Oak Ridges Moraine 400

Ride Report by Dave Thompson:

Every time I do a new ride I see more of Ontario, reminded that you haven’t really seen Ontario until you see it on a bike. I’m also reminded that Ontario isn’t flat! I think we came in around 4000 metres of climbing – one short little bump registered around 22% on my Garmin.

We headed off at 6am – Dave, Terry, Tim, Will, Smiling, Martin and Jerzy … well, actually Tim and I left about 15 minutes later. Tim rode on and I saw them all at the next Control as there’s a little bit of a reverse-course at that point. All of the group save Terry and I stopped at Hockley Valley for something to eat; Terry and I saved our appetites for the Subway at the next Control. Although we didn’t exactly ride together, Terry and I were within sight of each other for most of the ride and then finished together at 1:41am. The “peloton” came in later; I haven’t heard details yet or even how much they stuck together.

The first 100 km has a good chunk of the climbing from Erin Mills to Orangeville. From there we headed east and were treated to mostly tail winds and some flatter riding. When we turned south, we had some headwinds to contend with but nothing too daunting. By the time we got to Stouffville heading west, the winds were starting to die down and we followed a route north of but then intersecting with, the LOL route back into Erin Mills. It’s actually a better route because it doesn’t go through northern bit of suburbia that keeps encroaching on our pleasant bike routes!

I was reminded again that Toronto is a BIG city. I was also reminded that the roads at that point are sort-of perpendicular to Lake Ontario making the trip south into Mississauga seem endless at times (are we there yet Dad?). Riding on roads SE or SW makes you feel that you’re somehow zig-zagging your way in, but when I look at the map, it’s pretty direct. There’s something about night, close to the end of the ride that stretches things out.

Terry and I agreed that 400 km isn’t our favourite distance, but we got ‘er done.

When we started out in the a.m. there was a line of rain heading towards us on the Doppler. We really lucked out because we seemed to ride west then north around the system in the morning and then as the day wore on, we could see rain in the distance and at times, lightning, but we didn’t hit one drop of rain. I exchanged emails with Tim and he had a short shower for a few seconds but no more.

It was a good ride even though we didn’t stop for beer or bowling …

I’ll let Terry explain the part about dancing with the Polish lady at the deli…

Vanisle 1200

Ride Report from Kathy Brouse:

Thought I would try to capture some of the highlights of the Vanisle 1200 2014 before it slips out of short term memory. It is now six days post ride and I am holed up in the Coastal Kitchen Café in Port Renfrew, a rugged and remote fishing outpost on Vancouver Is west coast. I am here to hike the Juan de Fuca Trail, 47kms of rainforest from Sooke to Port Renfrew but this morning it is raining torrentially and I do not have my primo hiking gear – rain jacket, hiking boots and gators with me now to keep me dry and safe on this challenging trail.

The Vanisle 1200 was an adventure and a definite bucket list event for all randonneurs looking to combine the rugged natural beauty of snow-capped mountains, oceans and lakes with a 4 day cycling challenge. 67 riders started out from Victoria on Monday, July 14 at 3:00am, the forecast was hot and dry, constant hydrating conditions. We headed north over the Malahat, the first big climb just north of Victoria, towards Campbell River at 267kms, the central drop bag location. The second control at Graham Fishlock’s house in Cedar Point was such a pleasant surprise. Graham is a BC randonneur who participated in the inaugural Granite Anvil back in 2009. A small team of volunteers, including Graham and his wife, dished out a delicious healthy breakfast and it was so peaceful sitting on the grass in that beautiful place. I arrived there before noon and was soon back on the bike heading up the coast to Nanaimo, Comox, Qualicum Beach, finally arriving at Campbell River around 6:00pm. I refuelled, waited for a riding companion that I had not seen for a while and finally decided to head out on my own to the Gold River control.

