In this issue:
Table of Contents
- President's Message
- Youth Program
- The OBC zoom series in the time of COVID-19
- OBC Advocacy
- Mike Plummer
- By rail trail to the 2019 Cycling World Championships in Harrogate
- Club Office Information
- OBC Contact Information
- Find us On-line
- Member Services
- Board of Directors
- How to Become a Member
- Ottawa Bicycle Club Objectives
Hello, and welcome to June's OBC Newsletter. Cycling weather is fully upon us, and everyone is on the roads. OBC members are racking up kilometres on Strava, or just on their own! We just finished our first virtual social/presentation: 50 members attended a great tour through Sri Lanka with expert guide Bill Bourne. Others members are participating in Zwift events, and virtual coaching activities. And a new order of the OBC kit is in its final stages.
In other news - the government of Ontario has announced a "return to sports", and the Ontario Cycling Association has agreed to sanction some club activities. But ....they've placed a limit of 5 cyclists for club events. The OBC board feels this number is too small to run tours or Time Trials, so they won't be restarting just yet. Based on restarts of other sports and recreation, we are expecting to be going ahead this season. The approach to resumption of club events will be based on physical distancing, smaller numbers, and caution. We will get back to Club cycling - safely, with some modifications, but we will get back.
The board is willing to support meetup type tours, organized by individual members and submitted to the OCA via the club at least 72 hours beforehand. For example, Shawna wants to go to the Gats on a Thursday morning at 9 AM. She emails the club admin with the time and planned route, no later than Monday at 9 AM, to advise the OCA. Shawna advertises the ride on club social media, bulletin board, etc. Once four other members have signed up, it closes. The five members are insured by the OCA for this sanctioned ride. Not ideal, but a start!
To ensure our core club activities, touring, time trials, and racing go seamlessly, we still need directors for the touring and racing portfolios. Touring in particular draws new members, provides social cycling experiences, and has been the gateway to more advanced cycling by tens of thousands of OBC members over the years. We also need someone to come forward to coordinate the presentation evenings, such as the previously mentioned Sri Lanka meeting.
While we're waiting to get back to OBC club activities, we're working on some new policies - Physical distancing at Club Time Trials and Group Rides; eBike participation in club activities; hand Bike participation; and, as you'll see elsewhere on our website and in this newsletter, OBC advocacy. The latter is exciting, because we are an important, knowledgeable voice in the Ottawa cycling community and we need to be heard,to ensure public awareness of sport cycling! We can also play an educational role about cycling in general, given our millions of collective kilometres spent on Ottawa's roads. You need to be heard, and the OBC should be your channel to the public.
An "educational" item regarding individual cycling activities: If you want to ride on the NCRs recreational pathways at a leisurely pace they're a great place to cycle. If you want to work hard or go with a couple of friends at 30 km/hr, you should consider riding on the road. Second point - if you are on the path, remember the pedestrians and runners who are currently crowding them, and don't have the road option. If you're approaching from behind, say something before you pass them, because they generally can't hear you coming, and you can do serious damage if you happen to collide. And be kind if they inadvertently get in your way!
A final word: we really appreciate the club members who've joined or renewed, but I have to report to readers of this newsletter that our numbers have stalled. There's no way to sugar coat this issue - the OBC is a private club; we do have a few sponsors, but our financial stability is based on memberships. We receive no public funding - without memberships, we won't survive. We've made the decision to continue sending newsletters to last years' members, in an attempt to maintain engagement, but if you haven't renewed your membership for 2020, I urge you to do so now! We all recognize that this will be a down year for club activities, and our programming will be significantly reduced, but we need our club to be viable for a future that will be brighter.
Thank you for your continued support
The Province of Ontario is slowly coming back to life, which includes some form of a return to sport and recreation. While we continue to support our youth racing athletes virtually, we await guidance from the Ontario Cycling Association (OCA), our provincial sport organization that sanctions all youth race events and Club training activities, on how to do so. Currently, the OCA is working with Ministry representatives, legal experts, and insurance providers to both interpret what is now permissible under the law and is developing protocols that will aid us in the safe delivery of our Youth Program activities. It is too early to tell if we will be able to run a summer program, but we remain open to and are planning for that possibility.
OCA Virtual Race Series
To help Ontario cyclists who are missing out on a lot of real-world racing this spring, the Ontario Cycling Association (OCA) has initiated a virtual indoor race series every Saturday morning at 10:30am. To date, four virtual Zwift races have taken on a variety of different courses with the inaugural race having 260 registered OCA participants, plus an additional 190 participants from all over the world.
