Saturday was the inaugural running of a charity ride called the Growling Beaver. As was mentioned in the last post, I planned to do the 100K. I figured that even with my limited amount of training, that 100K was doable, although I was a bit concerned about the 1000m of climbing. Most of it seemed to be in two climbs up the escarpment, so I figured that I could suffer through them.
Arriving at the start, I see a fancy building for the Side Launch Brewery, with a lot of expensive looking hardware decorating the lawn.
Some nice Mariposas by the front door.
Still more Mariposas inside, with Dede Barry selling some merchandise.
Lots of nice details on these bikes. This looks like a modern rendition of a drillium brake lever.
Panorama of the interior, with the 100K riders waiting to start.
Dede Barry tells us the rules of the road. She warns us that there are several sections of fresh gravel that were described in an email that went out a few days ago. Unfortunately, these sections were laid down and graded just a few days before the event.
We get split up into six groups so that we don’t swarm the first section of the ride which is along the Georgian Trail, a multi use trail. This is the lead group about to take off a few minutes after 9 am.
I seeded myself in the slowest group, which was nominally a 20 kph average. With rest stops, this group was scheduled to finish a little past 3:30 pm. There were about six people in our group, including a retired couple from interior BC, and a guy riding a hybrid, the only other bike that I saw with fenders.
The first 30K or so was a quick ride down the Georgian Trail. Dead flat with a tailwind, and a touch of fall colours.
At the first checkpoint in Meaford, it was still windy and cold, and I didn’t see a lot of people ditching their riding jackets at the clothing drop. The first big climb of the day was up Grey Road 7.
Looking back at Georgian Bay after the climb. Feeling pretty good at this point.
First descent on Old Mail Road. Unfortunately, with all the gravel, I had to take this section slowly, braking strongly all the way. Not the ideal way to give up all the elevation gained earlier.
Nice views, though.
Someone went to the trouble of decorating this bridge over the Beaver River. Very pretty country.
The lunch stop was in Kimberley, at about the 64K mark. More than half way done with only one major climb. How bad could it be? The sun came out, and I put the riding jacket in the handlebar bag.
The food and drink was very good at the Kimberley General Store. Much better than what I expected. Hot apple cider and coffee, gourmet thin crust pizza, and lots of baked sweet treats.
Nice alternatives to Gatorade as well.
I had left my group at the first checkpoint and was riding alone for the most part. Some of them pulled into lunch around the time I left. I thought I was ready for the big climb. Here it is: Side Road 7B. The escarpment looms in the background.
It’s steeper than it looks in this picture, and gets still steeper after the road bends to the left.
With the condition of the dirt/gravel road and my level of fitness, I ended up having to walk about the middle 1K of the climb. I wasn’t the only one having to walk this section.
Even after the climb was done, there was a long slog on gravel straight into a strong headwind with no tree cover.
You can see some faster riders in the distance leaving me behind. They passed me a couple of times because they kept taking wrong turns. There was at least one mislabeled road on the map that caused some confusion in this section of the ride.
The Reid’s Hill descent was another place where a combination of gravel and washboarding made the descent slow and treacherous. Note the dead water bottle.
When I finally reached Pretty River Road, it was huge relief to know that I was done with gravel, and it felt like I flew the rest of the way to the finish.
Here you can see my elevation and HRM data. I note that there are some spikes where I was descending which I can attribute to either some kind of sensor noise due to vibration, or the intermittent fear of imminent death 😉
Pulling into the brewery at the end, I felt quite a sense of accomplishment. I finished in just under 7 hours, with about a little under six hours of riding time. The GPS registered an average speed of 18.9 kph. This was much tougher than I expected due mainly to the road conditions, but also the wind. As it turns out, I only saw about two or three riders come in behind me, including two from my original group, and my understanding is that everyone slower than that was sagged in. Missed being Lanterne Rouge by perhaps two places. I talked to a couple of people that said this was the roughest 100K that they had done.
It was also a treat to have a brief chat with Mike Barry and Mike Barry Sr, and I appreciated the way that they described the directions to their shop in terms of being able to smell the Peek Freans factory.
Overall, it was a great experience. The event was very well organized, and the rider support was great (especially the lunch, and the enthusiasm of all the volunteers). I was happy to learn that they ended up raising about 200K which was double their original target. I want to thank my sponsors for supporting me in the ride. I was very proud to be in the top 10% of all fund raisers.
Things that the organizers could have done a bit better:
- It wasn’t obvious to me ahead of time what the colour coding on the ride with GPS maps meant. It turns out that red is pavement, and brown is gravel (and purple is the Georgian Trail)
- The section of road just before 70 km on the 100 km route was not SR10D. It was 3rd line, which turned into SR10D after a right turn. This was an error in the cue sheets.
- Perhaps there was some indication that there would be no portapotty at the Kolapore checkpoint, but I didn’t see it.
- I was told that the next time, they will try to work with the local governments to make sure that no fresh gravel would be laid down just before the event.
Lessons learned for me:
- It was smart to have done some mileage on the Tamarack beforehand to help avoid any mechanical issues during the ride. I was glad that I switched to relatively wide tires, although a little more tread might have been even better for the uphill sections.
- The battery on my Garmin Edge 25 was about spent after seven hours. Perhaps having the route following feature on decreased the battery iife.
- I could have been fitter; I would have enjoyed the riding a bit more.
- Deliberately eating a bit every hour helped me avoid bonking. I had a combination of Kind granola bars, and Stinger energy gels, both of which I pretested for being kind to my stomach.
- Although I was concerned about the extra weight of the handlebar bag, it was nice to have the cue sheet and map visible at all times, and it was great to be able to grab snacks and my camera while on the move.
Congratulations to the organizers. I hope that the event was successful enough for it to continue. What I really liked about the ride was that it was very small. If I do it again, I’ll train more so that I can ride with a few more riders rather than being at the very back of the pack.
Update: as per the comment below, next year’s date is Oct 1, 2016!
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