North Huron Tributaire 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:


OK, I’ll let you know how much fun we had participating in Huron Chapter’s North Huron Tributaire 200 km Brevet this past week-end!!!

Marvin Boven, Carey and Donna Chappelle, together on their Tandem, Cori Dean, Paul Dowswell, Jurij Kerzan, Matthew McFarlane, Con Melady and Jim Raddatz all finished successfully.

Congrats to Marvin Boven and Paul Dowswell for completing their first 200km brevet. It was great Meeting you two! Marvin, your wife was awesome being at controls if needed!

Great Meeting Jurij Kerzna from Slovania, on a family vacation …  but joined us on this brevet just for fun! Jurij and Chappy had been in touch via e-mails many months earlier. Jurij had mentioned that he would like to do this Brevet when him and his family were in Ontario and on vacation. He had hoped to rent a bike in London Ontario, so brought his bicycle helmet, shoes and pedals thinking that would happen. It didn’t, but Con Melady stepped up and let him use his Cervelo! Yes his Cervelo! Perfect fit and made for an awesome experience for Jurij!

Great meeting Cori Dean, a woman with a lifestyle that left us questioning where she gets time for one or two brevets a year!

This brevet had a 7am Start and everyone was on time and ready to go. The weather forecast showed rain and all we could see were dark clouds overhead.

Off we went, Donna and myself on the Tandem lead the way as Tandems usually do! A light rain disappeared by the first Control in Wingham. Everyone made this Control a short stop, looking forward to lunch at the next Control, the Bartliff’s Bakery in Clinton. Somehow, the Bakery had room for all of us! With 124 km complete, everyone headed to the next Control, the Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro in Bayfield.


Paul Dowswell, Con Melady, Matthew McFarlane, Chappy, Donna Chappelle,  Jurij Kerzna and Jim Raddatz enjoyed a refreshment after having their control cards signed!

Traditionally, we would get back on route and once getting to the pier … would jump off for a swim! Not this time, I simply took the picture.  Cori Dean and  Marvin Boven were a little behind, so did not get included in this photo.

Heading back to Goderich, our group of 7 road together, got to know a little more about each other and simply loved the scenery.

Con and Cindy Melady prepared appetizers and invited everyone to their home.  It turned out to be a lovely garden party!  The majority of us hung out for an hour or two talking about how much we loved this ride!

Con, Chappy and Matthew were having some fun!

The Meladys had also made dinner reservations at the Beach Street Station for 8 people at 8pm, 5 were able to make it. If you get a chance to see the Sunset in Goderich, visit the Beach Street Station! An incredible restaurant! Incredible SUNSET! Great food and a great story about the original train station being moved to this location by the water!


March to the Nuke 600

Ride report from Tim Ormond:

March to the Nuke, a 600 km Brevet with the Simcoe Chapter, 21-22 July 2018

According to the RO Results page, The March to the Nuke was first run in 2005. That initial edition had six participants: Elias Brettler, Ken Jobba, Anne Pokocky, Steve Rheault, Isabelle Sheardown, and Glen Steen. It used to start in Alliston, but now it begins in Barrie in order to make it easier for members to participate.

Six randonneurs started this 2018 edition: Michael Thomson, Toby Whitfield, Andrea Ferguson Jones, Stephen Jones, Simon Langham, and me, Timothy Ormond.

The defining characteristic of this entire ride was a steady SE wind. For the first 200km, it was our best friend. It literally pushed us from Dundalk to “the Nuke.” The wind did not change direction for the remaining 400km; it only changed in intensity. For most of Saturday it seemed to stick around 15-25km/hr. I have reports from Toby that it became significantly stronger on Sunday.

Another problem was rain. It was in the forecast. I expected it much earlier. I finally encountered it after I left Fergus (476km) at 2:30 am (More on that rain later).

Despite these meteorological buzz killers in the forecast, spirits were high at the beginning of the ride. We rode together until the Stayner area, where we parted ways with Simon, Stephen and Andrea. The climb up Pretty River Valley was challenging, but I think we all felt fortunate to have a tail wind and to have the route’s most significant climb over and done with before the first control in Feversham.

County Road #9 leading into Dundalk was quite broken. Some major roadwork was being done. I was very jealous of Michael and Toby’s wide tires. I was on 25mm 700c. I also think we all inhaled a lot of dust. It was quite a busy road and very dry.

Micheal, Toby and I carried on together to Chesley, wafting on a lovely tailwind. We found the bridge was out in Chesley, so we had to quickly adopt a new control. I suggested Chesley Fuels and Convenience next to Big Bruce (i.e., the gigantic statue of a bull). The bridge in Chesley always seems to be out. Perhaps we should make Fuels and Convenience the official control in Chesley.

From Chesley to Kincardine I got a little carried away. I knew it would be my last chance to enjoy a tailwind, so I decided to make the most of it and increase my speed. I reached Kincardine in 2 hours. It was a risk, it meant venturing ahead on my own, but it also was a lot of fun.

