2016 Fleche – Ottawa Wanderers

Ride report from David Hamilton:

Three Wanderers set out from Bells Corners at 6:00 pm on Friday for an anticipated 363 km ride to Kingston: me, Alan, and Vytas… two rookie fleche padawans and a Jedi Fleche Master.

The route itself was put together by Peter, so we knew there would be hills which at least two of us loathed, but in retrospect there were just enough to offer a good challenge without leaving anyone splayed against an outcrop crying for their mama.

The first leg to Clayton was uneventful. As we pulled into the general store to sign our cards, the bugs were in full feeding mode so we didn’t stop long at all. Now these bugs were not the kind you might find in your urban backyard while enjoying a barbecue: no, these are ravenous, savage, flesh-eating carnivorous brutes. A flat tire or broken chain in these parts would be certain death (I am imagining a randonneur, nothing but bones and few remaining body parts, hovered over a back wheel with a flat at the side of the road, covered by a swarm of flies). In fact, as we rode the next section down the Tatlock Road, we went through massive clouds of flies that got in our mouths, ears, noses and other unprotected orifices. Seems like I was picking bugs out of my hair for the rest of the ride. And sand.

Funny thing about flies, though, is that while they are most active around dusk, they do eventually retire for the night. So in fact we didn’t have a problem with them once the night came on completely.

The nearly full moon and mostly clear sky was beautiful. At one point along the South Lavant Road, the moonshine over quiet lakes was simply amazing. And very few cars helped us all with the seemingly relentless hills. At one point, Vytas’ chain got jammed so we stopped as he manhandled it back on. The whip-poor-wills were most active along this road and their alien song added to the mysterious rustling of animals that apparently stalked us from the bushes. I was grateful we didn’t have to stop long.

A little while later in the night, Alan’s chain also jumped off the cogs at the same time as a ferocious pack of wild dogs crashed through the woods towards us. Vytas and I, seemingly on the same page without saying a word, were prepared to sacrifice Alan to the dogs and kept pedaling until we realized they must have been chained. Only then did we circle back to make sure Alan’s bike was back in business. Sorry about that, Alan! Later, we mused about the fleche rules because, being only 3 on the team, we all had to finish. So the question became: does a body part count as a rider if one of us got chewed up by dogs or bears and the others had to bungee a remaining limb onto a rack or top tube? Ah, the questions of the randonneur…

Vytas asked at one point if I’d seen that deer along the road. At least, he thought it was a deer. I thought it was a sasquatch. What are the odds of seeing a sasquatch along the South Lavant Road? 50-50 of course. You either see one, or you don’t. This led to a discussion of statistical probabilities…

We rode into the Ompah control just after midnight and we put on extra clothing. There was a light haze in the sky that gave a surrealistic air to the moon and mars. This next section to Maberly was one of my favourite parts of the ride. Great roads, no traffic, and a Tim Hortons not too far away. We signed our cards again in Maberly just before crossing highway 7 for some more fun in the hills.

When we reached Hanna Road, Vytas was sure we should be going right (as per the Maberly 200 route), but Alan and I thought it was left. We took a 10 minute sleep break. As we continued on, Vytas wanted to talk about stuff to keep himself awake. He may not have noticed that both Alan and I are basically introverts counterpointing his extroversion, so this made conversation a little bit awkward. “Give me one of your lectures”, he’d say. “Mine are deadly boring and would definitely put you to sleep”, I’d say. Silence. And so it went.

But we did end up talking about different personality types and our motivations for doing these crazy long bike rides, and eventually found a pattern and a rhythm that helped us all stay awake and on the right track. We finally got out of the hills and sailed along a flat, traffic-less road into Perth. By this time, we all needed some real food (such as it is at Tims), and to get off the bikes for a few minutes. After refuelling, we pulled out of the Tims just before 5:00. The sky was starting to lighten, the worst of the hills were behind us, and Merrickville beckoned with the promise of a big breakfast.

The sunrise over the Rideau River was beautiful and free of charge, and the back roads through Kilmarnock were fantastic. We got to Merrickville in good time and started to think about managing the clock to make sure we wouldn’t be more than 2 hours at the penultimate control in Battersea. Turns out, we didn’t need to worry about going any slower thanks to more hills and headwinds!

After breakfast, we struck a good pace to North Augusta where we refilled our bottles, and then headed out towards Athens. But there was a mistake on the cue sheet so Vytas and Alan started heading out on the wrong road. My garmin was squealing at this point so I flagged them down and after a brief discussion, we backtracked and got on the right road. By this time the wind had picked up and that knocked us back a bit as it blew across the open farmland.

In Athens, we had a quick bite to eat and headed out again towards Battersea. And, of course, there were more hills to climb, some good and many not so good. But in the end, this was not a race and I for one didn’t mind them so much as long as I could climb at my own pace.

At Battersea, it was time for a well-deserved rest. Ice cream and drinks (Alan’s platypus nozzle hadn’t been working so he was parched), and a few minutes of sleep on a grassy knoll cum picnic area was most excellent and surprisingly refreshing. At 4:00 we began the final leg of our journey to Kingston. For me, this section went by very quickly. I mean, we didn’t ride any faster but it felt like time flew by. The road into Kingston was dangerously busy with traffic. I didn’t like that but it kept us on our toes. At the last hill just before the 401, Vytas asked who wanted to hammer up it for king of the hill bragging rights. There were no takers. Quel surprise.

