Riding 200km brevets

With their plush wheels and endurance frame geometry, bicycles are becoming more comfortable and cyclists are riding farther. These days, it is not uncommon for riders to exceed distances of 100km. And more and more riders are setting their sights on the imperial century (100 miles or 161km).

Can the average cyclist ride farther than 100 miles?

Randonneuring is a branch of cycling that enables you to exceed this distance at a comfortable pace, in the company of like-minded individuals, and along routes that have been ridden by a club for many years. If you are already comfortable riding 120-160 kilometres you might be considering 200 kilometres as your next goal.

Randonneurs Ontario have a wide selection of 200km routes all over southern and central Ontario. With start locations near Ottawa, Barrie, London, Windsor, Port Elgin, Waterloo, and the GTA, chances are you can find a 200km brevet that starts near you.

What is a brevet?
A brevet (Pronounced breh- VAY) is a French word we use to designate an official and scheduled randonneuring event. There are brevets of many distances. Each distance has a pre-determined time limit. Let’s just focus on the 200km distance.

What is the time limit for a 200km brevet?
You must complete a 200km brevet in 13.5 hours or less.

What kind of rider is able to complete a 200km brevet?
To guide you through this question, it might be best to introduce you to some of our members. That way you can see for yourself that there is more than one way to finish a 200km brevet. Whether you want to enjoy every second on the road and use all 13.5 hours, or you want to test your speed and finish as quickly as possible, riding 200km brevets with Randonneurs Ontario is something you can enjoyably do.

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Liz Overduin, Huron Chapter
Member since: 2009
Why did you start randonneuring?
My brother told me about the sport of randonneuring. He knew how much I loved cycling and he thought it was the perfect sport for me. When I heard about how they cycle 200 kms in one day… I thought they must all be super fit cyclists, way beyond my level – it scared me. Then I met some of them the following year at the Toronto International Bike show and they were so normal and down to earth… so I decided to try it. I loved it! This was a group of people who were out for an enjoyable day while riding a bike. We chatted while we rode, we stopped for photos, we had an amazing lunch break at a pub, it was great fun! I never felt intimidated at all. By the end of the ride, I was sorry it was over!

Liz Overduin

What do you enjoy most about a 200km brevet?
The 200 km distance is exactly perfect for the combination of having fun and yet feeling a great sense of accomplishment. Unless there are really adverse riding conditions where you might have to find shelter for a while, there is time to enjoy things along the way. We have been known to stop for a bowling match, go kart racing, swimming off the pier at the lake, and even going to a Shakespeare play in Stratford. This is what you can do when you have 13.5 hours to cycle 200 kms. It’s my favourite distance! (But I also say that about the 300 km brevet, which is another story.)

Favourite 200km brevet?
It’s hard to say which is my favourite 200 k brevet because there are so many things that make something a “favourite”. I will never forget my first 200 k brevet which was Kemble Rock 200. Everything about that first-time experience was exciting – the scenery along the lake shores, the hills and valleys, the rivers and small towns along the way, the company and the cafés where we stopped for breaks. Sometimes the most memorable 200 km brevets were the ones that were the most challenging – due to weather, specifically torrential rain and gale-force winds – they were not my favourite at the time but they sure felt like an accomplishment! There is something special about every 200 km brevet I have ever done. I guess my favourite one is the one I haven’t done yet because it will become yet another memorable experience!

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Charles Horslin, Toronto Chapter
Member since: 2015
Why did you start randonneuring?
I’d read some blogs about randonneuring and PBP (Paris-Brest-Paris) specifically… I had been putting off trying an official 200K brevet because I didn’t want to drive somewhere to ride my bike. But since the only way to qualify for PBP is by completing brevets it became a “now or never” thing for me. I started doing the clubs shorter rides, called populaires. I learned a lot during the populaires, especially about navigation. I didn’t make it to PBP back in 2015 but I certainly developed a taste for randonneuring.

What do you enjoy most about a 200km brevet?
I love the 200K distance because of its flexibility… in the summer it’s quite possible to stop and sit down for a lunch and still finish in the daylight. There’s almost always time to stop for a photo or an extra coffee. For a challenge it’s a good distance to try and go for personal bests. Doing a 200K is only a day commitment, usually it’s possible to do something the day after riding one. The generous time limit on a 200 is also nice for bringing friends along… I’ve brought a couple of friends on their first 200s and we made sure to spend enough time off the bike to make for a very enjoyable day. Having a lot of events in a big province like Ontario also gives us the opportunity to make any 200 into a nice weekend away, since my partner is into riding 200s now it’s a nice little holiday.

Favourite 200km brevet
My favourite 200 is probably The Big Chute, but I have only ever ridden one 200 in the Ottawa area and I really enjoyed that one too. Hills of Hockley is probably a close second favourite of mine, it’s especially scenic, and challenging too… I’ve done Hills of Hockley more than once. One of my fastest 200s and one of my slowest 200s is on that route! I suppose I will keep riding 200s that I haven’t done yet so I can answer this question better.

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Timothy Ormond, Toronto Chapter
Member since 2014
Why did you start randonneuring?
Originally, I wanted to do the Paris-Brest-Paris. It was a very important reason for me to join the club. Then work and family responsibilities kicked in and I realized that I would not be able to do PBP. I still hope to do it one day, but I can wait until my kids are all grown up. In the meantime, I just keep riding in Ontario. I love doing brevets. It’s such an amazing way to see the province. The brevets are definitely the high points of my year.

What do you enjoy most about a 200km brevet?
I like that it is over in one day. Sometimes I can finish quickly enough to be home in time to have supper with the family (but not always…) I also like the possibility of riding at a higher pace on a 200km. With proper training, teamwork, favourable conditions, and a lot of good luck, it is possible to get a 200km done in 8-9 hours.

Favourite 200km brevet?
This is hard to say. Every 200km brevet is an adventure. That said, the 200km route I have done most often is the Scugog Circle. It starts in York Region on roads I have ridden since the 1980s, so that has a certain charm. The ride along River Road on the east coast of Lake Scugog is a really nice stretch. I look forward to riding on it every time I do the Scugog Circle.

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Alan Ritchie, Ottawa Chapter
Member since: 2002
Why did you start randonneuring?
I’d been interested in randonneuring since I’d first heard about PBP in the early 1980’s. I can’t remember now if I read about PBP or heard about it from one of the people I worked with at Sunwheel Bicycle Couriers. It sounded like a terrific thing to do but I didn’t think I was fit or fast enough. I may have thought this because the people who hung around Bicyclesport, owned by Mike Barry and Mike Brown, among the founders the Toronto Randonneurs, were notoriously strong riders. It was a mistake. I wasn’t as fit or fast as them but in retrospect I’m sure I could have made it round a 200 within the time limit and then built up from there. After this procrastination took hold and it wasn’t until twenty years later, a fortysomething office worker rather than a twentysomething bike messenger cycling nine or ten hours a day that I actually rode a 200.

What do you enjoy most about a 200km brevet?
In the early part of the season, when, for me at least, fitness is a bit uncertain after the winter and I’m working my way up in distances the 200 is the first real test. After I’ve successfully done a 200 I feel like there’s a natural progression to the longer distances and that as long as I keep riding a reasonable amount I’ll be fine on the longer brevets. (There may be a certain amount of self-delusion at work here but it’s helpful nonetheless.) In the later part of the season, after a 300, 400 and 600, and perhaps longer, the 200 feels like a manageable distance, not requiring much preparation or worry. It’s just a nice day out on the bike.

