Linda’s Loop 300

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

This past week-end turned out perfect for Huron Chapter’s Brevet – Linda’s Loop 300!

On Friday, John Cumming decided to pedal from London to Goderich … even with the WEATHER WARNING that was posted! He said he took advantage of not having to pedal with that strong tail wind that blew down trees and electrical lines all the way to Goderich!

12 Ontario Randonneurs successfully completed Linda’s Loop 300. Congrats to myself (Chappy), Chris Cossonnet, John Cumming, Jerzy Dziadon, Charles Horslin, Ken Jobba, John Maccio, Matthew McFarlane, Con Melady, Liz Overduin, Jim Raddatz and Sergii Tsymbal!

Special Congrats to Matthew McFarlane and Sergii Tsymbal for completing their first ever 300 km Brevet!

Originally, I planned on driving to Goderich for the Start on Saturday morning, but Con and his wife Cindy convinced me to stay at their place Friday night. Knowing we had 12 Randonneurs participating in this Brevet, my wife encouraged me to leave sooner than later to ensure I had enough time for myself and the fellow cyclists.

Arriving at the Tim Horton’s in Goderich at 0530hrs, I unloaded my bike and got myself ready to go before meeting my fellow Randonneurs prior to the Start. Confirmed everyone was a member of Ontario Randonneurs and had OCA Insurance along with Safety Vests, front and rear lights, bicycle helmets, I handed each of them their Control Card’s before heading out at 0600hrs.

On our way to the First Control- the Colonial Hotel in Grand Bend, we all road together. Road conditions were perfect, weather conditions were perfect and the Scenery was perfect. Many comments were made early on about how gorgeous the scenery was!

At the First Control we departed in two groups, 4 Randonneurs shared a Large Muffin … John had the TOP and his buddies, Jim, Sergii and Jerzy split the BOTTOM (at least that’s what I remember!). The remaining 8 of us went into the restaurant for a REAL BREAKFAST! Ken and myself shared a table beside Chris, Liz, Charles, Matthew and John. Unfortunately, Ken and myself had a different waitress and watched our friends enjoy their fuel loading a little ahead of us! Con figured it would take too long, so he headed to Tim Horton’s down the street for his breakfast, figuring he’d be back before we were done.

Leaving the Colonial Hotel in Grand Bend we headed towards London and the second Control – Tim Horton’s. It didn’t take long, but Con was able to catch up to us … so much for Tim Horton’s being faster! On occasion we had some head wind. Ken encouraged all of us to cycle peloton style and that worked out perfect! I’ve talked to a few of the fellow cyclists who loved cycling into the wind using that style! Thanks Ken and Thanks Fellow Randonneurs for staying together!

Eight of us arrived at the London Control – Tim Horton’s around the same time. I convinced everyone to make our stop short so we could spend more time at the next Control in St. Mary’s, the Parkview Creamery Bar and Grill. Once there, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch and a beverage or two. A few Randonneurs had gone out to refill their water bottles prior to taking off, but mentioned the rain coming down! Needless to say we hung around another 20 mins or so before heading out.

From St. Mary’s to the finish was 112 km with one stop at the Mac’s / Subway Control in Mitchell. Fortunately, the eight of us had no RAIN and the WIND had dropped to at least half of what it was for the 4 Randonneurs ahead of us! OUCH! Now having said that, the 4 Randonneurs ahead of us went through a BBQ Festival in Londesborough, where the food and beverages were second to none. Too bad that Festival ended at 6pm, our group of 8 would have loved that experience!

After leaving Mitchell, we headed towards the Finish in Goderich. John and Matthew let us know they were going to take a little break along the way, so the rest of us continued on. I was riding at the front of our group listening to stories from Charles and Liz, tears in my eyes … everyone laughing and simply LOVING RANDONNEURING! To top it off, as we got closer to the shores of Lake Huron and Goderich, the view of the SUN GOING DOWN WAS THE BEST I’VE EVER SEEN! BREATHTAKING!

At the Finish in Goderich, we all talked about how GREAT this get-together was. Then those who weren’t driving home Saturday night, paid a quick visit to the Paddy O’Neils Restaurant and Pub downtown Goderich. Con asked me if I would spend another night at his place Saturday night … I couldn’t resist! John and Matthew dropped in to give us their Control Cards and let us know how much they enjoyed Linda’s Loop 300! The next morning, John, Jim, Ken, Con, Cindy and myself went out for breakfast at Willy’s Eatery downtown Goderich. Incredible food and Incredible conversations!