Athletes register to race in a variety of ability-based categories including those for youth riders. The OBC has been well represented at these events with several of our youth athletes participating including Henrique Martins, a 15-year-old, who joined the OBC this spring and who has placed first in the U17 category at two race events.
We asked Henrique a few questions about his experience:
What do you like about the OCA’s virtual race events?
I really like the OCA races because I am very competitive by nature and I love pushing myself to do better at every race.
How do you find the virtual races as compared to actual road races?
There are a lot of differences. First, racing outside in the middle of the pack you can stop pedaling for a short period of time to save energy but in Zwift racing you will drop off the group if you stop pedaling - so there is no time to rest! I think it is a good thing because it makes me focus on the effort throughout the race which will make me a stronger rider when it comes time to race outside again. In addition, Zwift has a “power up” feature that many people dislike because they think it’s a little like cheating. However, I like the feature as it is a new mechanism to master which makes racing different and more challenging in terms of how best to time the use of the “power up” prior to a finishing sprint. Also, it adds a videogame dimension to the race which I like a lot!
How has riding on Zwift helped you get through the COVID-19 crisis?
Zwift has helped a lot! Before we could ride outside, riding Zwift helped me stay motivated with my training to strive to get better. In addition, I could ride with friends or my Dad on Zwift which was a lot more fun than riding alone.
What do you miss most about 'real' outdoor races?
Although Zwift has been great, it is not a replacement for ‘’real’’ racing. Most of all, I miss the atmosphere and excitement of real racing -- especially being on the starting line with all the other racers in my category.
OBC U17 Athlete, Henrique Martins, Zwift riding at home.
Racing Program Sponsorship
The Youth Racing Program would like to extend a big thanks to Mike, Chris, Nat and the rest of the Euro-Sports crew for continuing to support our racing program athletes, especially during this difficult time. We’re all looking for ways to support local businesses right now, and with that being said, just a gentle reminder that Euro-Sports IS still open during COVID-19 and adhering to strict social distancing policies. Euro-Sports would prefer folks to not browse in the shop, but instead if you need anything or are interested in mechanic service, email them at email@example.com
The OBC zoom series in the time of COVID-19
Following the success of Bill Bourne's presentation via Zoom on his cycling adventures to Sri Lanka (where we had over 50 participants), the club will host more virtual events via Zoom, showcasing members' cycling adventures, information on safe cycling, and a variety of interesting presentations from external guests.
The OBC advocacy position: The Ottawa Bicycle Club is committed in its objective to ascertain, defend and pursue the rights of cyclists. It will do this by educating cyclists with their responsibilities to help ensure their safety, and by promoting and facilitating safe group cycling on public roads.
#OBCadvocacy #cyclisteducation #safegroupcycling
Read the full report here: Defining the Advocacy position for the Ottawa Bicycle Club (2020)
More information on the Advocacy section of the club website
Every Ottawa cyclist’s favourite bike mechanic, Mike Plummer, died this spring on April 18th after a courageous fight with cancer. An astonishingly smart and knowledgeable guy, Mike was a master at solving the impenetrable bicycle repair problems we all face from time to time.
His history is a little hard to trace and we hope this article will encourage others to fill in some of the gaps. He was already a fixture on the local scene in the early 70s when he was a mechanic at Bicycle Revival. Later he had a shop on Main St in Stittsville until the spring of 1995 when he accepted an offer to work for Kunstadt Sports at their Kanata store. In 2010 he moved to Rebec & Kroes where he worked til his passing.
Mike was much more than just a very accomplished bicycle mechanic/magician. He was a very calming influence when you took your bicycle in to be repaired. Everything could be solved, usually much more economically than you feared. One often heard, “I don’t think you have to replace that, give me a few minutes, and I can probably get it to work”; often he did. He would never make you feel inadequate; he had lots of patience and common sense, and was never judgmental. You always felt relaxed and assured when you left him.
Mike touched hundreds, if not thousands, of Ottawa cyclists through his generous contributions to our most important events.
For well over 30 years, Mike was “the” pit crew at the Preston St races. He arrived early in the morning on race day, quietly set up his tent next to the finish line, and got ready for whatever the riders asked him to do. Most of the time it was unhurried, calm work, but if a race was on, speed was required. Yet Mike still had the ability to keep it calm. Many riders got back into the race after Mike did his magic with his tools.
He said he always enjoyed the quiet times at Preston when so many friends would walk by his tent and say hello. The reverse was true for so many who knew him. That’s one of the things about bicycle mechanics. They are usually in the back of bike shops and we just don’t see them that often. Preston gave both Mike and his many friends a chance to chat.