Buoyed by my little adventure, I skirted the Huron coast and then turned into the wind. I expected the others would catch up with me at some point, and then we could work together chiseling away at the wind and the miles. In the mean time, I just played various psychological games to keep myself going.

Eventually I arrived in Teeswater where I replenished my water. From here until Clinton the wind seemed less of an issue. The land was quite beautiful here. These were entirely new roads for me. Unfortunately I was in the head space to push on and did not stop to take any photos. I arrived at the Tim Horton’s in Clinton at 1915.

Between Clinton and Stratford, my computer told me to take Front Road/Perth 32 Line instead of Huron Road. It is a perfectly good road with minimal traffic, but I unnecessarily added some kilometers onto the route. Not sure what I did wrong there. Fortunately, Front Road runs parallel to Huron Road.

The Romeo Street Bridge was out in Stratford. I was aware of this obstacle thanks to Toby and Dave’s warnings, but I had not really formulated a good B-plan before the ride. I wasted a bit of time, but eventually muddled my way across. Along the way, I saw the Boar’s Head, which I believe is the Huron Chapter’s stop on the Much Ado 200. I did want a warm supper, but I also thought I might get sleepy if I had a beer. So off I went to yet another convenience store to serve as my Stratford control. Ice cream, mango juice, water and Coke… and off I rode into the night.

The ride between Stratford and Fergus started smoothly, but gradually descended into the surreal. Worsening weather conditions, coupled with my deteriorating mental and physical state, combined to make for some unpleasant hours in the saddle. At first things were fine. The wind weakened, traffic abated; I was the king of the road.

But then I turned up Sideroad 4, to the SW of Elora. The road surface was very broken. I thought I might break a spoke. I fumbled along grumpily, when my computer angrily chimed, telling me I was off course. I pull out my flashlight. “What? I need to turn into this forest? Oh wait, there’s a trail!” (It was 1:45 in the morning) Off I went, into the forest, along the so-called “Cottontail Road Trail.” Let me tell you, there is nothing cute or fuzzy about this trail. It ends with a swift descent with a tricky patch of sand at the bottom. And before you can enter the road, you have to squeeze through some metal gates. In my sleep deprived state… it was a close call. (After the ride I received Stephen’s warning about this trail and the proposed route changes to avoid it).

Riding between Elora and Fergus, things continued to worsen. It got cool and it started to drizzle. Strange to say, but it looked more like snow than rain. Clearly I was starting to hallucinate. Then I saw something squirming on the road. I thought my mind was playing tricks on  me. “Ha ha, I’m such a hallucinator!” The next thing I knew I was right on top of a real, live skunk. I nearly hit the poor fella. Thankfully we both came through our encounter unscathed. I suddenly felt a lot more awake.

After an uneventful 2:31am breakfast at the Circle K in Fergus, I carried on to Shelburne. The rain started in earnest now. The wind was still blowing too. I quickly became very cold and considered turning back to Fergus and finding accommodation. Above all, a hot shower was what I wanted. Instead, I tried an experiment. I had an extra vinyl bag from Velotique I sometimes use for extra storage. This time it served as clothing. I stuffed it under my jersey over my chest and… it was good enough.

I arrived in Shelburne at 5am waterlogged and in low spirits. I hit the Circle K. It actually had stools and a counter! I bought a coffee and settled in until it was beginning to get light. It was a chilly sunrise, but at least it had stopped raining.

The last leg of the ride was an exercise in Murphy’s Law: headwind, and a perpetual climb until Badjeros, and, then, just after the lovely descent into Creemore – more rain. Very heavy rain. Then there was  the other sandy trail just before Base Borden. With my 25mm tires, I had to get off the bike and walk it. After that, my chain sounded like sandpaper grinding on metal, which is essentially what was going on. Thank goodness I was almost done!

The rain pounded me all the way back to Barrie. It seemed to get harder as I approached the ride finish.

Finally finished, my control card was too damp to sign, despite keeping it in a Ziploc bag. The ink wouldn’t come out on the wet paper. I always carry a sharpie with me, just in case. I handed the young man my sharpie and he wrote 9:35am.

My main motivation for riding through the night was to avoid the headwinds. They were still present through the entire night (still holding from the SE around 15-20km/hr). I expected them to only get stronger as the sun rose. Talking after the ride with Toby, I learned I was correct.

We had some attrition on this ride. It’s good to remind each other that riding any portion of a brevet is a major accomplishment, and it still opens the door for interesting experiences and opportunities. For example, Stephen had a knee complaint that forced him and Andrea to pull the plug around Markdale. They still rode over 200k – and they saved a turtle’s life on the way back to Barrie. That seems like a good outcome to me.

Toby completed his Super Randonneur qualification. If I’m not mistaken, this is his first season doing so. A big congratulations to him. I also completed my Super Randonneur qualification for the season – my first time since 2014, so it is a pretty big deal for me too.