Favourite 200km brevet
I’m not sure I have a single favourite route. I’m very fond of the Chenaux 200. The ride along the Ottawa River and crossing across the dam at Portage-du-Fort are highlights of the route. It also includes a ferry ride. The South Lavant 200 and new, excitingly gravely, Deliverance 200 are also favourites.

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Larry Optis, Toronto Chapter
Member since: 2018
Why did you start randonneuring?
I joined the RO earlier this year in order to familiarize myself with randonneuring and the structure of brevet events to better prepare for PBP 2019. Brevets are a great way of exploring new and challenging routes in and around popular cycling destinations. Personally I love looking forward to a new adventure every weekend. It’s a great way of staying focused in the early part of the season while building a solid base.

Why do you enjoy most about a 200km brevet?
The 200k distance is particularity challenging as it requires some prior long-distance experience. Usually this is a stretch goal for most weekend warriors that may have previously completed centuries in the past. It also represents a natural stepping stone towards longer brevets. The way one would approach a 200k brevet is different than a 100 or 160km ride. Nutrition begins to play a much bigger part and requires the cyclist to pay extra attention to the timing of calories. When tackling a 200k brevet one is essentially committing to a day in the saddle and time spent off the bike plays a bigger role. On the fast end it’s a distance that can be completed in 7-8h but it can easily require the entire 13.5 hours. What I love about this distance is that you get to watch the day unfold, sunrise to sunset in most cases. Also, a lot can happen over 200km of terrain and it truly is an adventure.

Favourite 200km brevet
I don’t really have a favourite 200km brevet, so I’ll just discuss generally what I like about randonneuring. One of the main reasons why I chose to ride brevets this year is because I knew it was a great way to connect with friends and bond over some spectacular adventures. I’ve been cycling for over 25 years. That is a lot of alone time. Over the years I’ve missed the social aspect of cycling and brevets offer a chance to share some of those long lonely miles with others. Witnessing friends set new PBs makes it extra special and very meaningful as well. Spending the day together with like-minded individuals and sharing meals is a beautiful way to spend the weekend. Cycling for me has never been about the numbers. The greatest memories I have are ones where I’m paying attention to all the little things. Taking the time to capture the right moments, getting lost, connecting with people along the route, and above all sharing the hardships with others. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, PBP hopeful, or club racer, brevets offer something for everyone. The type of experience one is after depends completely on the individual.

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Carey Chappelle, Huron Chapter
Member since: 2001
Why did you start randonneuring?
I had discovered the sport of randonneuring in 2000 at the Toronto Bike Show. I immediately thought about qualifying and attempting the PBP in 2003. I thought it would be a once in a lifetime event!

What do you enjoy most about a 200km brevet?
I like the company and the good times. For example, The Much Ado About … 200k was developed by Terry Payne. Terry had started Randonneuring with the Huron Chapter and offered putting together a 200 in London. The first time we scheduled this ride was in 2012. Terry and I kidded each other that it was a shame to pass through Stratford without seeing a play. Well, in 2015 we decided to add the play “Taming of the Shrew” to the ride. We have added a play ever since (3 plays have been attended now!). This year’s play was “To Kill a Mockingbird!” I asked the Randonneurs Ontario to add the play to the name of the 200 and post it on our website. Now, we will schedule the Much Ado About … with a play and include it in Huron Chapter’s Schedule every year.

Much Ado about … 200km Brevet 2018

Here are the Plays we have attended during the Much Ado About 200 …

2015 Much Ado About … Taming of the Shrew (Finishing the 200 in 12hrs 51mins)
2016 Much Ado About … Shakespeare In Love (Finishing the 200 in 12hrs 40mins)
2018 Much Ado About … To Kill A Mockingbird! (Finishing the 200 in 12hrs 33mins)

I now schedule the Much Ado About … based on the play we can attend with a Start Time of 0700hrs to allow us enough time for lunch at the Boar’s Head Pub in Stratford before heading to the play.

The Huron Chapter developed what we call the Entertainment Series, the 200 has a Play, the 300 has an 18 hole Mini-put Championship, the 400 has the Creemore Classic Bowling Championship and a 600 with a Go-Cart Championship! This year’s Go-Cart Championship happened on a 400 do to route changes.

Favourite 200km brevet
Big Bay 200 is my favourite!

Enjoying lunch together on the Huron Chapter’s Big Bay 200

So there is more than one way to take on the challenge of a 200km ride. No matter how you do it, it’s bound to be a great time.

Perth-Albany-Perth, 1200km Brevet

Ride report by Dave Thompson

Link to the Perth-Albany-Perth route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28524000

Organized by Audax Australian Cycling Club.

Capsule summary: Well organized and supported, friendly people !!, moderate difficulty, nice scenery but nothing breathtaking, recognizable culture but different enough to add to the interest level, polite drivers, good road surfaces, quiet roads for the most part but a few busy sections, different flora and fauna – (you won’t see kangaroos anywhere else !) — bottom line, well worth doing but then again I say that about most, if not all, of these rides.

From a weather perspective, three of the days were tough – 1,2,&4 – due to headwinds.  Day 3 featured tailwinds but became difficult for some riders since late starters that day encountered more rain and cold and produced a number of DNF’s. Speaking of which, the finish rate was around 50%, which is low.  Much of that was due to cold at night, e.g. 8C, which isn’t extreme but you have to be prepared for it.  I only experienced a couple of hours of rain late on Day 3.  Others weren’t so lucky.

The kilometer breakdown was fairly typical – (in round numbers) – 375, 325, 300, 200.  The 5am start on the first day meant a later finish that day, but at least it was “only” 375k.

Climbing ?  – the first 275 kms of Day 1 to Nanup was almost flat, which of course made the headwinds that much more noticeable.  2500 meters of climbing that day was heavily weighted to the last 100k.  On the other hand, 3600 meters on Day 2 to Albany, over a shorter distance, made that the highest climbing day.  About 2300 meters on Day 3 and 1200 on Day 4 brought the total to a fairly typical 10-11,000 meters.  Grades were mostly moderate, 8% being pretty much the max.

Accommodation featured mats on days 1 & 3 and individual dorm rooms on day 2 in Albany.   Food was provided at the overnights and a couple of other Controls.  A choice of good comfort food for dinner plus eggs for breakfast made for pure luxury.

The ride was well staffed by volunteers, some 2 dozen. Wayne Hickman, the ride organizer, lamented that he didn’t have as many as the last edition which meant that he couldn’t staff all the Controls but for a newbie rider on this event, the combination of overnight staffing, great food and open Controls was as much as I could have asked for.

Mac & Cheese 1200

Ride report from Dave Thompson:

Run by Great Lakes Randonneurs (Michele Brougher) and Detroit Randonneurs (Tom Dusky), the M&C starts in Ludington Michigan and ends in Manitowoc Wisconsin.  In between those two locations is the SS Badger ferry.  As with my Florida Sunshine 1200, most people took the ferry the night before from Manitowoc Wednesday afternoon, overnighted in Ludington and rode out on Thursday morning, finishing their ride in Manitowoc on Sunday.