And Mike was also an icon of the Rideau Lakes Tour! In his unassuming way he helped countless riders fulfil their dreams and expectations of completing one of Canada’s longest running cycling events. He was always a sure bet to show up on that Saturday morning in June, his little car fully stocked with every imaginable bicycle part, ready to answer all calls for help. He worked very efficiently and had a calm demeanor that would put riders at ease. While ‘officially’ assigned to one of the two supported routes, Mike managed to cover both the Century and Classic routes with apparent ease. Mike’s decades of volunteering with the RLCT will forever stay in the Tour’s history books, but more importantly in the hearts of those he served so humbly and well.
I've forgotten the year, but I broke a crank as I was riding out of Ashton on the Saturday of the Rideau Lakes Tour and figured my tour was over. Mike came along in his van and said "I think I might have something you can use back in my shop in Stittsville." I had to wait a little bit for him to service a couple of other riders, but he took me back to his shop and, sure enough, he found an old crank that fit my axle and had me back on the road in time to make it to Kingston and enjoy the beer garden with everyone else.
Bike Race Ottawa will be honouring Mike’s contributions to the Preston Street Bicycle Races and two new awards will be established in his name. The awards will be presented to the top local riders in the Elite Men’s and the Elite Woman’s races. BRO has asked the master blacksmith Gilles Cordier to fashion two unique trophies and the plan is to incorporate two of Mike’s well used tools into each. Imad El Ghazal at Rebec & Kroes will be helping Gilles find the right tools for this tribute. The trophies will help us all to retain the great memories of having Mike with us on race day.
Bob Hicks (with input from Susanne Reid, Doug Corner, Ron Kunstadt, Doug Hinchcliffe, Laura Johnson, and many of Mike’s old friends)
By rail trail to the 2019 Cycling World Championships in Harrogate
I was intrigued when an episode of 'Escape to the Country' in the Britain brought participants down a section of the Mercian Way in the Cotswolds. It stuck in my mind when I learned that the World Cycling Championships would be taking place in 2019 in Harrogate. What better excuse I thought than to take a devious route to Harrogate using the national Cycling Network, taking in the Mercian Way.
So it was that in mid-September I set out on the first leg of my ride, after lunch with brother Ray in Goring on Thames. The ride comprised 64 kilometers along the Ridgeway, an ancient track running from Ivinghoe to Avebury. It started well - up the western slope of the Thames Valley on firm if bumpy hard pack, affording sweeping views across open downland. The route undulated gently across the downs but in some places got progressively more rutted as a result of motor cycle activity.
After 8k of this, it was evident that Swindon, the destination, would not be reached before before nightfall, so the rest of the journey, via Farnborough, Lambourne and Ashbury was completed on quiet local roads. After the climb to Farnborough, it was easy rolling to Ashbury, whence the Icknield Way ran high along the edge of the Chiltern escarpment before descending to Swindon. 70 km for the day.
The first part of the next day was spent navigating the bike route out of Swindon. This took up much too much time. By noon with less than 24 k on the clock, it was pub fare at the Eliot Arms in South Cerney. The morning wasn't without its highlights, however, in particular, an abandoned section of the Shropshire Canal at Cerney Wick. The round stone lockmaster's house overlooking a green pool was redolent more of a moated castle than the residence it now was.
Leaving Cirencester, it was a quiet A435 climbing gently for 24 km via North Cerney to reach Seven Springs, after which followed a long bumpy descent into Cheltenham. During the latter, my map took wing. In now busy traffic, the rest of the day was spent using road signs and waypoints to navigate around Worcester en route to Droitwich, the overnight stop. A remarkably level route affording tantalising glimpses of the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds it was broken only by a crossing of the Avon at Eckington. Regrettably, the National Cycle Route I had so much wanted to engage was largely bypassed. 114 km today.
The next leg to Ironbridge started without the benefit of a map, so once again it was a matter of puzzling out the Google overview and asking for directions. Morning rain made for gloomy going. Back on a readable map at Bewdley, it was lunchtime and the Severn Valley Railway was in full cry, complete with steam locomotives, sausage sandwiches and a mobile pub. The sight of four different trains pulling in and out of that station was a trainspotters delight. In the absence of an Ian Allen spotters manual, I was content to enjoy a beer and sausages.