When we got to the Denny’s, there were no other riders around, no one cheering us in, but the satisfaction of completing the ride was evident. Eventually, we all got cleaned up and changed and sat down for supper. Shortly thereafter, still no sign of the other teams, we all went our separate ways to crash. But we must have just missed the Huron gang who arrived a little while later.

A nice club breakfast the next morning sealed the fleche 2016. I had the pleasure of meeting many randonneurs and having breakfast with Dave and John from Team Huron. If I recall correctly, John and I also share an interest in another crazy hobby – amateur radio. For me, it was the most amazing riding experience I’ve had. A good route, great company, lots of beautiful scenery, no flat tires, and no hard rain a-fallin’!

2016 Fleche – Hog Town Express

Ride report from Peter Leiss:

Earlier this year Bob McLeod asked me if would be interested in participating on his Flèche Team. It has been many years; in fact it was the last century, since I had done a Flèche. I agreed immediately.

Bob had devised a route that uses the Waterfront trail as the route that is intriguing to say the least. He revised the route 7 times after going out and route checking sections to ensure that it worked.

Stephen Jones, Erin Marchak,  Bob McLeod and myself met at the Amsterdam Brew Pub to enjoy  a meal prior to out departure. This may not have been the best planning as it was the first good day of spring on a long weekend resulting in exceptionally long wait times to get seated. Standing in line for over an hour before riding for 24 hours is probably not what you would want to do. This did however give us all time to catch up and introduce ourselves to Erin who a new Randonnneur this season. We finally were seated and enjoyed the first of many meals on this Fleche. Peter Hoeltzenbein joined us later after riding down from Markham.

The weather had cooled down so we added clothing for our departure at 9:15 pm. So off we went on the Martin Goodman trail, which forms a part of the Waterfront Trail through Toronto. Now the Waterfront Trail is a little complicated in Toronto requiring 3 pages of cues to get to our first control. This resulted in the occasional stop to determine the exact route. We also had many wildlife sightings along the way, mostly cats and raccoons and one skunk. This section also contains the most severe climb of the route that tops out at 17%. More wildlife was sighted as we proceeded along the trail out to Rouge Park. It must have been quite a surprise to the young people out enjoying wobbly pops and campfires to see five sets of bright headlights approaching out of the darkness.

Up and over the foot bridge that crosses the Rouge River and on to Whitby of to our first control at 66 K. After eating at Denny’s we continued on our way to Cobourg. This section is where things got interesting, as the Waterfront Trail comprises of everything you could possibly ride on. Comprised of roadways, limestone screening pathways, dual track dirt paths, single-track dirt paths and a section of sidewalk. It is a little disconcerting to be in the middle of nowhere heading down a broken roadway that looks like no traffic has been on it in 10 years signed no exit to search out an unlit entrance to the trail that proceeds even further towards what appears to be nothing. Fortunately Bob had ridden these sections and knew approximately where to find the trail.

More wildlife in the form of deer and one fox. We also passed by the Darlington Nuclear Plant that has signs advising that Armed response would meet anyone foolish enough to jump the fence. The trail finally stayed on open roads after Wilmot Creek. This an area that I am familiar with having ridden these roads on the Tandem Club rides. As we where now approaching 4 am we slowed down considerably. Anyone who has ridden overnight before will understand that there is a natural desire to sleep around this time and that it is something that experience is the only tool to get through this patch. Our target was to be leaving Cobourg 141 K at 5:30 am. We all regrouped here and had another meal at Tim Horton’s. This is one of only a few on the route that is open 24 hours other than drive through service.

Our next stop was Brighton at 186 K with an estimated leaving time of 8:30 am. Now that the sun was up the groups pace picked up again. We stopped at Lola’s Cafe where we ate again and had conversations with some locals and the staff. They where a little amazed that we had ridden our bikes from Toronto but even more so when we mentioned our destination and what we where attempting. It is interesting to note that the response is now one of admiration of the effort. This is in contrast to my previous flèche where people just thought we were nuts. The roadways along this area are all signed to advise drivers to share the road and bike route. The drivers are quite courteous when passing and the traffic was quite light.

The next target is Picton 248 K with an estimated ferry crossing at Glenora of 1:30 pm. We had banked some time so we had a leisurely stop in Picton where we had lunch at McDonalds. Having spent a lot of time in Picton I knew that it would be exceptionally busy a nice long weekend and was not disappointed. There was construction that made whats would be normally very heavy traffic even more so. We arrived early at the Glenora ferry and continued along the Loyalist Parkway/Waterfront Trail towards Kingston. We had a secret control at a pullout along the Parkway at 263 K and let there at 2 pm on our way towards Kingston.

After passing by the penitentiaries Millhaven, Joyceville, Bath, Collins Bay and Kingston which is now a prison museum Another stop to eat in Kingston at Subway. You may be detecting a pattern here by as there seemed to be a lot of eating on this flèche. Now Kingston is our ultimate destination however we would have to go through to Ganauoque to ensure we met the distance and time requirements.

We continued up through Kingston toward Historic Fort Henry where we have a conundrum. In order to continue on our route we would need to pass through the Canadian forces base. This was signed no trespassing. After discussing our options a local resident told us it was no problem that everyone goes through. So on we went hoping that we would not be detained.

Onwards to Ganaouque 343 K through the rolling hills. We had planned to leave here at 6:30 pm as well as another planned stop to eat. It took a few minutes to find a suitable restaurant however the service was a bit slow. Once we explained what we were doing and out time lines the owner who is a British expat and a cyclist sorted us out. We left on time and stopped at 7:15 to record our 22-hour time distance at 347.6 K.

Now for the final push back to Kingston. As you may know you required to ride at least 25 K over the last 2 hours of a flèche, which may not seem to be a daunting task. However after 22 hours of saddle time this becomes a crucial issue. We had no difficulties in meeting this requirement and Erin led us as we finished at Denny’s in Kingston with 375.3 K.

After getting cleaned up we met in the restaurant once again to enjoy a meal and reminisced of our accomplishment. This was the longest ride for all of us this season so and it was the longest ride the Erin had ever done all in one go. Congratulations go out to the riders for completing this challenge and particularly to Erin to attempting this in her first season. Well done.

All three teams completed the flèche this year with Ottawa, Huron and Toronto each providing a team. We all met in the morning before heading back to our homes for a well deserved rest.

DENNYS IN WHITBY

GLENORA FERRY

Stats:
Total Distance 375.3 Kilometres
Total Time 24 hours
Elevation Gain 1937 metres
Average speed Total 15.6 KPH
Average speed moving 21.4 KPH
Calories burned 15,511
Calories inhaled hard to say we ate a lot.
Minimum Temp 7 C
Average Temp 14.6 C
Max temp 20 C

2016 Fleche – Huron “Fleche-Air Fiends”

Ride report from John Cumming:

Four Huron randonneurs – John Cumming, Chris Cossonnet, Dave Pearson, and Carey Chappelle – set off at 6:00 pm Friday evening May 20th from South London, with anticipation and quiet resolve to cover as many kilometres as possible towards Kingston in 24 hours.  Following a relatively “straight-as-an-arrow” route on some of Ontario’s heritage highways (“Highway 2”, “Governor’s Road”, Lakeshore Road), this  ride would turn out to be a delightful adventure for all of us.

But for me, the anticipation of this unique adventure had started months before …

I had been looking forward to the Randonneurs Ontario Fleche since last autumn’s General Meeting, where several Huron members began discussing the possibilities for a London to Kingston effort.  I offered to coordinate a team and to begin route planning.   Having never participated in a Fleche before, my first challenge was to get my head around the unique (and sometimes quirky !) Fleche rules.  But as I reviewed online anecdotes and previous Fleche reports (of teams “running out of road” in the final 2 hours, or “falling short” in the total kilometres covered, or number of riders finishing), the rules and objectives began to make sense.  It also became apparent to me that a London to Kingston route would be ideal for a Fleche:  At approximately 460 km total (depending on selected route) there should be no danger of not having enough kilometres available in the final 2 hours, and the “80% of proposed route” mandatory distance is about equal to the 360 km minimum requirement.  In other words, if we ride well and cover 360 km in the first 22 hours and still have the legs for 25 km in the last 2 hours, “we’re good !”

The generally “downhill” elevation profile from London to Kingston, plus the statistical probability of prevailing tail winds, were additional factors that suggested this ride could be great!

In logistics and route planning, it became apparent that an evening start would be ideal.  The thought of arriving sleepless and exhausted in Kingston on Sunday morning, then turning around and driving 5 hours back to London (and 3 more hours for Carey and Chris) was not at all appealing.  A Friday 6 pm departure would have us going through Toronto in the middle of the night, allowing us to use roads that might be too busy during the day.  A Saturday evening arrival would allow us to pig out at the 24-hour Denny’s, rehydrate on barley energy drinks, and get a good sleep before driving home.  (I was delighted that the other teams also chose a Saturday-evening arrival plan!)

The route was plotted “from scratch” on Ride with GPS using the “KISS” principle – follow the safest main and direct roads and use 24-hour Timmies for Controls.  Being a Fleche (not a Brevet) we would have the option of detouring onto a parallel path (eg bike path) if a particular section of the route was too busy.

So back to the ride itself …

The weather forecast had been looking ideal in the days leading up to the ride.  Carey and Chris had driven from Port Elgin to Dave’s residence, and the three of them biked down the 9 km to meet me at the ride start location (near the London Velodrome).  I had biked down from my home in Ilderton (45 km, with a few detours along the way) so we were all “warmed up” while we waited for our GPS time to show 18:00 hours.   As we set out from London, it was more overcast than expected.  And in the first few kilometres, we actually felt a rain drop or two.  But the weather and rando gods were smiling on us, and the remainder of the ride would be completely dry.   With fresh legs, we rode easily through the rural Southwestern Ontario evening.  Having ridden together on previous Brevets, all four of us were familiar with each other’s riding styles, and were feeling quite comfortable riding in a “loose” group at a steady speed.  We arrived at our first Control in Paris at 9:20 pm, feeling good about the 25 km/hr pace we had been maintaining.  After the first of many “Timmies recharges” we would have in the coming hours, we were back on the road, eagerly anticipating the night ride down the escarpment towards our next control in Port Credit.  With the full moon doing its best to light our way through an overcast sky, and car traffic lighter than we expected, the late evening riding seemed quite relaxed.

As we biked through Hamilton and along the waterfront through Burlington and Oakville, the twinkling lights on the water, the marinas, and the silhouettes of upscale residences provided many amazing views!  Carey commented that he would definitely be coming back to ride this section in daylight.  We pulled into Port Credit Timmies just after 2 am.  Another quick caffeine injection, and we were back on the road, heading along Lakeshore Road into the Big Smoke.  We had a brief stop near the Exhibition Grounds, while Chris dealt with a minor mechanical issue (a loose bolt).  (Over the whole ride, Chris Carey and Dave each encountered a mechanical annoyance – Carey had a “screw loose”, which some of you would say is nothing new! – As for Dave, the tensioning bolt on his Brooks Saddle came loose and fell off in the darkness!  This resulted in Dave riding on leather resting directly on the seat rails, and his talking voice becoming ever more “soprano” as the ride went along!  For those who don’t know Dave, he rides a fixie, so “getting up out of the saddle” was not an option for alleviating the discomfort!  As for me, a recently-replaced but very creaky bottom bracket assured that the other riders would not fall asleep on the road.   But no spills and no flats for anyone throughout the ride!   )

The next magical moments on our ride occurred as we entered the dedicated bikelanes along Toronto’s waterfront.  The last time I had been here (two years ago) Queen’s Quay and the surrounding area was a construction mess.  Now, it’s beautiful and almost European in its design and bicycling functionality.  (Of course, we were riding it in the middle of the night, with no cars or pedestrians around.  We chatted about how crowded these bikelanes would be in a few hours, when the city awoke.)  Carey had to stop to take pictures of the Rogers Centre and CN Tour.  Tourists!

We ascended the streets of Scarborough towards the bluffs, where we encountered one of our only navigation challenges:  A bike path off a residential street did not appear to exist.  We spent 15 minutes or so circling a public school in an attempt to find the trail, before Dave (zooming into the smallest scale on his GPS) lead us back through the bush and darkness, to a muddy single-track path.  We found our way through Bluffer’s Park, and were treated to more amazing night views of the Scarborough bluffs.

Heading along the Waterfront Trail, we enjoyed the sunrise over the Pickering Nuclear Plant and Lake Ontario shoreline.  We reached our next Timmie-target (Ajax) just after 6 am. – 235 km behind us, just after the 12 hour mark !!!  Speculating that daylight, tailwinds, and more coffee would spur us along, we began to ponder whether we might really be able to complete 100 % of the proposed route!  A fifteen-minute power nap on the lawn was proposed, but we decided to save that treat for Cobourg when the sun would be warmer.

We reached Cobourg just before 11:00 am, enjoyed a Timmies breakfast, and pushed on after the brief nap we had promised ourselves.  It felt great to take off our shoes and lie on the grass under the warming sun.

Back in the saddle again, it became apparent that we were NOT going to be blessed with tailwinds, and the terrain east of Toronto was not as flat as we had pretended it would be.  We knew our “100 %” goal was not going to be achieved.  As we approached Belleville, Carey began to muse about how nice it would be to have a “pint”.  I could not disagree.  With fifteen minutes to go before the mandatory 22 hour report time, we spotted a “Patio Open” sign, causing our bikes to quickly veer off the road!  Just enough time to order cold beverages and fill in the Birdy’s Pub address on our Control Cards before the clock strikes 4pm.  Our friendly and interested waitress signs our cards and snaps a photo.  80% of our proposed route accomplished? Check.  360 km completed? Check.  25 km do-able in the next 2 hours?  Hmmm, maybe not, if we have a second pint.  So back on the road it is!

After Belleville, it was just a matter of knocking off as many kilometres as we could in the remaining hour-and-a-half.  As we continued east on Highway 2 towards Napanee, I kept checking the Garmin as our post-Birdy’s kilometres crept towards 25.  With that final Fleche requirement satisfied after crossing Marysville Road, we had to now think about where we would be at the 24 hour mark to document the end of our official ride.  We were shooting for our next proposed Control (you guessed it – Timmies in Napanee) but fell a few kilometres short.  At the corner of County Road1 & Jimmy Kimmet Blvd. we stopped to watch the GPS time show 18:00.  Just over 420 kilometres ridden in 24 hours ( 91% of proposed route – Moving Time almost 19 hours, Moving Average Speed 22.2 km/hr) – we were all feeling pleased!

Of course, we were still 40 kilometres from the hot meal, cold beer, and soft beds we were now hallucinating about!

Aside from the sore nether regions and stiff shoulders you’d  expect after 24 hours in the saddle, I think we were feeling fairly  strong.  An electrical tape repair of Dave’s broken saddle was making his ride a bit more tolerable, and the promise of non-timmies food was incentive to keep us rolling.  After two more hours of steady riding, we were on the streets of Kingston I had seen 2 days ago when dropping off my Truck for our return trip.  It seemed like it had been two weeks ago!

Just after 8:30 pm, we pulled into the destination hotel.  460 kilometres covered in 26.5 hours.  After well deserved (and needed) showers, we met up with some of the Toronto gang for dinner in Denny’s.  The Ottawa Wanderers, having arrived earlier, had already crashed for the night.

Next morning, we were back in Denny’s to have breakfast with the other teams.  It was great to renew acquaintances, put faces to names, and share exaggerated anecdotes regarding our Fleche adventure.  Many thanks to Carey, Chris, and Dave (and of course the Wanderers and Hogtown Express) for making it so memorable!     P1040844msc

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Huron Chapter’s Entertainment Series

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

The Huron Chapter started their Entertainment Series Brevets with the Much Ado About ….. on Saturday, 7May2016. 18 of the 19 Cyclists finished this 200km Brevet …. wait …. all 19 actually finished this brevet, just one was outside the time limit of 13.5 hrs. The weather forecast leading up to Saturday was not positive … wind and rain. Somehow I guessed the actual weather to be sunny, with the rain only happening when 7 of us attended the Shakespeare in Love Play.  Bob Kassel can confirm my weather forecast as he has the e-mails I sent.

The Much Ado About …. had Sunshine and a blue sky for the first 100km. A few clouds came in after that, with a few rain drops but nothing to be concerned with. The Stratford Control was where the Randonneurs split up, 7 had tickets to the Shakespeare in Love play and the rest of the Randonneurs had lunch and simply carried on.

I enjoyed the Shakespeare in Love play, which does it’s own lifting: from Romeo and Juliet, we tended to sentimentalize Romeo and Juliet so much that we forgot that they did a really STUPID thing. They had an incredible death wish, they knew they were going to kill themselves! At the end, an emotional reaction was obvious … just looking around at everyone!  I’ll see it again before year’s end!

Shakespeare In Love

Tuxido Randonneurs!

The play ended around 1645hrs, the rain had stopped so the 7 of us got back on our bikes to finish the last 64km before 2030hrs. With  50km to go we passed Jakub Ner, but only after taking some photos!

Jakub Ner on a Unicycle!

Jacob!

Now, over the years we have done brevets on standard bicycles with Jakub, but this performance was a FIRST! I have never seen a Unicycle being ridden on a brevet or even heard of someone attempting it! Had to ask Jacob where he got this idea from and he made it clear that his children didn’t like riding with him on his regular bike so he purchased the Unicycle and goes everywhere with his kids!!!

What an awesome brevet! Entertaining from Beginning to End!

Much Ado About 200…on a Unicycle…

Ride Report from Jakub Ner:

On Saturday I reached a milestone I was thinking of ever since fall 2012; when I first learned to ride. Back then I could barely ride around the neighbourhood without muscles I never thought I had wanted to explode.

On Saturday I tried a 200km Randonneuring Brevet and did the distance.

It was actually 205km and I rode it on a Nimbus Oracle in 14 hours 55 minutes.

ME

I’m a 39 year old dude who mostly commutes on my unicycles. I don’t really do sports other than daily post commute stretches and some basic PT.

I started unicycling as a way to mess around with my kids while they bicycle the neighbourhood. Riding a full sized bike with them didn’t have any appeal and uni won over getting a BMX (at my age).

Since I’ve ridden with Randonneurs Ontario on my bike, the thought of trying with a uni was always there, nagging.

I’m fit enough to suffer through things.

THE GEAR

Nimbus Oracle
Padded undershorts
Water + Perpetuem
MP3 player

EXPECTATIONS

Before the brevet I trained for 2 weeks by making 6 of my morning commutes 36km one way and the regular 17km back. I was averaging 3:40/km, roughly 16.3 km/h. This included some stops, red lights and such.

My pace seemed somewhat compatible with doing a brevet. A 200km brevet allows 13.5 hours to complete the distance, otherwise you’re DNF (Did Not Finish).  You’re expected to maintain 14.8 km/h or faster, all breaks in.

It seemed plausible but I knew I’m going to be cutting it close at my pace. That, if I made the distance in the first place.

I knew that taking a break will be out. I fully expected to not stop for food or take any lengthy breaks. My fuel of choice was Hammer Perpetuem and I was just going to drink my way to victory all day long.

Beside worrying about the friction, knee pain, and general suffering, I worried about face planting when I’m tired and not being able to mount out of exhaustion.

THE RIDE

The start was at 7am. At 6:40am while waiting at the start I realized I forgot my knee pads and wrist guards. Sigh. Especially with my worries over face plants still squarely in my head.

Luckily the ride had only one UPD when I came off onto loose gravel but managed to run it out. This was roughly 65km in so the legs were still good. Not sure how I’d fare later on in the day.

Maybe 10km in–just after we left London (Ontario)–I also realized I didn’t pack any water other than the single 750ml Perpetuem bottle I made to fuel me for the first 2 hours. Well, St. Mary’s was at 40km, I’ll resupply there. It was a good plan. I took on 3L there. Later on at 140km (in Stratford) I got another 2L that took me to the finish. The Perpetuem powder I carried all along with me, to remix as needed.

The first control was at 95km. I got an eager ice cream connoisseur to sign my control card. I realized I made the control point with only 20 minutes to spare before it closed. That’s OK, before this control I wasn’t sure I’ll be able to do the distance and thought I was taking it somewhat easy. I vowed to make a bigger time buffer for myself before I get into the Stratford control at 140km.

At the midpoint I also realized that the pains and aches have all been relatively stable for the last 20km or so. They weren’t getting any worse. I realized that this is manageable.

By this time I’ve been taking more frequent slowdowns to raise myself off the saddle and I dismounted more often to stretch out and walk out some pains. It felt like I was doing this every couple kilometres.

Unfortunately I hit the 140km control point 5 minutes after it closed. Regardless, I was optimistic that the last 65km are downwind and I can make up the time and make it into the finish before time cutoff.

Somewhere around the 150km mark the Randonneurs on bikes passed me for the second time. These guys went to see a Shakespeare play in Stratford as part of the ride. You see, there were no “normal” Randonneurs on this brevet . It was a huge boost
to see them again.

Seems all through the ride there were moments of drudgery and probably longer moments of awesomeness–despite the pains. The moments of awesomeness evaporated completely approaching London and in the dark, but I was almost at the finish line (I had 3 head lights and 5 tail lights, safety first).

After about 180km my fear of not being able to mount became reality. It took many failed attempts to remount. It was bound to get much worse in the dark, and it did.

I did make it into the final control at 205km at 9:55pm. This was quite a bit past the cutoff time of 8:30pm. But I did the distance and now my curiosity to do this on a uni was satisfied.

PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resi…thint=album%2c

Much Ado 200 Permanent

Ride report from David Hamilton:

Yesterday, I rode the Much Ado About Nothing 200 as a permanent. I’d been looking forward to this ride for some time. My son attends UWO so we were there to pick him up and move him out of residence… a perfect excuse to get a permanent ride in!

I rode out from the hotel bright and early as the sun was rising. I started the ride from the Tims control in East London, wending my way north. After a few km, the urban gave way to the rural and I was cruising along back country roads, feeling strong in the bright sun. And, despite forecasts of strong, gusty eastern winds, they were a non-factor for the first 50 km or so.

When I rolled into St. Mary’s, the main street was a massive construction zone. Not much traffic, so navigating it wasn’t difficult. Now, I have some ancestry in this area. My great grandfather grew up in Perth County before heading to the Eastern Townships, and I have relations still farming around Arthur, just north of Millbank. As such, I felt an odd, comfortable draw to the area, its scenery and the smells of rural Ontario.

As I pulled out of St. Mary’s on my way to Millbank, the forecast winds appeared and that made the ride suddenly a lot tougher. When I got to Anna Mae’s Bakery – the first control – I was ready for a break. The wait line in this Amish eatery was massive, so I just bought a couple of pastries and ate them in warm sunshine before getting back on the bike. I passed a peloton coming the other way with the wind at their backs and they flew by! When I eventually turned west toward Stratford, I had the wind at my back and could basically ride along, sans pedalling, at 30 km/h. It was sweet.

As you can imagine, there was plenty of heavy farm machinery at work and on the roads as farmers prepared their land for planting. While some of the roads were busy with traffic, most were quiet and afforded me the chance to look around and see the sights.

The ride into Stratford is beautiful along Lakeside Drive. Swans, ducks, old trees and of course, theatres! I checked into the second control and had a snack.

The last 65 km back to London were great. For some reason, I seem to feel the strongest for the first and last 50 km or so of a 200k, but that middle 75 km – 100 km is a mental and physical wasteland. Not sure why that is, but nevertheless, I was finishing the ride strong. I came in past the London Airport in light traffic, and flew west along Trafalgar back to the finish control. My time was 11:01.

From there, after a chocolate milk, I rode back to the hotel feeling like I could going. I love finishing a ride strong! Susan and I had supper at the what-used-to-be-called-Big-Boy restaurant, and our son joined us later after a day at Grand Bend with his friends. All in all, a great time in London.

much ado rural much ado st marys much ado stratford much ado bakery much ado end

Gentle Start 200 Brevet

Ride report from Bob Macleod:

Ten cyclists participated in the Toronto Chapter’s first brevet of the season, including two doing their first brevet – Michael and Graeme, “welcome”!
We had perfect Spring-weather conditions, the most benign in memory for this late April event which often brings challenging winds and bitter temp’s. Yesterday was sunny until late afternoon, no wind to speak of and comfortable cycling temp’s starting at 2C to a high of 12C in mid-afternoon. Spring is evident everywhere – grasses are all bright green, waterways running fast, blackbirds are starting to establish their territories and every pond seems to have been claimed by a pair of geese or ducks.
Finish times were between 7h53m and 10h30m, so everyone seems to have had a relatively successful ride. Here’s looking forward to the next big event!

Burnstown Café 200 Permanent

Ride report from David Hamilton:

After a rather miserable time on the Maberly 200 last week, I decided to rethink my approach to riding distances with a focus on the “randonnee” part instead of on the “gotta go faster” part. 13.5 hours is a generous amount of time in which to complete a 200k brevet, so I looked at the Burnstown Café ride as an adventure.

