Colorado High Country 1200 – July 11-14

Ride Report from Dave Thompson:

The Colorado High Country 1200 starts in Louisville CO, close to Boulder, altitude 5300 ft, climbs into the High Country (8,000 – 11,000 feet) after 67 miles, and returns to 5100 feet for the run back to Louisville.

The first day’s ride is dominated by the 57 mile ride up (yes up) the Poudre Canyon, from 5100 feet to 10,300 feet.  That’s a very pretty ride, never very far from the river, a little undulating but varying from perhaps 20-50 feet altitude over the river.  The grade is moderate at the lower reaches and increases as you get further into the climb.  At those lower reaches the canyon is narrow and twisting; at the upper end, wider with long straight stretches.

The run up the canyon starts at mile 67.  While there’s some rolling hills in that first stretch, it’s mostly flatish and fast riding.  Leaving at 4am, it’s not memorable, but it certainly is on the return trip in the heat of the afternoon!

There’s whitewater rafting in the river; buses full of people pulling trailers piled with the large rafts.  Most of it looks pretty tame but I’m sure that it’s fun. Vegetation is sparse in the canyon, some of that due to forest fires.  In fact, vegetation is sparse for the entire ride!  It’s quite a bit different than riding, say, the Rocky Mountain 1200k in BC where a large part is heavily forested.

Apparently typical in the canyon, we had a mild tail-wind as we climbed.  That changed dramatically after the Control at 98 miles, with the wind becoming a headwind, increasing in velocity as we approached Cameron Pass.

That headwind was brutal.  Some estimated it at 50-60 mph.  A few times I had to stop, gripping my brakes and bracing myself into the wind to avoid being blown back down, left or right.  Once I had to walk a hundred yards to get around a curve, finding that the wind would abate after the curve.  I certainly looked forward to that headwind switching to a tailwind after Cameron Pass!  Apparently the ride has never experienced this kind of wind before … lucky us!

There was no tailwind from the top.  The headwind continued.  Cameron Pass is at 125 miles and we still had almost a hundred miles to go to our night’s Control at Saratoga.

Typical on these rides, I found myself not quite in the back of the pack a few miles after starting.  By the Control in Rustic at mile 98, I’d caught up with a crowd and was somewhat middle of the pack.

From Cameron Pass we had to fight our way to Walden, a Control that we would hit several times, fighting the wind, that is.  Walden is at 8100 feet and should have been a nice descent; it wasn’t.  From Walden it’s about 70 miles to Saratoga at mile 221; we had entered Wyoming at mile 178.  The wind had died somewhat, thank goodness!

There was a large forest fire in the distance burning in WY, only about 5% contained.  The smoke was never very dense but you could see it like fog in the distance and it burned my eyes.  The WY terrain is open with long, long moderate rollers.

I arrived at Saratoga, altitude 6791, at 12:30 a.m.  I wasn’t the last rider, indeed there were many who finished in that 11-1 timeframe.  8 riders out of our starting 43 threw in the towel due to that wind – 19%!

From Saratoga we go back to Walden by a different route and again we had strong headwinds.  I left at 4:25 and got to Walden at 6:20 p.m.  In between we had some wonderful riding through the Snowy Range, hitting the Snowy Range Pass at 10,847.  That was the high point, altitude-wise, of the ride.

So far the altitude hadn’t really bothered me.  Per John’s rider briefing material, the grades are manageable and I wasn’t finding much effect from the altitude … yet.  The wind, however, was killing me.  I don’t do well in wind and these two days had sucked a lot out of me.  We lost another couple of people in Walden …

I hung around Walden for almost 2 hours.  That’s highly unusual for me but I considered it necessary.  I knew that the wind would die down in the evening and that would really help me.  I needed the recovery time.

By this point, John was relaying to the riders that all Control deadlines were void due to the conditions, other than the final Control time, that is.  That took the pressure off and people managed their time based on how they felt.  Without that, we would have lost many more.  I only made Walden barely ahead of the deadline.

Walden is 138 miles into that day; in between we’d hit Laramie WY.  These names that you recognize from John Wayne movies are tiny little towns, their reputation larger by far than their population !

Earlier that day, pulling into one little town, a number of us had a good hot breakfast.  The waitress’s t-shirt said population 100.  The sign coming into town said population 270.   I queried that population explosion and laughed with one couple that the larger number included the “greater metropolitan area”.

It’s “only” 56 miles from Walden to Steamboat Springs, mile 194 on the day.  Leaving Walden at 8:13 p.m., it took me almost 7.5 hours to get to Steamboat Springs.  Ok, the altitude was finally hitting me and my breathing whistled a little, sounding like exercise induced asthma.  It was in that stretch that Larry Midura abandoned, not wanting to take a chance on that same condition.  I stubbornly pushed on … it’s not the first time that my idiocy showed through.

Ok, I was now the lanterne rouge, many dropping off behind me.  I arrived in Steamboat a few minutes after two riders from Brazil.  They’d passed me at the top of the descent into Steamboat Springs.  Knowing that 7 miles at 7% was going be a cold one, I’d stopped to don my rain pants and loved every minute of the descent.  Wheee!!!

Another rider abandoned in Steamboat Springs, didn’t start that next morning.  So many smart people, so many smarter than me!

Rolling again at 6:12 a.m., I was feeling far from spiffy.  The altitude effect was cumulative; phlegm accumulation causing some whistling in my breath, anaerobic exercise can’t go on for long.  I knew what was happening — legs felt fine for a short time but then they weren’t getting enough oxygen to do their thing.

Day three of this ride is, without a doubt, the worst day that I’ve spent on a bike … or off the bike as the case may be.  I spent much time during the day cursing myself for stubbornness, not having quit earlier.  Still, I continued riding.

The really smart people had abandoned before or in Saratoga, spent a couple of days there or in the hot springs and rode back the last day.

From Steamboat Springs at 6700 feet, we traverse another couple of passes in the mid 8000 and mid 9000 range, eventually doing a leg to Grand Lake and reversing direction, heading back to Walden via Willow Creek Pass.  From the turn to that pass on highway 125, I had about 20 miles before I could start the descent to the overnight in Walden.

I dithered.  I had cell phone service at that point.  Can I do this?  Is there enough time in the world for me to get to that pass?  I hit a couple of downhill sections, rode out of cell phone range.

The climbing started.  I walked.  I rode short distances, mostly on downhill stretches.  Uphill or even level stretches on the bike didn’t last more than a hundred yards before I had to stop.  My legs weren’t getting any oxygen and neither was my brain.  I was quite unsteady, fell down once at zero mph, cursing on the ground with the cleats still attached.  What an idiot!

I finally decided that I’d never get there from here.  A car would come by every 15 minutes or so and I’d stop walking (yes, it was all walking at this point), but no one stopped.  I hoped that a support car would come by; none did.

Finally someone stopped — “are you all right ?” — “no”.  I finally figured out that they weren’t part of the team and he agreed to call one of the support cell numbers once he got to an area with service.  I told him that it wasn’t a 911 situation, I was warm, lots of clothing, I was walking, don’t worry about me.  It’s a lovely night for a hike pushing a bike.

