I don’t know the origin of that expression, but I do know what it means. It came into my head last week on a cloudy day when one of my work buddies said she didn’t cycle to work because the forecast called for rain.

As I walked away from her, I turned around, and over the heads of eight people, yelled “Suck it up Buttercup!” Ever since then, it won’t leave my head. So here’s how I sucked it up on the weekend.

On Sunday morning, we wanted to take advantage of the road closures in Ottawa that allow cyclists to use the parkways without fear of being run over by a car. Another cyclist, maybe, but your odds of dying are a lot lower with another cyclist. We were torn between going along the Ottawa River Parkway and then onto the Rockliffe Parkway or heading to the Gatineau Park.

In the end, we opted for the Gatineau Park because it opens earlier and the day was going to be a scorcher. As we approached the south end of the park we noticed a police car. We didn’t think anything of it because, after all, it was the first weekend the parkway was closed. The cop didn’t stop us either.

As we cycled along the Gatineau Parkway, we wondered why the cycling traffic was light. It was only just after 8 a.m. Where were all the people? We made it up to Pink’s Lake, checked my heart rate, then decided to continue on to the Champlain Lookout. After we turned onto Champlain Promenade, a car went racing up the hill beside us, honking and yelling at us. I wanted to give the large woman the finger, but was holding on tightly to my Dahon folding bike.

After they passed, NosyNeighbour turned to tell me that a peleton was climbing the hill behind us. Maybe that explained the orange pylons we saw at the intersection. After the 50 cyclists passed, smaller groups gradually caught up with us. I didn’t feel bad being passed by them, because they were racing. It was the 30ish woman, wearing canvas running shoes and riding an old bike with fenders and panniers who kept cycling past us on the uphills that inspired me to “suck it up buttercup!” We passed her on all the downhills, waving and saying “Salut encore!”

At the top, the racers had access to a water station, fruit and energy bars. The folding bikes were a dead giveaway that we weren’t part of the race. We added some energy powder to our water bottles and topped them up with the spare in our bike bag, ate an energy bar, then took off again. The black flies were horrible. NosyNeighbour had loads of bites. I escaped unscathed.

Surprisingly, the Dahons felt safe going downhill. You do need to keep both hands on the handlebars at all times though. The small wheels definitely make the steering wobblier. And I don’t think I’d like to hit a bump going that fast. On the plus side, the wheels are wider so you might be able to compensate a bit easier.

Now that we’ve climbed the biggest hills in Ottawa, we can start planning our next cycling holiday. A real one, where we fold the bikes up, put them in suitcases and check them in for free! (And next time I’ll take a camera for proof of us at the top!

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