Unfortunately, I left my Cell Phone in my car and couldn’t take pictures along the way. However, John Maccio took a few and posted them on FACEBOOK. Check them out!
Thanks John!

Brazil RMC 1300 April 27-May 1, 2018

Ride report from Dave Thompson:

Where to start …

Brazil. I’ve never been there before, heard about crime, walled compounds, mental images of carnival, Ipanema, the Amazon … but what’s it really like?

Then of course there’s the ride – there was no question that this was going to be a climbing intensive ride – 20,233 metres / 65,757 feet upwards, and downwards. I expected hot. Was it going to be cold? They warned us that it might be. It is, after all, the Fall. How much rain would we get? Would it be like Rome, riding until dawn each day, having gotten off on the wrong foot (or is that pedal)?

The first draft of the route showed the first night around 300 km, the second about 550 later. No, that doesn’t work for me. 550 km later would be me, at best, finishing in the afternoon of the third day. We went back and forth with the organizers, providing optimum distances for overnights, making what would normally be a three overnight ride (1300 km) into four overnights. That extra 100 km and being climbing intensive does provide for 18+ more hours than a “normal” 1200. The final time is the goal, not the intermediate checkpoints. That said, running “flat time” means that it doesn’t get easier. Behind is behind.

The end result was a ride that roughly broke down into 308+255+274+304+167. The control close times were based on 12 km/h. We hit each of the overnight closes but left a few hours later with negative time in the bank. We got reasonable sleep, with about 5 hour night stops each night other than the last night. We could have stopped longer the last night but needed some margin. That night we cut to a 2.5 hour stop, leaving in the hole again.

Overall, we were running about 15 km/h during the day average, including stops. That provided the sleep time. Long breaks during the day, and we had a few, meant less sleep.

I rode with Mark Thomas and Hamid. At times, I’m sure, we irritated each other, but made it through. I would have had less stop time during the day; they like their food and their sleep. We compromised. I rode stronger and less sleepy with proper stops. The only time that I got really irritated was one night finishing where we could have spent time at the night Control and brought some sandwiches back to our hotel … instead, I went for a walk and found something. I needed something solid. Mark was right; it would have taken more than 5 minutes :).

We had booked hotels for nights 2 & 4. The ride was supposed to provide beds for 1 & 3. That first night worked out; the third didn’t, and the organizers found something for us. They graciously moved our drop bags from the control to the hotel / Pousada, and picked them up in the morning. I admit it, we got extra service. I might have fared better than Mark and Hamid at the ride-provided accommodation, but the extra hassle of moving to a different location meant better sleep. I never really got sleepy; neither did Hamid. Mark was sleepy on the last day but not debilitatingly so.

Each day got a little easier, riding-wise, even though the mileage increased from day 3 to 4. The first day featured a 6am start at the Aparecida Basilica, apparently the second largest one in the world, after St. Peter’s (or maybe I’ve got that backwards). Off we went, 30-something of us, and I was quickly the lanterne rouge, as usual. Getting to a gas station that Mark had targeted for a stop, I looked over and didn’t see anyone, so I rode on.

From the elevation of Aparecida, we descend to sea level. That one hour descent was so steep that I stopped a few times to let my rims cool. They were hot enough to burn my hands, let alone tubes. It hit 18% and was on pavers, rough going, bumps every 30 meters or so, no way that one could get up any speed …. constant braking. I was so relieved when the pavers ended but the asphalt was worse. Once that leveled out, I slowed down to check my location and Spotwalla, to see how far ahead they were, but lo and behold, Mark and Hamid caught up. From that point forward, we were mostly together, or close enough.

Soon we hit the first control. Like many cities we went through, the roads were either 12″ hexagon pavers, bricks or plain flat-topped rocks. The cities were brutal riding. There were also speed humps, but we were already slow! Those pavers, bricks and rocks made for very slow city rolling.