Now, some of you will know that I was concerned about doing this stretch of road on my own in the dark. It is very remote and there are no services other than at Strathcona Lodge, which was closed by the time I passed by there anyway. I thank Vaune Davis for sharing the pre-ride mental strategies she has found helpful over the years. As Vaune instructed I looked fear in the face, mentally rehearsing how to problem solve unexpected adverse circumstances such as mechanical issues, bears, etc. I arrived in Gold River at 12:30am having passed various members of the A-team riders who were not stopping at that control having turned around to return to Campbell River. Some said hi, some jingled a bell, some did not return my greeting.

The staff at Gold River were so welcoming and passed me a baggy with chicken wrap, yummy cake and fruit which I devoured before lying down. I set off from Gold River around 3:30am. The first light and the sun coming up over the mountains were so beautiful. Saw Henk, Brian B and Will, an Alberta rider, on this stretch and we pulled into Campbell River at the same time, around 9:00am. Did I mention yet that there was a heat wave in central and east Vancouver Is last week and by the end of day 2, 12 riders had dropped out of the ride? The heat was really brutal. One rider from California told me that the conditions were harder than cycling in Death Valley, what with the heat and the climbs! Got to Sayward Junction sometime around noon and melted on the bench at the gas station. Pushed on towards Woss, steadily climbing in the heat for 70 km and trailing Brian, Will, BC Colin and BC Gary all the way.

The Woss control was like a birthday party! The table was set with paper plates and napkins and we had sandwiches, chips and watermelon. There may have even been balloons but no party bags when we left. The volunteers were great and even provided Will with a bucket of ice water to soak his tired feet, like a spa! For the next 5 hours to Port Hardy I cycled with the boys and that was fun, everybody pulling and drafting as we headed north. Unfortunately, probably due to sleep deprivation, I touched the back of Will’s wheel and cycled into the ditch just south of Port Hardy. I was all tangled up at the bottom of a rather steep ditch and I thought my Vanisle was over. Luckily, I suffered only bruising down my left side and my bike was OK. Yeah, my Vanisle was not over!! Arrived at the Port Hardy Inn around 11:00pm – horrible place, don’t ever stay there.

Day #3 began at 3:15am, three of us heading towards Port McNeill and then on to Woss for a delicious, huge breakfast. By that time we had met up again with BC randonneurs Gary and Colin and British Peter. Our group of 6 set off south to Sayward Junction and I had one of my best times on the Vanisle screaming down the hills into the control. I kept thinking, this is why I came to BC… whoopee!! Spent the third night in Courtney arriving around 9:00pm. Day #4 began at 3:00am and the highlight of that section was the sun coming up over the mountains and the herons at Qualicum Beach. Through Nanaimo and Duncan again, up and over the Malahat and back in Victoria at 4:23pm, 85hrs and 23 minutes later!!

It was a unique adventure and I enjoyed almost every part of it. The noisy ride on the shoulder along the main and only highway for 5 hours at the end of the ride was tedious but doable and I seemed to be the only person who did not mind the Malahat climb at the end. Perhaps because I was savouring the fact that this would be my last BC hill climb until my next visit made me happy just to be there grinding up that hill, descending and dodging the debris and construction on the way down.

Finally, let me say, that the BC and Victoria Is randonneurs are some of the nicest people on the planet: welcoming, friendly, generous. Thanks to Steve Mahovolic and his team of volunteers for hosting this remarkable event. The brunch on Friday morning was fun and great to see so many individuals acknowledged for their contributions and achievements. Thanks to Steve and Melissa for inviting me to stay at their house and making me feel so welcome. And thanks to all those colourful individuals I met on the ride – BC Colin and Gary, California Clyde and JT, Alberta Will and British Peter. Thanks to Ken Bonner for the thoughtful gift of chocolates and a card to wish me well and good luck on the ride. I have increased my international contacts of randonneur friends and comrades and look forward to meeting up again in the future….PBP next year!!

BTW: It is still raining torrentially. Good thing I downloaded 3 books on my Kobo reader!