Thanks to the club for organizing such a great route, and thanks to my wife and kids for not resenting me (too much) for taking this little adventure.

More from Simon Langham:

Great ride report Timothy.  My ride was a little more solo than anticipated as well, just from the slower side.  I knew I had to drop back from your group after I realised I as at my LT threshold sitting on the rear of the group, not good.  Then later when Stephen and Andrea dropped me on a climb, I knew I had to make some changes to my plan.  I have to thank Stephen and Andrea for the ‘You Can Do It’ speech at the side of the road.

Fun route, neat seeing what I think is a new marijuana operation, razor wire, double fencing, green houses.  More external security than Bruce Nuclear, except for the Armed Officers notices at Bruce.  The rain started for me just after Clinton and kept up until just past Shelburne.   Long time riding into a headwind while squinting to keep out the rain.  Fortunately, once the rain stopped the wind changed direction back to SE so at least I had a bit of a tail wind to head north.  I had a few more stops, including a nap in a gazebo in some town, really not sure where at this point.  Broke a spoke with 23k to go, and being very happy disc brakes are not affected by a wobbly wheel and that a 2nd spoke didn’t go as well, finished with a couple of hours to spare.   First 600 done, and now I just have to start walking normally again.

More from Toby Whitfield:

Simon – glad to hear you made it. I was wondering about where every one else was on the road, so glad to hear your report.

And Tim, great ride report.

The rest of the story from my perspective:

After Tim rode ahead out of Chesley, Michael and I also enjoyed a pretty quick ride to Kincardine, past the eponymous nukes. We got a bit of a shower on the way into Kincardine, which was a sign of things to come, but it only lasted a few minutes.

In Kincardine Michael needed a bit of a break, but I was ready to ride on so we split up there.

The turn from the coast meant a turn into headwinds. It was a bit of a slog to Teeswater, going mostly uphill and into a stiff headwind, but a bit better after the turn to Clinton. As Tim said, the roads in that part were nice to ride on. When I got to the control at the Clinton Tim Horton’s I asked them to sign my card and was told that another guy had been by earlier – I asked how much, and they said about an hour, but from Tim’s report it was an hour and a half, so I had lost a bit of time by then.

Then it was a decent ride into Stratford. It was windy, but I was still moving pretty well. Got to Stratford where I had booked a motel room – this being my first 600k I thought it wasn’t a bad idea, and really my wife had insisted on it – and I grabbed some pizza. I had a shower and a 2 hour nap in a comfy bed. Then I woke up and hit the road. At that point (around 3am) it had started raining. When I had looked at the weather report on Friday evening I knew there was some chance of rain, but it looked like it would be scattered. I should have updated my information.

I rode through the night, and really enjoyed that part. This was the most night riding I had done, having finished the 400k a couple of weeks earlier only a bit after sunset and rolling into a populated

area with lots of light. I enjoyed it for the most part. I turned off the backlight on my computer, only letting it come on when it had to give me a turn direction, and just ignored my speed and everything else, and got into just being out there on my own in the dark. At a certain point I realized that the rain wasn’t letting up, so I stopped and tried to add as much clothing as I could in the shelter of a closed convenience store awning.

By the time I arrived in Fergus I was pretty wet, but feeling OK. I had a quick breakfast, and hit the road again. The next part of my journey would be the toughest.

To back up a bit, I had not brought a proper full rain outfit. I usually find that I just get hot riding in a raincoat in summer rain, and it usually is OK to ride with armwarmers and a windbreaker jacket.  Given that the forecast when I packed on Friday was for warm temperatures and only scattered rain, I didn’t pack a rain jacket or other cold weather gear. That was stupid. The rain didn’t let up, the wind was strong, and during the next part of the ride as the wind and the rain battered me I started to slow down and to get cold. I didn’t realize how bad it was for a while, because the relatively moderate temperature meant my extremities didn’t feel cold, and I was not feeling chilled. But, I think that the constant draining of body heat and being so soaked through meant that by the time I crawled into Shelburne, I was in a mild state of hypothermia. I was shaking, and I was looking around for a place to take shelter, warm up, and get some hot food. It wasn’t obvious where that should be when I arrived, as there was no Tim’s or other easy to spot place. I did go into a café that was mostly a breakfast place, and that was perfect. I got some coffee and some soup and began to warm up. I called my wife, who luckily was thinking straight and she told me to ask them for a garbage bag to wear. After warming up in the cafe (and leaving behind a significant puddle of rain dripping off of me) I wandered over to the IDA across the street thinking about other things to keep me warm.  I managed to find some medical gloves (they only had size small dish gloves, which wouldn’t have fit my XL hands) for 17c a piece, and after paying them 75 cents for 4, also asked for a couple of shopping bags. With a garbage bag on my body, shopping bags on my feet, and the gloves, I rolled out of town after spending over an hour getting myself sorted.