Late afternoon we hit the major featured climb, 8 km of 12+%. I knew in advance that this was a walk, likely a 2 hour walk. Sure enough, it was. There were switchbacks where that grade must have hit 20+% and it was difficult to push your bike up; bad traction walking in cycling shoes. I understand that 3 people were able to ride through. Simply amazing. Traffic was heavy so that even if you could have been spinning up with huge cogs, you’d have been wobbly enough that it might not be safe.

I figured that if I could get through the first day in reasonable time, i.e. not riding until dawn, I’d be ok. We finished up around 1am, hit the showers and bed. It was sort-of a camp with cots, better than mats on the floor. We rolled out at 6:30 — later than I’d like but realized from experience that more sleep for Hamid, at least, meant faster rolling. We all did pretty well but patience does wear thin at times; we do better with some sleep.

The second day was shorter, thank goodness, albeit with a lot of climbing early on. We finished up around 11:30, got help with our bags to our Pousada (bed and breakfast although we never had breakfast at any of these) and settled in to sleep. That Pousada was the best – Mark’s room had a huge jacuzzi; we also had luxury. However, after getting into the room, I realized that I’d left my phone on the bike and found that I had a flat. Ugh. This wasn’t my first. I had four rolling flats and this hotel flat. Two of the flats were radial wires. We rolled out around 5am, I think.

I was pretty knackered that night and it took some time to fix my tire. I was lucky to get two hours but Mark and Hamid got 3+. The other nights we shared a room and I let them hit the shower first.

An extra 25 km on the third day but an earlier start put us in around midnight. That was the night that I went for a walk to find some food, coming back with 3 beers and some buns from a pizza place that was trying to close. Mark was already asleep so Hamid and I had 1.5 each. There’s no point in wasting cold beer!

The fourth day was back at 300 km. It was a long day climbing and riding-wise. We wasted a huge amount of time at a restaurant waiting for a meal and lost sleep as a result. In at 2am, we left at 4:30 for the 5th day. That was already 1.5 hours after the control close so we had ground to make up but kept a pretty steady pace over that last day, finishing around 3:30 pm. Heck, we had almost 3 hours to spare!

There were some short climbs, long climbs, 6-7% sections, others advertised at 5-7% but hitting 11%, all over the map. Riding through towns was very slow with the rough cobbles. There were a couple of flat-ish sections, but mostly we had hills. Some of the riding was on major arteries and, for a while, Interstate equivalent (you can ride anywhere in Brazil!). The more major the road, the more engineered the grade. Trucks were plentiful and seldom moved over for us, maintaining their lane with a few inches to spare. Sometimes we had ample shoulder; sometimes not.

A few of the Controls were at what I would call Interstate Service Centers. During the day, they had an incredible selection with the hot and cold food bar. During the night, selection was more limited but still sustaining. There were also a couple of memorable restaurants with wonderful selections. We did eat well. Those stops mostly ran an hour or more, so you can see where we got our recovery time!

The scenery was wonderful; the people helpful and pleasant. English, however, is very limited to non-existent. These are not tourist areas. That said, we always felt safe.
The weather was hot in the afternoon, almost as bad as Rome last year, although I didn’t pour as much water on my head — but only because the springs weren’t as plentiful. We were able to maintain a normal riding schedule, stopping at night vs riding until dawn. That was my objective.

We finished up with about 3 hours to spare. Several riders were behind us; we weren’t the lanterne rouge. Beer awaited … it was time to celebrate!


Kemble Rock 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:


Last week-end roads should have been closed, snow, rain and strong winds kept everyone off their bikes and inside!

This week-end … sunshine, blue sky, next to no wind!

The Huron Chapter hosted the Kemble Rock 200, Saturday, 21Apr2018. Congrats to Chris Cossonnet, Charles Horslin, Ken Jobba, Bill Little, Matthew McFarlane, John Maccio, Liz Overduin, Terry Payne and myself for successfully completing this ride! Special notice to Matthew McFarlane for completing his first ever Brevet!!

Thanks to Matthew for helping me return my rear wheel to service after having my cassette go loose 11km into the ride! With a Campagnola wheel and a screw loose, it looked like I’d have to stop every ten km to re-adjust screw tightness … I didn’t have the tool I needed, Matthew did, so after mentioning using my Locktight … the screw stayed tight!

Temperature went from -1 deg C to 13 deg C. Later in the day everyone was taking their cold weather gear off to prevent overheating!

