Míle Fáilte 2014

Ride Report by David Thompson:

Míle Fáilte … a thousand welcomes!

First off, every rider should have this one on his/her Bucket List. It ranks right up there, in my mind, with the 1001 Miglia in Italy and the Rocky Mountain 1200 in BC Canada. The views are stunningly beautiful, the greenery and flowers abundant and the people friendly beyond belief.

Do not miss doing this ride when it is rescheduled! This was the inaugural running and went like clockwork … it will only get better!

The route often hugs the coast, sometimes at Sea Level, sometimes a few hundred feet up along sheer cliffs. Old stone walls stand between you on the road and oblivion. Elsewhere the views are of green farmland, sheep in the distance (and sometimes on the road in front of you !). Those landscape views remind me of London-Edinburgh-London, but the ocean views are something else.

Castles abound, some rehabilitated, some covered in ivy and decrepit. Their charm is matched by the flower gardens, wild and cultivated.

We were often on narrow roads; sometimes holding up traffic. Never is a horn blown. Patience is the order of the day. I stopped at one point to let a farmer and his wife herd some cows down the road. The cows were skittish … do I look strange to them? Had I continued riding, they would have really spooked. The farmer was thankful … it only cost me a couple of minutes. Contrast that with an almost identical scenario that I encountered in the U.S. last year where the farmer yelled “You f-ing cyclists shouldn’t be on this road!!” — what, the road was built for cows?

Logistically the ride had an odd start — 8am. That was so we could start the second day late and catch the first ferry at 7am, otherwise there would have been a Control timing problem. That 8am start kind-of pushed everything off mentally, compared to other rides. Where I would normally be starting 2nd and subsequent days at 4am or earlier, add at least a couple of hours.

I lost an hour or two (or few) to being a tourist, unusual for me. I stopped to take a few pictures; I had more cappuccino than I’ve had since I did the Miglia; I stopped to simply admire the view. It was that kind of ride. I wasn’t going to set any records, personal or otherwise, and didn’t try. I wanted to enjoy myself.

The weather was outstanding. That will not likely be repeated. Four days without rain? This is Ireland? The newspaper headline before the ride said “Heat Wave” — well, it was a heat wave for Ireland. Temperatures were in the low 20’s during the day, down to around 10C at night. With the ride alternating between hugging the coast and climbing the next ridge, sometimes I’d be thinking about putting on my long sleeved jersey and a few minutes later, dealing with the heat as I climbed.

There were some notable climbs, 300-400 meters, and long descents. There were a couple of really sharp descents where I was thinking that I was wasting all that vertical, chewing it up too quickly ! On those descents, it was time to pay attention to the road, not the view !

The days played out as follows, for me. Distances are not exact but think of the first three days being 350 km and the last day being 160. There was a secret control about 30-40 km from the end of each of the first three days. That Control, and the overnight Controls, had food. Accommodation was in hostels, or, at your option (and expense) hotel.

We gathered receipts, or selfies, from each intermediate Control. During the ride, at the secret Controls or at the overnight Control, those were tallied and marked on the Brevet Cards.

Day 1 — leave at 8am, finish around 1:30am. It left from Midleton and ended in Midleton — that was convenient. It did have some rough farm-type roads that made climbing and descending slower than you’d think. Climbing was around 3000 m, a couple of long climbs on rough farm roads.

Day 2 — start in Midleton, take the ferry shortly into the ride (just a couple of minutes ride), end in Killarney. One LEL-sized drop bag had been moved to Killarney. This day didn’t feature as many farm roads as Day 1; there was a lot of riding along the coast, some of it breathtaking, all of it beautiful. I left at 6:15 to catch the 7:00am ferry; I finished around 1am, I think (I’m a little fuzzy on that finish time). Climbing was again around 3000 m, one really long climb on a good road with a photographer waiting at the top for us. Somewhere there is a picture of me with the land and ocean in the background.

Day 3 — start in Killarney, end in Killarney. This was a long day, could be the longest that I’ve experienced randonneuring, for the same number of km. Mentally it seemed longer due to the later start than usual (for me). I left at 6:30; I got back at dawn — 5:30? Something like that. Yes, I made it back before sunrise, but just. The last 40 km after the secret control were tough, on farm roads, very difficult to navigate even with the Garmin with many forks in the roads, it seemed. I heard about some complaints regarding this section; fast, strong riders not thinking that it would take them 3 hours to do 40 km. Apparently most riders after us opted to get some sleep at the secret control rather than ride into daylight. Total climbing for this day was closer to 4000 m.

Day 4 – Killarney to Midleton. This was a nice, short day, being only 160 km. Climbing was moderate (forget the figure); no notable climbs. Roads were good. Services were frequent. We left at 9:30 (I was riding with Hamid Akbarian who likes a little sleep) and finished just before 6:30pm.

Our elapsed time for the MF1200 was just under 82:30. I didn’t make note of the exact time.

When we got to the end, there was a party going on in the hotel bar/pub, where they’d setup the final control. They partied on, breaking for dinner. By 10pm I’d had it and went to bed. Closing time for the Control was 2am the next day — don’t forget that 8am start; pushes everything back. I’d heard that there were still 15 riders still on the course at 10pm.

