The training has started.
I've finally gone on a "training ride" for the Friends for Life Bike Rally, which is a huge fundraiser for the Toronto People with Aids Foundation. The ride is from July 24 to 29, from downtown Toronto, all the way to Montréal in la belle province. It's not that I haven't been riding this year, but with the conferences that I'm attending, the tax season, the move to our new condo (and all the finance & legal work involved, not to mention the packing and unpacking), I really haven't been on the bike as much as I would have liked to. I did, a few weeks ago, manage to do a 70km ride from home in North York on a nice Saturday afternoon, up to Richmond Hill, then down to downtown and then back home. I felt pretty sluggish through that entire ride, and I wondered if there was something wrong with my bike, or (worse) something wrong with me.
I really wanted to think that there was something wrong with the bike, so the first thing I did was to try to clean and lube my chain. That took a bit of work, and there was indeed a lot more grease and dirt on my chain that I had originally thought. Anyway, while I was lubing the chain, I noticed that my wheel was put on improperly, and that it was rubbing against the seat stay (part of the frame). So that's why I was slow. After fixing it, I felt that I was ready to go. One problem solved, but it still doesn't mean that there wasn't anything wrong with my fitness level either.
May 14 was, by all accounts, a lousy day. It was wet and it was cold. Rain was pouring all over the GTA, but luckily for us, it didn't rain when the group left Kennedy TTC Station. The route took us through Pickering into Ajax, then returning to Kennedy Station. I started near the front, following a nice woman named Kyra. She was tall, and she was fast. And the two of us kept a good pace right through the entire 63km route, with her leading in the first half, and me leading her through the hills on the back stretch. The rain was kept away from us, until the few minutes before returning to Kennedy Station, when the mist and fog caused some minor visibility issues for us. Luckily I had my super-bright rear lights turned on, and made ourselves quite visible to the drivers on Eglinton Ave. Of the ~40 people who rode that morning, Kyra and I returned as the 7th and 8th rider, so not too bad afterall. My average speed was 26.25km/h, faster than anything I've done this year. So there wasn't anything wrong with me afterall!
This ride was the first qualifier for the Rally (I needed to complete a 50km ride before May 15 before moving on to the next qualifier), and I think I did quite well. My next qualifier will be on Saturday June 25 (rain or shine), when I have to complete a 100km+ ride.
Once again, a huge thanks for everyone who have made a donation for this Rally. I'll be sure to keep all of you posted on my riding progress.