I switched out my rear tire before this ride, replacing my damaged high performance Compass tire with my bombproof but sluggish Jack Browns. The last thing I wanted was another blow out.

With a start point in Kanata, I rode out from my house near the QCH in the breaking dawn. The full moon was still visible in the sky as I meandered along the Watt’s Creek bike path and negotiated the construction on Corkstown Road. When I arrived at the start point at the Comfort Inn, I had some food (boiled, salted potatoes) and then took off on the ride.

The wind, again, was nasty and particularly brutal in the open spaces. I was glad that Richardson Side Road and Beavertail Road had been repaved last fall…they were starting to feel like Shea Road! The route takes you through mostly farm country where small, family farms are still operating. When I came to Tatlock Road, I thought, hm, if I go left instead of right, I could have breakfast at Temples! Despite taking it easy, I arrived at the first control in Clayton in pretty good time.

The next leg to Calabogie was only 44 km long, but full of hills and into the wind. I really enjoyed the Tatlock Road up to 511… hardly any traffic and beautiful scenery. The 511 to Calabogie was a little busier but nothing scary. I checked into the control and had some lunch.

The temperature was still cold and I replaced my balaclava with a head band. I think the cold bothered me more than the wind on this ride. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am tired of the cold! Please, I want to ride in shorts and a jersey! Highway 508 from Calabogie to Burnstown was very busy, and some of the drivers were complete assholes buzzing me when there was no need. Fortunately, the section from Burnstown to Highway 17 was way better. Way. And the wind wasn’t quite so bad as I had envisioned.

Crossing Highway 17 on a Saturday afternoon was a trick.

When I turned onto Usborne, I was finally with the wind and sailed along into Braeside and Arnprior at a good clip to the control at the Tim Hortons. From there, most of the last section was with the wind (or at least, not completely against it). It was super fun sailing down Stonecrest and Diamondview Roads at a wind-assisted 30kmh. I arrived back at the Comfort Inn for a ride time of 11:05, had another quick snack, and then started on my way home.

Funny thing, even though I consciously decided to ride at a real easy pace, the total time for the brevet was pretty much the same as last week’s Maberly. The big difference was I felt stronger at the end and I enjoyed it a lot more.

bridge at blakeny calabogie redneck 511 tatlock

Merrickville 200 Permanent

Ride report from David Hamilton:

On April 2, two riders set out from Stittsville to ride the Merrickville 200 as a permanent. And, indeed, the wind was howling!

 Actually, the day started off peacefully. Alan R. on his fixie and I on my non-fixie made good time riding into Merrickville with only a slight headwind near the end of the first section. The forecast had called for winds out of the southwest, showers, and then clearing as a cold front moved through, but conditions for the first 52 km were ideal.

 After a brief stop at the Village Bean, we congratulated ourselves on the weather. Clearly, the weather gods were not pleased by this display. In the span of what seemed like only a few minutes, the wind began to howl and did not let up for the rest of the ride. We had to go straight into it on the road to Jasper, and naturally the rain began as well. Fortunately, by the time we turned northwest around the 91 km mark, we picked up the tailwind and the rain had stopped.

 Just before Greenbush, we encountered what felt like ice pellets. I thought to myself, “what in the seven circles of hell is this?!” The shower didn’t last long but was a good reminder that you can face all kinds of conditions this early in the spring. Still, we pushed forward through to the second control at North Augusta where we had some lunch. Our time had slowed considerably in the wind, but I felt we should now have a tailwind most of the way home.

 It was not to be.

 We did pick up a boost on the way to Oxford Mills and that lifted our spirits. But the last 61 km from there to the finish was head on into a brutal, gusting northwest wind. We took turns at the front but it was mentally and physically exhausting. At one point, the wind whipped across open fields and almost blew the bikes off the road. For the longest time, our travel speed ranged between 11 km/h and 17 km/h. It was tough. But I kept hearing Peter Grant’s voice in my head, “Keep riding… just keep riding”, and so that’s what we did.

 While doing so, I thought about some of the things we’d seen on the ride. Horses, cattle, ducks, geese, a blue heron, wild turkeys, dogs of all sorts, a llama farm. Roadkill Report: garter snakes, frogs, squirrel, fox. Then there was the old fellow on the road to Oxford Mills who had set up bird houses on all of his fence posts.  He was checking them out and waved as we rolled by.

 After a quick stop to refuel and take a break from the road in Richmond, we tackled the last 20 km – again into the wind. I noticed at this point that the temperature was really starting to drop and I was ready to be home. I had a roast beef dinner waiting for me there, and Susan texted to say that she’d made cookies!

 The Shea Road from Richmond to Stittsville was a real mess. It looked like it had been carpet bombed or something. Big potholes, broken pavement, crumbling asphalt at the sides… it was possibly the worst road I’ve been on. Alan was in full beast mode, and fortunately for me, hauled my sorry butt through the last remaining kms. As we passed Scotiabank Place, people and cars were everywhere. Apparently, Garth Brooks was playing.