There are definitely some lessons learned with that little adventure, which I hope I don’t have to relearn ever again. When I was thinking straight again, I wondered about what I would have done if I had a mechanical or a flat. I’m not sure I would have been able to manage it, and I might have been in trouble. What seemed like wet, but otherwise benign summer weather, turned into something more serious for me.

After that, the wind and the rain didn’t let up. There were some nice roads, some busy roads (I ended up riding on the soft gravel shoulder on the 124 after being buzzed by too many vehicles with trailers, and there was a constant 2 way stream of traffic and no quarter given by many of the drivers). I hit the Cottontail Road Trail that Tim mentioned in the daylight, so I rather enjoyed it (I also have pretty wide tires, so that probably helped).

The wind and the rain never let up. In fact, the wind was shifting to the east/northeast as I was going that way, and increasing throughout the day. The rain didn’t stop until I rolled into the final control in Barrie. After 14 straight hours of rain, as I got to the end the clouds parted and the sky was blue. Oh well.

I finished. I ran into some adversity, but I made it through, and as Tim mentioned I finished my first SR series. Congratulations to Tim for doing the same, and also to Simon who finished his first 600 and to everyone else who came out. Thanks to Tim and Michael for sharing the first part of the ride. I enjoyed our chats and riding with you guys. And kudos to Stephen and Andrea for rescuing a turtle!

Thanks to all of the organizers – looking forward to my next 600 where I am sure I will be better prepared!

Oh, and Simon, I also saw that facility, and realized it must be a cannabis facility because of the high security and greenhouses.

2018 Much Ado About … To Kill A Mockingbird! 200

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

This past Saturday, the Huron Chapter Hosted the 2018 Much Ado About … To Kill A Mockingbird! A 200km Brevet that included a play in Stratford.

Congratulations to Darrell Bierman, James Carroll, Carey Chappelle, John Cumming, Chris Greig, Ken Jobba, Con Melady, Rick Meloche, Tim O’Callahan, Liz Overduin, Jim Raddatz and Brenda Wiechers on successfully completing this Brevet. Check out the smile on everyone’s face!

Nothing better then a blue sky, next to no wind and a group of 12 Randonneurs developing an official peloton!

We passed by a beautiful church from the 1800s

The peloton had an average speed of 30km / hr. all the way to the first Control, Anna Mae’s Bakery, in Millbank. Everyone had a quick break then headed out together to Stratford.  OK, 8 headed out together, leaving Chappy and 3 others a little behind as Chappy had a screw loose (not uncommon!) and had to use a tie wrap to support his front fender! Everyone arrived at the second Control, the Boar’s Head Pub in Stratford just after 12:30hrs where a great lunch and a few stories were enjoyed on the patio!

Jim had the best story to tell!

Jim let us know about an incident at Tim Horton’s, Southampton about 480 km into Huron Chapter’s Brouse’s Beach Brouser 600 km Brevet a few weeks earlier. He placed his bicycle by a window where he would sit down inside, enjoy a coffee and a breakfast. He was also offered a souvenir glass Tim Horton’s coffee mug that he couldn’t resist! Carrying the tray, he ran out of room and had to stretch the tray far enough away to get around some others standing in line.  Road Shoes …. Well … ass over tea kettle! Everything was lost along with some of his pride! Fortunately Tim Horton’s staff replaced everything, even a new coffee mug and cleaned up the broken glass!!

Around 1330hrs, 7 of the 12 Randonnuers headed to the play “To Kill A Mockingbird”. The other’s headed out to the finish.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” was simply INCREDIBLE!

This story showed us how much takes place in our periphery and, conversely, how our own lives can be peripheral to others. Mockingbird was concerned not with how racism ends a black man’s life, but how a white child’s psyche was affected by witnessing the events! We were all forced to question yet again what layers of humanity remain invisible to us! I could go on an on but it would simply be better for everyone to experience this PLAY!

To Kill A Mockingbird, a 2hr 40min play had one 20-Minute Interval where the audience could step outside, enjoy some sunshine and refresh themselves. The Ontario Randonneurs gathered together on the second floor patio, enjoyed a beverage and had their photos taken by a couple who were visiting Ontario, from Amsterdam. Liz let them know how she was from Amsterdam, then had them take a photo or 2 of us.

With only 3 mins left, an Audience Alert came out to let us know to return to our seats. The husband of the lady who was taking our photos figured his wife simply hadn’t heard…

We returned to our seats on time and had to simply focus on what happened next. We wondered what compels some to vehemently justify the murder of Coulten Boushie, the assault on Dafonte Miller, the deportation of Abdoul Abdi, the killing of Abdirahman Abdi? What did the justifiers feel was at stake? What part of the centre is threatened if justice is served in the margins? Again, we can only recommend seeing this play to understand what happened in 1930 many years ago!

Exhausted, we wiped the tears off our faces and headed to the finish on our bicycles. Everyone mesmerized with what they had seen … arrived at Tim Horton’s at 19:33hrs had our cards signed, hugged each other then headed home.


