Ride Report: Huron Chapter’s Nassagaweya 300km Brevet!

One Awesome 300km Brevet was held this past weekend. The Nassagaweya 300, created by Charles Horslin was ENJOYED and COMPLETED BY ALL 12 RANDONNEURS! This is the first time this ride was scheduled and I can’t wait to do it again! Congratulations to John Cumming, myself (Carey Chappelle), Marc Deshaies, Jerzy Dziadon, Richard Felton, Mike Fox, Mark Hopper, Charles Horslin, Matthew McFarlane, Sergi Tsymbal, Brenda Wiechers Maxwell and Nick Wolfe for successfully completing this challenging 300km Brevet!
Now, the Huron Chapter generally likes to add some ENTERTAINMENT during a ride and typically would complete a 18 Hole Mini-Putt Championship on a 300 … however,  that would have created a few DNF’s on this brevet … Scenery, 2300 meters of climbing and nasty weather created quite a challenge!

Dinner prior to the 300k
Charles wanted to help Chappy save energy for the 300 so he rode him back to the hotel.
With a 5am Start Saturday morning everyone focused on a good night’s sleep, then headed out together.
The weather was perfect and the sunrise gorgeous! John led the way with a strong pace!
More sunrise!
The Grand River Crossing was enjoyed by everyone.
Mark Hopper let us know he has returned to randonneuring!
Matt McFarlane stopped to enjoy some scenery on another bridge crossing.

The first Control was in St.George where we saw a few Randonneurs stopped at the ESSO, our group stopped at a little Bakery and enjoyed some treats. Mike Fox met us at the Bakery before we all headed towards Hamilton. What a Gorgeous Ride that was, getting us back to the top of the Escarpment. Weather at this stage, PERFECT! The majority of us stopped at a POPULAR Cafe … the Copper Kettle in Waterdown for lunch and noticed  another 20 or so Cyclists on the patio.  One of them needed a tool and Dick was able to help them out!
Looking ahead, the weather forecast showed Heavy Storms headed our way with Rain Showers, Thunder and Lightning. Clouds could be seen and we all knew what was coming!

Mike Fox wouldn’t have noticed the rain if he had fenders!

So the last 150km was the opposite of the first 150km, the groups had basically split up, finishing at different times. Mike and myself stayed together and had quite the adventure to the Finish! The last Control was in Hillburgh. The only place open was FOODLAND. Now Mike and I had hoped we would have dinner along with a Pint or two to get us home! We found a bike rack beside a General Store and parked ourselves. A Gentlemen approached us, found out what we were up to and let us know his Restaurant – Tina’s Homemade Cookin! was closed but he might be able to convince his wife Tina to make us a dinner! Sure enough Tina came out and took our order, moved us to their Patio!

A pint before dinner on a closed restaurant’s patio.

While waiting, Tina came out and asked if we would like some protein added to our burger …

Notice the egg added!

To this day, both Mike and myself agree that this was the BEST BURGER we have ever had! Now, having started dinner around 5pm and finishing around 6pm, we headed back out. Who shows up .. Dick Felton! So we decide to finish together and take turns leading into the STRONG HEAD WIND, HEAVY RAIN and eventually THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. At this point every man for himself! With 8km to go, my front light started flashing ON / Off, Mike’s Rear Light simply turned OFF, so Mike led the way to the Finish with us arriving just after 10pm. Dick a few minutes later. If there is one picture I wish I had taken it would have been Dick entering our room at the Hotel, PRICELESS! Soak and Wet, Shivering and one big SMILE ON HIS FACE!
The next morning, Mr. Felton treated Charles, Gwen, Matt, Marc, John and myself  to breakfast at a local Sunset Grill. Boy … did that HIT the SPOT! Thanks for the photo Gwen!

Ride Report: Beaver Valley 400km Brevet

By Carey Chappelle

The Huron Chapter hosted the Beaver Valley 400km Brevet this past Wednesday. Scenery – Drop Dead Gorgeous! The Route – CHALLENGING! The Weather – NASTY!Congratulations to John Cumming (1), Charles Horslin, John Kieffer (2), Matthew McFarlane and Tiago Varella-Cid on successfully completing this 400!!Chappy, Charles, Matthew, John 1 and John 2. Photo taken by Tiago at the Start!