The miles wore on, albeit very slowly.  I counted them off with my Garmin, which by now with the slow progress wasn’t even charging from my Schmidt hub and was complaining “batteries low”.  I kept walking.  There was really nothing else that I could do.  Sitting at the side of the road wouldn’t accomplish anything.  There was no guarantee that anyone would ever come.  You get that “alone in the world” feeling.

A car approached.  He was obviously looking for me … Scott was his name.  “What can I do for you?” he asked.  Well, says I, I don’t think I can make it.  He said that it was only two miles to the pass … I didn’t say anything but I knew that was an optimistic number unless the cue sheet was incorrect, it had to be more than three.   He had some soup and he had a warm car.  I sat inside and got my breathing under control.  I agreed to continue and he would wait at the pass.

An hour or so later, he approached again, acknowledged that it had been more than two miles, but I only had a mile or so to go !  Right.  Plod on.  Are we having fun yet?

Finally, finally I got to the pass.  With relief, I started the descent only to find that it’s not a straight descent, in fact there are about four climbs during the descent.  Not only that, but my back was killing me.  I’d walked so many miles pushing the bike that I couldn’t get myself comfortable even riding downhill. I had to keep stopping to straighten myself out.  It was 30 miles from the pass to Walden, a long ride even with a drop in elevation of 1500 feet.

Arriving in Walden at 4:30 a.m., I squeezed in a half-hour sleep and left at 6:25.  Normally I’m more efficient than that but every minute off the bike was recovery time.  Recovery was more the issue than sleep.

It was a new day.  The sun was up.  The end was in sight, sort of.  Onward!

A few miles into that ride my addled brain told me that I’d miscalculated.  There was no way that I could make Louisville before the cut-off. This was all for naught.  I’d have to average 15-16 mph to make Louisville on time even if my stops were incredibly brief. I decided that I’d text Scott later and ask him to pick me up on the way to Louisville.  I might even be in danger of missing my flight!

A few miles later my brain cleared somewhat and I realized that I only had to make 10 mph, not 15-16, and as long as I made the top of Cameron Pass in good time, I’d be ok.

The wind picked up … oh oh …but didn’t become a factor.

It was 30 miles from Walden back to Cameron Pass.  I knew that somewhere in there I would run out of steam, riding wise.  I wanted to make the Pass by 10am, figuring that would leave me lots and lots of time to get to Louisville.

Sure enough, around 9000 feet as the grade increased, I couldn’t ride more than a few feet before the muscles burned.  Oxygen, what oxygen?  The grade wasn’t more than 5-7%, usually not a problem at all, but without oxygen to the muscles … well, it was no go.

I made 10am, just.  I now had 12 hours to finish the ride.  120 miles to go and 12 hours, this should be easy.

It was.  Finally.  Remember that there’s now a 57 mile descent … Sandy was watching my SPOT and figured that I’d abandoned.  She thought that I must have been in a car, hitting 40 mph at times.  It was wonderful rolling down the canyon, and when we hit those undulations at the lower reaches, suddenly my legs felt fine.  They weren’t tired at all!

Out of the canyon, it was hot.  I’d started the day with light jersey, wool jersey, heavy jacket, leg warmers, winter gloves, you-name-it.  Long before I got to Cameron Pass I had removed most of that, regretting that I didn’t have any throw away clothes as I’d now have to carry it all.

It was likely mid 90’s out of the canyon, back close to 5000 feet altitude.  I had oodles of time and didn’t push myself.  I stopped under shade trees.  I soaked parts of myself in sprinklers. I had a couple of cold drinks.

Rolling into Louisville with almost 2 hours to spare, I met up with John and we agreed that you’re supposed to ride these things, not walk.  I can’t even imagine what it would have been like with road shoes vs mountain!

Believe it or not, there were three people finishing a little after me.  There were 16 abandons out of the 43 starts.  That 43 includes two 1000k riders.


The ride was well organized, great volunteers, services in all the right places, vistas of mountains, open ranges, the canyons – Poudre and the Colorado River – definitely a tough one though.

The wind had made it a war of attrition.  A combination of the wind and my body made it very difficult for me.  No, it was more than tough.  I can take solace in the fact that it didn’t take much to convince me to carry on, but the fact is, I had decided to quit.  I’ve had tough times on these rides, but nothing like this.  Had that passerby not stopped or Scott not showing up, I’d have made it on my own; no choice.  I owe much to Scott for his words of encouragement; being there for me.

I’m still coughing; feeling the effects, even after a couple of days at sea level.  I do need to get back on the bike soon; yes, it’s back together and ready to ride.  Tomorrow.  My back is still very tight on the one side.  I’ve got a chiropractor appointment in Sudbury today!

These things certainly do call into question your physical conditioning … and your sanity!!

Huron Chapter’s Entertainment Series – Creemore Classic 400!

Well ….Ladies and Gents ….Wondering how Huron Chapter’s Infamous CREEMORE CLASSIC 400 went this past week-end? UNBELIEVABLE!!!

Of course dinner was held at the Elk and Finch in Southampton Friday evening, where not only the food was incredible, but their Carrot Cake was SECOND TO NONE! Once the lady Chef, Marg found out Dick Felton was coming, she produced enough Carrot Cake for him and every other Randonneur at the table!

Saturday morning, 7 Randonneurs showed up at the Start point in Port Elgin. Dick Felton, Chris Cossonnet, Bob Mcleod, Jerzy Dziadon, Jim Raddatz , John Cummings and Carey Chappelle. Unofficially, this group acted as the SUPERSEVEN! Jerzy and Jim were the first two finishers, Dick Felton pedaled to and from the event, to up his overall mileage to 860km for the week-end, Chris Cossonnet and Carey Chappelle competed in the CREEMORE CLASSIC BOWLING CHAMPIONSHIP for 2016 … Carey had to stand in Chris’s lane and actually heckle him enough to win 2016’s Creemore Classic Bowling Championship! Congratulations Carey!

Amazingly, ABC, NBC or CBC videotaped the Randonneurs as they left Southampton heading towards Sauble Beach just before 0530hrs. Check out the video if you didn’t see them on the News Saturday morning:

Weather wise, you couldn’t ask for better conditions.  Cloudy 95% of the time, with only 15 minutes of a heavy rain on some of the cyclists as they headed towards Collingwood on the Scenic 19. Having done this ride many times before, Carey has decided to make some changes to the Creemore Classic route in 2017. The Family Restaurant Control in Collingwood will be changed to the Old Mill House Pub in Creemore, an awesome restaurant where Chris and Carey had incredible dinners and of course… a delicious Creemore … or two!

