Rouge Ramble 60 km Populaire

Ride report from Stephen Jones:

Toronto managed to get the first ride of the season in on March 18 despite some questionable weather. Erin, Joey, Brian N, with new-comers Max and Leland braved the rain and wind to enjoy scenic urban Scarborough. The route generally follows the Waterfront Trail, and navigation can be quite tricky, especially where the trail cuts through parks. This time of year, there’s always a concern that trail sections in parks will have snow and ice on the path. But, other than one short section, our roads were bare and wet (so very wet).

We had our first major mechanical of the season when Joey’s rear derailleur cable snapped, dropping his chain into the smallest cog for the rest of the ride. It had the effect of ensuring he was the first up every hill though.

As we got closer to the section along the lake, we could hear what sounded like a train passing by. Once we cleared the last dune, all we could hear was the wind and surf pounding into the beach. Surf isn’t something we get to see a lot of on our rides, so it was pretty cool. The somewhat less than ideal weather did mean we had the trail mostly to ourselves.

The ride was an excellent demonstration of the mantra that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. I think our newbies went shopping for shoe covers right after the ride.

The plan is to keep offering this ride every spring. If you haven’t done it, you should make the effort to come out as it’s a real change from our typical countryside routes.

2016 Club Awards Presentations

Outstanding Performance on a Brevet – Tim O’Callahan

Awarded to the club rider who has:

Demonstrated significant fortitude, courage, or generosity on a brevet ride.
Demonstrated physical or mental abilities beyond the usual in the conduct of a brevet ride.

Jock Wadley Award (Outstanding Rider)Bob Macleod

Awarded to a club rider who is outstanding in one year or over several years and has:

Shown interest in the club and has provided support and assistance
Helped on rides or helped other riders.

Beryl Burton Award (Best Female Rider) – Erin Marchak

Awarded to a female club rider who is outstanding in one year or over several years and has:

Shown interest in the club and has provided support and assistance.
Helped on rides or helped other riders.

Coronation Cup (Most Improved Rider) – Charles Horslin

Awarded to a club rider who has at least one previous year riding with the Randonneurs Ontario, and has:

Shown consistency in appearing and in cycling;
Demonstrated improvement either in cumulative mileage ridden from previous season, or in brevet finishing times over the previous season.

Rookie of the Year – Joey Schwartz

Awarded to a club rider who has:

Joined the Randonneurs Ontario in the year of the award or who rode their first brevet in the year of the award;
Shown ability in the year & shown interest in the club and in other club riders.

Half Wheel Award – Jerzy Dziadon

Awarded to a club rider who has consistently forced the pace of the group during brevet rides.

Best Fleche Team – Huron Flèche-Air Fiends 421.5 km

John Cumming
Carey Chappelle
Chris Cossonnet
David Pearson

Awarded to the members of the fleche team who record the most kilometres on the club’s fleche ride in the year of the award.

Organizer of the Year – David Thompson

Awarded to that person(s) who has:

Provided support to the club’s riding events in the year of the award or over several years.
Demonstrated care for the wellbeing of the club’s riders.
Consistently taken on the task of organising and supporting club rides.

Special Recognition Award – Guy Quesnel

Awarded to a club rider who has:

Completed a cycling event in the year of the award that merits commemoration.
Made contributions to the club that merit commemoration.

Dan Herbert Memorial Award – Tim O’Callahan

Awarded to a member who has in one or more years:

Benefited the club by mentoring one or more members (generally but not necessarily new).
Mentoring is to be defined as encouraging, educating and assisting riders to achieve their full potential as bike riders and club members.

Long Distance Award(s)

Awarded to the rider(s) who has:

Completed the highest number of Kilometres on:

Randonneurs Ontario Brevets – Jerzy Dziadon  4800 km
All ACP Brevets – David Thompson 10578 km
Randonneurs Ontario Permanent Rides – Carey Chappelle 3500 km
Highest km Female Rider – Gwyneth Mitchell – 800 km

Creemore Classic Bowling Champion – Carey Chappelle

Cracker Swamp 1200 October 13-16, 2016

Ride Report from Dave Thompson:

This turned out to be the very definition of a slow, rocky start, for me.  We raced back to Florida from Ontario, arriving mid-day Tuesday and surveyed the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Ugh, with missing shingles, soffits blown out, insulation all over the yard like cotton, it was a matter of getting the house in order, quickly, so that I could head off.  The mess wouldn’t go away; I might as well go for my bike ride.