Something like 95 riders started. I haven’t heard/seen final stats yet on finishers and times.

Add this to your bucket list. It was a great ride and will only get better.

The Creemore Classic 400

On June 22, Liz Overduin, John Maccio and Kathy Brouse rode the Creemore Classic 400 as a Permanent. They had a lot of fun. This is their ride report.


I have always wanted to do this brevet and was not able to do it with the Huron Chapter this year as an official scheduled ride. So, this weekend, Liz Overduin, John Maccio and I rode this brevet as a Permanent and it was an incredible ride. We decided on an 8:00pm start on the Friday night and planned to finish around 6:00pm on the Sat. Both Liz and John are familiar with this route but they have never experienced a night start.

For me, the ride began in panic mode. As I started assembling my bike in Port Elgin I discovered that I had forgotten my bike rack so it was not possible to take my bike bag. Fortunately Liz had a small backpack in her car and I stuffed what I could into that pack. I knew the night would be cold. John warned that the first 100km would be flat, the last 50km flat and everything in the middle was a climb. He was correct.

Memorable moments on the ride include steep climbs at Eugenia, Creemore and Scenic Caves, bright orange crescent/banana shaped moon in the night, napping in the shade during the bowling event, the Blue Mountains, the Beaver Valley, porcupines, snapping turtles and getting dive bombed by a red winged blackbird. No kidding, I was pedaling along minding my own business when I heard this chukka, chukka, chukka (repeat it over and over with speed and aggression) and looked over my right shoulder to discover I was being chased by an angry blackbird. I saw his beady eyes, bright red wings and he was bearing down on me, chukka, chukka, so I pedaled faster. Very weird.

I just Googled to see if Redwing Blackbirds do attack humans and discovered that in late spring to early summer male blackbirds are guarding multiple nests on the ground, low in trees and in marsh areas. They are ferociously territorial and they do attack human. “How to Stop a Redwing Blackbird Attack” suggests avoiding areas with high populations of redwing blackbirds, ducking as low as possible right before the attack, running as fast as possible for cover, and not to hit or harm a redwing blackbird because they are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and you could end up with a $250,000 fine.


Here’s a funny video of a cyclist being attacked by a redwing blackbird:

So, one more thing to worry about when we’re out there on those long stretches of country road!

I regress, back to the ride report. After a full day of hill climbing in the hot sun we were quiet and weary along Grey Rd 40 to the control in Chatsworth. Having consumed coffee, carbs and sugar at the Coffee Time we were perked and pumped as we headed back to the finish in Port Elgin, telling stories and enjoying the perfectly peaceful quintessential summer evening. After a beer with Carey, Donna and Laurie we headed back to our respective homes and hotels. What an adventure. I highly recommend this brevet but watch out for those angry birds while in Grey County!


Hi everyone. What is it with Kathy Brouse and the Birds & the Bees (remember the bee sting story on the Granite Anvil)? Thanks again to Kathy who so kindly offered to watch our bikes while John Maccio and I went into the Bowling Alley to determine which one of us would be the 2014 Creemore Classic Bowling Champion. John proudly wearing his Italian cycling jersey and shorts, Liz in her Netherlands jersey. John and I enjoyed a friendly beer together as the fierce competition to be the Champion was carried out. Be sure to come to the Awards Dinner in February 2015 to hear the details and find out who will get the trophy from Larry Sowerby. Or….come and do the Creemore Classic yourself as a permanent and try to beat the winning score of 125!


I am not a wordsmith as the both of you but here is what I want to convey. It was my pleasure to do this ride with two enthusiastic women Kathy Brouse and Liz Overduin. The night looked good but there was some fear of rain, which really did not appear. The ride to Owen Sound was so peaceful and as we approached the midnight hour all I could hear was the scurrying of creatures in the woods beside us and the occasional raccoon or porcupine running across the road. The best wildlife we did see was at Pizza Pizza in Owen Sound where we met a group of 420 friendly party animals. They were friendly enough and wanted to know all about our trip and were impressed. It was enjoyable but I needed a quick nap and they wanted to talk. By the time we got to Collingwood, at around 8am, I was famished and enjoy the hungry man breakfast at the Red Hen. We met numerous cyclist in the Collingwood area as there was a charity ride happening at the same time. No matter how hard I train or prepare myself Scenic Caves hill is still intimidating to me but the view during the day made the climb even more enjoyable. I really thought that night start on the 400 was a great idea. I would highly recommend that we purpose one for the PBP year next year so that others can get a taste of a night start which most of the Canadian riders will be doing in Paris.

Concord Collingwood 400

Ride Report from Kathy Brouse:

Although I did not ride this brevet I received feedback from the three riders who rode this challenging brevet. It’s one of those rides that if you’re not going up, you’re going down.

All of the riders on the brevet are new riders with the club – Randy, Tim and Janet. Technically Randy is not a rookie randonneur because he joined last year and rode at least one, maybe two brevets. But this was his first 400, as it was for Tim and Janet. Tim and Randy rode together and finished just before 2:00am, an amazing accomplishment!