I, on the other hand, coming from our northern abode, found it faster to drive west to Sault Ste Marie and then south to Ludington.  There were a few of us that started in Ludington and took the ferry AFTER the ride, vs before.  The ferry runs twice per day during the summer with it’s last 1:30 a.m. departure from Manitowoc taking place on the Sunday (well, actually Monday morning) of Labor Day weekend.  It’s a 4 hour trip that seems like 5 hours because Manitowoc is in Central Time whereas Ludington is in Eastern Time…

On the way south from Sault Ste Marie there were signs that the Mackinac Bridge that connects the mainland south of Sault Ste Marie with the Michigan Upper Penninsula would be closed Monday morning from 6 am to 12:30 pm.  I didn’t have much choice, however, since it’s a lot further to go via Southern Ontario.  I took that 1:30 am ferry, arrived in Ludington at 6:30 am and simply waited about 2 hours for the bridge to open shortly after noon.  The annual Bridge Walk event was the issue, not construction or anything else.  Mackinaw City, on the south side, was one big party when I arrived, streets closed off to traffic etc.

That bridge added another complexity for the organizers.  They don’t allow bicycles.  So, riders had something to eat at a location in Mackinaw City and then they and their bicycles were ferried separately over to St. Ignace on the north side of the bridge.  That was the end of the first riding day anyway, so you didn’t feel that you were actually awaiting the process and it was handled very efficiently.

The riding days were roughly 400 km, 300 km, 300 km and 200 km (actually 235 km on the last day).  The ride clocked in over 1200 km and the time limit had been adjusted accordingly.  I didn’t actually realize that I had more time until I was finished, riding my own ride, as usual.

Most people, self not included, ended up with riding days that started after dawn and finished late those days.  Being an early riser, I tended to aim more for something like a 4 am start.  Even so, I got lots of sleep with a 5 hours stop the first night (long 400 km day) and 6-7 the other nights.  The first day had the most climbing but it still didn’t amount to much, compared to many 400 km rides.  The other three days were less than 1000 metres of climbing, not absolutely flat but close.

There were more services available on the first day with Controls about every 30 miles.  The west side of Lake Michigan, in Wisconsin, is more sparsely populated but not as sparse as Northern Ontario, on the Granite Anvil.  The next days had longer gaps between Controls and Services.

Heading north from St. Ignace on the second day, we turned around at Whitefish Point with a view of Lake Superior.  We crossed the path of my Tour de Superior in 2008, the counter clockwise lake circuit that Jerry, Geoff and I did with Sandy driving SAG.  That sure seems like a long time ago.  That was pre randonneuring!

Michele did a great job as organizer.  Each of the hotels had large conference rooms with bike stands setup.  Volunteers took your bike, hung it from the saddle and that was that.  You had access if you needed anything; bicycles were inside; the bike mechanic (yes, she had a bike mechanic) provided support if needed.  Apparently he rescued many rides – a handlebar broken off at the stem, many shifting problems and some other ride-killing issues.  I’ve never seen so many mechanical issues.  Perhaps because people figured that it was a flat ride, they didn’t need a well maintained bike?  I don’t know.

The ride also issued two drop bags, canvas affairs that were a little snug for the stuff that I usually carry.  The two bag strategy meant that I carried more in terms of backup electronics, spares and personal items such as electric toothbrush.  I still like the one bag strategy, but it worked.  The two bag strategy also meant that anything that I needed for the entire ride for which I didn’t have a duplicate or didn’t fit, I had to carry on the bike…like my rain pants.  I didn’t expect to get rained on heavily but it could have been cold.

Speaking of rain, my early departure and arrival on the last day meant that I missed much of the rain that day.  While rain threatened other days and we got sprinkled on after Whitefish Point, the last day was the only issue.  That was such a relief after Hokkaido.  We blew it though, Jeff Lippincott and I rode together the last day and it started to rain 3 miles from the end.  Surely we could have upped the pace just a little… but of course we didn’t know.  We were dumped upon; roads turned into rivers.  Others only got showers as they were mostly hours behind.

Nice terrain, good weather, excellent organization – I’m so happy that I added this to my schedule!

 

Huron Chapter’s 2018 Creemore Classic 400 … Bowling Championship!

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

The Huron Chapter Hosted the 2018 Creemore Classic Bowling Championship this past week-end! To officially compete in this event and have their name entered on this trophy, the Randonneur had to participate and WIN the Bowling Championship at 220 km, then successfully finish the Creemore Classic 400!

The Current Creemore Classic Bowling Champion…Chappy, knew he no longer had a chance to win, so decided to impress fellow bowlers with his juggling act!

Matthew McFarlane simply wore sunglasses to protect his eyes!

Brenda Wiechers had the best FASTBALL!

Darcy Haggith, was still smiling with one last attempt to WIN!

This year’s Creemore Classic Bowling Champion…None other than Richard Meloche!

Congrats Richard!

2018’s Creemore Classic 400 km Brevet Report

Congrats to the Magnificent Seven who were successful completing 2018’s Creemore Classic 400 km Brevet!

Chappy, Darcy Haggith, Matthew McFarlane, Richard Meloche, Tim O’Callahan, Paul Slavchenko and Brenda Wiechers.

The Windsorites came to Port Elgin Friday evening, 4 Randonneurs … Brenda, Tim, Darcy and Richard and 2 Supporters…Geoff Owen and Steve Tymczak. Tim rented a U-haul trailer to carry everything from bicycles, bicycle parts, energy bars, power gels, energy powder, water, cycling clothing, ultraviolet eye glasses…on and on and on!

Prior to leaving Chappy’s house to the start, Richard had everyone in tears laughing about the rain happening outside! Fortunately, it reduced a lot … at least for the first 100 km!

The Magnificent Seven left Tim Horton’s Saturday morning at 0530hrs. 30 km into this ride, we passed through Sauble Beach…noticing the wind and light rain!

Then on to Wiarton…where the rain had stopped!

We continued along the Bruce Peninsula, through Big Bay passing the Marina in Owen Sound.

Had our Control Cards signed at the Tim Horton’s then went to the Frog for a light snack, everyone still together!

This is where the Creemore Classic 400 introduces climbing! Everyone headed out knowing hills were going to separate us for a while. The next Control was the Top’O The Rock in Eugenia. A GREAT climb to get there! Paul arrived just as the rest of us were heading out and joined us for this photo. Check out the left side of this picture and you’ll see where our Supporter’s, Jeff and Steve were!

Brenda and Tim figured out they would need some cash and stopped along the way at an ATM!

Arriving in Collingwood, six of us had our Control Cards signed then went to Georgian Bowl to participate in the 2018 Championship. Here is a photo of this year’s Creemore Classic Bowling Champion – Richard Meloche leading us to Creemore!

All of the participants shared a dinner at the Old Mill House Pub in Creemore, well Paul just had a pint because he had something to eat in Collingwood prior to getting there.

Prior to leaving we all stepped outside for another photo!

Pedalling to the Village at Blue Mountain was 35 km, then everyone had their Control Cards signed at the Fire House Pizza Co., before heading out to do the infamous Scenic Cave Climb! I won’t identify who had to walk but there were 3 Randonneurs who simply took that advantage! Of course, the rain started shortly after reaching the top, so everyone put on some rain gear to stay warm on the descent! Descent? Yes, meaning we were fortunate enough to have to climb the Escarpment again, heading to the next Control in Chatsworth. Jeff and Steve (our Supporters) were at the Control, the 24hr Donut Shop that is not open 24hrs!

A few of us were out of water, knew we had 50 km to go, so were feeling upbeat knowing our Supporters had everything and more to get us through!