Tim O’Callahan – Thanks for taking care of the Stratford Festival for us!

Liz Overduin – Thanks for initiating this Brevet, I couldn’t believe we had 12 Randonneurs doing this ride!

Jim Raddatz -Thanks for YOUR story! I’m still laughing!!

Ronde Alienor d’Aquitaine 1200

Ride report from Dave Thompson:

Such variety!  Scenery, organization, sustenance — I was asked whether mentally I wanted to saddle up again after Bulgaria and Spain — the variety alone does it.
This time I had enough sleep between rides. Albeit just another four days break, I stayed put the day after Spain, snoozed and generally doing nothing, drove to France, a 6-or-so hour drive (beautiful through the Pyrenees) and then did nothing for another couple of days.
The Aquitaine ride started at 8pm.  That was my choice.  5am was the other choice.  It made the Col de Soulor a day climb (1300 metres / 2.5 hours) but kind of locked those of us doing the night start (160 vs 80 day starters), riding a lot at night.  Or perhaps that’s because of my choice of hotels … hmmm.
Being very conservative and taking the advice of others, I only planned 430 km that first day.  We could have gone further but we had a hotel and I was ready to stop.  400 km is always longer than my sweet spot.
Days 2 & 3 were around 300 km; day 4 around 185.  We finished Day 1 around 6pm – Hamid a little ahead of me and me a little after that – and planned a start around 2am.  The next two nights were later finishes and we headed out at 12:30 am for the last day – with a 2pm cutoff, we needed to leave some margin for what would likely be a 12 hour ride.
It’s worth mentioning that Hamid, riding ahead of me, had the company of a Spanish rider until said rider didn’t stop at a stop sign and was hit by a car.  Eventually carried away by air ambulance, the last word that we had was that he was in a coma.  We don’t know if he will recover.  Hamid, initially thinking that he was dead at the scene, was pretty broken up by that occurrence.  I came on the scene just afterward and a while later, checked Spotwalla to ensure that Hamid was still ahead of me — yes — as I couldn’t tell who the rider was.
The rolling French countryside is always interesting.  Various Bordeaux Chateaux and into other wine regions sure made me wish that I was on a tasting, rather than a cycling, mission.  With all the night riding … but of course full day riding too … we did get to see a lot of grape vines, endless grape vines!
The ride started out on a bike trail into Bordeaux and then crossed back across the river on a signature bridge, one of the main sights planned into the ride.  From there through St. Emilion, it was starting to get dark and I was riding alone, as usual.  The staged start, a few dozen at a time, meant that those groups passed me and I was, as always, the Lanterne Rouge at that part of the ride.  The first Control wasn’t until km 167, still dark at that point, time for a quick coffee and coke and roll on. Many others were still at that Control.
All through this ride you purchased food.  A few controls had some gratuitous items – mainly fruit – but most everything else had a price.  There was always Coca Cola (Coka), coffee, sparkling water, beer and wine.  Those items all cost the same price at each control although how much you were poured and how much it cost, varied from control to control – there was no standardization.  Food, likewise, varied hugely.  There was pasta available at most, sometimes tomato sauce, sometimes chicken, once duck, usually bread, water was always free.  At an early control they were cooking up a full English Breakfast.  I didn’t realize that until I’d already purchased some other items.
Between Controls there were options as well although some were far apart.  Through one night we had carried some pizza from the night before and stopped at a bench in a town and ate that.  I moved to another bench and took a 15 minute power nap.  Three other riders sat down for a time and then rolled on.
Rolling, rolling, rolling – the countryside goes on.  We dropped down to sea level at one point and were treated to a couple of hours of Atlantic Ocean views.  I guess that if you tried to cover the signature items, those would be the chateaux, the aforementioned bridge, all the rolling farm countryside and towns, the ocean views and the Col de Soulor.  About a 1300 metre climb, the Tour de France will be on that climb on July 27 while we’re doing the Stelvio in the Italian ride … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!  We were lucky that it was cloudy for the Col.  It could have been brutal.  As it was, that climb took us 2.5 hours.
Shab, Hamid’s wife, supported us from overnight to overnight.  She would check in, move drop bags into the pre-arranged hotels, pick up some food and beer and then we would drink our beer, eat some food and crash for a couple/few hours.   When we left, we would carry our bags downstairs so that she could get them into the car, then she’d go back to sleep (well, maybe, as she’s been known to pay attention to our trackers!).
We stretched it out, using up most of our time.  With that 2pm drop-dead finish time, we left the last overnight at 12:30 am and finished up at noon.  We could have pushed harder but didn’t need to.  We set a cushion time of two hours and kept that cushion time.
Mostly the roads were ok other than 50-60 km late afternoon on the third day when we had rough chip seal that was enough to drive you crazy and uses up a whole lot of energy.  That area cost us at least an hour, perhaps more, which subtracted from our sleep time that last night.
The final day spent at least half our time on bike paths and through some national park closed to cars.  It ended up back among the grape vines of the Bordeaux Chateaux and into St. Medard.  Shab and Sandy were there to greet us!  It’s always great to have cheering fans :).
As an aside, I was looking at the amount of climbing on the rides.  Brazil was about 21,000 metres; DCR BRB 13,000 metres; Sofia 15,000; Leida 8,300 metres; Aquitaine 11,000.  These numbers all come from RideWithGps, so they’re comparable if not totally accurate. BRB probably had the most high grade hills; the Virginia countryside.  Sofia climbs were gentle for the most part, long climbs at 4%, plus or minus.  Aquitaine had the consistently steep Col, ranging mostly from 7-9% with the occasional spike to 12%.

