Frosty 200!

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

SUNSHINE! … BLUE SKY! … GLEN STEEN! … We couldn’t ask for more! Glen arrived to meet everyone at the Tilsonburg Community Centre prior to 2018’s FROSTY 200!

Patrick Whitehead, Liz Overduin, Terry Payne, Bob Kassel, Ken Jobba, Jim Raddatz, Brenda Wiechers, Tim O’Callahan and myself met with Glen prior to the Start. We talked about the one and only time the FROSTY 200! had been completed, Glen had injured himself crosscountry skiing a few days before, so he decided to support us on the first FROSTY 200!, by setting up Secret Controls and being available from beginning to end. On this FROSTY 200!, Jim Morris took over and supported everyone from beginning to end and was MUCH APPRECIATED!


The advantage of this FROSTY 200! was that the roads were in excellent condition … not snow covered! The disadvantage was the 25-45 kph head winds from the WEST! Riding with Bob, Liz and Terry, we decided not to stop at Control #2, Uncle’s Country Coffee Shop for lunch, but work our way towards Control #3, the Norfolk Tavern in Port Dover. Riding my TREK 1120 Mountain bike, with Fat Tires, I couldn’t believe I was climbing a hill at 0.0 Km/hr! Felt better when I looked ahead and saw two Randonneurs walking up the same hill!! The Tavern we were headed to, was PACKED! Fortunately we found a few chairs open at the Bar and enjoyed a great lunch! Not to mention the entertainment from the Band playing music!!

Tim O’Callahan and Brenda Wiechers were a little quicker then us, had lunch at Control #2 so passed by us on their way to Control #4, Tim Horton’s in Delhi.

Notice the smiling face on Brenda!

Eight of Nine Randonneurs were successful completing this FROSTY 200! Everyone enjoyed the SUNSHINE, BLUE SKY and touching base with GLEN STEEN!


2017 Sydney Melbourne 1200 (November 19-22)

Ride Report from Dave Thompson:

At the pub get-together before the ride, an Aussie warned me that this was going to be difficult, that nothing about Florida would prep me for this ride. In emails before the ride we were warned about wind, rain, cold, sleet and high DNF rates.  Kangaroos and wombats are an issue from dusk until dawn.

Now the ride is finished.  Looking back, it’s hard to rank 1200s on any difficulty scale as weather, personal conditioning and route familiarity play such a huge role. One edition is never the same as another, especially four years later.

I was lucky. I saw kangaroos.  They watched me pass.  Nothing jumped out in front of me.  I did almost hit a wombat at slow speed.  The latter are big; it would be like hitting a slow moving hog.  One Australian rider died the first night.  Speculation was that he hit an animal.

We could have had huge headwinds, but the winds were kind and often at our backs. We could have had sub freezing temps, but we didn’t.  I never even used my heavy jacket that I lugged for all but the last day, let alone neoprene booties!  I don’t think that the temperature dropped below 10C.  That heavy jacket of mine usually gets a lot of use.  It’s highly unusual not to give it some exercise, whether due to cold or wet.  I also brought along rain pants, the ultimate protection from the elements and heat retention.  They stayed in my drop bag.

I did try out the new lightweight RUSA wool jersey the first day; the midweight jersey the second.  Long sleeved jerseys also got some use, as did my leg warmers.  My featherweight PI jacket blocked the wind nicely.  It was all I ever needed.

We could have had rain; it threatened but never happened.  The forecast changed daily but we were lucky.  Originally it looked like we would start in the rain, but it was glorious weather, dawn at Sydney Harbour, the iconic Opera House in the background.

With less climbing than the Rome 1600 earlier in 2017 albeit longer climbs, moderate grades, no get-off-bike-here steeps, it had a lot of climbing but not a lot more than the average.  Numbers are meaningful for planning but at the end of the day it’s the “feel” of the ride that’s important, vs the hard numbers.  This didn’t feel any harder, climbing-wise, than the Granite Anvil and certainly not the Rome 1600 earlier in the year.  It was probably less difficult than LEL; certainly, the weather was better.

We did have heat, intensifying as we got closer to Melbourne. At its hottest, it was hotter than Rome, furnace-like and similar to the Gold Rush final day in the desert.  I made ample use of my pour-on-head cooling strategy.  I never came close to running out of water.

Getting out of Sydney wasn’t fun, nor was getting into Melbourne.   The latter had heavy traffic, bike trails, sidewalks, traffic lights … slow going.  There were some high traffic 100 km/h roads well into the ride but not enough to be bothersome.   I heard some mention of unfriendly drivers but experienced nothing firsthand.

The ride is a point-to-point, which is harder for the organizers and riders.  That said, suitcases and bike boxes were transported to the end; drop bags were moved from overnight to overnight.  They made it as easy as possible for the riders.  Sandy took the train from Sydney to Melbourne while I was riding — that was a 10-11 hour trip.  It is a long way no matter how you get there.

The overnights were mostly camp-ish, with bunks, shared bathrooms and showers, good food fresh prepared, lots of volunteer support.  It was all well organized and efficient.

As usual, I was close to being lanterne rouge early in the ride, long before we ever got out of Sydney. I had to wait for every traffic light and there were many.  At some point during the day I passed Hamid, I don’t remember when that was.  He was certainly way ahead of me mid morning.  He rolled into a control as it was getting dark and I waited; it’s always good to have companionship in the dark.  We finished up that first day together, sometime after midnight, and planned a 4:30 wake up and 5am departure. We were close.

We rode together for a while on the second day; Hamid got ahead and I passed him at one point as he was at the side of the road doing something with his bag. I stopped shortly afterwards at a cafe and thought that he’d passed me; didn’t find out until much later that he had trouble with his light and was well behind. I waited a couple of times, expecting to see him, but he was further back.  I figured minutes but it was hours.  He spent a lot of time dealing with his light.

Getting to the second overnight, I told the vollies that Hamid would room with me but when I awoke, he was still out there. He and Wolfgang arrived just as I started to pull out.  They beat the clock, but not by much.   I was happy that he was with Wolfgang as W can need encouragement at times.  He likes doing long touring rides and doesn’t have any hesitation about turning a brevet into a tour.

I rolled out by myself but met up with Mark Thomas not far down the road. We were both happy to have riding company.  This was Mark’s 10th 1200 for 2017!  That by itself has to be some sort of record. I remember Bill Olsen doing 8 x 1200s one year but those were all North American.  It’s another thing altogether to add in the time zone, jet lag and travel issues. I was “only” on my fourth.  We rode most of that day together, save about the last 30 km. I deal with the heat better, otherwise there’s no way that I’d have kept up.  After dark, on a section that was flatter, I was feeling sleepy and made a couple of check-myself-over stops, leaning against a guardrail and closing my eyes.  If I fell asleep, that would be a good indication that I was really sleepy.  I didn’t trust myself!   With 15 km to go to the overnight, I had a 10 minute nap on a bench.  I could have finished up but that 10 minutes felt good.