On describing “Epic” – More thoughts from Brouse’s Beach Browser

From Liz Overduin:

One last story from the Brouse’s Beach Browser. I knew that the 5 cyclists from Windsor (aka the flatlands) would surely have had an adventure – and thanks to Lori Buchanan, I am sure you will enjoy her account and most of all her surprising allocation for the worthiness of the word “epic”.
I attach below a slightly edited version of a post that I sent to our local cycling club. I wanted to keep it brief enough that people would read it but I also wanted to convey the extraordinary courage Ali demonstrated and the cycling prowess and genuine kindness of Brian, Ben and Tim. I think the thing I love most about these rides is that when they are truly difficult (as this surely was) they provide a window into the essence of a person in a way few things can. I have reaffirmed my view that I have essentially GREAT friends.
You should know that we had discussions about whether we would do the ride again and I think came to the decision that it wasn’t likely but that was a day ago and already I can’t really remember why. By next year I expect that we will have forgotten the $%^@ing hills and the relentless wind and we will only remember the beautiful route and the friendship… but maybe not – I will write a reminder note to myself about those hills! Anyway below is a brief description of our ride.

Dear Friends,
Please take a minute to read this because it is a tale of some truly inspirational displays of cycling strength, mental grit and inspiring kindness/generosity from some of our own. I will state at the outset that although I was involved in the ride none of the above applies to me. I was the recipient of the kindness and an observer to the rest.
This past weekend 5 Windsor riders did the 600 km Huron Randonneurs brevet. The general rules are simple – do 600 km in 40 hours (no sag, no outside help) with a speed that lies between 15 and 30 km an hour. The organizers of these rides seem to take pride in making these things tough and this was tough with almost 3900 metres of climbing. Most of that was in the first 350 km at which point we stopped for the night. We got in late because once again (despite gearing changes) I had to walk up the scenic caves hill and one other one. Once again the Brian, Ben and Tim (and Ali Allan this time) waited for me at the top. We also had a head wind for the last bit apparently but the hills were tough enough that I didn’t notice that and nobody else mentioned it. In any case we ended up at the hotel around midnight I think and decided to sleep in a bit because we had until 9 pm to finish the ride and only 250 km of relatively flat riding left. Unfortunately the sleeping in left us in the position of having to really ride hard to get to the controls to get our cards signed within the allotted time window. So the morning that should have been an easy start was tough. If you are still with me here is where everything gets interesting.
To recap – 350 km of brutal climbs on day 1, a 4 hour sleep and then 50 km to Lion’s Head for our first control. Then we turned south for the remaining 200 km to Goderich. If you look on a map or know the area you will see that the route would have to be pretty much south, southwest the whole way. Unfortunately that was the same direction of a really strong 25+ km/h wind.
Ali was beat by this time because he hasn’t ridden many rides over 100 km this year (he did a 300 in Detroit and about 270 with us last weekend). He looked exhausted and his ass hurt and to be truthful he looked like he wouldn’t make the last 200 km against the headwinds. I felt pretty strong but knew that wouldn’t last if the winds kept up. Tim, Ben, and Brian were fine. Ben rode ahead to one stop just to make sure we could find it because timing was very tight and we couldn’t afford to waste time looking for the control. Brian and Tim stayed back with Ali and me to help us against the wind. We made it with minutes to spare because Ben met us in town and led us to the right spot.
We still had 170 km to go and the wind was picking up. Ali was even more tired and I was starting to hurt. Ben, Brian and Tim looked fine and they rode the rest of the way chatting with us, waiting at the top of hills for me and blocking the wind for Ali and me. Ali was done. I don’t think he would mind me saying that because it was true and because he amazingly kept going with his head down through these hellish conditions. When Ali stopped Ben waited and then pulled him up to us because we had to keep rolling slowly. When they rejoined us Brian sheltered him from the wind and talked to him and waved his arms around in typical animated Brian style. He joked with him, called him names, told him stories and kept him moving. Ali was going to finish and Brian, Ben and Tim were going to make sure of it.
This was funny to watch and it was also an amazing display of kindness and real camaraderie and cycling strength from Brian and Ben and Tim and some kind of primal reach-into-your-gut grit on the part of Ali. By now we decided that we would keep rolling and regroup as quickly as possible if one of us fell behind. I suck on the hills because a chronic Achilles tendon injury means I can’t stand on my pedals for more than 30 seconds or so (and I am old and weak). So inevitably I fell behind on any hill greater than 5% and there were lots of them. Ben waited for me at the top or came back down and dragged me up to the group. Brian, Ben and Tim sheltered Ali and me all the way back to the finish line. At one point I told them to go ahead because it was so close to the wire and I didn’t want them to miss the time. I knew I could finish at some point even on my own but I also knew I was slowing the 4 of them down and they risked missing the deadline to stay with me.
To be clear, B, B, and T could have finished many hours sooner if it were just the three of them, but these three guys are real friends and gentlemen who would never leave a friend behind. They are strong enough to do these things any time and confident enough in their abilities that they can afford to help their friends. They know what it takes for everyone to make the deadline and this weekend they made sure we did with 5 min to spare. Chappy told me that when he saw us all come in together at 8:55 he got goose bumps! He admires our commitment to each other and I guess the close call was a clear demonstration of that. Obviously my commitment is not as impressive as the boys’ but it is true that I am firmly committed to tucking in behind them in gale-force winds.
Epic is a word that people use to describe everything from a ten minute work-out to a great dinner. It is over-used and the sad truth is that most events are not epic. In my opinion this ride was epic in the true sense of the word. It wasn’t epic because it was hilly, it wasn’t epic because it was windy, it was epic because I saw humbling displays of cycling strength, kindness, and courage from my 4 friends. I hope that I have somehow managed to convey how impressive these guys are. If you ever have to go to war these are the guys you want at your side. On the other hand, if you want somebody to slow you down, I’m your gal.