Paul Slavchenko blew a spoke between the Scenic Cave Climb and Walter’s Falls so was a little behind the main group, but successfully made repairs in the rain and made it to the finish successfully! Way to Go Paul!

Matthew McFarlane’s chain blew off between Chatsworth and the finish, so him and Chappy took a few minutes to repair it, then Matt let Chappy know he had to take a nap and did … 20 minutes or so and he was only a few minutes behind Chappy at the Finish!

The Windsorites…Brenda, Tim, Darcy and Richard…30 km average, staying together and taking turns up front…Awesome Cyclists! They take a little longer at Controls, but make up with their pace! And last but not least…the Ultraviolet Glasses were available whenever a Randonneur was falling asleep! In the past we would stop and nap at the BMO for some sleep, not this time! Check out the man with the Glasses!

What else can I say…

WOW! what an AWESOME 2018 CREEMORE CLASSIC!!

Japan Clover Hokkaido 1200

Ride report from Dave Thompson:

The clover Hokkaido 1200 was unique in a number of ways:

  • rushed by flying in on the 13th, check in on the 14th and then riding on the 15th, given the 13 hour time difference from Toronto
  • the predicted weather, rain for three days and then sun… yes, that’s how it was… oh yes, and cold to boot
  • as a ride, 4×300 km out of one location
  • completely foreign culture & food

The trip from Toronto went without a hitch.  The 13 hour flight was followed by sub-2-hours in Tokyo Haneda airport clearing customs and immigration, collecting bags, taking a shuttle to the domestic terminal, going through check-in and bag check and security and boarding the flight to Obihiro on the island of Hokkaido; 1:30 later landing in Obihiro, collecting bags and taking a taxi to our hotel.  I was totally impressed by the efficiency of the Haneda airport operation, in spite of the fact that these were separate flights, not defined as connections.  From noon on the 12th, Toronto-time, we ended up in our Obihiro hotel something like 9pm.  Around 18 hours from leaving Toronto we were a world apart and a day ahead.

There was no time for jet lag.  The next day we were up (Sandy was traveling with me and we met Hamid and Shab at the hotel); I assembled my bike and rode to the ride hotel with Hamid while Sandy and Shab taxied with the bags to the hotel.  Shab stayed there for the duration, working as a volunteer; Sandy had a hotel in Obihiro, did some exploring, visited others at the ride hotel etc.

We had time for lunch and dinner, ride check-in and briefing, sleep and then a 6am start.  The ride briefing was where it finally hit home that the rain was real.  Potential re-routing was discussed in case of road closures.  Heavy rain could produce landslides.  The route didn’t change but the rain came and came and came.

I have to say that the first three days of this ride rank among the most miserable days that I’ve ever spent on a bike.  It was wet and it was cold and it didn’t stop.  Temperatures ranged from 8-12C most of the day; down to 6C at times.  I’ve never, apart from the 2012 BC Rocky Mountain Day one, worn my rain pants for an entire day.  My rain pants got more use over the first three days of this ride than the cumulative use in my entire randonneuring career (if you can call it a career!).  Leg warmers, rain pants, arm warmers, short and long sleeve jersey, heavy jacket, head covering, shower cap … I wished at time that I could cover my face as I was losing a lot of heat from the rain pelting my face.  On day 3, I even wore my heavy wool jersey.  It probably helped but I was constantly on the verge of being too cold.  We stopped at every opportunity for something hot to warm us up — ramen soup, coffee — warmth inside stores was short lived; the soup and coffee only slightly less so.

Day 4 made up for some of this. It was nice to end on a positive note. It started out clear and cool; the temperature dropped to 3C as we moved towards the coast; it then warmed up and finally, finally, I was able to pack away all the extra clothing … sun, glorious sun, how I’d missed you!

The scenery, (ahem … when we could see it), was pleasant but not not remarkable. It’s hard to compare the Hokkaido Island mountains with the Italian Alps. We were never above the tree line.  The coastline was pretty, but so is everywhere else. Rolling farmland is pleasant, some different crops to behold. But… unlike some other rides, it was never boring. There were parts of the Italian ride – endless rice fields, for example – that went on forever. I don’t get as bored with rolling hills, even when it means a long, long time between services.

The roads were reasonable, much better than the lowlands of Italy. Sometimes dodging a crack in the road; a couple of sections where there were annoying rhythmic breaks, but that was the minority. Many kilometers of tunnels, a couple over 5 km, broke the monotony (and the rain!). Those tunnels also cut into the ridewithgps expected climbing, often cutting the tops off those hills. A hundred tunnels? More? I didn’t try to count. There were some long-ish climbs but the grades were never punishing. I don’t remember a grade over 7%.

The services were mostly frequent; well stocked convenience stores with bathroom facilities. Only Day 3, with a pre-warned approximately 100 km with nothing, might have been a problem, but it wasn’t, due to the warning. Besides, I don’t drink much in steady, cold rain. Then again, I don’t eat much from my pockets in steady, cold rain :).

Convenience stores in the area mostly don’t have gas stations attached. 7-Eleven, Saicomart and Lawson are everywhere and many are 24 hour. They all stock Ramen Noodles of many, many varieties and hot water; a selection of sushi-like products and a place to sit. I ate more noodles and rice during those 4 days than I’ve had in many years.

The ride was extremely well organized. It’s certainly easier with the clover format. The menu varied from day to day. Rice was always available, of course; soup, salad items, breakfast items usually included eggs; there was enough protein, but certainly not as emphasized as in North America. Some of the wrapped rice items (in seaweed) were perfect for stowing in your pockets, and we did. Ziplocs helped :). Cheese wasn’t in short supply, rather it was non-existent. Even in the convenience stores, any cheese was more of the processed kind.

There was usually one car with volunteers out on the route, mostly stopped somewhere as opposed to cruising. I expect that they assisted some riders who DNF’d. Speaking of which, the DNF rate was 50% and would have been a little higher had the ride organizer not decided to add a couple of hours to the time limit. 75 riders started; 37 DNF’d. Several took advantage of that extra time.

The 4×300 format was interesting. We finished by 9pm (Hamid perhaps 8pm) on day 1, 9pm, 9:30 pm and got lots of sleep. I think that I got 5 hours sleep the first night, almost the same the second night and 3 hours the final night. The 4×300 format means that you need to leave yourself adequate time to crank out another 300 km that last day without running up against the midnight deadline.

A 2400 km ride started a few days before our 1200 km and finished on the same day, same location.  That ride traced the coastline of Hokkaido.  Their weather would have been somewhat different, as we hit some rain that was localized in the mountains

I rode by myself the first day, as usual, the lanterne rouge for a long time. Hamid and I started the second day together and were sometimes separated and he finished just ahead of me. I opted to stop for 15 minutes about 30 km out as I was getting shaky, needed to warm up, figured that I’d have an accident otherwise. Hamid pressed on and had a silly sideways no speed fall, cracking his handlebars at the right shifter. He did another 600k on that cracked handlebar, but that’s another story …. The third day was togetherness in our miserableness all day long. The forth day was glorious and we finished together, many riders behind us.

We saw whales, yes whales, along the coast on the fourth day. One pair was likely a cow and calf and a loner not long after, all close to shore. That was unique!