The original Start time was 0400hrs., the Randonneurs showed up at 0330 and enjoyed the Rain, Thunder and LIghtening for the next hour and a half. No one even considered heading out until 0500hrs when things started to look better! You can see me (Chappy far left) checking out the weather forecast for the day … I simply wished everyone WELL and headed back to bed!After 4 hrs of sleep, I double checked the weather forecast for the day. It hadn’t changed. Temperature to feel like 39 deg C, Occasional Strong winds from the SW at 100km/hr, along with Thunder and Lightning to happen in the evening and into the night! It wasn’t hard convincing myself I had made the right decision to provide SUPPORT!Heading NE, the participants enjoyed a decent tail wind until Matthew Mcfarlane experienced a flat tire! Quick fix and everyone was back on the road heading  towards the first Control – Dundalk (114km). When Chappy arrived, the only Randonneur he could find was pedalliing in circles … John Kieffer (a new Randonneur) had refuelled and was having trouble getting back on route! Chappy was able to get him in the right direction!
Now heading out of Dundalk, roads were closed but cyclists were able to stay on track. I had to detour but eventually was back on route. Another road closure left me wondering where everyone was. Headed through Flesherton, down into the Beaver Valley then up towards the next turn, then decided to message one of the Randonneurs to see where everyone was. Heading back to Flesherton, Tiago Varellla-Cid was in the middle of the climb and low and behold … the new Randonneur … John Kieffer wasn’t far behind!

John Cumming heading down into Beaver Valley
John Kieffer’s first 400
Matthew McFarlane climbing out of Beaver Valley
Tiago just a little ahead of John (2) and everyone else on the climb out of Beaver Valley!

The stretch from Kimberley to Owen Sound took a fair amount of fuel from everyone’s tank! I Stopped and filled some water bottles along the way … much needed of course! Touching base with the Randonneurs, I was able to make reservations  at the Casero Kitchen Table and order just ahead of their arrival. Tiago and John (2) arrived earlier, when I was having lunch at the Mudtown Station in Owen Sound and gassed up at another restaurant. I ordered meals ahead then waited in the Tented area for everyone. HOT? I had a difficult time not sweating under the tented area in the SHADE! Checked my GPS and the temperature was 41 deg C!! With over 20 yrs experience Randonneuring I knew the effect these conditions can and will have on every participant. I hung around waiting for the last rider to refuel and saved their leftovers for later in the ride. Leaving Owen Sound the ride basically headed SW. Into the Wind. Dark Clouds were moving in our direction, keeping fingers crossed I hoped the weather forecast wouldn’t happen!Unfortunately, another Bridge Closure happened on route to Durham, a few were able to make their way across while others simply took the paved roads detour. 

Matthew found a way to cool off!

I decided to wait in Durham for all the riders to make it through the second last Control. Time difference from first to last was approximately 3 1/2hrs. Fortunately the weather was cooling down and the 100km / hr winds hadn’t happened!  Chatted with everyone, filled up their water bottles, passed a bag of Nuts on to Charles and wished them well to the Finish!

Sun going down!

On my way to the Finish, I passed everyone noticing how much better they looked thanks to the cooler temperature, wished them well and headed back to the Best Western Plus,  Waterloo. Thought I’d pick up some Pizza but was unable to find a place open. Showered then waited to see our Finishers. Congrats Boys! Well Done!! I wouldn’t suggest riding in these conditions often!  Huron Chapter V.P.,Chappy

2020 Ontario Randonneurs O-12 Award by Ken Jobba

When I first read of the new “Ontario Randonneurs O-12 Award” in the 2020 Award Dinner Blog, I thought that it was a worthy challenge.  And set my mind to completing the O-12 with all rides in Ontario. 

I was not completely naive about this goal.  I had completed the Frosty 200 from Tillsonburg in January 2018, so I had some experience and confidence about completing mid-winter 200km rides. 

Fortunate for me, Timothy Ormond had requested a Permanent, The Gentle Start 200, for the end of January.  It would be great to have someone to ride with.  Unfortunately, Tim had to bail out at the last minute due to family priority, but, undaunted, I set out from Oakville in late January on the first of my O-12 rides.  It was below freezing, but the roads were dry.  Two memories stand out.  When I reached St. George, my toes were freezing cold even though I was wearing warm wool socks and neoprene booties.  I recalled reading about wrapping toes in aluminum foil to preserve some heat.  So when I stopped at a St. George sandwich shop, they obliged me with some aluminum foil which really did help.  And my second memory of this ride was stopping at The Trail Eatery for a delicious, sugar loaded, slice of pecan pie that got me to the finish. 