And a few words from Ali
Here is my personal version/memory & milestones of the ride!
As I said, the first day & 350 km of riding was the longest I have done & the toughest in terms of the three mega hills/climbs! – But, I loved it & by far, the Best Ride of my life to date!
This ride had all aspects/challenges included in it! – the distance, the excruciating hills, the beautiful scenery, the good roads & the early morning riding– with an awesome sunrise – & cool late night riding with the beautiful half-moon & the stars!
The 250 km on the second day were great in terms of the road, towns & the scenery! – However, the wind was brutal & sucked the energy out of us! – but, that was another element of nature that challenged us all!
The second day – especially the latter half – was the most difficult part of the ride for me ever! – As my arse was sore/raw & hurting! – & then the soles of my feet were killing me! – I could not stay on the seat for long – & hence I lost the rhythm/skills of smooth, continuous & effective pedalling for the last 50 to 60 km!
& this is where Brian, Ben & Tim – the three bull amigos – came to the rescue & literally “reeled” me in! I was tucked low with my head down basically all the time – & in pain – & just drafted them!
I have never seen so much pavement! – (btw – Brian said there wasn’t any damn thing to see except for all the greenery & fat cows that we have been seeing all day, anyway! – what a cheerleader/motivator!)
This is how I finished on time -& we finished on time -& not ended up in the “DNF” thrash bin!
What an awesome Ride & Superb Selfless Team Spirit!
& Lori – the Queen – she is one heck of a trooper!
We had lots of “fun”, junk food, trash talk – & lots of laughs!
All is GOOD that ends WELL!

Herentals Belgium 1200, July 2-5 2014

Ride Report from David Thompson:

This ride starting in Herentals BE was unlike any other in so many ways … where do I start?

— Most people can complete the ride and never actually ride in the dark. Jan Geerts has the ride organized with 5 am starts each day and with reasonable riding conditions most finish in daylight every day.

— roughly 360, 275, 275 & 275 days leaves the last day a little long perhaps but follows the routine.

— Nine Controls? Have I ever completed a 1200km ride with so few Controls? Those Control points pulled out their stamps before you could even ask the question.

— I will have to double check once I unload the data from my Garmin but the climbing came in around 20,000 feet, perhaps a little more. That certainly sets a record (low) for climbing.

— City riding? When is that interesting? Well, it certainly is when that city is Paris!!! It was like a hop-on-hop-off tour bus, with one major difference – we saw the glory of the city as well as the dregs. No tour would expose the underbelly as well.

— From city to countryside – Paris to villages in Champagne; incredible vistas of grape vines. Had it not been so early in the season, I’d have been hard pressed not to stop and sample – tch tch. The rows were posted with owners. Who knew that there were so many Champagne producers? I did recognize Moet et Chandon…

— Like Paris Brest Paris, the ride goes through innumerable small towns; Hamid commented at one point that Belgium had more towns than people! Town doesn’t mean open facilities; however, even in daylight we’d ride through small towns and see no people, no activity. In Ireland each of these towns would have had at least three pubs!!

— Canals and rivers? Did I mention canals and rivers? A canal takes you into the heart of Paris; you follow the Loire deep into France; the Seine, of course, is your guide through Paris itself.

— Each of those small towns, naturally, had its ancient cathedral and, perhaps, a huge estate or two.

— Organization to the n’th degree. Jan has this one down pat after 7-8 years in a row. He provides some food and you handle the rest. There are reasonable restaurant choices at nights two and three right at the hotel; he takes care of the first night with a sandwich buffet from his van.

— Semi private accommodation – standard is three per room but for a few more Euros, two per room. Pay for two – it’s worth it. These small hotel rooms are tiny and Spartan by North American standards but beat sleeping in hostels or a gymnasium by a long shot. One drop bag follows the ride which is very convenient.

— While tiny, these hotels are squeaky clean. You never had the sense that you might get from a well-used Motel 6 in North America.

— Yes, we were riding in two countries, but the only visible transition was the flags hanging from the windows. In fact, due to the World Cup, there were many Belgian flags. Unfortunately BE was eliminated on the evening of the ride finish. Of course it was Belgium that eliminated the U.S. the evening before the ride start but did anyone expect otherwise?

— Volunteers, contrasting with the Irish ride — Jan manage the ride with himself and two volunteers riding in a large van. With 25 riders more-or-less riding a similar schedule that works quite well. In Ireland there was a team of volunteers at the overnight controls who provided food etc. That was necessary in Ireland due to the late night finishes. Different rides, different needs.

How did my ride go? Very well, as a matter of fact.

As usual, I set my own pace. I really should work at that, i.e. pick up the pace, but there’s little incentive. I don’t really enjoy a tight group ride and dropped back early on. Hamid stuck with some of the faster riders – he’s really upped his game – and finished the first day about 45 minutes ahead of me at 9pm vs. my 9:45 – PS being so far north and close to June 21 means long days. That first day had the most climbing, around 7,000 feet but the slopes are all gentle. That night we stopped just north of Paris.

There were poppies everywhere. There were small military cemeteries with crosses all lined up; no names. I was reminded of the poem “In Flanders Fields” but in fact the poppies were along and in the farmed fields, not among the crosses. Those little cemeteries were well tended.

On the second day Hamid and I left shortly before the main group, followed the canals into Paris, had a cappuccino after going around the Arc de Triomphe and largely followed the Loire to Cosne sur Loire. There wasn’t much climbing that day. It was hot, hot, hot. We (Hamid and I riding together at this point and for the rest of the ride) finished up around 8pm. Paris was slow going what with the sightseeing (mandatory) and bike paths and traffic, but that is the trade-off. We rode many many miles (km?) along a levee along the Loire as we worked our way south. The second day had less than 3,000 feet of climbing.