I’d like to say that I had fun, as always, on this ride. Randonesia isn’t quite there yet. Give me another month or two to blend the entire experience in Japan together and I’ll probably say that it was fun, a good ride. Vinny from Seattle from loved it. He’s used to rain. I don’t have as much personal insulation. Rain only bothers me in as much as I’m on the verge of being cold and I was in that state far too long on this ride.

The terrain was good, the ride was well organized, the volunteers were helpful, the food was excellent, the format was interesting … and we had a little rain :). Let’s leave it at that.

Sandy and I flew to Tokyo the day after, as did Hamid and Shab.  We spent some time together exploring; some time apart.  They headed back to the US two days before us.  As I type this, we’re on the flight to from Tokyo to Toronto, leaving at 5:40 pm and arriving about an hour before we left, on the same day.  That must be quantum physics at work :).

The Tokyo experiences?  Hot as hell.  35-37C the entire time.  In spite of that we saw a lot, learned how to use the subway system (not as easy as you might think) and departed Japan hoping to come back … perhaps not riding … perhaps not in the heat of the summer.

To put this in perspective, Hokkaido is about the latitude of Toronto; Tokyo around Atlanta, give or take.  Several typhoons were affecting the weather; who knows what it might be like in Hokkaido or Tokyo in a normal year.  What is a normal year anyway?  That seems to be changing!

One more thing – Tokyo has two syllables.  Toke Yoh.  Not Toke Ee Oh.  See, I learned something :).

Onward!

Huron Chapter’s Big Bay 200!

Ride report from Carey Chapelle:

The Huron Chapter hosted the BIG BAY 200 this past week-end. Congrats to myself (Chappy), Charles Horslin, John Maccio, Matthew McFarlane, Con Melady, Gwyneth Mitchell, Tim O’Callahan, Liz Overduin and Brenda Wiechers on successfully finishing this scenic brevet and enjoying the 1300 meters of climbing!

Everyone arrived at Tim Horton’s early and thought they were ready to hit the road!

Strangely enough, the 9 Randonneurs pedalled through an intense FOG hoping that moving inland from Lake Huron things would improve!

Thankfully it did! Not just a clear sky, but new asphalt!

We all arrived together at the first Control, the Variety Plus Store in Chatsworth, had our Control Cards signed, grabbed a few snacks and sat down for a photo. You won’t see Chappy because he was the Photographer!

Con, Matt, Liz, Brenda and Tim couldn’t get closer together! Charles and Gwyneth stood close by while John was busy shopping!

Chappy let everyone know that staying together for the next 25 km was going to be unlikely (some good climbing ahead) and that everyone should stop at the General Store in Walter’s Falls to regroup and take some photos.

Once everyone arrived, we took a break from the SUNSHINE!

We then headed down to the Falls for a photo or two as a few of the Randonneurs had never been there before.

Interestingly, a model was standing under the falls having her picture taken and a couple of us were thinking about heading down simply to cool off but decided to enjoy the scenery instead!

Having completed 75 km, everyone was back together and looked forward to having a lunch in Owen Sound. We would simply get our Control Cards signed at the Tim Horton’s Control then head to the Mexican Restaurant, Casero for FUEL. Con and myself knew how busy this restaurant usually is and just hoped we could find room for all of us … and we did!

http://www.caserofood.com

A big surprise happened next, my daughter Erika and a few of her University friends were out touring the Falls in Grey County and decided to go for lunch at the Casero! We had to take a photo for proof this happened!

All 9 of us headed out together for the last 97 km, going through Wiarton, Sauble Beach and Southampton before reaching the finish in Port Elgin.

On our way to Wiarton, along the Big Bay Peninsula, we passed the Cobble Beach Resort and noticed some carving on a tree!

Having taking the photo, Chappy fell a bit behind the riders and met them at the next Control, the Big Bay General Store in Big Bay where everyone enjoyed some Ice Cream before heading to Sauble Beach for a quick refreshment!

Being 30 km from the finish, we all enjoyed the scenery, the people and quite simply the fun we were having staying together on this brevet!

5 of the 9 riders decided to stop in Southampton at the Outlaw Brewery to try the infamous Blueberry Beer before heading to the Finish in Port Elgin.

A few of the Randonneurs had wondered why Chappy’s wife Donna didn’t do the ride then learned of the BBQ she had put together for everyone. We spent a few hours together, along with Erika and her friends, enjoying the dinner and each other before calling it a day!

Tim and Brenda stayed in town and decided to take a Tandem for a 50 km Cool Down the next day. And yes …. Brenda did finish the Crossword Puzzle on Tim’s back!

North Huron Tributaire 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

WOW!

OK, I’ll let you know how much fun we had participating in Huron Chapter’s North Huron Tributaire 200 km Brevet this past week-end!!!

Marvin Boven, Carey and Donna Chappelle, together on their Tandem, Cori Dean, Paul Dowswell, Jurij Kerzan, Matthew McFarlane, Con Melady and Jim Raddatz all finished successfully.

Congrats to Marvin Boven and Paul Dowswell for completing their first 200km brevet. It was great Meeting you two! Marvin, your wife was awesome being at controls if needed!

Great Meeting Jurij Kerzna from Slovania, on a family vacation …  but joined us on this brevet just for fun! Jurij and Chappy had been in touch via e-mails many months earlier. Jurij had mentioned that he would like to do this Brevet when him and his family were in Ontario and on vacation. He had hoped to rent a bike in London Ontario, so brought his bicycle helmet, shoes and pedals thinking that would happen. It didn’t, but Con Melady stepped up and let him use his Cervelo! Yes his Cervelo! Perfect fit and made for an awesome experience for Jurij!

Great meeting Cori Dean, a woman with a lifestyle that left us questioning where she gets time for one or two brevets a year!

This brevet had a 7am Start and everyone was on time and ready to go. The weather forecast showed rain and all we could see were dark clouds overhead.

Off we went, Donna and myself on the Tandem lead the way as Tandems usually do! A light rain disappeared by the first Control in Wingham. Everyone made this Control a short stop, looking forward to lunch at the next Control, the Bartliff’s Bakery in Clinton. Somehow, the Bakery had room for all of us! With 124 km complete, everyone headed to the next Control, the Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro in Bayfield.

http://blackdogpubbistro.ca

Paul Dowswell, Con Melady, Matthew McFarlane, Chappy, Donna Chappelle,  Jurij Kerzna and Jim Raddatz enjoyed a refreshment after having their control cards signed!

Traditionally, we would get back on route and once getting to the pier … would jump off for a swim! Not this time, I simply took the picture.  Cori Dean and  Marvin Boven were a little behind, so did not get included in this photo.

Heading back to Goderich, our group of 7 road together, got to know a little more about each other and simply loved the scenery.

Con and Cindy Melady prepared appetizers and invited everyone to their home.  It turned out to be a lovely garden party!  The majority of us hung out for an hour or two talking about how much we loved this ride!

Con, Chappy and Matthew were having some fun!

The Meladys had also made dinner reservations at the Beach Street Station for 8 people at 8pm, 5 were able to make it. If you get a chance to see the Sunset in Goderich, visit the Beach Street Station! An incredible restaurant! Incredible SUNSET! Great food and a great story about the original train station being moved to this location by the water!

https://www.beachstreetstation.com/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tripadvisor

 

March to the Nuke 600

Ride report from Tim Ormond:

March to the Nuke, a 600 km Brevet with the Simcoe Chapter, 21-22 July 2018

According to the RO Results page, The March to the Nuke was first run in 2005. That initial edition had six participants: Elias Brettler, Ken Jobba, Anne Pokocky, Steve Rheault, Isabelle Sheardown, and Glen Steen. It used to start in Alliston, but now it begins in Barrie in order to make it easier for members to participate.