If you have never done this Brevet, I can only say the scenery is second to none. Here’s a photo of Ken Jobba stopping to take pictures just before the great descent down Kemble Rock Mountain.

Here are Bill, Terry and Liz stopping to enjoy the view before their descent!

My top speed down Kemble Rock Mountain has been with my wife on our Tandem at 84km /hr. On this ride, everyone had to pay attention as the roads had not yet been cleaned up after last week-ends weather!

Heading towards Owen Sound, Bill Little decided to stop for some Tea!

Everyone arrived at the Tim Horton’s in Owen Sound together for lunch and a well earned break before completing the last 90 km. It’s amazing how short the day seems when scenery, friends and cycling are together!


Neustadt 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

Happy Easter Everyone!

And of course … Happy Easter to all of the finishers of Huron Chapter’s Neustadt 200 this past Saturday!! Chappy (that’s me of course), Frenchy (Chris Cossonnet), Terry “ Can’t Ask for More Fun!” Payne, Liz “Shiver and Shake” Overduin and Charles “Bat Out of Hell” Horslin.

To the 4 Randonneurs who Cancelled their attempt due to the weather forecast …I’ll fill you in on what you missed!

Thank-you John Maccio and Matthew Macfarlane for meeting us at the Start and wishing us well!

Did everyone notice the weather this past week-end? Blue Sky and Sunshine Friday and Sunday.

Saturday … 56km SSW Winds, Thunder and RAIN! The participants in this Neustadt 200 performed second to none! It was my pleasure riding with them, socializing and simply enjoying the show!

Frenchy designed this route and had two Controls between the Start and Finish, they were the Big Dipper Bakery in Paisley and Noah’s Inn in Neustadt.

Enjoying some great tale winds from the Start to North Bruce, we all noticed the TUFF winds we were going to ENJOY to the finish and decided to simply get our Control Cards signed at the Big Dipper Bakery in Paisley and SKIP the treats so we could focus on pedalling the rest of the ride into the 56km/hr winds!

I contacted the Noah’s Inn in Neustadt and found out they would not be open until 1600hrs on Saturday. Being our official Control, it seemed that our best bet would be to have lunch in Hanover, not in Neustadt, and that’s what we did.

Heading South, we travelled at less than 10km /hr.
Heading West, we were somewhere between 13 and 19km/hr.

Some recovery occurred whenever there were Farms, Barns or enough Trees to block some of the wind. When that didn’t exist, everyone was bent over 45 degrees just to maintain balance and stay on their bikes!

Terry Payne looked me in the eye in Neustadt and simply said “You Can’t Get Ask For More Fun!”

Everyone was basically together until leaving Mildmay, then at the T – Bismark St. N (Concession Rd 8 W), Charles Horslin took off like a “Bat Out of Hell” and we didn’t see him until the Finish.

Frenchy and myself were the last two to Finish and were a few minutes behind everyone else. Heading West to the Shores of Lake Huron, the RAIN turned to SNOW! I started getting nervous, hoping the road conditions would not get dangerous! Terry, Charles and Liz were waiting for us at the finish. We had our Control Cards signed then shared a few laughs with everyone before heading home. It was obvious of how cold Liz was, she “Shivered and Shaked” while trying to get refuelled in front of Tim Horton’s Fire Place!

Hard to explain, but I can’t think of anything else I would rather have done!
Already excited about our next brevet!

South Bruce 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:


Congrats to all of the participants who were comfortable enough to even attempt Huron Chapter’s South Bruce 200km Brevet this past week-end … Ken Jobba, Tim O’Callahan, Liz Overduin, Patrick Whitehead, Brenda Wiechers and myself.

Patrick completed this Brevet, but was over the time limit of 13.5hrs. He let me know how much he loved the ride, but picking up Orange peels and dropped route sheets simply cost him too much time!

Ken, Tim, Liz, Brenda and myself all stayed together and finished successfully in 10hrs 47mins.

