mostly hidden (presumably due to the signs being taken down) and we accidentally zipped by it and got lost, adding almost 10km to our trip by the time we doubled back. By this time the bike "air conditioning" wasn't doing anything for me and I was feeling the beginnings of a heat induced headache coming on. I dumped half a bottle of water over my head and felt better after that.

The last leg of our trip was gruelling. The heat was intense. I was floundering pulling the kids in the Chariot and Tim came to my rescue with the suggestion of a bike switch. Riding trailerless was a nice break for me, but it was not a comfortable ride; Tim's bike is set up for clipless shoes and his seat is narrow compared to mine. But I endured because it felt good to go a bit faster than I was able while pulling the kids.

Here is where things got hairy. I was ahead, because in my head I just wanted to get to the finish and lie down and die or something and I assumed that the rest of the family would follow suit in their own time (for the record, I stopped and waited for them at stop signs, but in this last leg there weren't many stop signs). Somewhere along the way Marjorie's odometer hit 38km and she decided she didn't want to ride any further; when Tim caught up to me at the stop sign he told me that we had to go get the car and go back to pick her up.

Though the last hill before the Community Centre finish line nearly killed us, Tim, Istra, Emeth and I made it back and immediately Tim left me with the kids and the Chariot and bikes while he zipped back in the car to pick up Marjorie. By this time she'd decided that she would ride 2km more so she could say that she did 40km. Tim picked her up at the 40km mark just as the first raindrops started to fall. Back at the Community Centre, Istra began to cry about the rain. I locked up the bikes, switched the Chariot into stroller-mode and headed into the arena, where Istra was placated with free ice-cream and Tim Horton's cookies. Did I mention that we hadn't had any nutritious food all day? Well, the trend continued.

Due to the torrential downpour that had begun outside, the swimming pool, the idea of which we had been using to keep Istra happy all through the ride ("I want to get out of the Chariot!" "Oh, but we're going to the swimming pool! Just a little while longer!") was closed. So we stayed in the arena, eating cookies until the buffet dinner was served. On the Tour website, we'd been promised an Ethnic Feast; when I think ethnic, I think Indian or Thai, but I guess some people think of the national cuisine of Germans, Ukrainians and Polish People Who'd Grown up in Cafeterias. As Tim pointed out to me when I complained that the food was not very vegetarian friendly, the food was, in fact, not really friendly to anyone. The perogies were okay, though.

Where's the fun, you ask? Where does this sad, sad tale turn around? Well, the organizers of this event had a draw for several prizes that could be won by filling out a comment form, which was then exchanged for a ballot. I filled out their comment form, pouring onto it my multitude of gripes not unlike I've done here (except that I did not blame them for the weather... or anything, really; I very nicely made suggestions for improvement) and my name was the first name called! I got to go up to the prize table and have first pick out of everything there. I picked a new pair of bike gloves; I'd been using Marjorie's for a few weeks at this point.

Also, on the way home, Tim stopped at a Subway and got me a sub--with vegetables in it. On whole wheat bread. It was delicious. So was the nap I took when I got home.

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