Six randonneurs started this 2018 edition: Michael Thomson, Toby Whitfield, Andrea Ferguson Jones, Stephen Jones, Simon Langham, and me, Timothy Ormond.

The defining characteristic of this entire ride was a steady SE wind. For the first 200km, it was our best friend. It literally pushed us from Dundalk to “the Nuke.” The wind did not change direction for the remaining 400km; it only changed in intensity. For most of Saturday it seemed to stick around 15-25km/hr. I have reports from Toby that it became significantly stronger on Sunday.

Another problem was rain. It was in the forecast. I expected it much earlier. I finally encountered it after I left Fergus (476km) at 2:30 am (More on that rain later).

Despite these meteorological buzz killers in the forecast, spirits were high at the beginning of the ride. We rode together until the Stayner area, where we parted ways with Simon, Stephen and Andrea. The climb up Pretty River Valley was challenging, but I think we all felt fortunate to have a tail wind and to have the route’s most significant climb over and done with before the first control in Feversham.

County Road #9 leading into Dundalk was quite broken. Some major roadwork was being done. I was very jealous of Michael and Toby’s wide tires. I was on 25mm 700c. I also think we all inhaled a lot of dust. It was quite a busy road and very dry.

Micheal, Toby and I carried on together to Chesley, wafting on a lovely tailwind. We found the bridge was out in Chesley, so we had to quickly adopt a new control. I suggested Chesley Fuels and Convenience next to Big Bruce (i.e., the gigantic statue of a bull). The bridge in Chesley always seems to be out. Perhaps we should make Fuels and Convenience the official control in Chesley.

From Chesley to Kincardine I got a little carried away. I knew it would be my last chance to enjoy a tailwind, so I decided to make the most of it and increase my speed. I reached Kincardine in 2 hours. It was a risk, it meant venturing ahead on my own, but it also was a lot of fun.

Buoyed by my little adventure, I skirted the Huron coast and then turned into the wind. I expected the others would catch up with me at some point, and then we could work together chiseling away at the wind and the miles. In the mean time, I just played various psychological games to keep myself going.

Eventually I arrived in Teeswater where I replenished my water. From here until Clinton the wind seemed less of an issue. The land was quite beautiful here. These were entirely new roads for me. Unfortunately I was in the head space to push on and did not stop to take any photos. I arrived at the Tim Horton’s in Clinton at 1915.

Between Clinton and Stratford, my computer told me to take Front Road/Perth 32 Line instead of Huron Road. It is a perfectly good road with minimal traffic, but I unnecessarily added some kilometers onto the route. Not sure what I did wrong there. Fortunately, Front Road runs parallel to Huron Road.

The Romeo Street Bridge was out in Stratford. I was aware of this obstacle thanks to Toby and Dave’s warnings, but I had not really formulated a good B-plan before the ride. I wasted a bit of time, but eventually muddled my way across. Along the way, I saw the Boar’s Head, which I believe is the Huron Chapter’s stop on the Much Ado 200. I did want a warm supper, but I also thought I might get sleepy if I had a beer. So off I went to yet another convenience store to serve as my Stratford control. Ice cream, mango juice, water and Coke… and off I rode into the night.

The ride between Stratford and Fergus started smoothly, but gradually descended into the surreal. Worsening weather conditions, coupled with my deteriorating mental and physical state, combined to make for some unpleasant hours in the saddle. At first things were fine. The wind weakened, traffic abated; I was the king of the road.

But then I turned up Sideroad 4, to the SW of Elora. The road surface was very broken. I thought I might break a spoke. I fumbled along grumpily, when my computer angrily chimed, telling me I was off course. I pull out my flashlight. “What? I need to turn into this forest? Oh wait, there’s a trail!” (It was 1:45 in the morning) Off I went, into the forest, along the so-called “Cottontail Road Trail.” Let me tell you, there is nothing cute or fuzzy about this trail. It ends with a swift descent with a tricky patch of sand at the bottom. And before you can enter the road, you have to squeeze through some metal gates. In my sleep deprived state… it was a close call. (After the ride I received Stephen’s warning about this trail and the proposed route changes to avoid it).

Riding between Elora and Fergus, things continued to worsen. It got cool and it started to drizzle. Strange to say, but it looked more like snow than rain. Clearly I was starting to hallucinate. Then I saw something squirming on the road. I thought my mind was playing tricks on  me. “Ha ha, I’m such a hallucinator!” The next thing I knew I was right on top of a real, live skunk. I nearly hit the poor fella. Thankfully we both came through our encounter unscathed. I suddenly felt a lot more awake.

After an uneventful 2:31am breakfast at the Circle K in Fergus, I carried on to Shelburne. The rain started in earnest now. The wind was still blowing too. I quickly became very cold and considered turning back to Fergus and finding accommodation. Above all, a hot shower was what I wanted. Instead, I tried an experiment. I had an extra vinyl bag from Velotique I sometimes use for extra storage. This time it served as clothing. I stuffed it under my jersey over my chest and… it was good enough.

I arrived in Shelburne at 5am waterlogged and in low spirits. I hit the Circle K. It actually had stools and a counter! I bought a coffee and settled in until it was beginning to get light. It was a chilly sunrise, but at least it had stopped raining.

The last leg of the ride was an exercise in Murphy’s Law: headwind, and a perpetual climb until Badjeros, and, then, just after the lovely descent into Creemore – more rain. Very heavy rain. Then there was  the other sandy trail just before Base Borden. With my 25mm tires, I had to get off the bike and walk it. After that, my chain sounded like sandpaper grinding on metal, which is essentially what was going on. Thank goodness I was almost done!

The rain pounded me all the way back to Barrie. It seemed to get harder as I approached the ride finish.

Finally finished, my control card was too damp to sign, despite keeping it in a Ziploc bag. The ink wouldn’t come out on the wet paper. I always carry a sharpie with me, just in case. I handed the young man my sharpie and he wrote 9:35am.

My main motivation for riding through the night was to avoid the headwinds. They were still present through the entire night (still holding from the SE around 15-20km/hr). I expected them to only get stronger as the sun rose. Talking after the ride with Toby, I learned I was correct.

We had some attrition on this ride. It’s good to remind each other that riding any portion of a brevet is a major accomplishment, and it still opens the door for interesting experiences and opportunities. For example, Stephen had a knee complaint that forced him and Andrea to pull the plug around Markdale. They still rode over 200k – and they saved a turtle’s life on the way back to Barrie. That seems like a good outcome to me.

Toby completed his Super Randonneur qualification. If I’m not mistaken, this is his first season doing so. A big congratulations to him. I also completed my Super Randonneur qualification for the season – my first time since 2014, so it is a pretty big deal for me too.

Thanks to the club for organizing such a great route, and thanks to my wife and kids for not resenting me (too much) for taking this little adventure.

More from Simon Langham:

Great ride report Timothy.  My ride was a little more solo than anticipated as well, just from the slower side.  I knew I had to drop back from your group after I realised I as at my LT threshold sitting on the rear of the group, not good.  Then later when Stephen and Andrea dropped me on a climb, I knew I had to make some changes to my plan.  I have to thank Stephen and Andrea for the ‘You Can Do It’ speech at the side of the road.