Tim and I got together to ride The Six Nations 200 Permanent in February.  It was very cold, and we had to battle a very strong wind riding west to St. George.  I had learned from my January experience about cold toes, so I had inserted some Toe Warmers in my cycling shoes.  They made all the difference.  And I had brought some extras with me that I was happy to give to Tim when his toes were going numb with cold.  Still a bone chilling trek until we made it to St. George.  We stopped into the re-named Tansley’s Coffee Emporium to get warmed up knowing that we would soon be turning around in Paris with the wind at our backs.  We actually felt reasonably warm with bright sunshine and no longer fighting the wind heading back to Oakville. Don’t know that I would have completed this ride without Tim. We finished with broad smiles.

Ken and Tim, still smiling at the end of a very cold 200k in February

COVID-19 reared its ugly head in March, and the OCA imposed ride restrictions.  I chose to ride the Grand River 200 as the route passed through Ancaster, where I live, on both the out bound and in bound legs.  With permanents, we have the latitude to start/end anywhere along the route.  So I started the ride in  Ancaster and stopped again at my home mid-ride for food and drink avoiding stops anywhere else.

COVID-19 precluded any sanctioned rides in April and May, but I wanted to continue my string of monthly 200’s.  In April I cycled 200km on my rollers.  But I didn’t think that really qualified, as the rollers offer little resistance – I averaged 40km/h.  Being hard headed, I did another 200km on my trainer. That was a worthy effort.   And in May, I rode an unsanctioned 200km ride from my home on a route that I have proposed, The Grimsby Circle 200.  The thing I remember about that ride was dense fog for about 30km in the early morning.

Finally in June, we could again resume sanctioned rides but with appropriate restrictions.   I cycled the Niagara Plateau 200 out of Brantford.  It’s a flat, out and back route to Port Colborne with no places to refuel on the route.  Otherwise a nice ride, save for the extended, drenching rain on the last half of the return leg. Still, finished a happy cyclist.

July was my favourite ride of the year.  And the hottest.  A scorcher.  Much Ado About Nothing out of London.  I had ridden this route a couple of times before with the Huron Chapter to take in a play at the Stratford Festival.  Good memories.  I carried a picnic lunch that I enjoyed at the park surrounding the Festival Theatre in Stratford.   Despite an early start, there was no avoiding the heat.  The heat max’d out at 39C on my bike computer.  Drank lots of fluids.  Kept the pedals turning.  And made it back to London before the late afternoon thunderstorms.

Ken in a July scorcher

By mid-year, I determined that I did not want to repeat any routes on my quest for the O-12.  August was Tour of the Valleys.  For September, I chose St. Thomas-Paris-St. Thomas except that I started in Paris which is closer to home.  I was almost completing a 200’s in under 8h’s, and set out with that objective in mind. Just kept rolling, except for the one and only flat I got on the way back to Paris.  No mind, still finished in just over 7-1/2h’s.  Best ever time.  Surprised myself.

Rode another sub-8h permanent in October – Frosty 200.  Normally starts in Tillsonburg but I began the ride in Port Dover which is closer to home.  Nice riding in Norfolk & Oxford Counties and along the roads that skirt the Lake Erie shoreline back to Port Dover. 

Only two left to go, but weather could start to become a real impediment to finishing.  No bother, I was determined now to get the O-12 one way or another.  Fortunate for some reasonable conditions for the Niagara Ramble in November.   On the morning of the December ride, Castle 200, I wondered if I ought to postpone.  There had been snow the previous day.  And very strong winds were forecast, but at least the temperatures would be above freezing for most of the ride. And I knew that weather was likely to get worse later in the month.  So I set off prepared for a long day in the saddle.  I encountered some snow, slush and icy roads on the escarpment above Grimsby.  Bike handling skills from trying out cyclocross in the last few years were put to use.  And those winds – sustained at 40km/h with gusts up to 70.  Felt like I was hardly moving at times going south to Port Colborne.  Blown from there to Fort Erie, but then virtually no respite from the energy-sapping wind until the last northbound leg down back to Grimsby.  Even got blown off the road once by a strong gust, but manage to stay upright.  Otherwise, just a tough slog but happy to endure with the end of the O-12 at hand.

Did it!  Set out to complete the O-12 with an All Ontario set of different routes.  Never had in mind that all but one ride would be solo, but that’s how it worked out with COVID-19 restrictions.  Keys to success: Determination.  Perseverance.  And most important, Love & Enjoyment of Cycling. Thanks to Randonneurs Ontario for setting this challenge.  Great motivation in the year of COVID19.