Once leaving Creemore, the Randonneurs headed towards the Village at Blue Mountain for a Cappuccino and Biscotti . Carey touched base with Bob and Dick to confirm that they were together and found that they were having dinner at the Boston Pizza before heading to the Village. Jerzy and Jim were together, as noticed outside the Bowling Alley earlier on, but once at the Blue Mountain Village, they split up. Jim fell in love with the Village and decided to stay for dinner, not sure if he sang a song or two with the incredible band that was playing or just had the dinner, either way … Jerzy, so excited about the Scenic Cave climb … took off! Chris, John and Carey left Blue Mountains Village together and headed out on the Creemore Classics last 100km, wishing it was further and talked about pedaling to Kincardine for breakfast!. As they approached Chatsworth, 350km into the ride, they decided to have a 15min nap that turned into a 1/2hr nap at the Bank of Montreal, an ATM walk-in, that was heated and had a comfortable carpet on the floor … John slept under the ATM (Tim O’Callahan’s favourite spot!) with Chris and Carey sleeping on the carpet in front of the windows. A pounding on the windows a half hour later woke everyone up, frightened to see a Madman staring them down  … it was none other than Dick Felton!  Chris, John and Carey knew they better get up and head to the finish in Port Elgin, knowing that Dick and Bob wanted the “beds” themselves before they headed to the finish.  All Seven Randonneurs were SUCCESSFUL completing the Creemore Classic 400 … thus, they are 2016’s SUPERSEVEN!

Sunday’s weather was perfect for Kayaking, with Sunshine and 24 deg C., Bob, his wife to be, Milana, Donna and Carey headed out on the Saugeen River to do a four hour 20km Kayaking Brevet from Paisley to Port Elgin!  Start time was 1300hrs. Bob and Milana were in a Tandem Kayak, Carey and Donna in singles. Donna offered to tie a rope to Carey’s thinking he was going to fall asleep, but he was enjoying the relaxation and scenery so much she didn’t need to worry about him until …

Bob and Milana looked totally comfortable in their Tandem Kayak!

 A Fantastic week-end!! Starting at the Elk and Finch in Southampton Friday night, the Creemore Classic 400! Saturday, Sunday morning  and Kayaking Sunday afternoon… As close to Heaven as anyone can get!

V.P. Huron Chapter,


Big Bay 200 Permanent

Ride Report from Carey Chappelle:

We finished the Big Bay 200 Permanent Thursday in 11hrs 07min. The weather was simply incredible! No wind to worry about. Arrived in Owen Sound just before 10am and thought with breakfast I could finish this brevet around 8hrs and 30mins. Everything went well until just outside Sauble Beach … where things just got better!!!  Just ahead of me I noticed a Lady with pannier bags strolling along towards Sauble Beach. We chatted and she asked if there was a place to have an Americano. I let her know of the great coffee shop in town and took her there. We chatted with some others on the patio who were interested in where she was going and where she came from. An hour later we headed towards Port Elgin, I e-mailed my wife Donna to see if we could offer Megan a place to stay and of course no problem. Pedalling from Southampton to Port Elgin, Megan asked me to stop for some photos …. she couldn’t believe how beautiful the Scenery was!  Megan and I arrived at Tim Horton’s 11hrs 07mins, had my card signed and headed back to my place. Donna, Erika and Lucas (Erika’s boyfriend) had Megan tell her travel story and they couldn’t get enough! … having said that .. we were going through pictures Megan had on her iPad later that night and I was so tired that I went to bed around 2300hrs and they stayed up until midnight enjoying photo’s Megan had from China, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajkistan and God knows where else!! She was heading to London, Ontario to stand up at one of her friends wedding this month then heading back to BC where she is from, to spend a few months with her parents, family and friends before heading to India in September. I printed off route sheet pages that Megan could use to get to London and enjoy the scenery along the way. It was tough saying good bye to Megan … but we loved getting to meet her and now Donna and I are wondering what Erika and Lucas are planning on doing in the future … not to mention us!

Port Elgin Welcomes Megan!

Devil Week 2016 … well, that’s done!

Ride Report from David Thompson:

This was my first complete Devil Week and the first time that I’ve actually been the organizer.  Devil Week has been run out of Simcoe before, with rides starting in Alliston run by Isabelle Sheardown and then Dick Felton.  After that Randonneurs Ontario has also held DW’s out of Toronto, Ottawa and Port Elgin, hosted by the respective chapters.

Choosing and setting up the rides

With Devil Week heading back to Simcoe, I wanted the rides to start in Barrie, which is much more convenient for potential riders both in terms of accessibility and motel availability.  Simcoe has a few rides that start in Barrie but we needed either new ones or changes to add variety.

For the 200, Big Chute was an obvious choice.  How could we hold a brevet week and not include Big Chute ?  It’s always a treat.  That was an easy choice.

For the 300 we had some alternatives but doing a circuit of Lake Simcoe seemed like a good choice.  The existing brevet started in Alliston and goes through Barrie; let’s change that and use the exact same route but starting in Barrie.  Done.  (Thanks Peter Grant!).

In 2015 we added two new routes in Simcoe – the Parry Sound 400 and Cottage 600.  There’s quite a bit of overlap between them so it was one or the other, especially if riders are doing them back-to-back.  The Cottage 600k is a challenge on many fronts and would be a fine way to end the week.  It’s best run more Audax style and would give us an opportunity to end the week together.

Having chosen the 600, we needed something new for the 400, preferably heading southwest in Ontario … can we get to Stratford?  Well, it turned out that we could, but barely.  Can we do it without having a straight out and back?  Yes.  We cooked up a new route and rode it for the first time on Devil Week.

Why do we run the 600 Audax style?  Well, for one thing the overnight is at my cottage and it’s not fair to Sandy to have riders arriving across a long time span.  Running it Audax also makes it harder for someone to throw in the towel since they have team-mate support and besides, it’s so far away from anything that it makes it hard to quit if you simply don’t feel like riding any more.  Overnighting at my cottage also provides full access to a bike-equipped workshop !

The section from South River to my place is a particular challenge with gravel, stone and clay – a rough, seasonal logging road and then roughly 65 km more of paved road.  There are very few signs of civilization.  Together they add up to roughly 100kms with no cell service.  As ride organizer, it’s not something that I want people doing alone or at night.

Our choice of rides was complete.  Peter Grant made the necessary changes to the 300 to have it start in Barrie; did some minor tinkering with the 600 and setup the new 400.  Peter, Stephen Jones and a couple of others provided commentary on the 400 route before it was finalized.

Rider Registration

Starting the week, I made up 37 brevet cards — 200×12; 300×8; 400×8; 600×9.  Six people intended to do the entire Devil Week — Jerzy Dziadon, David Pearson, Henk Bouhuijzen, Michele Hebert, Peter Holtzenbein and myself.  We definitely had more registrations than I had expected.

Albert Koke did the 200 & 300 on his fat-tire bike, sounding like an SUV on the road.  Bob Macleod did all but the 400.  Craig Kaye, Graeme McDermid, Gwyneth Mitchell and Charles Horslin signed up for the 200.
The Rides
We had two people doing their first brevet during the 200k out of 12 riders.  The one with a buddy completed; the other DNF’d — our only DNF — I feel badly that we didn’t organize that better, find some way of providing a riding buddy.  Big Chute is a very pretty ride but it’s not particularly easy.  It was also very hot that day, hitting 32C, I believe.  We started at 8am and the last two riders finished up at 8:15 p.m.
After the 200, Bob Macleod, Henk, Peter Holtzenbein and I went to dinner at The Mandarin, within walking distance of the motel.  David Pearson and Michel Hebert considered coming but opted out, recovering from the heat.