Lleida-Leon-Lleida 1200

Ride report from Dave Thompson:

During a ride, I write the most amazing blogs, all on my virtual notebook.  Unfortunately it’s virtual.  99% of what I think that I should write evaporates.  A couple of days after a ride, some of it comes back … but I don’t have time for that so you’ll all have to put up with my disorganized thoughts!
First, the ride.
The route is an out and back.  From the town of La Fuliola in the Lleida area to Sahagun on the outskirts of Leon.  Normally I’m not a huge fan of an out-and-back, but making a circle would have shortened the reach and wouldn’t have followed the Camino de Santiago so closely.  That trail weaves back and forth on my route, sometimes paths in the fields, sometimes a slightly separated shoulder to the road and sometimes on the road.   Seeing all the hikers – I’ll call them hikers, not pilgrims – added a measure of interest.
The roads are great, some of the best that I’ve been on for a 1200.  There were very few rough spots, very little trash (glass etc.), not heavily trafficked.  With the Pyrenees to the north, I guess that these are foothills. Towns were close enough together for services although from 2pm-5pm, finding something open can be a bit dicey.  Most towns had natural springs although you have to be on the lookout for those.  Great tasting water, i.e., no discernible taste, and safe to drink, they can be lifesavers in this hot climate.  Unlike Bulgaria, or Italy, there are no roadside springs; only in the towns.
It’s a flatish ride, but not flat.  I don’t remember the total climbing but probably the least in my experience save Florida.  The terrain rolls and only once or twice did I see a grade over 5%.
Windmills are everywhere.  What does that tell you?  You want to be riding with the windmill, not into the headwind.  I was lucky that days 1, 3 and 4 were in the right direction.  Day 2 was a killer, at times having a hard time working your way downhill!
There are canals everywhere moving river water to farmland.  See that overpass … if it’s level on both sides, it’s an aqueduct moving water, not cars.  In some areas the farmland on-grade watering is still used but mostly that has fallen into disrepair and pressure pumps send that water over the crops with sprinklers.
During the day, many of the towns look like small concrete structures, unoccupied and unused.  You don’t know what’s inside.  My hotel 6 km from the start, for instance, built in the 1600s, looks like nothing outside but inside, it’s beautiful. A mixture of huge concrete blocks, brick and stucco, sometimes up to a meter thick to keep out the heat … you don’t hear your neighbors through the walls!
The gps files are setup as 350-250 (turnaround), then 250-350.  Many riders seemed to strike for 350 the first day, to the town of Lagrono, with spouses perhaps transporting luggage.
Oh yes, there are no drop bags.  There is no food.  No sag.  Your registration fee of 15 Euros gets you a cue sheet, a brevet card and a ziploc bag.  If you complete, it also pays for the RM Homologation.  Little hotels in little towns in Spain don’t have 24 hour desks, so you have to be careful that you book something where you’ll land during open hours … or have a spouse :).
Fancesc originally expected around 15 riders.  There were 35.  That “surplus” enabled him and his co-captain Alex, to follow the route and take some pictures.  I had them top up a water bottle once, but that wasn’t what they were doing.
The controls were all open, pick any establishment, other than the 24 hour motel at the turnaround point.  You didn’t have to stay there, just have them stamp your card.  If you hit a town at a time with nothing open, a photo will do.  I took two photos.  Every establishment had a stamp.  My brevet card looks like a well decorated passport.  More often than not, a Repsol gas station served as a control.  They were usually well stocked, even with small packages of meat and cheese.  They carry some soft-ish drinks, but I mostly had one water bottle full of juice – a thick peach, pomegranate, orange – as opposed to a manufactured concoction.  That’s how I got many of my calories.
Sorry Dick & Bob – I know that the juice has lots of carbs but I needed the liquid, not cheese melting in my pockets.
Speaking of melting, it was hotter than Bulgaria, 95F at 9:15 a.m. on the last day.  It was cold on the morning of the 3rd day, starting back from Sagahun, but not as cold as it was in Bulgaria that one night.
My ride.
Without someone to support me, I planned to carry 3 changes of jersey, shorts and socks.  I couldn’t carry much in the way of snacks for a four day ride, so I had to live off the land (aka gas station).  Had I loaded any more onto my bike, I wouldn’t have been able to lift my leg over to get back on!  Luckily I didn’t have long steep climbs to carry that weight.
I planned to stop after 300 km, not the 350 that the gps file implied.  With an 8am start, I didn’t expect that I could make a hotel at 350 before the desk closed.  As it turned out, I was emailing my 300 km hotel to wait, please wait … I arrived just a few minutes before 10pm, their close time. On the third night, that hotel closed at 9pm … I got there at 8:30.
I had a lot of stop time at overnights — 5.5 hours, 5.5 hours, 7 hours.  That last one is probably a record for me.
The one thing that I found about riding another 1200 4 days later is that I wasn’t caught up with sleep.  Early in the morning, in the pre-dawn, I was soooo sleepy.  There are bus shelters or perhaps they are hiker shelters, mostly glass, sometimes concrete, with a good long bench.  15 minutes of instant sleep did wonders on each of the three days.
For the first time ever, on the last day, I carried extra water, and I mean extra water.  2 full water bottles and a huge 2 liter container of water in my center jersey pocket.  I dumped more water on my head and shoulders and drank more juice and water than I’ve ever consumed before.  It’s a dry heat, so they say!
Many of the riders spoke bits of English.  Most establishments did not.  Right on the Camino route, someone would know English, but not off route or at a gas station.
I had three flats.  One on the first day on the only stretch of fresh chip seal on the entire route, caused by a very sharp stone.  The rest of the route is pavement, not chipseal.
The other two flats, on the last day, were simultaneous front and back, seems that I hit a bunch of thorns on the road shoulder.
Early on the first day, I was the Lanterne Rouge.  I caught with a bunch at a lunch spot and ate with them, leaving before.  With my early stop on that day, I was again the Lanterne Rouge, seeing very few riders except those on the return, as I got to the turnaround motel.  It looked like everyone had come and gone but when I was up and in the bike storage room to get rolling again, two other riders were also getting organized.
Lo and behold, as I rolled through another town, I found a large group of riders stopped at a street corner.  I rolled on.
Although it was a push, I kept to my plan of 350 km that day stopping at Tudela, leaving 250 for the last day.  It seemed that other riders stopped somewhere before or after because I saw many early on the fourth day.  I finished about mid pack.  I was nicely on track to finish around 4pm when I had to give in to the heat, stopping at every gas station and bar, topping up water, guzzling some on the spot.  I also had the two flats … and finished at 5:10 pm.  I had oodles of time as the 90 hour mark was 2am due to the 8am start on Day 1.  I had squandered some of the best riding temps of the day being so sleepy and then in the heat of the afternoon, well over 100F, survival was key, not speed.
When I got to the ride end, the two organizers were there to check me in.  Francesc La Porta, the “main man”, has apparently completed PBP 11 times?  I’ll have to look that one up.  Apparently it may be some record shared with a handful of others.  He’s not done yet, will be at PBP next year.
I had two huge beers.  I was so thirsty.  Luckily they don’t do breathalyzer tests on cyclists but don’t ask me to walk a straight line.  I could ride straight and I did, right to my hotel Cal Ball.  Home away from home, I got cleaned up, had dinner and then sleep!
As usual I enjoyed myself.  Different scenery, different food, friendly riders (but not much conversation), adapting my fueling strategy, being totally self sufficient (OK, thanks to Visa).
Is this true Randonneuring – no support?  Some would say yes.  That adds to the sense of accomplishment … but at times we like being pampered, so onward we go!