We don’t have any patches for the O-12, so here is a virtual one. (I used the moon to signify months) Congrats Ken!

Rouge Ramble 60 km Populaire

Ride report from Stephen Jones:

Toronto managed to get the first ride of the season in on March 18 despite some questionable weather. Erin, Joey, Brian N, with new-comers Max and Leland braved the rain and wind to enjoy scenic urban Scarborough. The route generally follows the Waterfront Trail, and navigation can be quite tricky, especially where the trail cuts through parks. This time of year, there’s always a concern that trail sections in parks will have snow and ice on the path. But, other than one short section, our roads were bare and wet (so very wet).

We had our first major mechanical of the season when Joey’s rear derailleur cable snapped, dropping his chain into the smallest cog for the rest of the ride. It had the effect of ensuring he was the first up every hill though.

As we got closer to the section along the lake, we could hear what sounded like a train passing by. Once we cleared the last dune, all we could hear was the wind and surf pounding into the beach. Surf isn’t something we get to see a lot of on our rides, so it was pretty cool. The somewhat less than ideal weather did mean we had the trail mostly to ourselves.

The ride was an excellent demonstration of the mantra that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. I think our newbies went shopping for shoe covers right after the ride.

The plan is to keep offering this ride every spring. If you haven’t done it, you should make the effort to come out as it’s a real change from our typical countryside routes.

Winter Training

My Winter Training, by Stephen Jones

This past winter, I got into indoor training in a much bigger way than I have in the past. In previous winters, I generally accepted that I would lose conditioning. I stayed in some shape with commuting, and I would do occasional unstructured rides on the trainer.

That changed this winter. I had two goals: The first was to lose some weight. The second was to improve my power. I stumbled across a website called TrainerRoad (www.trainerroad.com). They have a pretty neat offering of workouts, training plans, and an application to help structure your workouts. But, you need some equipment:

• A bike.
• A stationary trainer to put the bike on. One that TrainerRoad has in its database.
• A computer with an ANT+ receiver. (A little USB dongle from Garmin or another vendor)
• An ANT+ speed sensor. (Garmin again)

How it works is you run the TrainerRoad application on the computer and pick a workout. Once the workout is loaded, get on the bike and start pedaling. TrainerRoad uses the speed it gets from the speed sensor and combines it with the power profile of your trainer to give you a power reading. Now, all you have to do is adjust your speed so your power matches the target power. You can now do power-based interval workouts on your stationary trainer without the cost of a power meter.

One of the first workouts to do is one of the power test rides. This will test your limits to find your threshold power. TrainerRoad remembers this power and scales all your subsequent rides based on this. So, an interval in a workout may ask for 150 Watts from one rider and 210 Watts for another, depending on the results of their power tests. TrainerRoad stores your workout history and tracks personal bests, such as max power for a minute.

There are a few costs involved. TrainerRoad is a subscription-based service (about $10/month) and if you don’t already have the Garmin bits, it will be about another $70-80 to get those.

This system worked for me since it gave me structured workouts that were more interesting than simply peddling along on the trainer for an hour or so. I also like the elegance of calculating power based on speed. Having the history lets me see improvements over time, which helps with motivation. Being able to play videos on the computer while I’m working out helps alleviate the boredom as well.

I know others do everything from continuing their training rides outside, using battery-powered socks, to joining cycling gyms and training in a class. This system fits my personal goals and personality. Maybe others would be willing to share how they train over the winter.

Rando Bio – David Thompson

The Rando Bio by Kathy Brouse
Welcome to the “Rando Bio!” The plan is to rotate the Bio picks from each of the Randonneur chapters.

Welcome to David Thompson, our Randonneur Ontario Treasurer.


Question #1: Dave, you are undoubtedly one of the RO veterans with years of experience to share with members. Can you tell our readers the history of your involvement with the Randonneurs, how it all began and what inspires you about this sport?

My years of experience don’t go back as far as you might think…

2007 – One brevet
I was a weekend rider until 2006, never having heard of the sport. We moved from Toronto to the Philadelphia area in 1994 and I got into cycling there. I was able to get out most weekends, even during the winter.
In 2006, when I retired, I wanted to do something memorable and signed up for a cross-U.S. ride in 2007 with America by Bicycle, 5,500 km in 32 days. That ride went from Costa Mesa, south of Los Angeles, to New Hampshire. We sold our place in Philly in 2006 and moved half our stuff north to our cottage and half our stuff south to a house in northeast Florida, New Smyrna Beach. I trained in early 2007, getting out for 100-150kms per day and did that ride in April/May of 2007. It was quite an experience.
The organizers of that ride required that we demonstrate that we could do a century (miles) in reasonable time, so I had searched around and found a link to Randonneuring and signed up and did a 200k north of Panama City FL.

