The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Eat your heart out, Alfred Hitchcock

The Birds, easy, try The Flies
I had that little pre-ride euphoria going on last night. I was watching the clock. 4:56, 4:57, 4:58, 4:59, 5:00 -- SEE YA! A day at the Ottawa office means an evening in Gatineau Park. 60K of awesome cycling.

Things were going better than expected. The park is now open to motorists, and all the hype on the local boards has been about a major shakedown on cyclists. Pfft. Nothing going on. I was only passed by a total of 15 vehicles en route to the Fortune Climb. No Park-Nazis or Taser-friendly gendarmerie anywhere to be seen.

After a successful assault on Fortune, I let myself coast down the 10% gradient. Sitting straight up like a sail, trying to stay below 60km/hr. I made the turn up the backside to Champlain, a beautifully forested area - approximately 3 kilometers of constant climbing. The world was mine. Everything was great. About two thirds of the way up, I let myself use final gear. What I didn't realise, was I was already tapped out.

Cue the horror music

My chain got jammed between my cassette and wheel. My entire bike locks up as I force down on the pedals with all my might. Boom! Man down. Of course this happens right in front of the guy, I'd just been working my ass of to pass. "Do you need help?" :: "No, I'm good thanks - chain just got jammed" :: "Bummer".

It should just be a 5 second job to fix right? Nope, that bastard was jammed in there real good. Geez, these flies are kind of annoying. Riding, even climbing at a modest 14km/hr I hadn't noticed them. But all of a sudden, they're really swarming me. Not helping the repair any. Another group of riders "You Okay? Need a tube?" :: "No, I'm good thanks".

Looks like I'm going to have to pop the back wheel off to get this thing unjammed. "Damn". These buggers are biting. In no time. I am covered head to toe with black flies. They've flocked to me and stuck to me like, well, flies to "excrement". I pick up my bike, and cross the road. I must be standing on their nest or something. They don't let up. Another couple of riders "T'es correct?" :: "Oui, ca va"

I'm starting to get really pissed. My chain is really jammed in there. I'm bleeding from the knee from the crash. I'm covered head to toe still with biting flies. My hands are black with oil. I'm starting to ooze blood from all my pores as the flies take off with chunks of my flesh. All I can think is to walk down hill and find a clearing.

The Walk of Shame

Down the hill I go. Bike on shoulder, back wheel hanging by the chain. Still covered in bugs. Swatting wildly at them. WTF am I going to do? I think about dumping the bike, and thumbing a ride :: figures, no cars anywhere. And of course, I'm exactly at the half-way point of the ride. "You need help?" over-and-over again, with each passing cyclist. Every 100 feet or so, I put the bike down and say to myself, "Ok - let's get it over with. Just put up with the flies and git'er'done." But 10 seconds at a time, is literally all I can bear. I continue my walk of shame down the hill, and then finally. The wheel drops off the chain!

Can I get a Hallelujiah

In 4 seconds, I clamp the back wheel back on, chain bypassing the derailleur. Phew. Relief, as I roll down the hill. Flies unable to keep up to me.

I make it to the overflow parking lot at the base of Fortune, and head right to the sunny middle. No flies to be found there! I'm able to get my chain back on. Get me the hell back home is all I can think about. So I take a short cut... And of course, the one and only day I go without my Garmin, I end up taking a wrong turn, and add an extra 10K to my trip.

The ride back was still hellacious as now, my chain has a wicked hop in it. Every 2 or 3 revolutions, and it skips a beat. Which is really fun when there are about 2 or 3 semi-monster climbs on the way home. Finally, I get back to the office. Looking in the mirror, I am greated by one ugly-looking dude. Oil smeared all over his face and in his ears, from swiping at bugs; blood dripping everywhere. All I can do is laugh.

Dad, do you have the chicken pox?

Andrew's first question to me this morning sums up the state of my arms.

Gatineau Park: See you next week for a rematch.