Last month I blogged about my plan to make the jump from the Tour de Victoria’s 60 km Christie-Phoenix ride to the Trek 100 km Ride this August. Making the leap from 45 km to 60 km last year was challenging, but by keeping my fitness levels up by riding through the winter, playing basketball once a week, and running the T-C 10K for the first time, I felt inspired that I could move up to 100 km level this year.
So far, I have to admit, the challenge has been finding enough time in my schedule to go out on longer rides. My typical pace is about 20 km/h so longer rides can take several hours to complete. I need to set aside a half day now and then, which is tough to do with my busy work and family schedule.
That said, I managed to get out on my bike 23 times in June. Many of these rides were shorter ones: commutes to meetings, running errands, and quaxing.
That’s right: quaxing. I just learned this term and I like it. Here’s the definition:
Quax, [verb; past: quaxed, present: quaxing] — to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit. # quaxing.
I’ve been quaxing for a long time: I often fill the panniers on my bike with groceries, books from the library, or cans and bottles of beer from breweries along the way. Stopping at the Root Cellar is one of my favourite things to do on a longer loop around the city. I reward myself with a fresh, energizing piece of fruit (nectarines are my favourite when they are in season) or a can of coconut water to replenish my electrolytes. And I sometimes fill a pannier with enough fruit and veggies for the next few days.
Based on my personal experience, the more you quax, the less you will think of using your car to run errands. Sure, I still do bigger grocery hauls with the car, but I find that picking up a saddlebag full of groceries every so often is a simple way to avoid using the car more than once a week or so. I know families who choose not to have a car at all, and they figure out how to make it work.
But I digress. Those 23 rides added up to 365 km, a new record for me (my previous high was last July when I rode 350 km). If you do the math you’ll see my average ride was only about 16 km, but I did manage to get out on a few longer rides.
Here’s one from June 9 that was very satisfying: nearly 50 km including a couple of hills that I used to find really challenging, but which I know almost look forward to, all completed with an average speed over 20 km/hr.
The other big ride I enjoyed was not planned. It took place on Father’s Day, when I didn’t think there would be time for me to get out on my bike at all because of family commitments. But as it turned out, I enjoyed a hike in East Sooke Park with family on the Saturday, so come Sunday morning, I tentatively suggested I might go out for a bike ride, and my wife and son said sure, go for it, happy to not have to entertain me. I left at 9:30am, thinking I’d ride up to Michell Farm Market on the Lochside Trail before turning back, but when I got there, I thought, why not keep going a bit farther? Pretty soon, I found myself nearing Sidney and I decided I might as well keep going to Swartz Bay, which is a destination I’ve never attempted before.
At Swartz Bay, I stopped to snap some photos and rehydrate with a coconut water. Strava told me I’d covered 38 km so far, which meant I was looking at a ride of nearly 80 km once I returned home, especially if I took a more roundabout route home — perhaps one that took me past a brewery or two! And considering my longest ride from 2018 was 73 km in total, this was going to be a record-breaking ride.
But once I got back on my bike after a short break, I found my legs were heavy and my pace felt sluggish. This didn’t stop me from visiting Howl Brewing, just north of the airport. After all, maybe that coconut water hadn’t been enough to full rehydrate me.
Howl Brewing is a tiny brewery situated right next to the Fickle Fig Farm Market. It has been open for about a year now, and its owner/brewer, Dan Van Netten, has been making some interesting and tasty beers. One thing he likes to do is to re-create historic styles that are rarely made any more, and on Father’s Day, I got a chance to taste a Purl Ale, an unhopped beer made with wormwood, ginger, orange peel, juniper and other unusual ingredients. It was very bitter with a taste reminiscent of licorice. Apparently, back in the 19th Century, English labourers reached for Purl as a morning pick-me-up.
I tried small samplers of all the beers. They were all tasty, and I thought the Vienna Lager was excellent. But soon enough, it was time to get back in the saddle for my ride home.
Rejuvenated by this pit stop, I took to the back roads of Central Saanich with a plan to stop at Category 12 Brewing for another break, but as I approached Keating Cross Road, I realized three things in rapid order: 1) I was getting really tired and I still had a long ride ahead of me; 2) there is a really steep hill on the way to Category 12 that I would have to climb, which would tire me out even more; and 3) it was getting on to the mid-afternoon and we had family plans at 5:00 pm. So I took a left to head down toward the highway and Michell Farms, and returned to the Lochside Trail.
By the time I got home, I was exhausted. When I glanced at Strava as I dismounted my bike, I saw it read 79.39 km. For a moment, I considered getting back on my bike to cruise around my neighbourhood until I topped 80 km, but I was so tired that I didn’t bother.
A week later, I was off to Winnipeg on a family trip, and while I fantasized about renting a bike to go for a ride while we were there, our schedule just didn’t allow it, so my busiest month of cycling in recorded history ended a bit early.
So far, I’ve had a slow start to July because I had to get caught up on work since my return, but I have a ride out to Sooke planned for mid-July, which will definitely add some mileage. And I also plan on trying out the killer hill I know awaits me on the 100 km ride. Wish me luck!
Joe Wiebe, the “Thirsty Writer,” is the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, the definitive guidebook to British Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer industry, currently in its second edition. Joe has ridden in all of the Tour de Victoria rides and will be challenging himself with the Christie Phoenix 60km this August.