2008 – Some Permanents
Geoff Swarts, Jerry Christensen and I ended up riding a lot together on the ride across the U.S. and planned a ride around Lake Superior for the Spring of 2008. That was a ten-day, 2,000 km ride. We organized it in advance, booking motels for the overnights. My wife Sandy supported us, driving point-to-point between motels carrying luggage and waving to us as she passed by during the day.
Geoff, from Seattle, had recently gotten into Randonneuring and wanted to setup the U.S. portions of the ride as Permanents. I was listed as the “owner” of the Permanents, since the address of our cottage in the Loring, Ontario area is closer than Geoff’s. I still own those Permanents and occasionally someone will contact me and ride one of them.

2009 – The obsession begins
I talk about 2009 as when my real Randonneuring begins because that was the year that the obsession took hold. Geoff Swarts found the inaugural edition of the Granite Anvil on the calendar and talked me into signing up for it. I had no idea if I could do such a thing so I went crazy with training …
Living in Florida meant that I could train during the winter. It also afforded me access to two clubs – Central Florida Randonneurs and the Gainesville Cycling Club. They both ran full series that year and I did both of them. Every second weekend I was doing a brevet and of course riding in between as well. Once I returned to Ontario for the summer, I completed a full series with Randonneurs Ontario.
With a lot of trepidation I also signed up for the Shenandoah 1200 that would be run in June of that year. That became my first 1200k. Late afternoon of the third day I came to the realization that “I can do this”. At that point, I’d had two night’s stops, each 5 hours, getting 3 hours sleep, and was still rolling. The worst of the climbing was behind me and I wasn’t sitting by the side of the road :). The third night stop followed the same pattern and I completed the ride in 83:45. That’s not to say that I wasn’t fairly wiped out at the end of the ride, but I had lots of margin.
I rode the Granite Anvil with Geoff and one of his buddies from Seattle – Vincent Muoneke. We completed the GA in a similar time, 83 hours and change. In between, I’d also ridden the LOL 1000k out of Erin Mills. I found the 1000k to be every bit as hard as a 1200k, if not harder because you are unsupported.

2010 and onwards
The obsession continues. I’ve done 3-5 major rides each year (my definition of major is 1000+k) and as many brevets as I can possibly squeeze in. Doing brevets is easier in Florida because the rides generally start within 1-2 hours’ drive of my house. In Ontario, it takes 3-4 hours’ drive to get to a ride because our cottage is so far north.
To stay in shape and basically for exercise, I try to ride every second day. I don’t really think of it as “training”, more like “maintenance”. In Florida I have a few routes up and down the Atlantic coast from my house. From the cottage I ride 27 km west along highway 522 and then either north or south on 69, depending on the wind, for the same distance then turn around and go back. In Florida I deal with the traffic … in Ontario I deal with traffic as well — black flies and horse flies!
When people ask “why do you ride”, I have a couple of pat answers …
1) I ride because I like to eat! So much riding means that I can basically eat anything, in quantity that I want. That said, I do have a healthy diet but eat a lot of it!
2) I feel better when I ride (afterwards). There are often tough moments, even during some of my daily rides when I think to myself – “how do I ever do a 1200k?” – but I always feel physically better for the exercise
3) I like the “thinking time”. I really do. It clears my head of any frustrations, puts life’s challenges in perspective. There are hills and headwinds in life too.
I need a challenge and the brevets, especially the 1200’s, are my goals. Truth be told, I like the 1200s more than the shorter rides. I ride a 200k at about the same speed that I ride a 1200k, so I seem slow to most people. Indeed, on a 1200k I’m usually all alone at the back within an hour of starting. Later that day I’ll pass a few people and that will continue throughout the ride so that I’m in the first 1/3. I ride about the same pace the entire time.
I’m not out there to better my time, increase my speed or wattage output etc., just want to complete. I don’t like riding in a pace line, even though it might make it easier in the wind. I don’t want to stare at someone else’s butt for hours and days on end. If I had to do that, I wouldn’t ride. I’m quite happy having company on a ride, or riding alone if that’s what seems to work best for my legs that day.
I tell people that my legs set the pace and my job is only to steer. I don’t push it. When/if I do, especially in a paceline with all the little accelerations that go with paceline riding, my knees start to notice, so I simply go my own pace, even if that means seeing the group recede in the distance. I always ride conservatively, stop when I want to stop, spin easy when that’s what feels good.