The 300 is a familiar route for many, starting and finishing in Alliston.  It was strange to ride back into Alliston and not be finished; having to continue to Barrie !  It was another hot day.  Peter was having digestive problems; I thought that it was the heat but they persisted through the 400 and were likely caused by something he ate for dinner after the 200.  Eight started and eight finished.

After a day off, we rode the inaugural Barrie=>Stratford=>Barrie 400 km.  It turned out to be a nice route but had more than its share of gravel.  It seemed like 50 km of gravel but was probably about half that.  Most was hard pack, easy rolling; it would have been a real pain had it been wet.  There was a missing road due to new construction but we figured that out.  We left Barrie along a busy, under construction road.  The route needs some work before being part of our permanent roster.  There has to be a first for everything !

For the 400, Brian Brideau and Martin Cooper replaced Bob Macleod and Albert Koke, keeping our number at eight.  Bob was saving himself for the 600; Martin and Brian intended to ride the 600 as well.

The weather on the 400 was quite a bit cooler.  In fact, finishing up, the temperature was in the 4C range; most of us were unprepared for that kind of drop.  I was expecting about 10C.  Thanks for the surprise Environment Canada !

The cold slowed us down; the last riders were in just before 6am – 24 hours.

Peter’s digestive problems persisted and he wisely decided to forgo the 600.  Brian developed an IT Band issue; Michele decided that he didn’t have a 600 in him that week.  Our planned 9 riders for the 600 became 6.

We started the 600 in the rain but that didn’t last long.  In fact, the weather was ideal – we had a tail-wind both days.  That’s quite a contrast to the last running of this ride, which had a headwind both ways !

As planned, we did this in what I was calling semi-audax – we regrouped at each Control.  That slowed down the fastest riders but we really had no choice for the first day.

We got to South River a little earlier than last year but we’d obviously been lolly-gagging because this year we left an hour earlier and we had a tail-wind.  In the first 12 hours of riding we’d accumulated 2.5 hours of stopped time.  However, we were in time to ride the logging road in daylight — that meant that we could see the clouds of mosquitoes.  It also meant that we could see the piles of fresh gravel in the centre of the road, sometimes 20-25cm deep.  That gravel wasn’t there when I pre-drove the road a week earlier … figures.

I had told people that it was a logging road; well, they were logging.  At one point a truck was being loaded and we had to walk around.  The mosquitoes were delighted with “fresh meat at a snail’s pace”.

We got to highway 522 in daylight but it was 12:30 a.m. by the time we got to my cottage.  That put us an hour ahead of last year but of course the Control closed an hour earlier due to the earlier start time.

The beer was cold as I’d promised; the lasagna was good; many thanks to Sandy !

Henk had his share of mechanical issues.  He had three flats the first day and a broken shifter cable that occurred just before getting to my place.  We replaced the cable and he was ready to roll again.  I had a worrisome creak that I checked out but it disappeared, not wanting to be found.  The only other mechanical was a flat on Jerzy’s part.

Although we had a cool start to the second day at 4am, it was another great day on the bike.  We took our time, regrouped at Controls, carefully managing arrival and departure times so that we weren’t ever at risk of having a DNF.

Our last regroup was in Orillia and we then rode together, less than 20km to where the ride ends in Hawkestone .  It’s technically a point to point — and then we continue to ride to Barrie.   We marked the time at Hawkstone and I updated all the brevet cards.  I had collected them in Orillia.  We finished at 8:23 p.m., 39:23 since we left Barrie.

All in all, it was a successful Devil Week.  Congrats to all!

Additional comments from Bob Macleod:

Thank you David for planning and organizing an outstanding Devil Week, and Peter Grant and Sandy for your important supporting roles. The 200, 300 and 600 events in which I participated took us through incredibly beautiful parts of the province and unique places of interest, each with unique challenges – I definitely plan to revisit these routes.
Of particular note on the Cottage 600:
– At Summerland General Store (89 km), we met a member of Manitoba Randonneurs (Dave Ristau), who is on a solo touring ride from Winnipeg to Newfoundland. He caught up with us in Gravenhurst for lunch before pressing on east toward Algonquin Park. I heard from him yesterday that he’s now passing through Quebec – “bon route” Dave.
– It’s hard to understate the late day Thu challenge of 15km logging road northwest of South River going into Commanda. The freshly laid sandy gravel sucked at our road tires, randomly pulling us here and there, and making it difficult to maintain traction and control on uphill/downhill sections. And, as the deep forest closed in around us, the mosquitoes swarmed our sweaty bodies the moment we would stop – strong motivation to keep moving no matter what! I envied Martin’s wide tires, but in truth I think that even a mountain bike would have been challenged on this stretch. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the route as particularly challenging, requiring focused cycling skill to maintain forward momentum – a good example of the unpredictable things that can happen on a brevet to make you dig deep to keep going. For me, it added to the overall adventure and experience of this particular brevet.
– The lasagna and beer at Dave and Sandy’s cottage in Port Loring early Fri morning, were the best I’ve ever had!!
– Dave Pearson and I faced off with a big buck standing in our path on the road, its short new rack of horns still covered in fur, southeast of Parry Sound on Rankin Lake Rd. Absolutely magnificent!! Finally, with cars oncoming, we shooed it away and it disappeared into the forest.
– Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve southeast of Bala on District Road 13 is more than 30 km of winding road and sharp hills through rugged Shield country, and aggressive black flies! An amazing cycle route that I will return to as soon as I can.
– I applaud the “modified-Audax” style that Dave used on this event. It made a huge difference on the logging road section and the long remote night ride into Port Loring, as well as enabling us all to finish within the time limit. Congratulations and thank you to all the riders who completed this memorable event – you were excellent team-mates!

Bits N Pieces 200 Permanent

Ride report from David Hamilton:

I was in Guelph over the weekend and had a chance to ride a permanent on Saturday, so I chose the Bits n Pieces 200 for my ride. The RO site claims about 2000m of climbing here and I was doing the Knute Rockne thing about working on my weaknesses until they become strengths (hills), but in truth I just wanted to ride, take some pix and see some new sites.

The ride started out with a slight tailwind. Construction immediately on Eglinton Ave (repaving) but nothing my 700x38s couldn’t handle with ease. The road towards the escarpment was the same route that the motorcyclists would be taking on Sunday as part of their ride for dad program. I was surprised throughout my ride at the number of other cyclists on the roads… pelotons, soloists, small groups…it was fun to see.

Coming off the escarpment on Appleby Line there was a detour around some construction. I had to add about 1.5km extra km to the ride. The hills themselves going up to the first control at Erin were challenging but not extreme, although I hit some gravel patches around this conservation area near Erin. The challenge I seem to be having on my rides this year is eating. I just don’t feel like it, but if I don’t, the consequences can be disastrous.

Several coffee shops in Erin were filled with cyclists. It was great to see. More hills out of Erin but I was (for me) making some good progress. Stopped several times to take pix and just enjoy the day with its bright sunshine, gentle breeze and beautiful scenery.

But as I came up to the Mohawk Raceway and Slots, the traffic became really busy and the road has no shoulder to speak of. I eschew these types of roads so I ended up riding on this faux-sidewalk which was adventurous on its own!