Brouse’s Beach Brouser 600

Ride report from Carey Chappelle:

Sorry for the delay in sending the ride report for Huron Chapter’s Brouse’s Beach Brouser 600km Event that was held Saturday, June 23 this year. Hope you enjoy our story as much as we enjoyed this event.

Congratulations to Chappy, Chris Cossonnet, Ken Jobba, Matthew McFarlane, Terry Payne, Jim Raddatz, Sergii Tsymbal and Don Williams for successfully completing this 600.

Brouse’s Beach Brouser 600 started at 5am from the Tim Horton’s in Goderich Saturday morning. The night before, Chappy made dinner reservations at the Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro in Bayfield where 4 Randonneurs joined him … Terry Payne, Don Williams, Chris Cossonnet and Ken Jobba.  A few made the comment that they loved the place so much they couldn’t wait to bring their wife back to the Black Dog one day soon!

The next day, everyone showed up at the Tim Horton’s in time for the 0500hr Start. Liz Overduin volunteered to support the Randonneurs throughout the 600 and delivered baggage to controls where plans were made to stop and sleep.

John Maccio lead us on a great pace for the first 5 km.  About 60 km from the start, a farm house with a straw roof was seen!

Everyone arrived at the Control, Sandy’s Family Restaurant in Mildmay, within 30 mins of the opening time! The majority of us enjoyed breakfast, a coffee or two, then headed out.