Question #2: You have been involved with the RO administration in various roles over the years and are now the club Treasurer. I understand that your predecessor held the position for almost 20 years. Do you think your term will extend that long and what is that motivates you to volunteer so much of your time to promoting RO?

Actually I’d only gotten involved with the RO Board one year before I took over as Treasurer, I think. I happened to be the only one at the AGM from Simcoe (there are only three of us!) and Dick “Volunteered me” as VP Simcoe. As a side note, I live so far from any bike clubs in the region, however, that I’ve not been able to do that justice, have not been able to promote the Chapter in the region.
Leading up to the Granite Anvil 2013, I did volunteer to handle Hospitality and then subsequently, to manage the budget for the event, since Hospitality would be the major part of the expense. As it happened, Jim Griffin wanted to retire and Dick asked me if I’d be interested in taking on the role … I was and I did.
Jim had been Treasurer for about 25 years, so to answer your question – NO, I won’t be Treasurer 25 years from now!!
What motivates me to spend so much time on RO? Well, it’s that same obsessive/compulsive behaviour that you observe in my riding!
I feel that Randonneuring has done a lot for me in a short period of time. That only comes about because others donate their time. I appreciate that even more now, having been involved as Treasurer for a year and working through the Granite Anvil!
I enjoy working with the RO Board. Everyone is there because they want to be, not because they have to. It’s a different atmosphere than “work” 🙂 .

Question #3: I know that you cycle a lot in Europe and the States and that you are a Snowbird. Looking back, can you share one of your greatest experiences on the bike, either abroad or in North America?

I have done a lot in a short period of time as a Randonneur. I started late with the sport and want to squeeze in as much as possible. I’m very lucky to be retired (which gives me the time) with the financial wherewithal and health to be able to do so. I don’t want to put-off-until-tomorrow something that I might not be able to do later, for whatever reason.
Most of my cycling, in miles/km, when you get right down to it, is on a few routes close to my house in Florida or cottage in Ontario.
My cycling in Europe has been limited to three rides – the 1001 Miglia (1600k) in Italy in 2010, Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011 and London-Edinburgh-London in 2012. Of those, the Miglia tops my list … why?
The scenery, the food and the people make the Miglia memorable. A just-prior-to-dawn descent to the Mediterranean through what could be a movie set and a Cappuccino along the Strand … ahhh. I want to go back and do that ride again while I still can. Sandy and I did go back and trace some of the route, driving, after PBP in 2011. I wanted to show her some of the sights. Everyone should have that ride on their Bucket List.
Yes, the Rocky Mountain 1200k (BC) has wonderful natural scenery; yes, the people, crowds of people, on PBP make that memorable; there are enthusiastic volunteers on all these rides, I’ve enjoyed talking to so many of them.
Two memories of LEL stick in my mind – the food! Wow! and the sheep. There have to be more sheep in Britain than people. Oh yes, and there was that cold morning in Scotland when my friend Hamid had a Scotch while I only wanted coffee!
Each of these 1200k+ rides has a special memory, one or two things that stand out. I’m up to 14 now, five of which are the Shenandoah and two the Granite Anvil, but even the repeats don’t blend together.

Question #4: Everyone enjoys a good cycling story, can you tell us about a particularly challenging or most difficult experience that you had on a brevet or a PBP?

