It was beautiful out today (high of 27°C, humidex only around 32°C — yesterday saw 32 and 42 respectively) and I had today off so I took to the road on my longest ride yet: up through Gatineau Park, across to Highway 105 at Chelsea or so, north to the River Road to Wakefield, QC, then across the river and back along Hwy 366 and Hwy 307 to Gatineau, then home via the Byward Market. It was a great ride, twisties all the way, and outside of Gatineau Park it was all roads I’d never ridden before.
Gatineau Park had a bit of traffic and a lot of bicycles so was a bit of work to get through, but around one corner I got waved over by a couple of sportbikes. When I stopped I realized why — there was a deer RIGHT THERE, quite confused and ready to run into the road. He was about five feet from me at one point. I really need to get my camera out and start bringing it with me.
The 105 isn’t that interesting — 80 km/h, slow bends, and stuck behind a dump truck for half of it. But at the junction with the 5 I turned off onto the River Road which was a fantastic ride. The hills, sharp blind corners, road conditions and narrowness make it an interesting ride even at 50-60 km/h, and for a good stretch of its length it’s only separated from the Gatineau River with a barrier. Lots of boats out, and saw a floatplane landing. I really need to get my camera out.
The River Road leads right into downtown Wakefield. Wakefield is this cute little mostly-English town of 2000 or so in the middle of Quebec. There’s a steam train that goes between there and Ottawa a couple times a day, serving dinner on the way, and there’s a wooden covered bridge just north of town. I stopped there for a bottle of water and got talking with a Quebecois woman on a Harley in French about what a great day to ride it was, and how fast the 307 was, and I was surprised that my French isn’t as rusty as I thought it was.
From there it was time to speed up a bit — the 366 is a modern two-lane highway signed 90 km/h, and the 307 is the same signed 70. 90 is pushing it on my little bike, but I was fine on the downhills and most of the uphills had passing lanes on them (and good thing, too — on a 10% grade that lasted about 2 km, I found myself slowing down from 90 to 60 with the throttle wide open). Gatineau itself isn’t much fun to ride around in, just a busy city at rush hour, but getting back to Ottawa meant going via the 50 and 5, both freeways! Luckily in-town they’re 90 and 70 km/h respectively so I could keep my speed up.
I stopped in the market for a coffee and to let the rest of rush hour finish up without me. I hadn’t been away from the bike for five minutes before someone decided it would be fun to sit their kid on it. I yelled “It’s hot!” and gave them a dirty look and they went on their way displeased. They should be pleased that their kid didn’t need skin grafts from where his legs would’ve hugged the (air-cooled) cylinder head. Sheesh.
I was impressed with how well the bike kept up today — that’s as hard as I’ve had to push it. I need to go over it and torque all the accessory screws a bit — it vibrates a lot at those speeds and things tend to work loose, including my oil filler cap. I have an oily boot. I’m not sure how it got loose, but I’m going to keep an eye on it from now on. I need to put together a toolkit for the bike — I might just pick up a Leatherman Crunch and mount it inside the side cover somehow. Not cheap, but cheaper than assembling a whole toolkit and buying a pouch for it.