Now on relatively quiet, B roads, it was a climb up through the Wyre Forest and on down into Bridgenorth. A carnival was in full swing, despite the continuing showers. Amid a sheltering throng, Costa was suffering a melt-down, but ultimately I managed to get a coffee. Centretown, in the castle ruin, a dance group was taking the floor to the music of a band. Overlooking the river Severn, a cable railway afforded access to lower town. Open to pedestrians only, the cyclist was left to roll slowly down steep narrow streets to the river.
The Mercian Way finally revealed itself at the Severn bridge. Running along the west bank it led narrowly through a muddy wooded section of the Apley Estate. After passing two former stations, it finally emerged at the Coalport bridge. At Coalport Youth Hostel, the overnight stop, a strategically placed hose outside the bike stable washed off accumulated mud. A good meal and a choice of wine made for a relaxing finish to the day, in total, 74 km.
Rain continued to threaten the next day, which was spent exploring Coalport, Coalbrookdale, Blists Hill and Jackfield. In the narrow gorge of the river Severn, these little villages were the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, following the discovery by Abraham Darby of a method of smelting steel using coal and limestone instead of charcoal. Ironbridge, the centrepiece of the gorge is the first of a string of museums detailing the smelting process and related industries including mining, cast iron fabrication, pottery and tile manufacture.
A significant feature of the gorge is the Hay Inclined Plane, a cable railway linking the Shropshire Canal with the River Severn. Running steeply down from Blists Hill it transported loaded barges to Coalport, counterbalanced by barges going up. The rails remain, remarkably preserved following its closure in 1907.
Blists Hill is a Victorian village theme park based on original industrial revolution structures including a colliery, a blast furnace and machine shop. A large water transport component featured an icebreaker used to keep the Severn Estuary open to winter traffic. Rain precluded the usual re-enactor activity, leaving visitors to linger in the tea room. 16 km for the day.
Tuesday September 10th promised cloudy skies and more rain. National Cycle Trail 55 afforded traffic free appeal into Telford but such appeal as there was got lost in an unfathomable maze of urban trail options. The final straw came in Donnington where, shared with the footway, trail users were prompted to dismount at roundabout intersections.
Now disconnected from NC55 a detour east of Lilleshall led down a delightful if somewhat puddlesome lane over the Shropshire Canal to Haughton. After drying out over lunch at the Bell, a further detour yielded the narrow, tree fringed Derrington Greenway, running to Stafford. Amid busy afternoon traffic through town the rain stopped. Now it was quiet A518 to Uttoxeter, where, at its red brick heart, coffee, cake and collectibles kept welcome company at a vintage shop.
Secondary roads across the vale of the river Dove led through Rocester and Mayfield to Ashbourne. The town centre was empty, and with the visitors bureau closed, I was left to fathom out my own way to the Carleton House Hotel. It turned out that this took in the Tissington rail trail to the charming village of the same name. The hotel was reached by a detour onto busy A515. In the absence of a chef that evening, it was necessary to order in a pizza from Ashbourne. The pizza was forgettable but fortunately, the bar was open, so the evening wasn't totally without compensation. 118 km for the day.
The next day started well, continuing north on the Tissington Trail to Parsley Hay. Smooth gravel, commanding views across a landscape of rolling green hills fringed by stone walls, made for easy pedalling. At Parsley Hay a trailside shop offered coffee snacks, repairs and bike rentals. A few trail users on mountain bikes were gathering there for an outing.
After coffee, it was south on the High Peak Trail, heading for Cromford. This trail, even more spectacular than the last, features three incline railways. Originally built by a canal company, steam powered winches pulled waggons up the steep pitches, leaving the level sections to horses. Subsequently, horses were replaced by steam locomotives, including one which took in the 1in14 incline at Hopton Top.
At Hopton where a narrow guage line served a nearby quarry, a stone marker bore witness to the source of 180,000 Commonwealth Graves headstones. After Hopton, Middleton Top, a working museum, showpiece of the trail, was closed, and the winding engine, silent.
The final incline, a panoramic descent from Black Rocks commanding magnificent views above Cromford, finished at the trailhead where a crash pit awaited any wagons that broke away. Those that made it down intact unloaded at the Cromford canal. The railside workshop is now a museum where visitors can enjoy snacks at picnic tables and watch the narrowboat carrying tourists from Cromford.
Time limitations precluded visiting Cromford, Richard Arkwright's mill complex, so it was a matter of continuing on the towpath in the afternoon sunlight towards Ambergate. Leaving the tree shaded bank of this abandoned section, I joined traffic on busy A6. Crossing the river and leaving the A6, a quiet side road climbed steeply west out of the Derwent valley. After picking through a maze of narrow lanes around Shottle, I experienced a flat on the narrow descent into Idridgehay.