I have to say that if there are highlights to be mentioned and I’m limited to two, that would be Paris early on the first day and Champagne late on the third. Gentle climbs as we started our way back north, a short flat interlude and then climbing in earnest. We’re not talking the Shenandoah Valley climbing here, but we did have at least one low gear up-we-go in Champagne. We finished the third day about the same time – 8pm give or take. There was about 600 feet of climbing that day.

Hamid and I started early on the fourth day, wanting to get it done and to get packed before the celebratory party. He was flying home the next day and I was heading to Paris.

Jan was very accommodating providing bread, meat and cheese so that we could make sandwiches to take with us. There are no 24×7 convenience stores here. If we didn’t carry food with us, we’d have been running on empty.

We started that day at 1:40 am and finished at 3:50 pm. That put the official total ride time at 82:50. This is one that definitely could be finished faster … but why?

The next rider in was only about 1/2 hour later even though he started around 5am. Now that’s pushing it!

Jan held the finishing celebration barbecue at 8pm. Eight of the twenty-five riders were still out in the course. They all made it in by 9pm. No DNFs. Around 9:30 the Mayor of Herentals handed out medals. A few family members were in attendance including Hamid’s wife Shab and her brother.

I waited for Hamid only a couple of times on the Irish ride. On this ride, in fact, he was often waiting for me. My normal pace is slower than his. He’s an entirely different, stronger rider than when we first rode together. He probably could have kept up with the fast group, but not me. I was able to up my pace to his when I needed to, not pushing myself per se, but left to my own devices, I’d have ridden slower. That said, I would have also stopped for less time at night so perhaps it would have worked out the same in the end? We will never know. This is certainly a ride that can be done sub 80 hours.

As always, Hamid is a great riding partner. We have many rides together at this point.

What’s it like doing two of these with only a week between? No problem! In fact, they are an ideal pair with the harder ride first. What would I do differently next time? Well, first of all I wouldn’t carry so much spare gear. Jan was always out there so did I really need that spare Shifter with me? Cassette tool? Food and clothing that I carried up the hills in the large rack-bag that I never touched? Oh well, I had a great time; always do. There were many riders who were out there with a seat-wedgie and camel-back sized backpack. That would make for light, fast, responsive riding.

There’s as much personal satisfaction from completing number 16 as number 1. I’m so lucky to have the financial wherewithal, health and understanding spouse to do this. Please don’t tell Sandy though!

Race Across the West

Randonneurs Ontario member Vaune Davis recently completed the Race Across the West. The following article appears courtesy of Race Across the West and Vic Armijo.

VAUNE DAVIS: “If you had asked me five years ago if I’d be doing this, I would have said you were crazy.”

At age 54 Canadian Vaune Davis became the oldest woman to finish the Race Across the West, completing the 878 miles in 3 days, 14 hours and 26 minutes. “I’m thrilled to have set the record as the oldest woman to ever finish that race,” she wrote in a recent e-mail to RAAM Media, “That was my goal. And doing that while also getting Rookie of the Year is kind of cute!”

Since age 19 Davis suffered joint pain that was diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis: her body’s immune system was literally attacking her joints. She endured decades of pain and extreme fatigue and her feet, hands, elbows, shoulders and neck were all severely damaged. Thankfully a then new biological type of drug was approved 12 years ago that helped her condition, “I went into full remission and within five weeks I had energy spilling out of every pore and no pain,” she said in a pre-race interview with the Toronto Star. Sadly many of her joints were already badly damaged through the years, but her hips and knees still functioned reasonably. So at age 42 she took up cycling and eventually joined a local bike club, “I would go ride with them for an hour and I’d get dropped in the middle of nowhere by myself,” she said. “But that didn’t bother me. I would just continue riding. If they were doing a 75-km ride, I’d do 150. I found I didn’t get tired and I enjoyed getting lost in the ride.”

Since then Davis has become quite the UltraCyclist. A notable recent result came in this year’s 24 Hours of Sebring where she surpassed her previous 24-hour personal best (333 miles) by racking up 353 miles. She’s also earned Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) World Cup and Ultra Cup age group championships.