Not to take away from their achievement, but this has to be said…..move over boys cause Janet Vogt is overtaking on the left! Janet rode that entire brevet, through the night for almost 24 hours alone. She negotiated the detour just west of Everett, the steep climbs and even told me that she now knows the appeal of night riding. She enjoyed Friday’s beautiful full moon.

Janet has proven that she has guts, fortitude and tenacity, all the virtues that make a true Rando warrior. Congratulations to you Janet, you are amazing 🙂

Burnstown Cafe 200 – The First Time

Ride Report by Liz Overduin:

Do you remember the first time? The excitement, anticipation and fears? Ahhh, the joys of the first ever 200 km brevet (what did you think I was talking about!)

This past Saturday my brother Nick did his first ever 200 km brevet. Nick was the first person to ever mention Randonneuring to me. He said “you should check it out Liz, they go long distances, up to 1200 km in one go – I bet you would like it.” But I did not look it up at the time because I thought Randonneur cyclists must be extremely athletic cyclists. A few years later I met some of you at the bike show in 2009……and the rest is history.

Nick has always been supportive of me in this sport and it has been a dream of mine to do a 200 km brevet with him. He was hesitant and he said “I don’t think I am ready for this”.
“You won’t be the first one to do a 200 km brevet without being ready” I said.
“Let’s do it” he said.

The first control was at 55 km. At the 50 km point he told me that he had never ridden that far without stopping……Oh, that’s what he meant about not being ready. Do you remember your first 200 and how important the breaks were?

The next control was at km 99. For Nick, km 99 was not to be rounded off to km 100. Ninety-nine it is, and we would stop for lunch. When we got there, the guy at the control passed a message on to us that everyone had gone into the next town for lunch instead and we should meet them.
“How much farther is it?” asked Nick.
“7 or 8 kilometers”.
Nick said “ok” but his eyes said “oh no”. Turned out that the guy should have said 7 or 8 miles, not kilometers – big difference! My brother was sure glad to get to the cafe for lunch, and everyone there encouraged him with the fact he now had 115 km done, only 85 to go.

Remember the first brevet you did, and the horror when you found out that a 200 km brevet could actually be more than 200 km. It was 202.9, almost 203. Yeah, that was not lost on Nick and while he was counting down the last 15 k, it was actually 18 – I didn’t know how to tell him.

There’s no denying it was a great ride. Great scenery, perfect weather, and forever memorable to do this ride with my brother. I will have to wait for Randonesia to set in for him because he said it is unlikely that he will ever do that again! He was very glad that he was able to do it and he said he did enjoy it.

Thanks for the cheers from those at the Comfort Inn when we came in, 12 hours and 36 minutes after heading out.
Well done Nick!

All the best to those participating in Devil Week – you will be enjoying some amazing scenery and great riding!

Lakes and Vines 300

Ride Report from Kathy Brouse:

To celebrate the Lakes and Vines 300 I have just purchased a bottle of “vinology” from the Flat Rock estate winery that I cycled past yesterday enroute to Jordan Station. This evening I will sip this wine and reflect on what to me is the most beautiful Toronto chapter rando ride. I have said it before, and I will say it again, everyone should ride the L&V at least once, on a summer day it’s an amazing and so very scenic ride.

First you cycle through the Dundas valley which is all rollers, shade and dappled sunlight early in the morning. Then you go south to Caledonia and cycle with the Grand River and rolling farmlands on your left for ages as you head towards the north shores of Lake Erie. You know you’re getting close when you hit Dunnville, tons of fisherman out, boats and the holiday crowd. Eventually you arrive at Halimand and Wainfleet and follow the shores of Lake Erie for ages, very peaceful on a lovely summer day. At Port Colborne you stop for food and drink and head north through the vineyards to Jordan Station on the shores of Lake Ontario. Cycling through the vinelands is like moving through the aisles at the LCBO as you recognize all the estate wineries and try to remember to pick up a bottle from a specific winery in the next few weeks.

From Jordan Station it’s hills and ascents as you head towards Hamilton and high up on the escarpment on Ridge Rd you overlook all of Hamilton Harbour, a very dramatic view in the late afternoon. Then the day turns into dusk and you reach the Erin Mills finish as darkness descends. Unlike me, the speedy amigos riding the L&V , arrive at the finish much much earlier and while I am arriving at Hutches Burgers (second to last control) those fast guys are at home, showered and drinking a beer 🙂

Nice to see Ken Jobba out yesterday. Ken used to organize club rides when I first joined the RO and has not ridden with RO since 2009! (did I remember that correctly Ken??) And always nice to see Dave T on a Toronto chapter ride. It was his first L&V and he said it was great. Dave is off to do 1200 km in Ireland in a week’s time, what a great adventure and another 1200 km in Belgium two weeks after that, what a cycling machine! Good luck to Brian who is off to begin the Great Divide in less than two weeks. Looking forward to seeing Brian at the BC Vanisle 1200 and hearing about the Great adventure.

If you still have not done this ride, be sure to put the Lakes and Vines 300 on your cycling bucket list.