Friday at 1600hrs, I only knew that Liz and myself were going to attempt the South Bruce 200 on Saturday. Friday’s weather was wet and windy, so it looked like no one else was going to attempt it. Later in the evening, Tim e-mailed me to let me know that Brenda and himself were on their way to Port Elgin to join us Saturday for the Brevet. Perfect, 4 people anyway! Ken had asked me to prepare a Control Card for him, just in case he made it up. Patrick let me know he was not going to attempt the South Bruce 200 but do another ride from home. Surprise! Surprise! Saturday morning, Ken and Patrick showed up! Fortunately, I had an extra Control Card with me!

Traditionally, February winter in Port Elgin means … closed roads … stop signs no longer exist … and snow blowing was what everyone did for fun! This past Saturday, no snow blowing was going on, roads were open and we had to actually Stop where Stop signs existed!

Pedalling to the first Control in Walkerton, five of the six Randonneurs planned on a 10 minute stop at Tim Horton’s, which turned out to be 30 minutes. We headed to the next Control in Wingham only 43 km away. Scenery was breathtaking! Some roads had snow and ice on both sides but nothing but asphalt for us to pedal on!

Weather -2 deg C to 3 deg C, SUNSHINE and amazingly …only 12km/hr Winds!

Having a great lunch in Wingham, we headed towards Kincardine. Again, with only 12km/hr winds and SUNSHINE, everyone was simply loving the ride! Personally, having done this Brevet many times, this one is my favourite! Pedalling along, loving life … then …

SURPRISE … SURPRISE …. SECRET CONTROL just outside Kincardine!

The INFAMOUS Bill Little had set up a Secret Control, provided hot coffee, water, beverages and butter tarts for everyone!

We then stepped back to get a photo of the river behind us! Notice the SUNSHINE!

Back on our bikes, we headed to the Hawgs Breath Saloon in Kincardine for our final break before heading to the finish in Port Elgin. Everyone loved this Brevet, the Scenery second to none and above all … attempting an actual Brevet this time of year in Bruce County…

PS: Patrick actually stopped in Kincardine for supper before heading to the finish!

Frosty 200!

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

SUNSHINE! … BLUE SKY! … GLEN STEEN! … We couldn’t ask for more! Glen arrived to meet everyone at the Tilsonburg Community Centre prior to 2018’s FROSTY 200!

Patrick Whitehead, Liz Overduin, Terry Payne, Bob Kassel, Ken Jobba, Jim Raddatz, Brenda Wiechers, Tim O’Callahan and myself met with Glen prior to the Start. We talked about the one and only time the FROSTY 200! had been completed, Glen had injured himself crosscountry skiing a few days before, so he decided to support us on the first FROSTY 200!, by setting up Secret Controls and being available from beginning to end. On this FROSTY 200!, Jim Morris took over and supported everyone from beginning to end and was MUCH APPRECIATED!


The advantage of this FROSTY 200! was that the roads were in excellent condition … not snow covered! The disadvantage was the 25-45 kph head winds from the WEST! Riding with Bob, Liz and Terry, we decided not to stop at Control #2, Uncle’s Country Coffee Shop for lunch, but work our way towards Control #3, the Norfolk Tavern in Port Dover. Riding my TREK 1120 Mountain bike, with Fat Tires, I couldn’t believe I was climbing a hill at 0.0 Km/hr! Felt better when I looked ahead and saw two Randonneurs walking up the same hill!! The Tavern we were headed to, was PACKED! Fortunately we found a few chairs open at the Bar and enjoyed a great lunch! Not to mention the entertainment from the Band playing music!!

Tim O’Callahan and Brenda Wiechers were a little quicker then us, had lunch at Control #2 so passed by us on their way to Control #4, Tim Horton’s in Delhi.

Notice the smiling face on Brenda!

Eight of Nine Randonneurs were successful completing this FROSTY 200! Everyone enjoyed the SUNSHINE, BLUE SKY and touching base with GLEN STEEN!


2017 Sydney Melbourne 1200 (November 19-22)

Ride Report from Dave Thompson:

At the pub get-together before the ride, an Aussie warned me that this was going to be difficult, that nothing about Florida would prep me for this ride. In emails before the ride we were warned about wind, rain, cold, sleet and high DNF rates.  Kangaroos and wombats are an issue from dusk until dawn.

Now the ride is finished.  Looking back, it’s hard to rank 1200s on any difficulty scale as weather, personal conditioning and route familiarity play such a huge role. One edition is never the same as another, especially four years later.

I was lucky. I saw kangaroos.  They watched me pass.  Nothing jumped out in front of me.  I did almost hit a wombat at slow speed.  The latter are big; it would be like hitting a slow moving hog.  One Australian rider died the first night.  Speculation was that he hit an animal.

We could have had huge headwinds, but the winds were kind and often at our backs. We could have had sub freezing temps, but we didn’t.  I never even used my heavy jacket that I lugged for all but the last day, let alone neoprene booties!  I don’t think that the temperature dropped below 10C.  That heavy jacket of mine usually gets a lot of use.  It’s highly unusual not to give it some exercise, whether due to cold or wet.  I also brought along rain pants, the ultimate protection from the elements and heat retention.  They stayed in my drop bag.

I did try out the new lightweight RUSA wool jersey the first day; the midweight jersey the second.  Long sleeved jerseys also got some use, as did my leg warmers.  My featherweight PI jacket blocked the wind nicely.  It was all I ever needed.

We could have had rain; it threatened but never happened.  The forecast changed daily but we were lucky.  Originally it looked like we would start in the rain, but it was glorious weather, dawn at Sydney Harbour, the iconic Opera House in the background.

With less climbing than the Rome 1600 earlier in 2017 albeit longer climbs, moderate grades, no get-off-bike-here steeps, it had a lot of climbing but not a lot more than the average.  Numbers are meaningful for planning but at the end of the day it’s the “feel” of the ride that’s important, vs the hard numbers.  This didn’t feel any harder, climbing-wise, than the Granite Anvil and certainly not the Rome 1600 earlier in the year.  It was probably less difficult than LEL; certainly, the weather was better.

We did have heat, intensifying as we got closer to Melbourne. At its hottest, it was hotter than Rome, furnace-like and similar to the Gold Rush final day in the desert.  I made ample use of my pour-on-head cooling strategy.  I never came close to running out of water.

Getting out of Sydney wasn’t fun, nor was getting into Melbourne.   The latter had heavy traffic, bike trails, sidewalks, traffic lights … slow going.  There were some high traffic 100 km/h roads well into the ride but not enough to be bothersome.   I heard some mention of unfriendly drivers but experienced nothing firsthand.

The ride is a point-to-point, which is harder for the organizers and riders.  That said, suitcases and bike boxes were transported to the end; drop bags were moved from overnight to overnight.  They made it as easy as possible for the riders.  Sandy took the train from Sydney to Melbourne while I was riding — that was a 10-11 hour trip.  It is a long way no matter how you get there.

The overnights were mostly camp-ish, with bunks, shared bathrooms and showers, good food fresh prepared, lots of volunteer support.  It was all well organized and efficient.

As usual, I was close to being lanterne rouge early in the ride, long before we ever got out of Sydney. I had to wait for every traffic light and there were many.  At some point during the day I passed Hamid, I don’t remember when that was.  He was certainly way ahead of me mid morning.  He rolled into a control as it was getting dark and I waited; it’s always good to have companionship in the dark.  We finished up that first day together, sometime after midnight, and planned a 4:30 wake up and 5am departure. We were close.

We rode together for a while on the second day; Hamid got ahead and I passed him at one point as he was at the side of the road doing something with his bag. I stopped shortly afterwards at a cafe and thought that he’d passed me; didn’t find out until much later that he had trouble with his light and was well behind. I waited a couple of times, expecting to see him, but he was further back.  I figured minutes but it was hours.  He spent a lot of time dealing with his light.

Getting to the second overnight, I told the vollies that Hamid would room with me but when I awoke, he was still out there. He and Wolfgang arrived just as I started to pull out.  They beat the clock, but not by much.   I was happy that he was with Wolfgang as W can need encouragement at times.  He likes doing long touring rides and doesn’t have any hesitation about turning a brevet into a tour.

I rolled out by myself but met up with Mark Thomas not far down the road. We were both happy to have riding company.  This was Mark’s 10th 1200 for 2017!  That by itself has to be some sort of record. I remember Bill Olsen doing 8 x 1200s one year but those were all North American.  It’s another thing altogether to add in the time zone, jet lag and travel issues. I was “only” on my fourth.  We rode most of that day together, save about the last 30 km. I deal with the heat better, otherwise there’s no way that I’d have kept up.  After dark, on a section that was flatter, I was feeling sleepy and made a couple of check-myself-over stops, leaning against a guardrail and closing my eyes.  If I fell asleep, that would be a good indication that I was really sleepy.  I didn’t trust myself!   With 15 km to go to the overnight, I had a 10 minute nap on a bench.  I could have finished up but that 10 minutes felt good.