Ice cream at Campbellville seems to be the thing to do. So many little ice cream shops around and people enjoying the weather. I had one, chillaxed in the shade for a bit, then got on the bike for the last leg.

There was an accident at an intersection along the way… no one hurt apparently but the cars were destroyed.

More hills along the way but then I found myself on the downside of the escarpment again and was rewarded with a sweet downhill glide.

There are some winding dips and climbs along Lower Base Line Road, and on the way to the finish, I saw firetrucks up ahead along one of these tight sections. Do Not Cross tape was throughout the area and from what I saw, it appeared a car – maybe 2 – had lost control and hit the guardrails. One apparently went off into the bush. A grim reminder of how dangerous some of these winding roads can be.

I rolled into the finish just under 12 hours, thoroughly satisfied with this ride and happy with my day on the bike. The best rides I’ve had to date are those where time is not the goal. Some day, I may sponsor a “Lanterne Rouge” award for those that take the max time for a ride.

bits n pieces Acton quarry bits n pieces detour at Appleby Line bits n pieces down the escarpment bits n pieces en route bits n pieces escarpment country bits n pieces mohawk slots bits n pieces nothing to block your view bits n pieces objet dart bits n pieces refuelling

2016 Fleche – Ottawa Wanderers

Ride report from David Hamilton:

Three Wanderers set out from Bells Corners at 6:00 pm on Friday for an anticipated 363 km ride to Kingston: me, Alan, and Vytas… two rookie fleche padawans and a Jedi Fleche Master.

The route itself was put together by Peter, so we knew there would be hills which at least two of us loathed, but in retrospect there were just enough to offer a good challenge without leaving anyone splayed against an outcrop crying for their mama.

The first leg to Clayton was uneventful. As we pulled into the general store to sign our cards, the bugs were in full feeding mode so we didn’t stop long at all. Now these bugs were not the kind you might find in your urban backyard while enjoying a barbecue: no, these are ravenous, savage, flesh-eating carnivorous brutes. A flat tire or broken chain in these parts would be certain death (I am imagining a randonneur, nothing but bones and few remaining body parts, hovered over a back wheel with a flat at the side of the road, covered by a swarm of flies). In fact, as we rode the next section down the Tatlock Road, we went through massive clouds of flies that got in our mouths, ears, noses and other unprotected orifices. Seems like I was picking bugs out of my hair for the rest of the ride. And sand.

Funny thing about flies, though, is that while they are most active around dusk, they do eventually retire for the night. So in fact we didn’t have a problem with them once the night came on completely.

The nearly full moon and mostly clear sky was beautiful. At one point along the South Lavant Road, the moonshine over quiet lakes was simply amazing. And very few cars helped us all with the seemingly relentless hills. At one point, Vytas’ chain got jammed so we stopped as he manhandled it back on. The whip-poor-wills were most active along this road and their alien song added to the mysterious rustling of animals that apparently stalked us from the bushes. I was grateful we didn’t have to stop long.

A little while later in the night, Alan’s chain also jumped off the cogs at the same time as a ferocious pack of wild dogs crashed through the woods towards us. Vytas and I, seemingly on the same page without saying a word, were prepared to sacrifice Alan to the dogs and kept pedaling until we realized they must have been chained. Only then did we circle back to make sure Alan’s bike was back in business. Sorry about that, Alan! Later, we mused about the fleche rules because, being only 3 on the team, we all had to finish. So the question became: does a body part count as a rider if one of us got chewed up by dogs or bears and the others had to bungee a remaining limb onto a rack or top tube? Ah, the questions of the randonneur…

Vytas asked at one point if I’d seen that deer along the road. At least, he thought it was a deer. I thought it was a sasquatch. What are the odds of seeing a sasquatch along the South Lavant Road? 50-50 of course. You either see one, or you don’t. This led to a discussion of statistical probabilities…

We rode into the Ompah control just after midnight and we put on extra clothing. There was a light haze in the sky that gave a surrealistic air to the moon and mars. This next section to Maberly was one of my favourite parts of the ride. Great roads, no traffic, and a Tim Hortons not too far away. We signed our cards again in Maberly just before crossing highway 7 for some more fun in the hills.

When we reached Hanna Road, Vytas was sure we should be going right (as per the Maberly 200 route), but Alan and I thought it was left. We took a 10 minute sleep break. As we continued on, Vytas wanted to talk about stuff to keep himself awake. He may not have noticed that both Alan and I are basically introverts counterpointing his extroversion, so this made conversation a little bit awkward. “Give me one of your lectures”, he’d say. “Mine are deadly boring and would definitely put you to sleep”, I’d say. Silence. And so it went.

But we did end up talking about different personality types and our motivations for doing these crazy long bike rides, and eventually found a pattern and a rhythm that helped us all stay awake and on the right track. We finally got out of the hills and sailed along a flat, traffic-less road into Perth. By this time, we all needed some real food (such as it is at Tims), and to get off the bikes for a few minutes. After refuelling, we pulled out of the Tims just before 5:00. The sky was starting to lighten, the worst of the hills were behind us, and Merrickville beckoned with the promise of a big breakfast.

The sunrise over the Rideau River was beautiful and free of charge, and the back roads through Kilmarnock were fantastic. We got to Merrickville in good time and started to think about managing the clock to make sure we wouldn’t be more than 2 hours at the penultimate control in Battersea. Turns out, we didn’t need to worry about going any slower thanks to more hills and headwinds!

After breakfast, we struck a good pace to North Augusta where we refilled our bottles, and then headed out towards Athens. But there was a mistake on the cue sheet so Vytas and Alan started heading out on the wrong road. My garmin was squealing at this point so I flagged them down and after a brief discussion, we backtracked and got on the right road. By this time the wind had picked up and that knocked us back a bit as it blew across the open farmland.

In Athens, we had a quick bite to eat and headed out again towards Battersea. And, of course, there were more hills to climb, some good and many not so good. But in the end, this was not a race and I for one didn’t mind them so much as long as I could climb at my own pace.

At Battersea, it was time for a well-deserved rest. Ice cream and drinks (Alan’s platypus nozzle hadn’t been working so he was parched), and a few minutes of sleep on a grassy knoll cum picnic area was most excellent and surprisingly refreshing. At 4:00 we began the final leg of our journey to Kingston. For me, this section went by very quickly. I mean, we didn’t ride any faster but it felt like time flew by. The road into Kingston was dangerously busy with traffic. I didn’t like that but it kept us on our toes. At the last hill just before the 401, Vytas asked who wanted to hammer up it for king of the hill bragging rights. There were no takers. Quel surprise.

When we got to the Denny’s, there were no other riders around, no one cheering us in, but the satisfaction of completing the ride was evident. Eventually, we all got cleaned up and changed and sat down for supper. Shortly thereafter, still no sign of the other teams, we all went our separate ways to crash. But we must have just missed the Huron gang who arrived a little while later.