Fun route, neat seeing what I think is a new marijuana operation, razor wire, double fencing, green houses.  More external security than Bruce Nuclear, except for the Armed Officers notices at Bruce.  The rain started for me just after Clinton and kept up until just past Shelburne.   Long time riding into a headwind while squinting to keep out the rain.  Fortunately, once the rain stopped the wind changed direction back to SE so at least I had a bit of a tail wind to head north.  I had a few more stops, including a nap in a gazebo in some town, really not sure where at this point.  Broke a spoke with 23k to go, and being very happy disc brakes are not affected by a wobbly wheel and that a 2nd spoke didn’t go as well, finished with a couple of hours to spare.   First 600 done, and now I just have to start walking normally again.

More from Toby Whitfield:

Simon – glad to hear you made it. I was wondering about where every one else was on the road, so glad to hear your report.

And Tim, great ride report.

The rest of the story from my perspective:

After Tim rode ahead out of Chesley, Michael and I also enjoyed a pretty quick ride to Kincardine, past the eponymous nukes. We got a bit of a shower on the way into Kincardine, which was a sign of things to come, but it only lasted a few minutes.

In Kincardine Michael needed a bit of a break, but I was ready to ride on so we split up there.

The turn from the coast meant a turn into headwinds. It was a bit of a slog to Teeswater, going mostly uphill and into a stiff headwind, but a bit better after the turn to Clinton. As Tim said, the roads in that part were nice to ride on. When I got to the control at the Clinton Tim Horton’s I asked them to sign my card and was told that another guy had been by earlier – I asked how much, and they said about an hour, but from Tim’s report it was an hour and a half, so I had lost a bit of time by then.

Then it was a decent ride into Stratford. It was windy, but I was still moving pretty well. Got to Stratford where I had booked a motel room – this being my first 600k I thought it wasn’t a bad idea, and really my wife had insisted on it – and I grabbed some pizza. I had a shower and a 2 hour nap in a comfy bed. Then I woke up and hit the road. At that point (around 3am) it had started raining. When I had looked at the weather report on Friday evening I knew there was some chance of rain, but it looked like it would be scattered. I should have updated my information.

I rode through the night, and really enjoyed that part. This was the most night riding I had done, having finished the 400k a couple of weeks earlier only a bit after sunset and rolling into a populated

area with lots of light. I enjoyed it for the most part. I turned off the backlight on my computer, only letting it come on when it had to give me a turn direction, and just ignored my speed and everything else, and got into just being out there on my own in the dark. At a certain point I realized that the rain wasn’t letting up, so I stopped and tried to add as much clothing as I could in the shelter of a closed convenience store awning.

By the time I arrived in Fergus I was pretty wet, but feeling OK. I had a quick breakfast, and hit the road again. The next part of my journey would be the toughest.

To back up a bit, I had not brought a proper full rain outfit. I usually find that I just get hot riding in a raincoat in summer rain, and it usually is OK to ride with armwarmers and a windbreaker jacket.  Given that the forecast when I packed on Friday was for warm temperatures and only scattered rain, I didn’t pack a rain jacket or other cold weather gear. That was stupid. The rain didn’t let up, the wind was strong, and during the next part of the ride as the wind and the rain battered me I started to slow down and to get cold. I didn’t realize how bad it was for a while, because the relatively moderate temperature meant my extremities didn’t feel cold, and I was not feeling chilled. But, I think that the constant draining of body heat and being so soaked through meant that by the time I crawled into Shelburne, I was in a mild state of hypothermia. I was shaking, and I was looking around for a place to take shelter, warm up, and get some hot food. It wasn’t obvious where that should be when I arrived, as there was no Tim’s or other easy to spot place. I did go into a café that was mostly a breakfast place, and that was perfect. I got some coffee and some soup and began to warm up. I called my wife, who luckily was thinking straight and she told me to ask them for a garbage bag to wear. After warming up in the cafe (and leaving behind a significant puddle of rain dripping off of me) I wandered over to the IDA across the street thinking about other things to keep me warm.  I managed to find some medical gloves (they only had size small dish gloves, which wouldn’t have fit my XL hands) for 17c a piece, and after paying them 75 cents for 4, also asked for a couple of shopping bags. With a garbage bag on my body, shopping bags on my feet, and the gloves, I rolled out of town after spending over an hour getting myself sorted.

There are definitely some lessons learned with that little adventure, which I hope I don’t have to relearn ever again. When I was thinking straight again, I wondered about what I would have done if I had a mechanical or a flat. I’m not sure I would have been able to manage it, and I might have been in trouble. What seemed like wet, but otherwise benign summer weather, turned into something more serious for me.

After that, the wind and the rain didn’t let up. There were some nice roads, some busy roads (I ended up riding on the soft gravel shoulder on the 124 after being buzzed by too many vehicles with trailers, and there was a constant 2 way stream of traffic and no quarter given by many of the drivers). I hit the Cottontail Road Trail that Tim mentioned in the daylight, so I rather enjoyed it (I also have pretty wide tires, so that probably helped).

The wind and the rain never let up. In fact, the wind was shifting to the east/northeast as I was going that way, and increasing throughout the day. The rain didn’t stop until I rolled into the final control in Barrie. After 14 straight hours of rain, as I got to the end the clouds parted and the sky was blue. Oh well.

I finished. I ran into some adversity, but I made it through, and as Tim mentioned I finished my first SR series. Congratulations to Tim for doing the same, and also to Simon who finished his first 600 and to everyone else who came out. Thanks to Tim and Michael for sharing the first part of the ride. I enjoyed our chats and riding with you guys. And kudos to Stephen and Andrea for rescuing a turtle!

Thanks to all of the organizers – looking forward to my next 600 where I am sure I will be better prepared!

Oh, and Simon, I also saw that facility, and realized it must be a cannabis facility because of the high security and greenhouses.

2018 Much Ado About … To Kill A Mockingbird! 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

This past Saturday, the Huron Chapter Hosted the 2018 Much Ado About … To Kill A Mockingbird! A 200km Brevet that included a play in Stratford.

Congratulations to Darrell Bierman, James Carroll, Carey Chappelle, John Cumming, Chris Greig, Ken Jobba, Con Melady, Rick Meloche, Tim O’Callahan, Liz Overduin, Jim Raddatz and Brenda Wiechers on successfully completing this Brevet. Check out the smile on everyone’s face!

Nothing better then a blue sky, next to no wind and a group of 12 Randonneurs developing an official peloton!

We passed by a beautiful church from the 1800s

The peloton had an average speed of 30km / hr. all the way to the first Control, Anna Mae’s Bakery, in Millbank. Everyone had a quick break then headed out together to Stratford.  OK, 8 headed out together, leaving Chappy and 3 others a little behind as Chappy had a screw loose (not uncommon!) and had to use a tie wrap to support his front fender! Everyone arrived at the second Control, the Boar’s Head Pub in Stratford just after 12:30hrs where a great lunch and a few stories were enjoyed on the patio!

Jim had the best story to tell!

Jim let us know about an incident at Tim Horton’s, Southampton about 480 km into Huron Chapter’s Brouse’s Beach Brouser 600 km Brevet a few weeks earlier. He placed his bicycle by a window where he would sit down inside, enjoy a coffee and a breakfast. He was also offered a souvenir glass Tim Horton’s coffee mug that he couldn’t resist! Carrying the tray, he ran out of room and had to stretch the tray far enough away to get around some others standing in line.  Road Shoes …. Well … ass over tea kettle! Everything was lost along with some of his pride! Fortunately Tim Horton’s staff replaced everything, even a new coffee mug and cleaned up the broken glass!!