Besides, I had a part to play in this ride.  I’d handled all the swag — engraved glasses, embroidered hoodies and medals; played behind-the-scenes reviewer for Paul Rozelle and now I had to manage Trackleaders.

Matthew Lee at Trackleaders was swamped himself, figuratively with lots of rides and physically as he was also in the hurricane’s path.  He got the 80 SPOTs out to FedEx by 8:30pm. on that Tuesday, which were delivered to me before noon on Wednesday, just in time for me to head to Tavares, 1:15 away, for rider registration.

Dick Felton gave me a hand setting out all the SPOTs on a picnic table, getting them all turned on and registered and then installed on riders’ bikes.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, there were 16 that didn’t register, failed in their satellite connection.  I found that out from an email from Matthew at 1:30am prior to the ride.

Yikes.  We raced around trying to find the riders at 3:30am before the 4:00 start.  I also had a flat, a hotel room flat, didn’t end up having anything to eat and rolled out myself a little after the last rider.  The lanterne rouge rides again!

It got worse.  Not too long afterwards I had another flat.  What the heck?  It was right on the inside, by the valve stem, but everything looked ok.  Perhaps it was a bad tube?  Never so lucky …  I had another flat; same place.  Ok, this is getting tiresome.  The lanterne rouge was falling even further behind.  Everything looked ok with the rim tape and the valve hole, but I laid down some electrical tape at that point, installed another tube, now getting worried about running out, and rolled on.  It didn’t last…

OK, drastic measures are now called for.  I didn’t have a roll of rim tape with me and I’m not sure why the valve stem hole is piercing the tubes — actually it’s a couple of cm from the hole — but I came up with a solution — I used one of those Park Tool stick-on tire boots, poking a hole in it and actually booting the new tube.  That got me a long way down the road…

I called Sandy.  The first Control after the start is actually only a few miles from our house.  Can you bring some tubes?  Bring six.  OK.  She met me at the Control, a gas station / convenience store and handed me three boxes, asking how many tubes were in a box … uh … one.  Oh well, that should do me.

I rolled off ahead of one rider, not quite the lanterne rouge any more.  That did change; I had more flats, installed my spare tire, moving that boot from tube to tube.  I did have more flats over the course of the ride but they were puncture flats, not inside the rim flats.  I guess that’s a good thing.

All told, I think that I had 8 flats that first day, including the hotel room flat.  It was slow going at times, as I rode along checking on the progress of the SPOTS, texting.  The roads were clear, untrafficky.

That first day, we rode basically to the coast, before that first Control.  Riding along Maytown Road, there were miles of utility poles snapped, huge oak trees down, wires buried in the brush.  New poles had been installed — less than a week after the hurricane and people had power.  We’d see more hurricane devastation over the next few days but that was the worst.

The first day was long, especially for me.  Once out of the “flat zone”, I did start overtaking riders, eventually coming in with Geof Simons, Vinny and a few others.  From a 4am start, I had a 3am finish, 437 km behind me.

I had a quick meal, into bed, got 1.5 hours of deep sleep, left at 6am.  It did get better.  I had a 5+ hour stop the next night and a 7+ hour stop the last night, finishing just under 80 hours.  I always consider a 5 hour stop pure luxury, so 7 was amazing.  I didn’t really need 7 at the time but was concerned that I might hit the first real fuelling stop before it opened.  I need not have worried, but it all worked out.

I finished up the ride with Hamid, he, Mark Thomas and Victor S catching up to me at a Control that last day.  I’d lingered for 20 minutes, figuring quite rightly that they were probably a little behind me starting.  I spent another 20+ minutes waiting for them and we rolled on.  Mark rolled off from us at one point and finished first, from our little group.