Well, that’s an easier question than you might think. The toughest day, by far, that I had on the bike was just this year, 2013, and it was self-inflicted.
There is now a South Florida Randonneuring club which didn’t exist in 2009. John Preston is the Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA). He does a great job with enthusiastic volunteers and has mapped out a variety of routes … but there are limits to what you can do with flat terrain that either has traffic (coast) or nothing (non-coast). Flat terrain means wind, and there’s very little wind-break. Sugar cane and saw grass don’t block the wind.
The 600k spends the first mostly 400k inland, cycling around Lake Okeechobee. There’s a levee (dyke) around the lake with a paved path on the top. It’s a big lake; driving distance around is 200k. The first day, 400k, starts at the Atlantic coast, runs clockwise around the lake and then back to the coast. The second day, 200k, runs north and then south along the coast.
The wind when you’re riding around the lake is brutal. There’s really no time when you have a tail-wind, or so it seems. You are elevated on the levee trail, totally exposed. I was riding with Dave Buzzee, a very experienced Randonneur, in fact one of the founders of Randonneurs USA (RUSA). At times we were barely making headway. Late afternoon he threw in the towel – “I’m not having fun”, he said. I continued on by myself.
As the sun was starting to set the wind was dying down, or at least it wasn’t in my face, I was approaching the end of the levee trail. I looked back over my right shoulder to see the sunset over the lake and then looked down at my Garmin to see the track off the levee. I looked up and the steel gate across the trail was in front of me, perhaps a meter in front of me, if that.
These gates, and there are a few of them, provide a little cycle-around spot at slow speed. They stop vehicular traffic, from accidentally driving on the levee trail. It’s not as if I didn’t know about the gates, having ridden around this very gate before or as if they are hard to see. I just wasn’t paying attention.
I don’t really know what happened next. I figure that I must have instinctively stood up and rolled. I hit the gate — don’t know how fast I was going — and landed on the pavement on the other side. My left knee felt the impact and my thumb. I did a self-inspection and nothing was broken, everything moved. I was so incredibly lucky. There are so many things that I could have broken, including my neck. The somersault over the gate was more up-and-down than the typical cycling fall, so I had no road rash.
After my self-inspection, I went back to the gate, because of course the bike didn’t go over the gate as it’s higher than the bike. I found that my handlebars had snapped, the left side dangling, the right side still attached to the stem. Oh my poor Easton EC90 handlebars! They were so pretty!