A nice club breakfast the next morning sealed the fleche 2016. I had the pleasure of meeting many randonneurs and having breakfast with Dave and John from Team Huron. If I recall correctly, John and I also share an interest in another crazy hobby – amateur radio. For me, it was the most amazing riding experience I’ve had. A good route, great company, lots of beautiful scenery, no flat tires, and no hard rain a-fallin’!

2016 Fleche – Hog Town Express

Ride report from Peter Leiss:

Earlier this year Bob McLeod asked me if would be interested in participating on his Flèche Team. It has been many years; in fact it was the last century, since I had done a Flèche. I agreed immediately.

Bob had devised a route that uses the Waterfront trail as the route that is intriguing to say the least. He revised the route 7 times after going out and route checking sections to ensure that it worked.

Stephen Jones, Erin Marchak,  Bob McLeod and myself met at the Amsterdam Brew Pub to enjoy  a meal prior to out departure. This may not have been the best planning as it was the first good day of spring on a long weekend resulting in exceptionally long wait times to get seated. Standing in line for over an hour before riding for 24 hours is probably not what you would want to do. This did however give us all time to catch up and introduce ourselves to Erin who a new Randonnneur this season. We finally were seated and enjoyed the first of many meals on this Fleche. Peter Hoeltzenbein joined us later after riding down from Markham.

The weather had cooled down so we added clothing for our departure at 9:15 pm. So off we went on the Martin Goodman trail, which forms a part of the Waterfront Trail through Toronto. Now the Waterfront Trail is a little complicated in Toronto requiring 3 pages of cues to get to our first control. This resulted in the occasional stop to determine the exact route. We also had many wildlife sightings along the way, mostly cats and raccoons and one skunk. This section also contains the most severe climb of the route that tops out at 17%. More wildlife was sighted as we proceeded along the trail out to Rouge Park. It must have been quite a surprise to the young people out enjoying wobbly pops and campfires to see five sets of bright headlights approaching out of the darkness.

Up and over the foot bridge that crosses the Rouge River and on to Whitby of to our first control at 66 K. After eating at Denny’s we continued on our way to Cobourg. This section is where things got interesting, as the Waterfront Trail comprises of everything you could possibly ride on. Comprised of roadways, limestone screening pathways, dual track dirt paths, single-track dirt paths and a section of sidewalk. It is a little disconcerting to be in the middle of nowhere heading down a broken roadway that looks like no traffic has been on it in 10 years signed no exit to search out an unlit entrance to the trail that proceeds even further towards what appears to be nothing. Fortunately Bob had ridden these sections and knew approximately where to find the trail.

More wildlife in the form of deer and one fox. We also passed by the Darlington Nuclear Plant that has signs advising that Armed response would meet anyone foolish enough to jump the fence. The trail finally stayed on open roads after Wilmot Creek. This an area that I am familiar with having ridden these roads on the Tandem Club rides. As we where now approaching 4 am we slowed down considerably. Anyone who has ridden overnight before will understand that there is a natural desire to sleep around this time and that it is something that experience is the only tool to get through this patch. Our target was to be leaving Cobourg 141 K at 5:30 am. We all regrouped here and had another meal at Tim Horton’s. This is one of only a few on the route that is open 24 hours other than drive through service.

Our next stop was Brighton at 186 K with an estimated leaving time of 8:30 am. Now that the sun was up the groups pace picked up again. We stopped at Lola’s Cafe where we ate again and had conversations with some locals and the staff. They where a little amazed that we had ridden our bikes from Toronto but even more so when we mentioned our destination and what we where attempting. It is interesting to note that the response is now one of admiration of the effort. This is in contrast to my previous flèche where people just thought we were nuts. The roadways along this area are all signed to advise drivers to share the road and bike route. The drivers are quite courteous when passing and the traffic was quite light.

The next target is Picton 248 K with an estimated ferry crossing at Glenora of 1:30 pm. We had banked some time so we had a leisurely stop in Picton where we had lunch at McDonalds. Having spent a lot of time in Picton I knew that it would be exceptionally busy a nice long weekend and was not disappointed. There was construction that made whats would be normally very heavy traffic even more so. We arrived early at the Glenora ferry and continued along the Loyalist Parkway/Waterfront Trail towards Kingston. We had a secret control at a pullout along the Parkway at 263 K and let there at 2 pm on our way towards Kingston.

After passing by the penitentiaries Millhaven, Joyceville, Bath, Collins Bay and Kingston which is now a prison museum Another stop to eat in Kingston at Subway. You may be detecting a pattern here by as there seemed to be a lot of eating on this flèche. Now Kingston is our ultimate destination however we would have to go through to Ganauoque to ensure we met the distance and time requirements.

We continued up through Kingston toward Historic Fort Henry where we have a conundrum. In order to continue on our route we would need to pass through the Canadian forces base. This was signed no trespassing. After discussing our options a local resident told us it was no problem that everyone goes through. So on we went hoping that we would not be detained.

Onwards to Ganaouque 343 K through the rolling hills. We had planned to leave here at 6:30 pm as well as another planned stop to eat. It took a few minutes to find a suitable restaurant however the service was a bit slow. Once we explained what we were doing and out time lines the owner who is a British expat and a cyclist sorted us out. We left on time and stopped at 7:15 to record our 22-hour time distance at 347.6 K.

Now for the final push back to Kingston. As you may know you required to ride at least 25 K over the last 2 hours of a flèche, which may not seem to be a daunting task. However after 22 hours of saddle time this becomes a crucial issue. We had no difficulties in meeting this requirement and Erin led us as we finished at Denny’s in Kingston with 375.3 K.

After getting cleaned up we met in the restaurant once again to enjoy a meal and reminisced of our accomplishment. This was the longest ride for all of us this season so and it was the longest ride the Erin had ever done all in one go. Congratulations go out to the riders for completing this challenge and particularly to Erin to attempting this in her first season. Well done.

All three teams completed the flèche this year with Ottawa, Huron and Toronto each providing a team. We all met in the morning before heading back to our homes for a well deserved rest.



Total Distance 375.3 Kilometres
Total Time 24 hours
Elevation Gain 1937 metres
Average speed Total 15.6 KPH
Average speed moving 21.4 KPH
Calories burned 15,511
Calories inhaled hard to say we ate a lot.
Minimum Temp 7 C
Average Temp 14.6 C
Max temp 20 C

2016 Fleche – Huron “Fleche-Air Fiends”

Ride report from John Cumming:

Four Huron randonneurs – John Cumming, Chris Cossonnet, Dave Pearson, and Carey Chappelle – set off at 6:00 pm Friday evening May 20th from South London, with anticipation and quiet resolve to cover as many kilometres as possible towards Kingston in 24 hours.  Following a relatively “straight-as-an-arrow” route on some of Ontario’s heritage highways (“Highway 2”, “Governor’s Road”, Lakeshore Road), this  ride would turn out to be a delightful adventure for all of us.