Jerry C ran into knee problems and had to throw in the towel.  Marion Kusters also had a knee problem; still has.  I’ve got a lingering issue that developed with the inner tendon on my left leg.  I guess that’s what comes of such a flat course — about 14,000 feet of climbing in 1200+ km.

The first day was a big loop to the coast, south and back to the starting hotel in Tavares, north of Orlando.  The next two days were about equal in length, 300 km or so, and loops back to Tavares.  The last day was a 200 km loop back to Tavares.  The logistics of having one hotel, no drop bags, rooms before, during and after included in the price — it really made things easy for riders and organizers.  There are lessons to be learned.  Just as we run a brevet week out of one locations, we could do a 1200.

Paul did an amazing job with the food.  He and his neighbours did all the prep and then the neighbours cooked at one of those trailered grills for the three nights.  Chicken the first night, pulled pork the next and steak at the end of the ride — I’m missing something, as there’s another night in there?  Oh well.

He also brewed the beer and had bottles of single malt, the latter mostly imbibed at the end-of-ride party.  The DNF rate was low, as you might expect.  After that first day, some riders didn’t really need lights; doing most of their riding in daylight.

All in all, it was a great ride, a great experience — it was very interesting being a part of the organizing and then also riding the “main event”.  There are things that could have been done differently, but that’s always the case.  The rider experience was great; that’s the important thing.

September 17, 2016 – Chenaux 200 & 38s

Ride Report from Dave Thompson:

What do they have in common?  Read on…

Stepping back a bit, prior to the Manitoulin 1000 I changed out my bag setup, opting for a new frame bag that I’d bought and carrying a waterproof stuff sac on my back rack.  For all the other rides of the season, I’d had a conventional cycling bag on my rear rack and also had a largish bag on my handlebars.  That provided plenty of room, plenty of wind resistance and I carried a ton of stuff on the mountainous 1200s.  I wanted to change that for the Italian Miglia 1600.  More climbing and warm weather; surely I wouldn’t need as much storage space.

The new frame bag worked well — it is suspended front to back from my top tube.  It isn’t huge but it did the job for tools and misc stuff.  Clothing went into the stuff sac at the back.  The only thing that I was missing was a readily accessible top tube bag (on top of the tube) for wallet and minor things.

So, I knew what I wanted to carry, bag-wise, on the 1600.

I also wanted to try new tires — Grand Bois 38s specifically — that I’d bought prior to Manitoulin, but decided at the last moment not to use them. Before heading to Italy, I mounted the 38s; never having ridden on them.  I gave them a test ride of a few km the two days before the 1600 and put 28s — my usual tires — in my drop bags “just in case”.  The 38s felt good, albeit something like riding a full suspension bike.  With pressures between 50 & 60 psi, that might be expected.  These are also very supple walled tires, further exacerbating the “bounce” or, if you will, bump absorption.

Those 38s were wonderful in Italy.  The roads were very rough and they just ate up the bumps.  I had no problems whatsoever; I absolutely love the tires.

The day before the AGM Chenaux 200, just before I left for Ottawa, I realized that I should really mount my fenders as it was supposed to rain.  Clearances were tight, so tight that I had to reverse the bolts in the front fender so that the screw heads were inside the fender vs the screw end/nut.  Was that too close?  Nawww…

Starting that 200, I hadn’t been on the bike for almost a month.  My bike rode in the car, packed in its case, the entire time that Sandy and I travelled in Italy.  Lots of driving, a little walking, not much exercise.  Good food, good wine, I put on, as I figured it, about 5 pounds of mozzarella!

We started the ride at 8am — Guy, Dick, Alan, Bill, Bojana, Peter, Vytas and me — and I soon dropped off the back.  I always do that.  My time off the bike was catching up to me.  I was really dragging.  I figured that if this was what a month off the bike had done to me, this was going to be a long, long day.