Mark was just hitting the sack when I got into that third overnight, having arrived before me.  He was planning a late departure.  I had my roughly 3 hours sleep, I think, got up and had some breakfast, expecting to roll out at dawn.  Mark was up earlier than expected; Ricky was also planning on riding.  Ricky had DNF’d the second day in the heat but rode part of the third day and all of the fourth.  I waited for them to get ready, no records were going to be set that day. We were together through the end at the Velodrome.

Mark rode a disciplined fourth day in the heat.  I was happy with the pace.   Alone, I might have spent less stopped time and would have pushed myself in the heat … probably would have pushed too much.  Riding together was good; it’s not usually my inclination.

Finishing up at the velodrome at 5 something, Sandy was there to meet us.  I don’t ask that of her but it’s great when she does.  Wait … I’m trying to think of another ride where she was at the end but I’m drawing a blank – no, she and Shab were waiting for Jerry and me at the end of the 2016 Miglia.  Our bags awaited us at the Velodrome and I was able to shower and change right there.  Still early, Rus Hamilton gave me and the bags a ride to our hotel, returning to wait for his billet and Hamid.  I was originally going to be staying with him but with Sandy coming into Melbourne a day earlier and getting a hotel, keeping the hotel made more sense.  I had met Rus on the Sunshine 1200; the ride where he had his episode of hyponatremia … where we almost lost him.

Now we wait.  I was anxious to see Hamid and Wolfgang, finish.  We were trading messages with Shab, watching his Delorme tracker.  I was worried that the traffic and bike trails might slow them down so much that they’d be late.  If they’d planned it too closely, that could happen.  We had a couple of false alarms — cyclists on the paths coming in the dark — me yelling “they’re coming, they’re coming” and lit the velodrome for nothing … no, it wasn’t for nothing, they came in a little after 10pm with almost 2 hours to spare.  Whew!  It’s so unusual for us to finish separately!  I’d have had a hard time reconciling finishing and Hamid DNF’ing.

Hamid almost sacrificed his ride for Wolfgang.  It reminded me of the 2016 Miglia in Italy, me helping Jerry Christensen finish.  Some things are more important than the extra notch in your belt.  Friendship is everything.

The ride was well planned and organized, from registration to food at the finish to beers & cheers at a pub the day afterwards.  I had lots of silly questions about baggage logistics etc. before the ride and they were answered immediately.  A large crowd of volunteers staffed the Controls. There were a couple of unstaffed; we sent a text to Bec when we got there.  Another couple had staff but you were on your own for food.  It all worked very well.  In spite of the remote nature of the ride, it wasn’t quite as remote as the Ontario Granite Anvil, from a facilities standpoint.  Hamid and Wolfgang stretched the volunteers a little, since they were on the outer edge of the time limits and actually beyond for a couple.  That’s usually ok with 1200s — even PBP — as long as you make it up later.

Will I do this one again ?  Who knows.  My inclination is “no” but ask me again in four years time.  The scenery was great; different than North American or European.  Perhaps if I do a different Aussie 1200 in the meantime, like Perth-Albany-Perth, I’ll consider the landscape ho-hum, but it wasn’t so this time.  At times it reminded me of the Serengeti, baked landscape and sparse trees … ok, there were no Wildebeest.  I expect that if we (Hamid and I) do another Oz ride, Shab will be there. She got less sleep than we did, staying up all night watching the trackers.  A couple of days ago, Sandy said that she wasn’t interested in returning to Oz … but a little touring through the wine region of Margaret River and a good time staying with Neil and Annie has changed that.

As always, I enjoyed myself.  I love doing 1200s of every shape or form.  I’d rather do a 1200 than a 200.  This one, with 350 km or so each of the first three days and a healthy amount of climbing, is right up my alley. Yes, I finished late each day, but not at dawn.  I’d have liked to finish a bit earlier the second day and get an earlier start on the third, but I shorted myself on nourishment and bonked on a long climb.  Stop, take in a couple of gels, I was going again.  I probably lost a half-hour there, paying the price for the bad judgement call.  It certainly wasn’t a big deal.  Most riders wouldn’t make that mistake.  I’m too impatient.

We’re on the way back now, having spent several days in Perth with my cousins Neil & Annie, their adult children, our grand-daughter Kylie, in addition to our couple of days in Melbourne.  Who knows if we’ll make our connections in Dallas; the flight was very late leaving Sydney.   Life goes on.

Big Bay 200 Permanent

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

Well … yesterday was one of my favourite Permanents for the year! By surprise, my wife and I ran into Bob Macleod and his wife Milana at a restaurant in Toronto a few weeks ago and enjoyed breakfast together. Bob mentioned doing a few permanents before year’s end and I fell for it! I hope our next one is as fun as the Big Bay 200 was yesterday!!

Bob arrived in Port Elgin Wednesday night and stayed with us. My daughter was home for a few days and since her favourite restaurant in Port Elgin is Andre’s, we all went there for dinner and loved it!

Thursday morning, Bob and myself were up early and discussed what we should wear. We trusted the rain forecast and dressed accordingly! Fortuntely, the RAIN started just after the first Control in Chatsworth and kept both of us cool for all the climbing to Walter’s Falls.

At the Tim Horton’s Control in Owen Sound, I took a picture of Bob just to confirm we had RAIN! With fenders on both of our bikes … we don’t always know!
Rather then lunch at the Tim Horton’s, we went to the European Cafe, on route and enjoyed GREAT deserts! It was Bob’s choice as I suggested the Mexican Restaurant down town but he knew better! Leaving the Cafe, the rain had stopped and the temperature had gone up to 5 deg C! Beautiful scenery along the way and we arrived at the Control in Sauble Beach after the sun had gone down.
Rather than having dinner in Sauble Beach, we figured we would pedal the next 20km to Southampton and have dinner at the infamous Elk & Finch before pedalling to Port Elgin within the 13.5hr time limit. We made a quick call to the Elk & Finch and figured we better just continue on to the finish and not risk DNF’ing due to how busy they were and how hungry we were! We officially completed this permanent in 12hrs17mins and look forward to our next get together!

Amazing how the proper weather gear can make any brevet this enjoyable!


Lakes and Vines 300 Permanent!

Ride Report from Carey Chappelle:

Huron Chapter scheduled the Lakes and Vines 300 as a permanent on September 23rd, assuming only the two who initiated this event, Carey Chappelle and Chris Cossonnet would attend. Friday morning they had Dick Felton, Jerzy Dziadon and Joey Schwartz join them.
This 300 is actually 318km,  but the SCENERY, ROAD CONDITIONS and WEATHER were UNBELIEVABLE! We all stayed together for the first 75km then broke into two groups, leaving Dick Felton on his own.
Around 150km, Carey and Chris dropped behind Jerzy and Joey, stopping to take photos and soak in the SCENERY!
Of course, those familiar with the Lakes and Vines will recognize this area, where only bike lanes exist! Because I was the only one taking pictures, figured this photo of Chappy would prove I was there!
Continuing on, Randonneurs went buy many Wineries along the way! They reminded Chris of where he was born and raised!!
Leaving the Wineries and pedalling through the GORGEOUS town JORDAN, I was reminded of the BEAUTIFUL WEDDING that my wife and I attended last year, having spent the week-end in Jordan, we pedalled a section on our Fixies and noticed the HILLS we had to climb. Those HILLS were a lot easier this year!
Randonneurs experienced the worst roads over the entire ride pedalling through Hamilton! Despite the poor road conditions, scenery across the bridge was second to none! The last climb before the finish was breathtaking … but not due to the scenery! A short steep climb on the last stretch to the finish.
Overall, this was an AMAZING 300! Thanks to Toronto Randonneurs for having such a beautiful route! Already I am planning on doing this again next year as a Permanent and again in the FALL. Who would have expected the GREAT WEATHER we had during this ride! As a Permanent, I thought I would have to schedule it a few times but as things turned out, didn’t need to. We started at 5am and everyone finished by 10pm, meaning riding in the dark was minimized.
Once Again .. an AWESOME LAKES AND VINES 300!
Huron Chapter V.P.,

2017 Hogtown Express Flèche Report

Ride Report from Bob Macleod:

Of all Randonneurs ride formats, the Flèche is one of my favourites and each Spring I eagerly look forward to Flèche weekend. I got hooked in 2012 when on my first Flèche with Kathy Brouse, Stan Shuralyov and Fred Krawiecki, which was also my first event longer than 200kms. Based on that experience and others since, I’m convinced the Flèche is one of the best ways to introduce longer distances to those new to Randonneuring. Since cyclists on at least 3 of each team’s bicycles must finish together to successfully complete the event, the Flèche truly requires a team effort and provides an ideal nurturing learning experience for rookies, and I might add, an excellent early-season training event for veterans. It’s loosely structured, with simple rules to complete a minimum distance of 360km in a fixed 24h timeframe, with each self-organized team free to plan its own route to a common destination. In 2017, Randonneurs Ontario designated Barrie as its Flèche destination and fielded two Flèche teams, from Ottawa and Toronto/Huron (Hogtown Express). This is Hogtown Express team’s 2017 Flèche ride report.


Flèche rules (see  Flèche rules link) require 3 to 5 bicycles per team, so a minimum of 3 cyclists on single rider bikes up to potentially 10 cyclists if all on 5 tandems. Given that at least 3 bikes must complete the whole distance for a team’s Flèche to be successful, planning for a team of 3 is risky and a full complement of 5 bicycles is preferred. I put a call out for Hogtown Express 2017 team-mates in February and our team as planned consisted of 6 cyclists on 5 bicycles: Andrea Ferguson Jones and Stephen Jones on their tandem, and Dick Felton, Bob Macleod, Erin Marchak and Joey Schwartz on singles. As things played out on event day, Erin and Joey both had unexpected work commitments, so Andrea, Stephen, Dick and I started out on our 3 bicycles, fingers crossed.


In addition to recruiting team members, planning for Hogtown Express’s 2017 Flèche focused on route design. Stephen and I, with feedback from others on the team, collaborated closely on key design decisions. We wanted to make this early-season experience enjoyable and reasonably achievable, so decided to keep total distance under 400km and climbing reasonably humane. After mapping out various alternatives, we agreed on a route northbound out of Markham to pass eastward of Lake Simcoe into Muskoka before looping back southbound to the destination in Barrie (see Hogtown Express 2017 Flèche Route link). In early May, allowing time for final route changes before registration deadline 2 weeks before the event, I test drove the overnight section of the route to personally confirm road conditions and overnight food services. Incidentally, in addition to using Ride With GPS as our route design tool, we drafted a Control Plan spreadsheet to assess and refine route leg lengths and target times for rest stop arrivals and departures. Since the only formal timed controls on a Flèche are Start, 22-hour and 24-hour points, with no single stop to exceed 2-hours, it’s up to each team to carefully manage rest stop departure times to ensure its objectives are achievable. I find a detailed Control Plan to be a useful tool during route design and also for time-management during the event.

In late May, overnight temperatures often drop into the low single-digits, so a key Flèche planning requirement is to identify indoor overnight rest stops with food services. Based on Hogtown Express’s route, this meant careful assessment of overnight services in Beaverton (eta 10:00pm), Orillia (eta 12:30am) and Port Carling (eta 6:00am). As it happens, Tim Horton’s was the only viable option in each of these locations. With an overnight low of 3C during the event, we were grateful for the indoor rest stops.

Another key planning consideration for each team is start time, since Flèche rules permit starts from Fri 6pm to Sat 10am. This decision clearly has a big impact on the ride for various reasons, not least of which is expected arrival time at overnight rest stops. Stephen and I have both experienced Fri-evening and Sat-morning starts on previous Flèches and after a short discussion, we agreed to propose a Fri 6pm start. An evening start would enable riding the overnight section of the route while still relatively fresh, but also meant we’d arrive in Barrie early enough to socialize over a meal with other teams and to get a good sleep Saturday night. A secondary objective for Hogtown Express was to arrive at Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve before pre-dawn for some spectacular star-gazing, assuming clear sky of course. We polled Hogtown Express and the Ottawa Chapter’s Flèche team and all agreed with a proposed Sat 6pm arrival time in Barrie, so the Fri 6pm start time for Hogtown Express 2017 was set in the plan.

Water levels were an additional concern this year. With flooding and record water levels throughout the Great Lakes Basin and St Lawrence Valley, it was top of mind in April and May when we were finalizing our plan. When driving the overnight section of the route in early May, I found that while many farmer’s fields were completely inundated, lakes and canals at flood level, and rivers and streams raging torrents, the roads on the route were in good condition except for some debris in remote areas. So, assuming conditions didn’t worsen, it looked like the event wouldn’t be adversely affected by high water levels. Still, given all the extra standing water in prime mosquito breeding season, I brought extra fly repellent with me on the ride. It turned out to be too cold overnight for mosquitoes or black flies, so we dodged that special kind of torment, but when we stopped for a celebratory picture at 6pm Saturday, a cloud of hungry flies swarmed us within seconds – it made for a very brief picture stop!


Our route to Barrie, starting in Markham at 6pm Fri, took us 395km with 3,121m ascent through a number of beautiful geographic zones (see Hogtown Express 2017 Flèche Route link): the rolling hills and meadows of Oak Ridges Moraine, the flat plain bordering Lake Simcoe’s east shore, the rising plateau north of Lake Simcoe, the southern perimeter of 2.5 billion year old Precambrian Shield bordering lakes Muskoka, Joseph and Rosseau, and finally the relatively flat Lake Simcoe north-shore on final approach into Barrie. A site of interest on the route was Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve on Southwood Rd (CR13) at 181km, which promised unparalleled star gazing should we arrive to a dark clear sky. Six rest stops were planned, being Beaverton (80km), Orillia (127km), Pt Carling (210km), Windermere Rd / CR4 (242km), Bala (281km) and Orillia (350km). Flèche rules require at least 25km to be cycled in the final 2 hours with minimum 360km total distance, so the team would need to pace itself to arrive at its 22-hour control (Sat 4pm) between 335km (Cambrian Rd inbound to Orillia) and 370km (Ridge Rd at Hawkestone).

The north-south road network between Huronia north of Lake Simcoe and Muskoka is extremely limited, as I’m sure Simcoe-Muskoka Chapter route planners are painfully aware. Given that Highways 11 and 400 are neither legal nor safe for bicycles, Southwood Rd / CR13 is the only centrally located north-south road between Orillia and Bala, with bike friendly north/south alternatives being far to the west (~22km west of Orillia) and east (Housey’s Rapids Road / CR6, ~25km east of Orillia). Given that Hogtown Express’s Flèche route used this road twice, northbound and southbound, it accounted for 68km (17%) of total route distance. Should it suffer from pop-up construction or flood damage anywhere along its length, the ride could be significantly affected, and if impassable for any reason, detours are so distant that Hogtown Express’s 2017 Flèche would be finished.

Flèche Event

After meeting for a hearty pre-ride meal at Main’s Mansion in Markham, Andrea, Stephen, Dick and I departed as planned at 18:00 Friday, with temperature a comfortable 17C and wind not a significant factor. We cycled northeast over the beautiful rolling hills of Oak Ridges Moraine and then the relatively flat plain beyond to our first stop in Beaverton (80km), arriving in darkness at 21:55 to a noticeable chill in the air. Cottage-country bound traffic was a steady stream on the few northbound main roads we used, but not as heavy as I had feared it would be.

Departing Beaverton, we continued along the relatively flat northeast shore of Lake Simcoe, with a short delay to bypass road construction exiting Beaverton. There’s a sudden sharp 55m climb approaching Orillia’s north end, which as we approached our rest stop felt particularly dramatic after the 70km flat run from the Oak Ridges Moraine. It marked the beginning of a steady climb into Muskoka’s granite highlands. It was uncomfortably cold when we arrived at our rest stop in Orillia (127km) at 00:47 Sat morning, 17m behind plan. We greatly appreciated the opportunity for a warm rest, but Tim’s had shut down their grill at midnight, so no soup or warm food was available, a bit of a disappointment. But of course, we made the most of our chance to warm up, eat and rest. As we set out from Orillia, temperature still falling, we were grateful no rain was in the forecast and the wind was light.

Shortly after leaving Orillia, we encountered construction on Division Rd E for about 1.5km, a slippery deep coarse gravel that shifted under our wheels and tore at our tires in the dark. Fortunately, we got through without incident, grateful to be again riding on firm road surface.

The next leg of the route from Port Stanton on Sparrow Lake to Torrance on Hwy 169 near Bala, is one of my favourite rides in Ontario. Southwood Rd / CR13 rolls and winds through magnificent forest, wetlands and granite ridges for 34km of mostly unsettled country. Traffic is very light and, being a challenging road to drive, drivers are alert and speeds low. In early morning hours, when we now cycled this leg of the route, traffic was almost non-existent – a cyclist’s paradise! As we rode through the Torrance Barrens in darkness, we were greeted by a loud distinctive bird-call every 100m or so along the roadside – I haven’t discovered yet what type of bird it is, but it was a perfect otherworldly musical accompaniment to our overnight ride.

Andrea and Stephen pulled ahead on Southwood Rd, hoping to arrive at Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve (181km) before pre-dawn light degraded the stargazing brilliance. Also, the temperature was now 3C, so they picked up the pace on the tandem to try to generate a bit of warmth. Dick and I arrived shortly after they departed the Preserve trailhead, twilight spreading in the eastern sky and only brighter stars now visible. In the middle of this darkened remote rugged landscape, the small rocky parking lot at the Preserve’s trailhead was packed full of silent parked cars. Who knew there were so many committed stargazing enthusiasts? We pressed on quickly, but were soon stopped again at a railroad crossing for at least 10m by what seemed an endless freight train travelling northbound at high speed.

We pulled into Port Carling (210km) at 06:15, still only 15m off plan, but everyone was cold and weary. Dick was feeling bad and having difficulty eating. He was training for the June 4 Comrades 87km ultra-marathon in South Africa, so I’m sure that was a significant drain on his energy level. We warmed ourselves, napped and ate as best we could, before pressing on about 07:40, now 40m off plan.

The next 72kms of the route, with almost 900m of climbing to Windermere / Raymond Rd (242km) and Bala (282km), was by far the most challenging of the ride. Tired from the cold overnight ride and grinding up the steep grades northeast of Pt Carling, I was questioning the wisdom of bringing the route this way on a supposedly easygoing Flèche. Dick was feeling very bad physically and I was grimly hanging on, so I fully expected to DNF at any point. Andrea and Stephen doggedly set the pace and shadowed us through the most difficult parts. We arrived in Bala at noon, an hour off plan, but still an achievable time. We had 4 hours remaining to achieve our 4:00pm 22-hour control within the minimum distance, which was 53km outbound from Bala.

At this point in Bala, Dick was concerned about making the 22-hour control, so he chose to immediately press on, with Andrea, Stephen and I following 45m later after resting over lunch. The southbound daylight ride on Southwood Rd / CR13 was the most enjoyable of the Flèche for me, with beautiful remote forest blanketed with white trilliums, rolling and winding terrain, and very little traffic. I felt great and the struggles of that morning faded with every passing moment – it’s amazing to me what a difference a few hours can make on a long-distance event. We were all mindful of the 22h control objective, so couldn’t linger, and rode independently to make the best possible time. We had planned for the lead riders to hold in place before 4:00pm to allow those following to catch up, so we regrouped approaching Orillia about 3:45pm and continued to 4:00pm, where we marked our distance at 340km – 22h control objective achieved!

Pressing on together now, we took a brief rest in Orillia (350km) before continuing toward Barrie along the north shore of Lake Simcoe, very familiar to all of us from our many Simcoe-Muskoka Chapter rides. At 6:00pm, as we entered Hawkestone (369km), Andrea, Stephen, Dick and I stopped for a celebratory picture, graciously taken by a passing cyclist, before swarming flies drove us to mount up and press on for the remaining 26km to Barrie, another successful Flèche experience to remember fondly.

The Ottawa team, made up of Guy Quesnel, Peter Grant, David Hamilton and Alan Ritchie, was waiting for us when we arrived in Barrie, having also successfully completed their Flèche. We all shared a well-deserved meal at the Mandarin close to our hotel, my mind already racing in anticipation of Flèche 2018!

Looking Forward

RO’s 2018 Flèche, scheduled for May 18-19, targets Blue Mountain Village on the Niagara Escarpment near Nottawasaga Bay, enabling a huge scope of possible interesting routes from far and wide across the province. Given that the Flèche is, 1) a fun social cycling challenge, 2) a great early-season training opportunity for Rando veterans, and 3) an ideal introduction to longer distances for those new to the sport, I’d like to throw out a couple of simple challenges:

  • To veteran members, I propose that each of us resolve, where feasible, to either organize, join or assist an RO 2018 Flèche team, and to take the opportunity to encourage one or more rookies to join each team where possible.
  • To cyclists who are relatively new to Randonneuring and curious about riding longer distances or riding a team event like the Flèche, I encourage you to set aside May 18-19 on your calendar and seek out a Flèche team to join in 2018. It’ll be an amazing experience!

RO typically fields 2-3 Flèche teams each year, but I believe we have potential to field at least 5 or more. It would be totally awesome to have an overflow crowd of Rando’s gather at Blue Mountain Village next May 19. I hope to see you there!


Bob Macleod

2017 Hogtown Express Team

London Edinburgh London 1400

Ride Report from David Thompson:

It’s high time that I wrote something about LEL, now that we’re through the Granite Anvil!!

It is a tough ride, but then again they all are.  1400 km, a bunch of climbing, varying weather from south to north and back again, wind…LOTS of wind this time, but always a factor at some point in a long ride…

It’s English countryside.  Rolling at times, flat at others, sheep everywhere especially up north and through Yorkshire where you encounter a lot of the climbing, it’s very pretty but not spectacular (sorry!).  It doesn’t hold a candle to the coast of Ireland, the Rocky Mountains or parts of the Italian rides.  A coastal route could be spectacular, but not this route.  That said, it is pretty, the roads are generally good, the people are friendly (and speak English!), the cars are polite…  Will I do it again?  On those last couple of days, I swore off LEL…but who knows.  Certainly I’ll favour something else that year if there’s a conflict…maybe.  I am a glutton for punishment.  I told Hamid to kick me in the butt if I suggested doing LEL again, but then again, I’ve had my butt kicked so many times, what the heck.

I haven’t looked up exact numbers but I understand that there were about 1400 starters and 800 finishers.  That’s a higher DNF rate than normal due to the wet and the wind — wetter than usual and windier than usual.

My plan was easy – split the ride into four parts and ride 4×350 km days.  That sounds easy but with the wind slowing me down, even though it wasn’t a full headwind, I crawled through parts of the ride north.  Any cross wind starts to bother my knees and they were bothered.  My drop bags were at Pocklington (about 350 km), and Edinburgh (about 700 km).  You only get two.  On the way back, I hit Pocklington again for my third change of clothes, which would be around 1050 km… An even split.

I didn’t book hotels, expecting to sleep in the provided accommodations which are mats on gym floors.  They do an excellent job of managing that, asking for wake-up time, assigning you a sleeping spot and getting you going when you’re ready.  If I did the ride again (see, I’m already thinking that way), I’d continue to use their gym floors.

All, or almost all, of the Controls have food, lots of comfort food, all provided by your entry fee.  I ate too much, which slows you down and got very sleepy from Pocklington to Edinburgh, stopping a few times to close my eyes, get in a power nap.  I slept at the Control before Edinburgh and then only had a short rest (and shower and change) in Edinburgh, simply taking my time getting out of there.

It was daylight when I got to Edinburgh; Hamid was getting organized to leave.  He waited for me at a Control down the road, getting in some sleep, and we headed out together and finished together.  I had stopped at the side of the road a little earlier and slept sitting up on the curb, leaning on a railing…yeah, this is randonneuring at its best!  That was the best sleep I had on the entire event it seemed as I was never tired again…go figure.

Riding together, not in a hurry, we spent a lot of time at Controls.  3 hours here, 2 hours there, until finally we had to start watching the clock or we would run out of time.  We weren’t going to set any land speed records!

At one point we were descending to a Control in the rain, perhaps 10 km out, bothersome cold rain and then the skies opened.  I was right beside a bus shelter and went inside; Hamid and several other riders that were just ahead of me reversed course and came back.  It was like crowding college kids into a telephone booth.  The temperature dropped and everyone was donning additional clothing.  I led a group that were having navigational problems to the Control.  I coached a young rider into wrapping her exposure sheet around her inside her jacket.

The last day, which of course I wouldn’t have even seen had I stuck to my original plan, was the windiest.  30 mph, according to the weather-person, and in our face.  Naturally it was flat with max exposure to the wind.  We were barely making 6-7 mph headway and at that point I informed Hamid that if we weren’t able to pick up the pace, we would actually run out of time.  That didn’t occur, of course; we had a few hours to spare at the end.  We had squandered many many hours getting to that point.  Squandered?  Enjoyed?  It all depends on your point of view.

About 1 km before the end we stopped to take off our reflective gear.  Hamid wanted to be clean for pictures.  Hamid and the other rider with us left as I was stuffing my jacket into my seat bag.  I got on the bike, fell to the side, slipped down into the spiky brambles partway down a slope.  Cursing at my stupidity and clumsiness, I dragged myself up, jersey covered in green from squashed leaves, itchy as heck from the thorns, it felt like I was bleeding all over but of course I wasn’t.  Duh.  In retrospect it’s quite funny.  At the time it was simply stupid!

Ride organization is excellent.  You really don’t have to open your wallet and besides, English cappuccino is crappy.  They simply add what amounts to almost boiling milk.  Technique is lacking.  Caffeine, yes, tasty, no…too hot to drink quickly.

We got ‘er done.  We added to our 1200+ count, FWIW.  I was ready for the Granite Anvil…maybe…

Granite Anvil Pre-Ride #1

Ride Report from Charles Horslin:

I started with Randonneurs Ontario in 2015, having only ridden an imperial century and some bicycle touring experience, I think my longest ride up to that point had been a 180 km day on tour that was probably an all-day experience. I optimistically tried to complete a full series in my first season but a pulled calf muscle ended my 600 attempt. In 2016 I managed to get a full series completed, as well getting a bit faster on my other rides. 2017 started off with a miserable spring for riding and I quickly fell behind on my training plans… work got in the way of my plans for Devil’s week, but also ended up taking me out to Lethbridge for the month of June so I missed out on doing some of the brevets I’d wanted to do in Ontario. I instead focused on riding the steep hills in the river valley around Lethbridge as I was working 7 days a week, 10 hours a day I couldn’t get out for any real distance rides. My focus during this time became about accumulating climbing metres instead of saddle time. By the time I wrapped up my job in Lethbridge a heatwave had set in over Alberta and BC and I had planned a 10 day mini-tour to ride back to Calgary before flying home. For 8 of the 9 days I spent on the road the temperature was in the mid 30° with highs sometimes over 35. Luckily the air is so dry out there that I didn’t mind the extra heat at all. By the time I made it back to Calgary I’d done around 1300 km and over 10,000 m of climbing. I did this trip on the same bike I’d planned to ride the Granite Anvil with, including the same luggage setup and gearing so I figured I could probably make it through the GA, and planned to ride a conservative “full value” ride, hoping to finish around 89 hours and getting as much food and sleep into me as possible.

I also signed up to volunteer for the GA, so I was assigned to ride the first of the pre-rides with Bob Kassel. I’d never met Bob before though I’m sure we must have been on one ride together. I was lucky to have such an experienced randonneur with me and I picked up a lot of small hints and tricks from him over the next four days. Having spent most of my brevets riding by myself I’m pretty quiet during rides and tend to just enjoy the meditative side to cycling.

The GA started at 4am and we set out to begin the very gradual climb away from Lake Ontario and up to the Niagara escarpment. The first few hours roll through bucolic countryside where the humid air was heavy with the smell of corn. Luckily the air was very still and we experienced very little wind on the first day… unfortunately I lost a bit of my adaptation to the humidity in the time I spent out west and found riding in the damp Ontario air to be harder than I remember, and when the sun started to shine during our climbs up the escarpment I found myself wishing to be back in the Crowsnest pass where sweat actually evaporates and has a cooling effect! Luckily for us, Dick Felton and Peter Grant were waiting at a few points along the way with extra water as there are a couple long stretches without services on the first day. Bob and I are on opposite spectrums when it comes to eating, I constantly graze and drink water and he will have half a bottle in the same time I’d drink two. Doesn’t help I probably have 50lbs on him!

The riding into the evening on the first day was on some really quiet back roads that I’d never been on and I enjoyed it very much however I was starting to feel drained and self-doubt was starting to chip away at my spirit and it was during this point I’d begun to think that I’d never make it to Parry Sound, let alone the end of the ride. I was lucky that the control coming up was at a pizza place and I ordered up a nice pie without cheese, charged up my Garmin, drank a bunch of water and a Pepsi and was almost back to normal. We made the last push into Parry Sound along 169 and enjoyed the smoother road surface and low traffic. I think it was around 12:45 when we got there! I am fairly quick with the showers and instantly fell asleep when I got into the bed around 1:30. I think we’d planned to leave around 5am but it was probably closer to six by the time we got out the door. I ate some toast and cereal at the motel before we left, as well as a protein bar to round out the meal.

Day 2 starts with quiet roads that pass serene lakes but relentless small hills quickly become the norm heading out of Huntsville I noticed someone had spray-painted “shut up legs” on Britannia Road at the top of a short steep hill, my Garmin 500 said it was 12% but I think it over-estimates the grade a bit because I was still going 8 km/h! The quiet roads continued until Highway 60 where we had a decent shoulder for the most part through Algonquin Park. The hills in the park get a bit bigger and after every climb there seemed to be another just as high or a tad higher. The terrain seems a bit flatter in the sparsely populated countryside along Highway 127. We stopped for supper at a random country restaurant around 7pm but still had a ways to go to Bancroft. We had dodged many thunderstorms this day but knew our luck would run out before we made Bancroft. It was just around sundown, after we’d passed through Maynooth, that the lightning became more frequent and the skies just opened up for us. It was almost like a monsoon downpour. I didn’t have fenders and it didn’t matter, we were both soaked but my heavy MEC jacket kept the wind from chilling me too much. I very much regretted leaving my thick neoprene rain booties in my drop bag but I did have some plastic bags to put over my socks so I didn’t get cold toes, at least. We rolled into Bancroft around 11:30 or thereabouts and managed to get some newspaper to stuff into our shoes. A quick shower and I think I was asleep by 12:30.

After 5 hours of solid sleep we set out around 5:45 on a cool damp morning with grey skies. Day 3 promised even more climbing in the Ontario Highlands northeast of Bancroft; it delivered on those promises, there were some lovely quiet roads to start the day off with some good climbs but many large climbs, starting with one on Highway 62, then Centreview Road and finally a doozy on Siberia… and that was just the start, many more lie ahead; Schutt Hill and a big one on Highway 28 that had 2 big vicious white dogs at the top that gave chase… they both met my pepper spray and backed off but that was the most dangerous thing on the ride. After a stop at the corner store in Palmer Rapids and a refuel the rest of the day was more downhills than up, but the terrain provided many smaller hills in the Vennachar area to keep the legs working hard until Sharbot Lake and a well-earned supper. We popped in a restaurant and I had a good veggie burger. For most of the day we’d dodged numerous thunderstorms that passed by us but as we ate supper the sky opened up for 15 minutes. Luckily we’d decided to eat that meal in the restaurant instead of doing a snack-and-go. That meal kept me going for a couple more hours, thankfully it didn’t rain on us again. The energy from supper didn’t last and by the time we turned off Highway 38 and we decided to grab 15 minutes of sleep in front of a church in a tiny town called Enterprise. This was such a good idea and that quick nap gave us enough energy to make it to Napanee at a much better pace we’d managed in the hour before. That nap time bought us a few hours of sleep at the very nice Hampton Inn.

Day 4 started off with the nicest hotel breakfast of the ride and I made the most of the vegan options and put a good feed on before we set out. I was relieved that most of the climbing was behind us and that we’d have a beautiful scenic ride along the lake. To start the day off there’s a little climb over a bridge on Highway 49 over to Prince Edward county and thankfully we didn’t take the road all the way to Picton as that’s another little bump I didn’t want to climb… however Gomorrah Road had a little surprise for us hill-wise though it was quite scenic and short so I didn’t mind. We plodded through the county and stopped for a coffee near Consecon but Bob suspects we were served decaf as it had little effect on our spirits and pace. Despite this, I was still feeling pretty good for having a 1000 km in my legs and we made a nice ramble of the rest of the ride. I had a front tire flat just before the control in Colborne, luckily just a small piece of glass that made for a slow leak. The flat at this point made me glad I carried a full size frame pump as I don’t know that I’d be able to manage a 150 strokes on a mini-pump. The control was at a Mac’s so I got a Pepsi and a Cliff protein bar, which seemed to be my magic combination to keep on trucking. We ambled along the lake and enjoyed many scenic views along the ridges. We’d planned a stop in Port Hope at a burger joint voted “best in Canada” and they had a decent portabella mushroom burger so I was happy with that. With some fuel in the tank we set off for the last 65 km of the ride and we had about 7 hours to do it so with the last bit of energy in our legs we set off and endured a bit of a slog up and out of Port Hope and continued along Lakeshore road savouring the views. There’s a defunct oil-burning power plant in Wesleyville that has a tall stack looming but otherwise farms and orchards with views of Lake Ontario made up most of the next 40 km or so. The route criss-crosses a mainline railway along this stretch and there’s one rickety old bridge that looks like it was built a hundred years ago. There’s also a couple of neat little tunnels under the railway too. The ride finishes up with a gentle climb up the ridge that is the old shore of glacial Lake Iroquois, which brings us to the finish at Durham College.

I had some doubts about finishing a 1200 but with good support from Dick and Peter and a great riding partner in Bob Kassel I made it through. Having one 1200K under my belt feels pretty good and I didn’t experience any acute injuries from riding, just a general soreness and some very minor saddle sores… I think I am done with the Brooks Cambium, it just doesn’t seem to be comfortable enough for me but it didn’t hurt me enough to ruin the ride for me either. My Dill Pickle brand handlebar and saddlebags worked really well but I think I should have got a medium sized saddlebag instead of a large for rides that use drop bags. Overall the Granite Anvil route is amazingly beautiful and really shows the diverse geography around southeastern Ontario. I would guess there is maybe 10 km of really rough roads and a few kilometres of unavoidable gravel, but thankfully the gravel was pretty smooth and not a problem on 28 mm tires.

A big thanks to all involved in planning the GA route, and especially Dick Felton and Peter Grant for the support at controls along the way, and of course to Bob Kassel for riding with me all the time on my first 1200K.

Flickr Photo Album

Elephant Lake 200 Permanent

Ride Report from David Hamilton:

On August 2, I rode the Elephant Lake 200 as a permanent as part of my training for the GA 1200. This route begins in Bancroft, wends its way around Elephant Lake to Maynooth and Barry’s Bay, then circles back to Bancroft via Schutt and McArthur’s Mills. Much of the route covers the same hills – I mean roads – as the GA 1200 so I was looking forward to the challenge.

Rather than spend the night in Bancroft before the ride, I left Ottawa early in the morning and began the ride at 7:30. Almost immediately I was hit by some nice long hills to climb but these were babies compared to what was ahead of me. The weather was cooperative: sunny, hot and humid with a SW breeze, and the traffic was reasonably light. This section of the ride was beautiful. Quiet roads, good hills going up and down… I was thinking this route could easily become my new favourite. I rehydrated in Maynooth at the gas bar there and then continued on towards the next control at Barry’s Bay.

Highway 62 was busier, at least until the route turns off at Centreview Road towards Siberia Road. Again, more hills but nothing too scary. That all changed on Centreview Road. The first couple of climbs were really challenging and my granny gear got a serious work out! I thought to myself “so this is what the GA tastes like” and just kept pedalling.

I pulled into the Subway for lunch at Barry’s Bay, still in good time of keeping a 20km/h inclusive pace. Bit of a line up in the restaurant but the A/C felt great. I stayed there about 30 minutes, filled the water bottles with ice and water, and headed back out on the road. By this time, the humidity was intense and I made sure to keep drinking. Moreover, the forecasted thunderstorms looked like they would make an appearance as the skies grew cloudier and the wind really picked up.

The ride towards Schutt was relatively flat. I mean, not “flat” flat but no major climbs.  I stopped at Hanna’s grocery store in Palmer Rapids just before the turn on to Schutt Road to rehydrate again and by this time, the skies were threatening. As I started climbing in to Schutt, I heard the thunder rumbling all around me and the clouds were blackening. I knew there was the little white church at the top of the Schutt Hill and hoped I could make it there before the storm hit.

As it turned out, just as I hit the church, the rain started coming down so I took shelter under the church awning to wait it out. The radar showed some intense cells all around me but nothing sustained, and in fact the rain was just about over in 15 minutes. However, all around me I could still here thunder and see dark ominous clouds. But I was only about 47 km from Bancroft at this point and was ready to finish and cool off in some A/C.

The rest of the ride – mostly along highway 28 – was uneventful weather-wise. Traffic picked up again along this road but most of the cars and trucks gave me lots of space… good thing too as there were no paved shoulders and the sides of the road were crumbling in many places. I stopped at the store in McArthur’s Mills for more fluids around the 180km mark and kept going. There were more hills on this road too, some of them challenging, but the last km or so is a nice downhill into the town of Bancroft. The town was preparing for the annual Gemboree and there was a lot of activity with signage and such so I could imagine the crowds coming in on the weekend.

I finished the ride in just over 11 hours and was happy to have ridden several of the GA 1200 hills. Before heading back to Ottawa, I changed and cleaned up in the McDonald’s, satisfied my hunger with a mighty Angus burger, and got more fluids for the drive home.

All in all, despite the traffic on 28, this is now my new favourite 200 route. Very scenic, great roads, challenging climbs… it’s all there.

Devil Week 2017

Ride Report from David Hamilton:

Early in the winter, I circled the dates for the first International Devil Week hosted by the Huron Chapter and in partnership with the Detroit Randonneurs. Although there wasn’t much climbing on any of the rides compared to many of our Randonneurs Ontario routes, the wind is always a factor when you’re riding on flat, mostly farm land, surrounded by large bodies of water!