But for me, the anticipation of this unique adventure had started months before …

I had been looking forward to the Randonneurs Ontario Fleche since last autumn’s General Meeting, where several Huron members began discussing the possibilities for a London to Kingston effort.  I offered to coordinate a team and to begin route planning.   Having never participated in a Fleche before, my first challenge was to get my head around the unique (and sometimes quirky !) Fleche rules.  But as I reviewed online anecdotes and previous Fleche reports (of teams “running out of road” in the final 2 hours, or “falling short” in the total kilometres covered, or number of riders finishing), the rules and objectives began to make sense.  It also became apparent to me that a London to Kingston route would be ideal for a Fleche:  At approximately 460 km total (depending on selected route) there should be no danger of not having enough kilometres available in the final 2 hours, and the “80% of proposed route” mandatory distance is about equal to the 360 km minimum requirement.  In other words, if we ride well and cover 360 km in the first 22 hours and still have the legs for 25 km in the last 2 hours, “we’re good !”

The generally “downhill” elevation profile from London to Kingston, plus the statistical probability of prevailing tail winds, were additional factors that suggested this ride could be great!

In logistics and route planning, it became apparent that an evening start would be ideal.  The thought of arriving sleepless and exhausted in Kingston on Sunday morning, then turning around and driving 5 hours back to London (and 3 more hours for Carey and Chris) was not at all appealing.  A Friday 6 pm departure would have us going through Toronto in the middle of the night, allowing us to use roads that might be too busy during the day.  A Saturday evening arrival would allow us to pig out at the 24-hour Denny’s, rehydrate on barley energy drinks, and get a good sleep before driving home.  (I was delighted that the other teams also chose a Saturday-evening arrival plan!)

The route was plotted “from scratch” on Ride with GPS using the “KISS” principle – follow the safest main and direct roads and use 24-hour Timmies for Controls.  Being a Fleche (not a Brevet) we would have the option of detouring onto a parallel path (eg bike path) if a particular section of the route was too busy.

So back to the ride itself …

The weather forecast had been looking ideal in the days leading up to the ride.  Carey and Chris had driven from Port Elgin to Dave’s residence, and the three of them biked down the 9 km to meet me at the ride start location (near the London Velodrome).  I had biked down from my home in Ilderton (45 km, with a few detours along the way) so we were all “warmed up” while we waited for our GPS time to show 18:00 hours.   As we set out from London, it was more overcast than expected.  And in the first few kilometres, we actually felt a rain drop or two.  But the weather and rando gods were smiling on us, and the remainder of the ride would be completely dry.   With fresh legs, we rode easily through the rural Southwestern Ontario evening.  Having ridden together on previous Brevets, all four of us were familiar with each other’s riding styles, and were feeling quite comfortable riding in a “loose” group at a steady speed.  We arrived at our first Control in Paris at 9:20 pm, feeling good about the 25 km/hr pace we had been maintaining.  After the first of many “Timmies recharges” we would have in the coming hours, we were back on the road, eagerly anticipating the night ride down the escarpment towards our next control in Port Credit.  With the full moon doing its best to light our way through an overcast sky, and car traffic lighter than we expected, the late evening riding seemed quite relaxed.

As we biked through Hamilton and along the waterfront through Burlington and Oakville, the twinkling lights on the water, the marinas, and the silhouettes of upscale residences provided many amazing views!  Carey commented that he would definitely be coming back to ride this section in daylight.  We pulled into Port Credit Timmies just after 2 am.  Another quick caffeine injection, and we were back on the road, heading along Lakeshore Road into the Big Smoke.  We had a brief stop near the Exhibition Grounds, while Chris dealt with a minor mechanical issue (a loose bolt).  (Over the whole ride, Chris Carey and Dave each encountered a mechanical annoyance – Carey had a “screw loose”, which some of you would say is nothing new! – As for Dave, the tensioning bolt on his Brooks Saddle came loose and fell off in the darkness!  This resulted in Dave riding on leather resting directly on the seat rails, and his talking voice becoming ever more “soprano” as the ride went along!  For those who don’t know Dave, he rides a fixie, so “getting up out of the saddle” was not an option for alleviating the discomfort!  As for me, a recently-replaced but very creaky bottom bracket assured that the other riders would not fall asleep on the road.   But no spills and no flats for anyone throughout the ride!   )

The next magical moments on our ride occurred as we entered the dedicated bikelanes along Toronto’s waterfront.  The last time I had been here (two years ago) Queen’s Quay and the surrounding area was a construction mess.  Now, it’s beautiful and almost European in its design and bicycling functionality.  (Of course, we were riding it in the middle of the night, with no cars or pedestrians around.  We chatted about how crowded these bikelanes would be in a few hours, when the city awoke.)  Carey had to stop to take pictures of the Rogers Centre and CN Tour.  Tourists!

We ascended the streets of Scarborough towards the bluffs, where we encountered one of our only navigation challenges:  A bike path off a residential street did not appear to exist.  We spent 15 minutes or so circling a public school in an attempt to find the trail, before Dave (zooming into the smallest scale on his GPS) lead us back through the bush and darkness, to a muddy single-track path.  We found our way through Bluffer’s Park, and were treated to more amazing night views of the Scarborough bluffs.

Heading along the Waterfront Trail, we enjoyed the sunrise over the Pickering Nuclear Plant and Lake Ontario shoreline.  We reached our next Timmie-target (Ajax) just after 6 am. – 235 km behind us, just after the 12 hour mark !!!  Speculating that daylight, tailwinds, and more coffee would spur us along, we began to ponder whether we might really be able to complete 100 % of the proposed route!  A fifteen-minute power nap on the lawn was proposed, but we decided to save that treat for Cobourg when the sun would be warmer.

We reached Cobourg just before 11:00 am, enjoyed a Timmies breakfast, and pushed on after the brief nap we had promised ourselves.  It felt great to take off our shoes and lie on the grass under the warming sun.

Back in the saddle again, it became apparent that we were NOT going to be blessed with tailwinds, and the terrain east of Toronto was not as flat as we had pretended it would be.  We knew our “100 %” goal was not going to be achieved.  As we approached Belleville, Carey began to muse about how nice it would be to have a “pint”.  I could not disagree.  With fifteen minutes to go before the mandatory 22 hour report time, we spotted a “Patio Open” sign, causing our bikes to quickly veer off the road!  Just enough time to order cold beverages and fill in the Birdy’s Pub address on our Control Cards before the clock strikes 4pm.  Our friendly and interested waitress signs our cards and snaps a photo.  80% of our proposed route accomplished? Check.  360 km completed? Check.  25 km do-able in the next 2 hours?  Hmmm, maybe not, if we have a second pint.  So back on the road it is!

After Belleville, it was just a matter of knocking off as many kilometres as we could in the remaining hour-and-a-half.  As we continued east on Highway 2 towards Napanee, I kept checking the Garmin as our post-Birdy’s kilometres crept towards 25.  With that final Fleche requirement satisfied after crossing Marysville Road, we had to now think about where we would be at the 24 hour mark to document the end of our official ride.  We were shooting for our next proposed Control (you guessed it – Timmies in Napanee) but fell a few kilometres short.  At the corner of County Road1 & Jimmy Kimmet Blvd. we stopped to watch the GPS time show 18:00.  Just over 420 kilometres ridden in 24 hours ( 91% of proposed route – Moving Time almost 19 hours, Moving Average Speed 22.2 km/hr) – we were all feeling pleased!