Now, if you check out the profile for this 600, you’ll easily see that 90% of hill climbing happens in the first 300 km. OUCH!!

Arriving at the Second Control, the Bicycle Cafe, Flesherton, Ontario, one of our Randonneurs mentioned how tough the climbing had been. Having done this Brevet before, Chappy knew the worst was yet to come and didn’t say boo! Everyone enjoyed an incredible lunch before heading out.

Chris Cossonnet, Sergii Tsymbal and Jim Raddatz out in front of the Bicycle Cafe.

The second major climb happened at Blue Mountain’s Scenic Caves Road, 216 km into the Brevet. All we could say was … Who’s Your Daddy!

Once at the top, the majority of our climbing was complete. On route, the Randonneurs went through Meaford and Owen Sound towards the two sleeping controls, Waterview Inn on the Bay (Wiarton) and the Lion’s Head Inn, Lion’s Head. Since the Lion’s Head Inn was not open or available, control cards were signed and a half dozen Randonneurs headed to the Fitz Hostel in Lion’s Head to use as their sleeping location.

Day 2 had Randonneurs who rested in Lion’s Head, doing 227km to the Finish. Sergii Tsymbal    decided not to stop at the Fitz Hostel, continued throughout the night, grabbing short naps to the finish. John Maccio and Matthew McFarlane had planned on crashing in Wiarton at the Waterview on the Bay Resort (control) but John simply called it a day in Meaford which left Matthew on his own. Being Matthew’s first 600 attempt, the Randonneurs Chappy was with, were all concerned, but simply said “Welcome to Randonneuring Matthew!” Chappy suggested to Matthew that he make it to the Fitz Hostel in Lion’s Head by 0600hrs Sunday morning, to join his group. Now pedalling from Owen Sound along the Bay to Wiarton, then along the Bay to Lion’s head, FOG was everywhere making the Rear lighting on everyone’s bike IMPORTANT! It was perfect seeing that everyone had 2-4 rear lights ON!

At 0545hrs Sunday morning, Chappy’s group of six were getting ready to head out for the last 227 km to the finish and wondering if Matt was going to make it on time. Chappy was one of the first Randonneurs that got up early … but trying to get down from his top bunk … had a hamstring leg cramp … bit his tongue trying not to wake anyone else up … sorry Gents!

Once everyone was up and ready to go, they looked down the street and there he was …  Matthew pedalling towards us! We all laughed and congratulated Matt on his accomplishment!! We asked what time he made it to the Waterview on the Bay Resort, the Wiarton Control where John and himself had planned on getting a few hours sleep.   He let us know how he was exhausted and found a cheap $50 hotel in Owen Sound, stayed there for 1 hr before getting back on his bike, made it to the Wiarton Control on time and then the Lion’s Head Control on time. AWESOME PERFORMANCE MATT!

Leaving Lion’s Head had Great Scenery along the way to Sauble Beach. A few Randonneurs mentioned how much they loved the gravel roads, fortunately no rain had happened!

Don Williams would lose everyone on climbs … large or small … then catch up and pass on flats. Fellow Randonneurs kept asking Chappy how he could accomplish this. With only a few hours sleep, Chappy let them know Don and his wife have two Mountain Climbing Training Centres downtown TO and were mountain climbers themselves, then suggested Don must thinks his hands will help on the climbs! Don sent us a great picture of the Southampton Lighthouse.

From Sauble Beach to Kincardine, road conditions were perfect. Unfortunately, it started to pour RAIN! Check out Matthew’s picture.

Misty to say the least!

The next control was in Kincardine, Ken Jobba had been riding with Chappy’s group since the start and let Chappy know he was hypothermic and had to take off to warm up.   Chappy’s Randonneurs decided to have a 20 min break at the Bruce Steak House, Kincardine after having their control cards signed at the Tim Horton’s. Well, that 20 min break turned out to be just over an hour!

The McFarlane Family, John Maccio and Liz Overduin met the group there. From left to right, Chappy, Matthew, his wife and daughters, Liz Overduin, Don Williams, Terry Payne, Chris Cossonnet and John Maccio.

Inside the Steak House and looking out, our group noticed the clouds starting to disappear! Once on the bikes and heading towards the FINISH… approximately 75 km away … SUNSHINE! Temperature 26 deg C!

Jim Raddatz was one of the first finishers and let Chappy know that he had stopped with 20 km to go to take off his rain jacket, Ken Jobba briefly stopped to see if he was OK. When Jim looked up Ken was a speck on the horizon. Wow was he flying! The next day Jim’s e-mail let Chappy know he could barely walk!

Just to let you know Jim … neither could any of us!

Matthew’s Family was as excited as everyone else on the finish!

Liz Overduin… Awesome Support! You’re a Great Organizer!

John Maccio … You’re First Class! Thanks for taking the time to see how your fellow Randonneurs were doing!

Additional photos from Ken Jobba: