Ride report from Kathy Brouse:
I have never done this 400 km brevet and am so glad that I finally gave it a try this past weekend. It was great, but how could it not be great when we had perfect sunshine all day and a beautiful full moon in the night! Yes, there was the headwind in the morning as we headed to Alliston and the hills between Midland and Midhurst, but these were manageable.
Seven riders started this ride in Concord: Jerzy, Bob and Jean (they are like one person), Brian A, Paul, Guy and I. Significant NW winds were forecast for the day and we met these winds on the journey north to Alliston. The group quickly fractured as it often does with Guy taking a wrong right turn up Weston Rd. and travelling his own brevet route past the first control. We met him later enroute to Wasaga Beach. He announced that due to a 60 km detour and an extra 6 km to get back on route, he was disqualifying himself from the ride and just going to enjoy the rest of the ride and day. Jerzy, Guy and I cycled together to Wasaga Beach and found a hamburger kiosk right on the beach where we sat and enjoyed the view, the whitecaps on the bay, the millions of fun seekers on the beach and in the water, the view of Blue Mountains to the left and the windy experience. I was practically wearing my hamburger on my face because of the wind! We left Guy at Wasaga to enjoy the day and carried on along Tiny Beaches Rd hugging the Georgian Bay coastline meandering along and away from and back to the beach, through beautiful and shaded Awenda Provincial Park, the Kettle Lake beaches and SW on Champlain Rd following the Georgian Bay coastline to Penetanguishene Harbour. Beyond the harbour you get the first view of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, a huge church also known as the “Cathedral of the North”. Champlain Trail carries on to Midland where there is another huge cathedral called “The Martyrs’ Shrine”. Here’s what I learned five minutes ago about the Shrine:
About the Martyrs’ Shrine
The Martyrs’ Shrine is the National Shrine to the Canadian Martyrs. The Shrine honours the eight Jesuit Saints who lived, worked, and died here over 350 years ago, celebrating the significant contributions they made to the introduction of Christianity into aboriginal culture as well as the founding of the Province of Ontario and the nation of Canada.
This historic and holy site includes the famous Shrine Church, the Martyrs’ Hall and Education Centre, and 75 pleasantly landscaped acres which invite you into prayer and tranquility. Within the Church are the relics of the Martyrs St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Gabriel Lalemant, and St. Charles Garnier, while the grounds are home to beautiful walkways, monuments, and altars.
After all these beautiful beaches and sightseeing the hills began on Horseshoe Valley Rd, 680 metres of climbing to Midhurst. The next stage of this ride is through picturesque Simcoe County, home to idyllic farms and gorgeous sunsets, all pink and gold across the sky. The last stretch of the ride from Bradford is through the Holland Marsh but it was dark and not much to see but the beautiful full moon. The Canal Rd is bumpy and potholed and one has to focus with an eagle’s eye while pedalling along these gravel roads before crossing Highway 9 to Weston Rd and back to Concord for a 3 am finish. Brian (12:23) and Bob/Jean (12:51) had slipped their cards through the window of my car. Paul and Guy’s cars were not in the parking lot; one person retiring early from the ride, the other gone home after enjoying a day at Wasaga Beach. A special thanks to Jerzy for his support and camaraderie on this ride. I got a great workout yesterday chasing him on the flats and up the hills for 400 km. He would have finished faster if he hadn’t slowed down many times at the tops of hills to wait for me come chugging along. What a great route! Every randonneur must do this ride at least once, it’s worth the challenges.