Earlier this year she began experiencing knee pain which unfortunately led to a sad realization, “The MRI and blood test results were a shocker: my arthritis had not only figured out how to outwit the $22K-a-year miracle drug, but it was chewing up my knees. I had severe cartilage loss in both, inflammation in my hips and elbows, and a double-knee replacement instead of a double-century in my future.” So far she’s avoided that drastic surgery and instead has relied on biweekly physiotherapy, acupuncture, cortisone shots, synthetic joint fluid, anti-inflammatory drugs, a new drug combo: Humira (an immunosuppressive drug) and a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate, plus knee and glute-strengthening exercises.

With the help of all that treatment and her coach Peter Oyler (a RAAM and RAW finisher himself) Davis arrived at the RAW start in Oceanside, California fit and ready. “She’s an average person going to do something pretty extraordinary,” Oyler said. She was aided by being as she describes, “One of the best-crewed racers in the field… you’d never know it from my speed.” That crew included Oyler, his 2013 RAAM crew chief Janet Wilson and Team Hoodoo finisher Suzy Nelson, who has also crewed RAW before. “I had an A-Team behind me.” They assured that Davis stuck to her simple plan in Durango, Colorado, “Always stay on the bike, keep moving, don’t stop, whatever you do.” As extraordinary as her story is to others, Davis can’t quite grasp its enormity herself, “If you had asked me five years ago if I’d be doing this, I would have said you were crazy,” Davis said. But in the end, she not only overcame the pain and the challenges of riding across deserts and mountains to reach Durango, she did so with smiles and a cheerful attitude despite the pain and a demeanor that endeared her to the whole RAW and RAAM family, many of whom remember her from back in Oceanside where she had as many riders as she could autograph her white cycling shorts.

She sums up her effort with this, “You don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest but you can compete against yourself and achieve amazing results as long as you focus on what you can do versus what you can’t do.”

Thank you Vaune. Some of us, I feel, must now put aside whatever excuses we’ve been making and go ride our bikes.

Photos can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Race-Across-the-West/162127126721

Brouse’s Beach Browser 600

Ride Report by Liz Overduin:

Saturday morning, 5:00 AM, ten cyclists headed out to take on this 600 kilometre brevet. For six of the ten, it was their first 600 kilometre brevet ever! Not all ten would make it.

There is 3,900 metres of climbing on this ride – almost 13,000 feet. Most of the climbing is done in the first 300 kilometres. It would appear that everyone made it through that. The last 100 km going west to the overnight control in Wiarton, was a battle with the wind as well as the hills. The five cyclists from Windsor stayed at a different motel and the two groups did not connect again. John Maccio, Stan Shurlayov, Carey Chappelle with Rookie Chris Cossonnet and myself, headed out from Wiarton at 4:00 am. A beautiful morning and no more hills to climb, we headed 40 km northwest to Lion’s Head. And then…..we went south, sometimes southeast, sometimes southwest, but always south. Into the wind. All day. With building heat and humidity. All day long. No point talking because you couldn’t hear each other because of the screaming wind in your ears. All the livelong day! Endless headwind. Just making it to the controls with little time to spare. Looking down at my cycle computer, I began to make calculations on what I would need to maintain if I were to finish in time. With 100 km to go, I realized I would not make it. Very disappointing. Carey was ahead of me, and I hoped he would make it. Both my knees were aching and I could barely stand up on my pedals to go up the slightest hill. John Maccio and Rookie Chris caught up to me as I was walking up a hill while eating my last wrap with Nutella and cheese. I told them that I did not think that mathematically we could make it in time. John totally disagreed with me – just maintain 15 km/hr he said, and we can make it. This gave me hope and I eased my painful arse back into the saddle, clipped my shoes back into the pedals, ignored my throbbing knees, put my head down and carried on. In Lucknow, 35 km from the end, Stan and I met up and we carried on together. With almost 3 hours of time left, we felt hopeful we might finish in time. We did. Total of 39 hours and 18 minutes. John Maccio said that except for PBP 2007, this was the hardest ride he had ever done. Asking Stan what he thought of the ride, all he could do was nod his head and say “Yes” It was a loaded “yes”, full of wisdom and experience – if you know Stan, you can hear him say it, with his smile and the pain in his eyes. Chris, the Rookie, completing his Series, he was just glad he made it. Carey had already checked in and left. As for the 5 cyclists from Windsor…..we are still waiting to hear their story. I’m sure it’s a good one! Brouse’s Beach Browser – the hills are one thing, but I always knew that if there was a South wind on the 2nd day, that would be the ultimate challenge.

Until next year then!

Huron Shores 600

Ride Report by Kathy Brouse:

An epic ride, 4632 metres of climbing. Twelve riders started the ride and 8 riders finished.

Congratulations to Bob Macleod, Tim Ormond and Randy Akins who have now completed their first series with Randonneurs Ontario!

It was a weekend of hill climbing in the scorching heat which took it’s toll on three riders who could not complete the ride. Luc from Ottawa experienced repeated mechanical problems in his batmobile (sorry Luc I don’t remember the name of your extraordinary rocket bike) and had to abandon the ride in Port Elgin. Stan, Arthur, Bob and I arrived at 1:00am to discover Luc’s rocket being positioned on the back of the CAA flatbed for the journey back to Vaughan. Henk was also abandoning the ride due to some problems with cramping in the leg and hitching a ride back with Luc in the truck. So sorry Luc that your Huron Shores 600 ended on the back of a CAA truck, but hey, that’s an amazing service to have your vehicle transported in the middle of the night some 300+km back to TO!

People are clearly surprised and confused when they see Luc and his human powered bullet. When I was in the Tim’s in Owen Sound and Luc pulled in (this was after his first mechanical problems on Grey Rd 19 when the tire blew up) I overheard a man asking another, “What the f### is it?” and the other replied, “It’s some sort of bike, I saw him park it”. Then, when I was sat on a bench in Big Bay waiting for my comrades and enjoying an ice cream, a man who had watched Luc go by in his rocket approached and asked, “Is that human powered?” When I said yes he replied, “That makes sense, he slowed down a little on the hill”.

Due to the scorching heat, steep climbs and descents, some sunstroke, dehydration and an aching torn tendon in my right foot, this was definitely the hardest 600 brevet I have completed. Turned out there was no services between Markdale and Alliston, 140 km, no water, no food, no washrooms. Perhaps because it was Sunday and we were cycling through the beating heart of rural Ontario there was no tourism, no Sunday drivers, no shops. I kept asking myself when we cycled through small places, where do these people shop? We were forced to beg water from garden hoses to fill the water bottles. The four of us, Arthur, Bob and myself were completely bagged by the time we arrived in Alliston, second to last control.

Thanks to Martin and Guy, who came from Ottawa to do this Toronto 600 because, I quote, “the Devil Week 600 was too challenging”. Wow, that Ottawa ride must have been a super randonnee! Congrats to Stephen, Randy and Martin who finished this brevet in a stunning 28:03, how on earth do you do that?? Do you eat, drink, pee, you certainly don’t sleep or stop to rest.

Must finish with my bear story. As I was headed south on Sauble Parkway it was getting darkish, probably 9:00pm, I looked up to see a bear, perhaps 10 metres in front of me, jump out from the ditch and gallop across the road. No kidding, so close (and for a second or two I thought he was running towards me). Turns out there was a campground further down the road so he must have been hurrying for a late night snack! Seeing the bear shook me up and I stopped in Sauble and waited for the guys so I wouldn’t have to ride alone to Port Elgin in the dark thereby proving that I am not cut from the same cloth as Janet Vogt who recently rode a 400 alone throughout the night in the Blue Mountains, bear country.

PS. On a positive note, the scenery was stunning in the Beaver Valley, Blue Mountains, Bruce Peninsula, Grey County, Mulmur Hills, picturesque postcard perfect.