Mark was just hitting the sack when I got into that third overnight, having arrived before me.  He was planning a late departure.  I had my roughly 3 hours sleep, I think, got up and had some breakfast, expecting to roll out at dawn.  Mark was up earlier than expected; Ricky was also planning on riding.  Ricky had DNF’d the second day in the heat but rode part of the third day and all of the fourth.  I waited for them to get ready, no records were going to be set that day. We were together through the end at the Velodrome.

Mark rode a disciplined fourth day in the heat.  I was happy with the pace.   Alone, I might have spent less stopped time and would have pushed myself in the heat … probably would have pushed too much.  Riding together was good; it’s not usually my inclination.

Finishing up at the velodrome at 5 something, Sandy was there to meet us.  I don’t ask that of her but it’s great when she does.  Wait … I’m trying to think of another ride where she was at the end but I’m drawing a blank – no, she and Shab were waiting for Jerry and me at the end of the 2016 Miglia.  Our bags awaited us at the Velodrome and I was able to shower and change right there.  Still early, Rus Hamilton gave me and the bags a ride to our hotel, returning to wait for his billet and Hamid.  I was originally going to be staying with him but with Sandy coming into Melbourne a day earlier and getting a hotel, keeping the hotel made more sense.  I had met Rus on the Sunshine 1200; the ride where he had his episode of hyponatremia … where we almost lost him.

Now we wait.  I was anxious to see Hamid and Wolfgang, finish.  We were trading messages with Shab, watching his Delorme tracker.  I was worried that the traffic and bike trails might slow them down so much that they’d be late.  If they’d planned it too closely, that could happen.  We had a couple of false alarms — cyclists on the paths coming in the dark — me yelling “they’re coming, they’re coming” and lit the velodrome for nothing … no, it wasn’t for nothing, they came in a little after 10pm with almost 2 hours to spare.  Whew!  It’s so unusual for us to finish separately!  I’d have had a hard time reconciling finishing and Hamid DNF’ing.

Hamid almost sacrificed his ride for Wolfgang.  It reminded me of the 2016 Miglia in Italy, me helping Jerry Christensen finish.  Some things are more important than the extra notch in your belt.  Friendship is everything.

The ride was well planned and organized, from registration to food at the finish to beers & cheers at a pub the day afterwards.  I had lots of silly questions about baggage logistics etc. before the ride and they were answered immediately.  A large crowd of volunteers staffed the Controls. There were a couple of unstaffed; we sent a text to Bec when we got there.  Another couple had staff but you were on your own for food.  It all worked very well.  In spite of the remote nature of the ride, it wasn’t quite as remote as the Ontario Granite Anvil, from a facilities standpoint.  Hamid and Wolfgang stretched the volunteers a little, since they were on the outer edge of the time limits and actually beyond for a couple.  That’s usually ok with 1200s — even PBP — as long as you make it up later.

Will I do this one again ?  Who knows.  My inclination is “no” but ask me again in four years time.  The scenery was great; different than North American or European.  Perhaps if I do a different Aussie 1200 in the meantime, like Perth-Albany-Perth, I’ll consider the landscape ho-hum, but it wasn’t so this time.  At times it reminded me of the Serengeti, baked landscape and sparse trees … ok, there were no Wildebeest.  I expect that if we (Hamid and I) do another Oz ride, Shab will be there. She got less sleep than we did, staying up all night watching the trackers.  A couple of days ago, Sandy said that she wasn’t interested in returning to Oz … but a little touring through the wine region of Margaret River and a good time staying with Neil and Annie has changed that.

As always, I enjoyed myself.  I love doing 1200s of every shape or form.  I’d rather do a 1200 than a 200.  This one, with 350 km or so each of the first three days and a healthy amount of climbing, is right up my alley. Yes, I finished late each day, but not at dawn.  I’d have liked to finish a bit earlier the second day and get an earlier start on the third, but I shorted myself on nourishment and bonked on a long climb.  Stop, take in a couple of gels, I was going again.  I probably lost a half-hour there, paying the price for the bad judgement call.  It certainly wasn’t a big deal.  Most riders wouldn’t make that mistake.  I’m too impatient.