The Tour d’Essex 200 was the first ride and there were probably 20 riders out for it. The morning wind was moderate and out of the west, so the pace was good for the first leg to Tilbury and most of rode in a pack. The group began splitting up a bit after that. John and Ben hooked up with a tandem and set the pace. I rode solo for a bit, then met up with Sam from Ohio and Dave from Detroit. Most of the other riders stuck together.

I fell in with the pack again near Leamington and the joys of group riding were reinforced when, as a traffic light was turning yellow, some riders bolted through while others, like me, stopped. Henk tried to beat the light, but he was behind me, so instead of running the yellowish-red, he ran into my leg!

The route itself is spectacular. I’ve ridden it before and appreciate the changes to it around Amherstburg that took us off the Parkway and onto quieter paths and roads. We stopped at the giant Canadian flag along the Detroit River for a photo op before continuing on to the finish.

Day 2 saw a smaller group tackle the Erioh 300. I’m a slower rider so I set my own pace and let the pack go their way, but I met up with most of them at the first control. There was a massive tailwind for about 40km along the shore of Lake Erie and that was way too much fun to have on two wheels. I met up with Jerzy at some point along the way, and he and I “rode” together to Erieau, which really means, he blazed on ahead and I met up with him for a snack at the control.

At this point, the pack had fallen back, enjoying life at the controls and the fine weather. A smaller group of us left Erieau and headed north. Jerzy fell in with Ben and John, and I did my solo. The cross winds were horrific, and the traffic along some of the shoulderless roads was gruesome. At one point, John and Ben passed me and John asks “Having fun yet?” Oh yeah. Loads.

But eventually the winds died down a bit and the ride west along Lake St. Clair was picturesque and much less stressful. Not far from the final control, I ran into construction and the route road was an excavated pit. Hmm. I checked the sandy spots to see if I could track the others who’d been ahead of me but to no avail. A quick check of the smart phone revealed where I needed to be, so I found a way through a couple of trucking yards to the road.

I finished the ride about 20 minutes after the other three riders and was slowly packing my gear away when Sam arrived via taxi with health issues. He had to abandon his ride about 20km from the finish. The rest of the riders all finished up about an hour after my ride.

So, two rides down, two more to go!

The 400 began in Port Huron. Carey and I were going to share a room. Henk asked if he could join us, so we got a cot for him but it turns out Carey couldn’t make it so Henk got the extra bed.  Several of us went out for a massive pre-ride feed at the Golden Corral. This was my first time at a Golden Corral, although I recalled my son’s stories of it from the times he was in Florida for baseball spring training. It is something to behold. Words cannot do it justice. If you haven’t been, you will be at once shocked, overwhelmed, amazed and disgusted. Yeah, you just have to go see for yourself.

The ride itself up the Michigan “thumb” was fantastic. Again, the weather was perfect with not a lot of wind. Beautiful scenery. It didn’t take me long to find my legs and fall into a good pace. At the Subway control, I pulled in just as three Detroit riders were pulling out. We would see each other frequently over the rest of the route. I finished the ride in 20 hours, which was faster than I had planned but I think only because the wind wasn’t an issue, there were no hills, and I didn’t stay long at the controls.

On to Canton for the 600!

Despite my broken shoe, I was confident about completing the 600. I did look at a couple of bike shops in Detroit to see if I could find a new pair of shoes, but with no luck. In retrospect, what I should have done is pick up a pair of flat pedals and worn sneakers, but I wasn’t thinking straight.

As it turns out, the broken shoe was bearable but not a lot of fun. Shortly after the first control in Hell, I shredded my front tire. Tom the organizer had warned us that the route itself wasn’t overly difficult, but the roads were. He was right. Many of the roads had huge potholes, broken pavement, and several other riders also had problems with multiple flats and shredded tires.

Still, I was on a 20 km/h pace and happy with that but it did not last. My legs were giving out and I just couldn’t get them going again. By the time I rode in to Adrian around the 290 km mark, I was done. All three hotels there were booked, so I found a 24 hour Tim Horton’s (!!) and figured I’d refuel and rest there. Alas, it was all closed up, so I went to the Shell station, got what I needed, and hunkered down clandestinely in a stand of big shrubs near the Tim’s. Ah, randonneuring at its finest!

I woke in the morning and decided to follow the 600 route back to the control at 413 km which just happens to be the hotel where we were staying. I cleaned up at the now-open Tim’s and continued along the route. More potholes and messy roads, and this time some rain too. It was extremely humid but fortunately, the sun wasn’t out yet so it stayed relatively cool.

I pulled into the hotel a little worse for wear and was grateful to get out of my cycling gear and into civilian clothes and waited for the others to show up, which they did in the fullness of time.

All in all, I was pretty happy with my rides and really fortunate to have been around more experienced riders. John, Ben, Henk, and Martin taught me a lot about long-distance riding. Next year, I believe the Ottawa Chapter will be hosting the Devil Week and we can all expect a lot more climbing for those rides.

Much Ado 200 Permanent

Ride Report from David Hamilton:

I was going to be in London the June 24 weekend, so I arranged a permanent ride of the Much Ado 200k route. This is an enjoyable 200, basically heading north from London through St. Mary’s and on towards Millbank, then returning south through Stratford.

The weather for my ride was good. Lots of sunshine in the morning as I headed out from the Tim’s, and traffic was light. The first control is 95km in Millbank, so I stopped at a convenience store in St. Mary’s to rehydrate and snack before moving on.

While the skies were good, the wind was not. It was coming out of the west and northwest and it seemed I was going into it all the way up to Millbank. Unfortunately, I was also heading into it again on the return route! Lots of wind. At Anna Mae’s bakery in Millbank, renovations have taken place (I hadn’t ridden this route in a couple of years). It is now really easy to get in, grab your supplies, and get out again. I was tempted to buy some pastries but decided to keep going.

Worst part of the ride: I was heading east from Millbank and saw a beautiful dog apparently hit by a car, dead at the side of the road. I’ve seen all kinds of roadkill on my rides, but this was the toughest. Some family will be heartbroken.

Again, more wind as I pushed into Stratford. The Lakeside road that goes behind the theatres is beautiful and reminds me a lot of the Rideau Canal back home. Lots of people were out feeding the geese and swans and enjoying the summer weather.

From Stratford back to London, I could see the skies darkening and showers appear in the area. I was pretty lucky, though. I pulled off the road and took shelter under a stand of trees while a shower passed over. Then the sun came out again and it was smooth sailing back to the city.

I finished the ride in 10:48, then the family went out to Spageddy Eddies for a massive noodle feed!