Of course, we were still 40 kilometres from the hot meal, cold beer, and soft beds we were now hallucinating about!

Aside from the sore nether regions and stiff shoulders you’d  expect after 24 hours in the saddle, I think we were feeling fairly  strong.  An electrical tape repair of Dave’s broken saddle was making his ride a bit more tolerable, and the promise of non-timmies food was incentive to keep us rolling.  After two more hours of steady riding, we were on the streets of Kingston I had seen 2 days ago when dropping off my Truck for our return trip.  It seemed like it had been two weeks ago!

Just after 8:30 pm, we pulled into the destination hotel.  460 kilometres covered in 26.5 hours.  After well deserved (and needed) showers, we met up with some of the Toronto gang for dinner in Denny’s.  The Ottawa Wanderers, having arrived earlier, had already crashed for the night.

Next morning, we were back in Denny’s to have breakfast with the other teams.  It was great to renew acquaintances, put faces to names, and share exaggerated anecdotes regarding our Fleche adventure.  Many thanks to Carey, Chris, and Dave (and of course the Wanderers and Hogtown Express) for making it so memorable!     P1040844msc



Post_Fleche_BobMacleodPhoto P1040852msc P1040854msc

Huron Chapter’s Entertainment Series

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

The Huron Chapter started their Entertainment Series Brevets with the Much Ado About ….. on Saturday, 7May2016. 18 of the 19 Cyclists finished this 200km Brevet …. wait …. all 19 actually finished this brevet, just one was outside the time limit of 13.5 hrs. The weather forecast leading up to Saturday was not positive … wind and rain. Somehow I guessed the actual weather to be sunny, with the rain only happening when 7 of us attended the Shakespeare in Love Play.  Bob Kassel can confirm my weather forecast as he has the e-mails I sent.

The Much Ado About …. had Sunshine and a blue sky for the first 100km. A few clouds came in after that, with a few rain drops but nothing to be concerned with. The Stratford Control was where the Randonneurs split up, 7 had tickets to the Shakespeare in Love play and the rest of the Randonneurs had lunch and simply carried on.

I enjoyed the Shakespeare in Love play, which does it’s own lifting: from Romeo and Juliet, we tended to sentimentalize Romeo and Juliet so much that we forgot that they did a really STUPID thing. They had an incredible death wish, they knew they were going to kill themselves! At the end, an emotional reaction was obvious … just looking around at everyone!  I’ll see it again before year’s end!

Shakespeare In Love

Tuxido Randonneurs!

The play ended around 1645hrs, the rain had stopped so the 7 of us got back on our bikes to finish the last 64km before 2030hrs. With  50km to go we passed Jakub Ner, but only after taking some photos!

Jakub Ner on a Unicycle!


Now, over the years we have done brevets on standard bicycles with Jakub, but this performance was a FIRST! I have never seen a Unicycle being ridden on a brevet or even heard of someone attempting it! Had to ask Jacob where he got this idea from and he made it clear that his children didn’t like riding with him on his regular bike so he purchased the Unicycle and goes everywhere with his kids!!!

What an awesome brevet! Entertaining from Beginning to End!

Much Ado About 200…on a Unicycle…

Ride Report from Jakub Ner:

On Saturday I reached a milestone I was thinking of ever since fall 2012; when I first learned to ride. Back then I could barely ride around the neighbourhood without muscles I never thought I had wanted to explode.

On Saturday I tried a 200km Randonneuring Brevet and did the distance.

It was actually 205km and I rode it on a Nimbus Oracle in 14 hours 55 minutes.


I’m a 39 year old dude who mostly commutes on my unicycles. I don’t really do sports other than daily post commute stretches and some basic PT.

I started unicycling as a way to mess around with my kids while they bicycle the neighbourhood. Riding a full sized bike with them didn’t have any appeal and uni won over getting a BMX (at my age).

Since I’ve ridden with Randonneurs Ontario on my bike, the thought of trying with a uni was always there, nagging.

I’m fit enough to suffer through things.


Nimbus Oracle
Padded undershorts
Water + Perpetuem
MP3 player


Before the brevet I trained for 2 weeks by making 6 of my morning commutes 36km one way and the regular 17km back. I was averaging 3:40/km, roughly 16.3 km/h. This included some stops, red lights and such.

My pace seemed somewhat compatible with doing a brevet. A 200km brevet allows 13.5 hours to complete the distance, otherwise you’re DNF (Did Not Finish).  You’re expected to maintain 14.8 km/h or faster, all breaks in.

It seemed plausible but I knew I’m going to be cutting it close at my pace. That, if I made the distance in the first place.

I knew that taking a break will be out. I fully expected to not stop for food or take any lengthy breaks. My fuel of choice was Hammer Perpetuem and I was just going to drink my way to victory all day long.

Beside worrying about the friction, knee pain, and general suffering, I worried about face planting when I’m tired and not being able to mount out of exhaustion.


The start was at 7am. At 6:40am while waiting at the start I realized I forgot my knee pads and wrist guards. Sigh. Especially with my worries over face plants still squarely in my head.

Luckily the ride had only one UPD when I came off onto loose gravel but managed to run it out. This was roughly 65km in so the legs were still good. Not sure how I’d fare later on in the day.

Maybe 10km in–just after we left London (Ontario)–I also realized I didn’t pack any water other than the single 750ml Perpetuem bottle I made to fuel me for the first 2 hours. Well, St. Mary’s was at 40km, I’ll resupply there. It was a good plan. I took on 3L there. Later on at 140km (in Stratford) I got another 2L that took me to the finish. The Perpetuem powder I carried all along with me, to remix as needed.

The first control was at 95km. I got an eager ice cream connoisseur to sign my control card. I realized I made the control point with only 20 minutes to spare before it closed. That’s OK, before this control I wasn’t sure I’ll be able to do the distance and thought I was taking it somewhat easy. I vowed to make a bigger time buffer for myself before I get into the Stratford control at 140km.

At the midpoint I also realized that the pains and aches have all been relatively stable for the last 20km or so. They weren’t getting any worse. I realized that this is manageable.

By this time I’ve been taking more frequent slowdowns to raise myself off the saddle and I dismounted more often to stretch out and walk out some pains. It felt like I was doing this every couple kilometres.

Unfortunately I hit the 140km control point 5 minutes after it closed. Regardless, I was optimistic that the last 65km are downwind and I can make up the time and make it into the finish before time cutoff.

Somewhere around the 150km mark the Randonneurs on bikes passed me for the second time. These guys went to see a Shakespeare play in Stratford as part of the ride. You see, there were no “normal” Randonneurs on this brevet . It was a huge boost
to see them again.

Seems all through the ride there were moments of drudgery and probably longer moments of awesomeness–despite the pains. The moments of awesomeness evaporated completely approaching London and in the dark, but I was almost at the finish line (I had 3 head lights and 5 tail lights, safety first).

After about 180km my fear of not being able to mount became reality. It took many failed attempts to remount. It was bound to get much worse in the dark, and it did.

I did make it into the final control at 205km at 9:55pm. This was quite a bit past the cutoff time of 8:30pm. But I did the distance and now my curiosity to do this on a uni was satisfied.

PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN…thint=album%2c