We’re on the way back now, having spent several days in Perth with my cousins Neil & Annie, their adult children, our grand-daughter Kylie, in addition to our couple of days in Melbourne.  Who knows if we’ll make our connections in Dallas; the flight was very late leaving Sydney.   Life goes on.

Big Bay 200 Permanent

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

Well … yesterday was one of my favourite Permanents for the year! By surprise, my wife and I ran into Bob Macleod and his wife Milana at a restaurant in Toronto a few weeks ago and enjoyed breakfast together. Bob mentioned doing a few permanents before year’s end and I fell for it! I hope our next one is as fun as the Big Bay 200 was yesterday!!

Bob arrived in Port Elgin Wednesday night and stayed with us. My daughter was home for a few days and since her favourite restaurant in Port Elgin is Andre’s, we all went there for dinner and loved it!

Thursday morning, Bob and myself were up early and discussed what we should wear. We trusted the rain forecast and dressed accordingly! Fortuntely, the RAIN started just after the first Control in Chatsworth and kept both of us cool for all the climbing to Walter’s Falls.

At the Tim Horton’s Control in Owen Sound, I took a picture of Bob just to confirm we had RAIN! With fenders on both of our bikes … we don’t always know!
Rather then lunch at the Tim Horton’s, we went to the European Cafe, on route and enjoyed GREAT deserts! It was Bob’s choice as I suggested the Mexican Restaurant down town but he knew better! Leaving the Cafe, the rain had stopped and the temperature had gone up to 5 deg C! Beautiful scenery along the way and we arrived at the Control in Sauble Beach after the sun had gone down.
Rather than having dinner in Sauble Beach, we figured we would pedal the next 20km to Southampton and have dinner at the infamous Elk & Finch before pedalling to Port Elgin within the 13.5hr time limit. We made a quick call to the Elk & Finch and figured we better just continue on to the finish and not risk DNF’ing due to how busy they were and how hungry we were! We officially completed this permanent in 12hrs17mins and look forward to our next get together!

Amazing how the proper weather gear can make any brevet this enjoyable!


Lakes and Vines 300 Permanent!

Ride Report from Carey Chappelle:

Huron Chapter scheduled the Lakes and Vines 300 as a permanent on September 23rd, assuming only the two who initiated this event, Carey Chappelle and Chris Cossonnet would attend. Friday morning they had Dick Felton, Jerzy Dziadon and Joey Schwartz join them.
This 300 is actually 318km,  but the SCENERY, ROAD CONDITIONS and WEATHER were UNBELIEVABLE! We all stayed together for the first 75km then broke into two groups, leaving Dick Felton on his own.
Around 150km, Carey and Chris dropped behind Jerzy and Joey, stopping to take photos and soak in the SCENERY!
Of course, those familiar with the Lakes and Vines will recognize this area, where only bike lanes exist! Because I was the only one taking pictures, figured this photo of Chappy would prove I was there!
Continuing on, Randonneurs went buy many Wineries along the way! They reminded Chris of where he was born and raised!!
Leaving the Wineries and pedalling through the GORGEOUS town JORDAN, I was reminded of the BEAUTIFUL WEDDING that my wife and I attended last year, having spent the week-end in Jordan, we pedalled a section on our Fixies and noticed the HILLS we had to climb. Those HILLS were a lot easier this year!
Randonneurs experienced the worst roads over the entire ride pedalling through Hamilton! Despite the poor road conditions, scenery across the bridge was second to none! The last climb before the finish was breathtaking … but not due to the scenery! A short steep climb on the last stretch to the finish.
Overall, this was an AMAZING 300! Thanks to Toronto Randonneurs for having such a beautiful route! Already I am planning on doing this again next year as a Permanent and again in the FALL. Who would have expected the GREAT WEATHER we had during this ride! As a Permanent, I thought I would have to schedule it a few times but as things turned out, didn’t need to. We started at 5am and everyone finished by 10pm, meaning riding in the dark was minimized.
Once Again .. an AWESOME LAKES AND VINES 300!
Huron Chapter V.P.,