 Finally, we rolled into the finish at the park and ride with a time of 12:07. It was a long ride, to be sure, and I can still hear that wind in my ears!

The Maberly 200 Permanent: A Tale of Two Rides

Ride Report from David Hamilton

It was the best of times. It was the… BEST of times! Having conquered a few 200 km permanents and the 300 km Animalathon, I was looking for additional rides and the Maberly 200 that I rode as a permanent on September 26, 2015 was terrific.

The morning sun broke over Ashton on a perfect early fall day. The air was crisp, the leaves had just started turning and there was an eerie mist over the dips and valleys. I rode out at 7:00 am and was a bit surprised at how cold it was.

A few km into the ride, I was serenaded by the sound of honking geese and the ka-POW ka-POW of shot gun blasts. Yes, it was duck hunting season and the cacophony of the geese and gunshots stood in stark contrast to the picturesque beauty of the countryside. This racket kept on for some time until I’d passed Mississippi Lake, heading towards Lanark.

September is my favourite month… not too hot, not too cold, and the more diffuse daylight bathed my world in soft colours as I poked along the back roads and over some small up and down hills. But the real treat came as I turned southwest to head down Bennett Lake Road. This was the most beautiful 15km or so of cycling I have done to date. No traffic, decent roads, fall colours, beautiful blue lake and clear sky. I read somewhere that ranonneuring allows you to really experience the land you’re covering. The combination of slower speeds and back roads and friendly locals feeds into that. I was getting the full benefit of this, with Canadian Shield, twists and turns in the road, and wonderful silence.

When I arrived at the first control at Maberly, the little ice cream store was closed for the season and the restaurant was not open either. Hm. I had sufficient water to get me to the next town if needed, but what to do about getting my card signed? Well, as it happens, there was a bunch of other bikers there. Not cyclists, but “biker” bikers. I didn’t see any Hells Angels logos on their jackets so tentatively approached one of them to see if he’d sign my card. It turns out they were just a bunch of friends out for a fall ride, and were quite interested in why I would want to ride 200 km on a bike. I would run into them later in Westport.

Speaking of which, there were some nice hills from Maberly to Westport and I was feeling pretty good. My ride was going well and I was taking an easy pace and just enjoying the countryside. On county road 36 heading towards Westport, I started encountering a lot more cyclists coming the other way and by the way they were working, I figured there must be some kind of race going on (I never did find out what the event was, but there were riders of all ages and abilities on it). The downhill into Westport was fun, as always, and I decided not to stop there but to stay on to Newboro and have a bite to eat there.

At Newboro, I had the most delicious milk shake ever. It was totally boss. I hung around for about 15 minutes or so and then got back on the bike and started in on the second half of the ride. The first 100 km covered some hills and shield rock and lakes. This second half was mostly flat through farm land, hence the “tale of two rides”.

It was during this second half that I started to encounter some headwinds on my way to Merrickville. These did not make me happy, and this section of the ride was the toughest as a bit of fatigue started setting in. When I arrived in Merrickville, there were tons of people out and about in the town, taking full advantage of the beautiful day because, well, winter was coming.

I stopped in at the Village Bean to get my card signed and the cashier there, who by this time recognized me as one of those crazy bike riders who goes all over the place, asked “How far are you going today?”. This was some time in the mid-afternoon and we chatted about the weather and so on. I fuelled up on carrot cake and coke, and headed back out on the road.

Just as I was pulling out of Merrickville, I heard that infrequent but familiar hiss of my rear tire going flat. I inspected the tire and found that somewhere along the way something had shredded it a bit. Beats me how as I hadn’t seen anything obvious. No worries, as I ride well-equipped. So I started taking the tire off and putting in a new tube, and this is where I lost more time than I had thought I ever would. Not because replacing the tube was finicky (okay, it didn’t cooperate at first, but I learned it a good lesson), but because of the number of people who stopped asking if I needed any help.

The first was an old fellow who asked if I needed a ride anywhere. Then a cop stopped to see if I needed anything. Then a fellow cyclist going the other way stopped. And then some dude pulled over, scaring up a ton of dust, jumped out of his car and started going goo-goo over my bike. Since I have a double top tube – something we don’t see too often – he wanted to know all about it, all about randonneuring, had to show me a picture of his bike on his cell phone… and then took a few pictures of my bike from various angles. Fortunately, I was in no danger of running out of time, so I was happy to oblige and wave the rando flag.

Back on the road, fully repaired and grateful for the offers of help, I started down Burritt’s Rapids Road which follows the Rideau River towards Kemptville. This is my favourite part of this section, with horse farms and wonderful scenery everywhere. But this was the fall and many farmers were preparing their fields for the next spring but spreading the manure. I had the misfortune of being downwind of a plop wagon for several minutes.

Turning north and crossing the Rideau River, I made my way back towards Ashton on a fairly flat road. Again, the traffic was quite light so this was a very pleasant ride. As I neared Ashton, I heard again the gun shots and the cackling geese from the killing fields.  I cruised into the parking lot in Ashton, thoroughly pleased with my day’s ride which covered two distinct types of terrain together.

Morning mist over a creek near Ashton in duck season.

On the Bennett Lake Road

Half way point at Newboro