Around 1330hrs, 7 of the 12 Randonnuers headed to the play “To Kill A Mockingbird”. The other’s headed out to the finish.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” was simply INCREDIBLE!

This story showed us how much takes place in our periphery and, conversely, how our own lives can be peripheral to others. Mockingbird was concerned not with how racism ends a black man’s life, but how a white child’s psyche was affected by witnessing the events! We were all forced to question yet again what layers of humanity remain invisible to us! I could go on an on but it would simply be better for everyone to experience this PLAY!

To Kill A Mockingbird, a 2hr 40min play had one 20-Minute Interval where the audience could step outside, enjoy some sunshine and refresh themselves. The Ontario Randonneurs gathered together on the second floor patio, enjoyed a beverage and had their photos taken by a couple who were visiting Ontario, from Amsterdam. Liz let them know how she was from Amsterdam, then had them take a photo or 2 of us.

With only 3 mins left, an Audience Alert came out to let us know to return to our seats. The husband of the lady who was taking our photos figured his wife simply hadn’t heard…

We returned to our seats on time and had to simply focus on what happened next. We wondered what compels some to vehemently justify the murder of Coulten Boushie, the assault on Dafonte Miller, the deportation of Abdoul Abdi, the killing of Abdirahman Abdi? What did the justifiers feel was at stake? What part of the centre is threatened if justice is served in the margins? Again, we can only recommend seeing this play to understand what happened in 1930 many years ago!

Exhausted, we wiped the tears off our faces and headed to the finish on our bicycles. Everyone mesmerized with what they had seen … arrived at Tim Horton’s at 19:33hrs had our cards signed, hugged each other then headed home.

WOW!

Tim O’Callahan – Thanks for taking care of the Stratford Festival for us!

Liz Overduin – Thanks for initiating this Brevet, I couldn’t believe we had 12 Randonneurs doing this ride!

Jim Raddatz -Thanks for YOUR story! I’m still laughing!!

Ronde Alienor d’Aquitaine 1200

Ride report from Dave Thompson:

Such variety!  Scenery, organization, sustenance — I was asked whether mentally I wanted to saddle up again after Bulgaria and Spain — the variety alone does it.
This time I had enough sleep between rides. Albeit just another four days break, I stayed put the day after Spain, snoozed and generally doing nothing, drove to France, a 6-or-so hour drive (beautiful through the Pyrenees) and then did nothing for another couple of days.
The Aquitaine ride started at 8pm.  That was my choice.  5am was the other choice.  It made the Col de Soulor a day climb (1300 metres / 2.5 hours) but kind of locked those of us doing the night start (160 vs 80 day starters), riding a lot at night.  Or perhaps that’s because of my choice of hotels … hmmm.
Being very conservative and taking the advice of others, I only planned 430 km that first day.  We could have gone further but we had a hotel and I was ready to stop.  400 km is always longer than my sweet spot.
Days 2 & 3 were around 300 km; day 4 around 185.  We finished Day 1 around 6pm – Hamid a little ahead of me and me a little after that – and planned a start around 2am.  The next two nights were later finishes and we headed out at 12:30 am for the last day – with a 2pm cutoff, we needed to leave some margin for what would likely be a 12 hour ride.
It’s worth mentioning that Hamid, riding ahead of me, had the company of a Spanish rider until said rider didn’t stop at a stop sign and was hit by a car.  Eventually carried away by air ambulance, the last word that we had was that he was in a coma.  We don’t know if he will recover.  Hamid, initially thinking that he was dead at the scene, was pretty broken up by that occurrence.  I came on the scene just afterward and a while later, checked Spotwalla to ensure that Hamid was still ahead of me — yes — as I couldn’t tell who the rider was.
The rolling French countryside is always interesting.  Various Bordeaux Chateaux and into other wine regions sure made me wish that I was on a tasting, rather than a cycling, mission.  With all the night riding … but of course full day riding too … we did get to see a lot of grape vines, endless grape vines!
The ride started out on a bike trail into Bordeaux and then crossed back across the river on a signature bridge, one of the main sights planned into the ride.  From there through St. Emilion, it was starting to get dark and I was riding alone, as usual.  The staged start, a few dozen at a time, meant that those groups passed me and I was, as always, the Lanterne Rouge at that part of the ride.  The first Control wasn’t until km 167, still dark at that point, time for a quick coffee and coke and roll on. Many others were still at that Control.
All through this ride you purchased food.  A few controls had some gratuitous items – mainly fruit – but most everything else had a price.  There was always Coca Cola (Coka), coffee, sparkling water, beer and wine.  Those items all cost the same price at each control although how much you were poured and how much it cost, varied from control to control – there was no standardization.  Food, likewise, varied hugely.  There was pasta available at most, sometimes tomato sauce, sometimes chicken, once duck, usually bread, water was always free.  At an early control they were cooking up a full English Breakfast.  I didn’t realize that until I’d already purchased some other items.
Between Controls there were options as well although some were far apart.  Through one night we had carried some pizza from the night before and stopped at a bench in a town and ate that.  I moved to another bench and took a 15 minute power nap.  Three other riders sat down for a time and then rolled on.
Rolling, rolling, rolling – the countryside goes on.  We dropped down to sea level at one point and were treated to a couple of hours of Atlantic Ocean views.  I guess that if you tried to cover the signature items, those would be the chateaux, the aforementioned bridge, all the rolling farm countryside and towns, the ocean views and the Col de Soulor.  About a 1300 metre climb, the Tour de France will be on that climb on July 27 while we’re doing the Stelvio in the Italian ride … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!  We were lucky that it was cloudy for the Col.  It could have been brutal.  As it was, that climb took us 2.5 hours.
Shab, Hamid’s wife, supported us from overnight to overnight.  She would check in, move drop bags into the pre-arranged hotels, pick up some food and beer and then we would drink our beer, eat some food and crash for a couple/few hours.   When we left, we would carry our bags downstairs so that she could get them into the car, then she’d go back to sleep (well, maybe, as she’s been known to pay attention to our trackers!).
We stretched it out, using up most of our time.  With that 2pm drop-dead finish time, we left the last overnight at 12:30 am and finished up at noon.  We could have pushed harder but didn’t need to.  We set a cushion time of two hours and kept that cushion time.
Mostly the roads were ok other than 50-60 km late afternoon on the third day when we had rough chip seal that was enough to drive you crazy and uses up a whole lot of energy.  That area cost us at least an hour, perhaps more, which subtracted from our sleep time that last night.
The final day spent at least half our time on bike paths and through some national park closed to cars.  It ended up back among the grape vines of the Bordeaux Chateaux and into St. Medard.  Shab and Sandy were there to greet us!  It’s always great to have cheering fans :).
As an aside, I was looking at the amount of climbing on the rides.  Brazil was about 21,000 metres; DCR BRB 13,000 metres; Sofia 15,000; Leida 8,300 metres; Aquitaine 11,000.  These numbers all come from RideWithGps, so they’re comparable if not totally accurate. BRB probably had the most high grade hills; the Virginia countryside.  Sofia climbs were gentle for the most part, long climbs at 4%, plus or minus.  Aquitaine had the consistently steep Col, ranging mostly from 7-9% with the occasional spike to 12%.