“I’m done”, I thought. I then recalled that on an earlier South Florida brevet there was a rider who had lost both his arms but did the 300k with one prosthesis. Well, I thought, if he can do an entire 300k with one prosthetic arm, surely I can ride at least to the next Control (<20k) or to the overnight and my car (a little less than 100k). He was my inspiration of the moment. I started riding again. I hurt, but not enough to stop riding. I had no idea how much I would hurt later, if any. The left knee hurt but no sharp pain ... so far so good. I got to that next Control and John Preston (RBA) was there with a van. He went to take a picture of me and I said "no pictures" and showed him my handlebars and said "I'm done". "Are you sure?” Well, I said, there's no way that I can ride another 300k like this and besides, I'm worried about my fork (I had just thought about that!). He volunteered to help me check my fork, so we removed the stem and pulled the fork and it looked ok, no stress marks on the carbon, nothing. While we were doing that, one of the non-riding Randonneurs called his phone to ask if he needed any help. "Do you have a spare pair of handlebars?” asks John. We discuss the specs for stem and Alex volunteers to bring handlebars to the 400k overnight stop. Rats. I'm now locked into at least riding to the overnight. Michele Cannedy is looking for company to ride to the overnight so we set out together. I've got some of those little bungees in my pack and have the left-side handlebar bungeed to the right. My light is attached to the right-hand side, thankfully. That <100k to the overnight was one of the worst rides that I've ever done. I couldn't stand, which I do a lot. We had a head-wind. I had my right hand on the right handlebar and my left on the stem. I was hurting from hitting the pavement. I was mentally hurting because of my stupidity. I had to stop every few km and stretch. I was getting incredibly cramped. Of course the other problem was that I was now committed for the rest of the ride. Alex was driving over an hour to get to the overnight to bring those handlebars/stem to me. How could I not ride now? He was waiting when we got there and we moved shifters/brakes, light, Garmin etc. as we re-setup the bike. By then it was after 2am and I needed a little sleep before setting out again. The remaining 200k wasn't a problem. At that point it was more my pride that was damaged from the collision the day before. I was quite surprised that I wasn't hurting more. There have been many other tough times on long rides. When that happens, I try not to think about the next ride, because I might just swear-off the sport. Inevitably I feel better for the experience once it's over. I didn't feel better from this one! Question #5: Dave, you were a key player, if not the key player, in the success of the Granite Anvil 1200 this past summer. It was an awesome brevet and organized brilliantly, I know because I had the pleasure to ride it. Can you share with members a brief history of how you were able to pull off such an amazing feat? Everyone worked hard on the Granite Anvil. It was truly a team effort. Experience with doing many rides was key to my thinking going into the Granite Anvil. I volunteered to work on this because I wanted it to be a ride that I would have enjoyed, even though I probably wouldn't be riding the "main event". I had ridden the previous edition in 2009. There were specific things that I wanted to fix from the prior ride and things that we knew as a group needed fixing. One of the biggest complaints from the prior edition was the route, specifically the cue sheet inaccuracies. My biggest complaint, personally, was the accommodation -- sleeping and showers. I had participated in rides with motel accommodations and wanted to go with that approach. I knew that we'd have to book very early to lock in enough rooms in these little towns. With lead times in mind, we started conference calls about 16 months before the ride. At that point the major activities were nailing down accommodations and the overall route since they were interdependent. The accommodations gave us a starting point for budgeting. I didn't have much experience working with caterers but since one of the hotels was including food in the package, it gave me a starting point for the overall food budget as well. The club gave us their blessing at the 2012 AGM, both to hold the ride as well as invest in its success. I never said anything to anyone else, but as Treasurer, I really didn't want to dip into that money. Having that "in reserve", so to speak, gave me some comfort that we wouldn't be short if on-the-fly decisions on food and support caused us to spend more money. Everyone had a voice, and an opinion, on the conference calls. The route was a group effort with Peter Grant having the lion's share of the workload; everyone chimed in as Andrea worked up ideas for SWAG, as we discussed menus; we agonized over minutia ... we wanted this to be viewed as "world class". Dick Felton, Peter Grant, Andrea Ferguson Jones, Stephen Jones, Bob Macleod, Vytas Janusauskas, Bob Kassel and I were all regulars, kind of the "core team". We did pull it off! I worked with CCN, our transaction processor, on two fronts -- Randonneurs Ontario membership and the Granite Anvil. A smooth sign-up process was also critical to our success. CCN had also assisted BC Randonneurs with the Rocky Mountain 1200k ride that year so we were on solid ground. The motels were nailed down over a year in advance; available double-rooms booked. The caterers were a work in progress until 2-3 months before the ride. The two pre-rides worked out well as we made last minute adjustments and then tested them out. We had great support from the club with many volunteers. During the ride everyone worked hard staffing the controls, moving food and drop bags, supporting with mobile units, staying in contact with one another via the central phone number at Durham College. We made some on-the-fly decisions vis-a-vis Control staffing, food supplies ... even one of our DNF's contributed (Michele Cannedy), becoming part of a mobile unit with Peter Dusel. Question #6: Dave, how many kilometres do you chalk up on average every year doing brevets and what are some of your future riding plans and goals? I will have chalked up about 10,000 km doing brevets in 2013 and will probably hit close to the 20,000 mark in total km. That's about the same amount of riding that I've done in each of the last 5 years, give or take. Basically I want to keep doing this as long as I can. I'd like to hit new rides as they appear on the world-wide calendar. Some sound very interesting -- Japan, New Zealand, other European Rides, there’s a lot out there. There are specific rides that I'd love to be able to do in 2014 -- Rocky Mountain High Country (Colorado) and VanIsle (Vancouver Island) -- come to mind. I don't know if I'll be able to do both. The Cascade 1200 is also out there; I haven't done that one. The Big Wild Ride in Alaska is definitely on my bucket list... There are some that I'll repeat -- I'll likely do PBP in 2015; the Miglia in Italy is something that I want to do again; I'll ride the Shenandoah again, if it's offered (not on the calendar for 2014); the Rocky Mountain 1200 (BC) was fun ... yikes, too many rides; too little time! The European rides are neat; the culture and the food are so interesting. I don't miss not having a 7-Eleven or Tim Horton's in France... Question #7: Finally, Dave, in a sentence or two can you share some inspirational words for new Randonneurs at the beginning of their journey? Randonneuring is an experience like no other. As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in ... and you have to put a whole lot in to do a 1200k ride. The satisfaction that you'll feel, mind and body (believe it or not!) from accomplishing such a feat goes beyond anything else that you might accomplish. Don't be discouraged if you feel like absolute CRAP during a ride. It will go away. Give it a couple of days. It happens all the time to me. In 2009 as I did my first 300k, 400k, 600k -- every ride being the longest that I'd ever done -- there were many times, and there still are, when I wonder why I'm doing this. Afterwards the satisfaction settles in. A hot shower, legs up, beer in hand ... I did it! They say that Randonneuring is 90% mental, and the other 10% is mental. It's not really a physical sport, unless, of course, you're trying for some record. What you achieve mentally by finishing these rides will carry over into your life. PBP is out there, but it's not the end goal. There are so many other experiences in the Randonneuring world, things that you'll see; people that you'll meet; the perspective that you'll get; from your vantage point on the bike. It's not the same as a supported ride in the country, any country. Go ahead, do a wine tour by bicycle, yes, go for it ... but this is something special.