It got worse.  I decided to stop and check my wheels.  The front wheel would barely turn.  Assuming that it was the brakes, I checked those — nope.  Then I realized that it was the front fender.  The front light had slipped down a little pressing the fender down (they’re both attached by a common bolt) and that few mm caused the tire to rub on those screw heads at the crown.  Luckily I had the necessary tools — Allan and box-end wrench — so I moved the light and fender up and away I went.  Great!

I soon caught up to others and was able to enjoy the ride.  We all finished within an hour of each other — first ones around 5:45 pm.

This is a very pretty ride; I highly recommend it.  Yes, we did get rain.  We also got incredible views of the Ottawa River, crossed over to Quebec, took a ferry trip back — I had my $3 fare ready — and finished up in Kanata.

It’s relatively flat, a perfect AGM ride.  Controls are nicely spaced.  The penultimate Control, just before the ferry, is a bar info-control.  The question is “what is the price of a quart of Molson Ex”.  Not to be outdone, Peter Grant had to prove the price by buying one and consuming.  Dick shared and made a shandy which didn’t quite go down well … probably the beer by itself would have been better!

Guy was a perfect organizer, giving us lots of tips before the ride covering services along the route and ensuring that we all had our $3.

This is a ride that I’d definitely do again!  I would love to do it in better weather — wouldn’t you know, Friday and Sunday were sunny; Saturday we had rain.

Oh yes, there was a nice section of heavy gravel that had been “added” within a few days of the ride.  Bill Pye had done the ride a week earlier as a Permanent and the gravel wasn’t there.  Of course my 38s ate it up!

So, how does one add excitement to rides?  Well, use a different setup for each one.  You’ll never get bored.  New bags for the 1000.  New tires for the 1600.  Add fenders for the 200.  What next?

There is a postscript.  When I got home, my front tire was flat.  It had a significant hole on the inside, not on the tread-side.  I couldn’t figure out what caused that, and after all, I’d done the 1600 in Italy with the same tires and tubes and had only deflated and inflated them in between.  Not finding anything, I remounted with a new tube; perhaps it was a fluke.

Sure enough, yesterday, after riding the day before, the tire was still inflated.  I’m sure it was a fluke.

This morning that tire is flat … back to the drawing board!

Miglia Italia 1600 km 2016

Ride Report from Dave Thompson:

This ride was not without drama …

The ride turned out to be more difficult than I expected.  It wasn’t the length, it was a combination of the routing changes and the heat.  Some complained about the rough roads, but I’m sure that they didn’t change much.  What did happen is that the more onerous climbs and the heat slowed us down, pushing our best laid plans aside …

We queued up early to get out early.  Given the planned way of releasing the cyclists, we could have been leaving close to midnight but instead were rolling at 8:30 p.m.  Our little group was comprised of me, Jerry, Hamid and Victor from Colombia.  As usual, Hamid clung to the back of one of the groups and left us behind.  I needed to stop for a second as my light connection had come loose.  That happened a couple of more times until I hit a Control and was able to use my pliers to fix it for the rest of the ride.

We planned to get to Vallombrosa the first day.  While the distance seems long — 562 km — the first 400 km being flat and windless (night start and night time riding), makes short work of that first 400.  I’d used 2010 as my baseline and that year I’d made Dicomano, just over 529, by 5:30 p.m., having started around 9pm the previous night.
We did get away before 9pm and I fully expected to be a little slower, but the heat got to Jerry during the day and the climbing to Dicomano was much more difficult.  As a result, we didn’t get to Dicomano until after midnight; crashed for an hour at that Control (spending two hours there) and then did the 34 km to Vallombrosa.  That climb from Dicomano to Vallombrosa was also more difficult than 2010, further pushing us back.
We didn’t get to Vallombrosa until daylight and we then got another hour’s sleep at our hotel. Hamid was with us at that point; he snoozed in the lobby.  With everything pushed forward by at least 6 hours, that set the pattern for the ride.    Instead of having dinner in each town with an early start the next day, we were getting in late and having breakfast at the hotel.

Following that pattern, we checked into our hotels in Bolsena around 4am, San Gimignano after 4am, Deiva Marina at 9am.  Instead of finishing Monday evening around 120 hours, we finished Tuesday noon at 135, against the 140 hour time limit.

