Big Chute 200 km Brevet (Livin’ the Dream)

Ride Report from David Thompson:

After yesterday, I think we need to rename this route. Livin’ the Dream is from Liz Overduin, of course, I’m not that poetic!

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We met at the parkette in Barrie shortly before 8am, me (Dave Thompson), Liz Overduin, Hugh Francis and Lawrence McMurray. For Hugh and Lawrence, it was their first ride with Randonneurs Ontario and their first brevet. They’d come in from Peterborough that morning; Liz and I were already in Barrie from the Carthew Bay 200k the day before. Richard Rogers was also supposed to join us but was running late by 15 minutes or so. I called him and left his brevet card in my rear windshield wiper.

Although it was a degree or two warmer than the day before, it was still under 5C and Liz and I were wearing an extra layer. Hugh and Lawrence were well prepared for the cool start as well. Once we started climbing away from Lake Simcoe, my light jacket ended up in my pack along with my full fingered gloves. The leg warmers wouldn’t come off until south of Coldwater on the way back to Barrie. The sun stayed out all day; a cloudless blue sky.

Each year I end up with a new “favourite” ride with Randonneurs Ontario. I think that this is it ! We had some rolling hills, some headwind, some wonderful descents with a tailwind, fabulous scenery and great company. What more could you ask for?

The ride takes us part-way around Lake Simcoe and then north to Honey Harbour. We had one recent work nasty gravel section for a couple of km with spots of fist-sized gravel over culverts (would that be called gravel?). I actually dismounted and walked a couple of meters once. Shortly after, as we got to Big Chute Road, there was a sign that the bridge was under construction with a detour. We talked to a couple of people coming to the stop sign to confirm that yes, the bridge was truly out, even for bicycles. After checking with a neighbour, we followed the detour east, then north and then back west to Quarry Road and back on track.

When we turned onto Quarry Road, I called Richard to tell him about the detour. Coincidentally enough, he had just stopped and was standing looking at the detour sign – what timing! That put him about 15-20 minutes behind us, give or take, so he was running about the same pace.

Since the wind was coming from the NW, that last section into Honey Harbour was the toughest, from a wind standpoint. We ended up spread out a couple of times but came into Honey Harbour together, ready for lunch. Honey Harbour is about 90km into the ride. The detour had added 3-4 km.

The Honey Harbour Town Center General Store is truly a gem. Are you looking for paint? housewares? food? deli? It has it all! It’s like a Home Hardware + small supermarket + cafe. It even has washrooms! What would you like — Western Sandwich? Grilled Cheese? Fries? Burgers? We ate and drank well.

Richard arrived just as we were getting organized to leave. Hugh and Lawrence decided that they’d back it off a notch for the trip back to Barrie. Since they were together and well prepared, Liz and I headed off. We weren’t sure if Richard was going to ride with Hugh and Lawrence or not, that would depend on how long he wanted to stop.

The ride south to the turn on South Bay Road was our reward for the work into the wind. South Bay Road was newly under reconstruction, but with good gravel and well packed. From there through Port Severn and Big Chute was wonderful riding truly northern Ontario scenic with occasional windy sections and mostly very good roads. Eventually we were back to our out-bound detour, which we reversed and then straight ahead about 5km to Coldwater.

From Coldwater south to Ridge Road east of Barrie there are some good short climbs but eventually you have to descend to Lake Simcoe. What a ride! The leg warmers came off and we got in some good downhill, with the wind, cruising. This is where “livin’ the dream” came into play. Ridge Road into Barrie entailed some cross-wind work but heck, that was the home stretch.

We finished up at 6:50. Richard came in shortly afterwards but he told us that he’d ended up way off route so he becomes a technical DNF, unfortunately. He had a good day on the bike though and enjoyed the riding — that’s what really counts. I heard later from Hugh that they’d finished up at 8:35.

A good, safe day and weekend for all riders.

Amen.

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