Faced now with the sudden realisation that I was missing a repair kit, (left at the hotel), I started walking back towards Ashbourne along busy B6023. A passing cyclist, on his way home from work, seeing my problem, stopped to help. He very kindly gave me his last patch. Using my room key to expose the tube, I fixed the flat and continued on busy A517 towards Ashbourne.
In the dark now from Ashbourne, a good front light illuminated the Tissington trail back to Carlton House. This time they had a chef but I was too late for dinner. It was fortunate that there were a few slices of last night's pizza left to eat. These I shared with two other guests who were in the same boat. While this had been the most scenic day of my trip, it did not come without its price.
90 km for the day.
After yesterday's issues, a 100k plus ride across the Peak to Burghwallis was questionable but the train from Buxton looked promising. Once again, it was the Tissington Trail to Parsley Hay and the well signed bike route through the lanes over the moors to Buxton.
I took the dayliner to New Mills, lunched at a pub and continued by rail through Sheffield to Doncaster. Then in busy rush hour traffic along the A19 to the Burghwallis cut off, I arrived in good time at my relative's residence. Steak dinner and quiz night in good company at a local pub made for a perfect end to the day, total : 24km.
After leaving at 9am next morning, on the last leg to Harrogate, threatened rain revealed itself within the hour, but not before I had experienced two more flats. This time it was quite evident that there was a problem with the front rim. A split in the sidewall, it was patched with a boot. Continuing on in the lanes through Womersley, Beel and crossing the Aire & Calder Navigation near Knottingly , I reached Hillam, where roads had been closed for the Junior Worlds. I missed the race but enjoyed lunch at the Crosskeys pub anyway.
Continuing on through Sherburn and Aberford and along the A1 service road to Bramham, I met up with another cyclist. Bobby Brown, of the Yorkshire Road Club. We rode together towards Wetherby. As we chatted, the rain started up again and I experienced yet another flat. With Bobby escorting I continued gingerly on the front rim to All Terrain Cycles.
The folks there were very helpful in fitting the new tyre over a very tight rim (which I swore to replace as soon as I got home). Bobby pointed me towards Harrogate and I joined busy traffic on a highway awash with rain, avoiding the temptation to take the rail trail and risk wet gravel. 66 km covered today.
I met up with my sister and brother-in-law at their camper van in a downtown Harrogate site. We spent a sunny Saturday and a soggy Sunday as spectators among the crowds at the downtown finish of the World's. After more days than I care to remember cycling in the rain, I empathised totally with the shattered remnants of the Elite Men's field who struggled so bravely for over 250km to the race finish.
Club Office Information
170b Booth Street (Downtown Ottawa at the corner of Booth and Albert)
Office Hours - phone only
Mon - 3 PM to 8 PM
Wed - 3 PM to 8 PM
Sun - 12 Noon to 4 PM
Ottawa Bicycle Club
170b Booth Street
Ottawa, ON K1R 7W1
Laura Jane Johnson : E-mail
OBC Contact Information
Find us On-line
Webmaster Jeffrey Furry : E-mail
Editor - Richard Persaud : E-mail
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is the de facto management body of the OBC, with powers defined by the Ottawa Bicycle Club Constitution. Directors of the Board are mandated by club members to conduct club business on their behalf through elections held at the Club's Fall Annual General Meeting.
2020 Board of Directors
President - Scott McDougall
Vice President - Jim Brennan
Treasurer -Byron Johnson
Secretary - Emily Graves
Marketing & Communications - Richard Persaud
Youth Program - Noel Harrington
Membership and Volunteers - Michel Ferland
Education - Bob Hicks
Touring Events - Eric Burpee
Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour - Carolyn Gail Tannenbaum
Director Without Portfolio - David Palmer
Director Without Portfolio - Doug Corner
Meetings are held on the first (non-holiday) Monday of each month to discuss Club business in an organized manner.
Committees may be established by the Directors to support the activities of the Board and activities relating to specific events, such as racing, socials and the Rideau Lakes Tour.
Members are welcome to attend Board meetings and find out more about how the club is managed. Members are also welcome and encouraged to assist with specific portfolios or events by approaching a director.
How to Become a Member
Club application forms are only accepted electronically via the on-line registration site.
Ottawa Bicycle Club Objectives
To conduct, encourage and promote cycle racing, cycle touring and recreational cycling;
To assist the cycling community at large in the promotion, encouragement and understanding of all aspects of cycling and related activities;
To ascertain, defend and pursue the rights of cyclists;
To promote youth cycling;
To carry on the above objectives in affiliation with the Canadian Cycling Association;