On describing “Epic” – More thoughts from Brouse’s Beach Browser

From Liz Overduin:

One last story from the Brouse’s Beach Browser. I knew that the 5 cyclists from Windsor (aka the flatlands) would surely have had an adventure – and thanks to Lori Buchanan, I am sure you will enjoy her account and most of all her surprising allocation for the worthiness of the word “epic”.
I attach below a slightly edited version of a post that I sent to our local cycling club. I wanted to keep it brief enough that people would read it but I also wanted to convey the extraordinary courage Ali demonstrated and the cycling prowess and genuine kindness of Brian, Ben and Tim. I think the thing I love most about these rides is that when they are truly difficult (as this surely was) they provide a window into the essence of a person in a way few things can. I have reaffirmed my view that I have essentially GREAT friends.
You should know that we had discussions about whether we would do the ride again and I think came to the decision that it wasn’t likely but that was a day ago and already I can’t really remember why. By next year I expect that we will have forgotten the $%^@ing hills and the relentless wind and we will only remember the beautiful route and the friendship… but maybe not – I will write a reminder note to myself about those hills! Anyway below is a brief description of our ride.

Dear Friends,
Please take a minute to read this because it is a tale of some truly inspirational displays of cycling strength, mental grit and inspiring kindness/generosity from some of our own. I will state at the outset that although I was involved in the ride none of the above applies to me. I was the recipient of the kindness and an observer to the rest.
This past weekend 5 Windsor riders did the 600 km Huron Randonneurs brevet. The general rules are simple – do 600 km in 40 hours (no sag, no outside help) with a speed that lies between 15 and 30 km an hour. The organizers of these rides seem to take pride in making these things tough and this was tough with almost 3900 metres of climbing. Most of that was in the first 350 km at which point we stopped for the night. We got in late because once again (despite gearing changes) I had to walk up the scenic caves hill and one other one. Once again the Brian, Ben and Tim (and Ali Allan this time) waited for me at the top. We also had a head wind for the last bit apparently but the hills were tough enough that I didn’t notice that and nobody else mentioned it. In any case we ended up at the hotel around midnight I think and decided to sleep in a bit because we had until 9 pm to finish the ride and only 250 km of relatively flat riding left. Unfortunately the sleeping in left us in the position of having to really ride hard to get to the controls to get our cards signed within the allotted time window. So the morning that should have been an easy start was tough. If you are still with me here is where everything gets interesting.
To recap – 350 km of brutal climbs on day 1, a 4 hour sleep and then 50 km to Lion’s Head for our first control. Then we turned south for the remaining 200 km to Goderich. If you look on a map or know the area you will see that the route would have to be pretty much south, southwest the whole way. Unfortunately that was the same direction of a really strong 25+ km/h wind.
Ali was beat by this time because he hasn’t ridden many rides over 100 km this year (he did a 300 in Detroit and about 270 with us last weekend). He looked exhausted and his ass hurt and to be truthful he looked like he wouldn’t make the last 200 km against the headwinds. I felt pretty strong but knew that wouldn’t last if the winds kept up. Tim, Ben, and Brian were fine. Ben rode ahead to one stop just to make sure we could find it because timing was very tight and we couldn’t afford to waste time looking for the control. Brian and Tim stayed back with Ali and me to help us against the wind. We made it with minutes to spare because Ben met us in town and led us to the right spot.
We still had 170 km to go and the wind was picking up. Ali was even more tired and I was starting to hurt. Ben, Brian and Tim looked fine and they rode the rest of the way chatting with us, waiting at the top of hills for me and blocking the wind for Ali and me. Ali was done. I don’t think he would mind me saying that because it was true and because he amazingly kept going with his head down through these hellish conditions. When Ali stopped Ben waited and then pulled him up to us because we had to keep rolling slowly. When they rejoined us Brian sheltered him from the wind and talked to him and waved his arms around in typical animated Brian style. He joked with him, called him names, told him stories and kept him moving. Ali was going to finish and Brian, Ben and Tim were going to make sure of it.
This was funny to watch and it was also an amazing display of kindness and real camaraderie and cycling strength from Brian and Ben and Tim and some kind of primal reach-into-your-gut grit on the part of Ali. By now we decided that we would keep rolling and regroup as quickly as possible if one of us fell behind. I suck on the hills because a chronic Achilles tendon injury means I can’t stand on my pedals for more than 30 seconds or so (and I am old and weak). So inevitably I fell behind on any hill greater than 5% and there were lots of them. Ben waited for me at the top or came back down and dragged me up to the group. Brian, Ben and Tim sheltered Ali and me all the way back to the finish line. At one point I told them to go ahead because it was so close to the wire and I didn’t want them to miss the time. I knew I could finish at some point even on my own but I also knew I was slowing the 4 of them down and they risked missing the deadline to stay with me.
To be clear, B, B, and T could have finished many hours sooner if it were just the three of them, but these three guys are real friends and gentlemen who would never leave a friend behind. They are strong enough to do these things any time and confident enough in their abilities that they can afford to help their friends. They know what it takes for everyone to make the deadline and this weekend they made sure we did with 5 min to spare. Chappy told me that when he saw us all come in together at 8:55 he got goose bumps! He admires our commitment to each other and I guess the close call was a clear demonstration of that. Obviously my commitment is not as impressive as the boys’ but it is true that I am firmly committed to tucking in behind them in gale-force winds.
Epic is a word that people use to describe everything from a ten minute work-out to a great dinner. It is over-used and the sad truth is that most events are not epic. In my opinion this ride was epic in the true sense of the word. It wasn’t epic because it was hilly, it wasn’t epic because it was windy, it was epic because I saw humbling displays of cycling strength, kindness, and courage from my 4 friends. I hope that I have somehow managed to convey how impressive these guys are. If you ever have to go to war these are the guys you want at your side. On the other hand, if you want somebody to slow you down, I’m your gal.

And a few words from Ali
Here is my personal version/memory & milestones of the ride!
As I said, the first day & 350 km of riding was the longest I have done & the toughest in terms of the three mega hills/climbs! – But, I loved it & by far, the Best Ride of my life to date!
This ride had all aspects/challenges included in it! – the distance, the excruciating hills, the beautiful scenery, the good roads & the early morning riding– with an awesome sunrise – & cool late night riding with the beautiful half-moon & the stars!
The 250 km on the second day were great in terms of the road, towns & the scenery! – However, the wind was brutal & sucked the energy out of us! – but, that was another element of nature that challenged us all!
The second day – especially the latter half – was the most difficult part of the ride for me ever! – As my arse was sore/raw & hurting! – & then the soles of my feet were killing me! – I could not stay on the seat for long – & hence I lost the rhythm/skills of smooth, continuous & effective pedalling for the last 50 to 60 km!
& this is where Brian, Ben & Tim – the three bull amigos – came to the rescue & literally “reeled” me in! I was tucked low with my head down basically all the time – & in pain – & just drafted them!
I have never seen so much pavement! – (btw – Brian said there wasn’t any damn thing to see except for all the greenery & fat cows that we have been seeing all day, anyway! – what a cheerleader/motivator!)
This is how I finished on time -& we finished on time -& not ended up in the “DNF” thrash bin!
What an awesome Ride & Superb Selfless Team Spirit!
& Lori – the Queen – she is one heck of a trooper!
We had lots of “fun”, junk food, trash talk – & lots of laughs!
All is GOOD that ends WELL!

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