We pushed our luck in several places.  We got to the Deiva Marina Control right before closing, 8am.  Jerry was wiped.  He could hardly walk, let alone ride.  The combination of heat the day before and climbing doing him in.  With the heat, he couldn’t eat much, further slowing him down.  He couldn’t even ride 5 km downhill to the hotel let alone continuing on without sleep.  I let him sleep at the Control for a bit and then we rode to the hotel.  I made a strategic decision that he needed more sleep and we left there 3.5 hours after the Control closed.  As a result, we missed the next Control close by about 1/2 hour, which is OK in RM rides as long as you make it up later, and were basically back on track by the next Control.   We did leave that next Control 1.5 hours after it closed, giving Jerry some time to catch a snooze on the grass.

Shab and Hamid were at the hotel.  Hamid was about to head out.  Shab helped us, making sandwiches and later carrying our bikes and us back uphill to the Control (that’s legal, it’s a Control).

At one point during that hot afternoon Jerry was ready to throw in the towel, close to heat exhaustion.  I talked him into continuing — “Jerry, eat some more grapes, pour that water over your head vs drinking, let’s go a bit further”.  I knew that once it cooled down, he’d be OK, and he was. Having had to leave him behind at PBP the year prior due to an Achilles problem, I didn’t want to leave him again.  I’m very easy on my water and at one point we were riding side-by-side and I was pouring some of my water on his head.

However, those delays almost did me in.   I’m very susceptible to the cold and I’d left my heavy jacket and other cold gear with Shab, at Deiva Marina thinking that we wouldn’t have to ride the night through.  Besides, I hadn’t had to use it to this point anyway.  That was a mistake.  By the time we got to Castelania, close to midnight, I knew that I was going to be in trouble.  There wasn’t going to be anything open until 6am and we still had a hundred or so km to go.

We stopped a couple of times and I broke out my silvery exposure blanket and we slept on the grass.  It was the only way that I could retain enough heat.  A couple of hours before dawn, I knew that I could make it through and we continued, welcoming the dawn and quickly shedding our clothing as it heated up again.  We lost at least 4 hours at that point, perhaps 6.  We should have easily made it by dawn.

I was disappointed in the ride on several levels.  First, my recollection was that it was easier than PBP.  I believe that the 2010 routing was easier than PBP.  On that basis, I had talked Jerry into doing the ride.  The routing changes made it more difficult and the heat compounded the difficulty.  That messed up my well laid plans for night stops.

On the other hand, both Jerry and Hamid finished.  Hamid finished around 2am the night before and was there to welcome us at the finish along with Shab and Sandy.  He had a great ride.  It was a tough ride for Jerry; I’m sure that he was cursing me at times; but at the end he was happy that he’d checked that box.  If anything, it was memorable!  When we left Controls late I knew that we ran the risk of a DNF.  That didn’t worry me so much — I’d already checked the Miglia-done box in 2010.

Those routing changes bypassed some of the scenery that I was expecting but perhaps we were simply hitting some of that scenery at a different time of day.  The ride-supplied food was cut back, not as good, but again, perhaps it was the dinners at the overnight destinations that I was missing.  The ride support wasn’t as good — in 2010 the ride support motorcycles were everywhere, not so this time.  My perception is that the organizers cut costs significantly, but that might be just my perception, as I was in a different place in that spread out peloton.

As it was, there were only 10 people who finished the ride after us out of 310 or so finishers.  Of course that’s not counting the DNFs, about 80.  Another 90 had signed up for the ride and were DNS.  That’s a lot of money left on the table!

While I was doing the ride, tired and with rough roads, I told myself that I wouldn’t do this one again.  Of course that’s now changed … I’ll be back!

Italy is offering three other rides in the next three years – one from Rome south to the Amalfi coast; one that takes in the islands and one hitting all the highest peaks in the Alps… I don’t know about that last one but the other two are intriguing!

One more note — I took a chance and rode with Grand Bois 38s on this ride, rather than my usual Continental 4-season 28’s — I loved them!  They really helped on the roads.

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