It was a bit of a last minute decision, but I ended up signing up this week to do the 80k ride at the Tour Nortel on Sunday.
The weather was less than ideal. It was raining at dawn, and continued through the 8:30am start. It finally stopped raining towards 9:30. The temperature wasn't too bad, starting out at 9 and warming up a bit. Still, I wore long running pants under my bike shorts, and a long sleeve shirt, cycling short-sleeve, and windbreaker. Some people wore far, far less.
I met up with a group, some of whom were from the swim club, on the morning of the event. I started out with them, but they proved to be just a little too fast for me. We hit some rolling hills about 7km in, and I decided then and there that I should just let myself be dropped, and set my own pace. This proved to be a good decision.
At about 8km we did the Richardson Side Road hill out of Kanata. This hill isn't very big, but it is steep. In the rain, i was happy to ride my brakes as much as I could going down. Some people tucked and went all out. Scary.
After that, except for a brief drive-by of the Senate, we were out in the country. Within a few kilometers, we reclimbed the ridge we'd descended on Richardson Side Road. I had to drop all the way down to the granny gear, but I managed to keep a good cadence all the way up.
I found myself wishing I had brought a camera. I would have, in all likelihood, if the weather had been drier. The fields are all green now, finally, and the deciduous trees are just starting to bud. It was all springtime and clean, an impression no doubt amplified by the fact that everything, including my feet, was very wet.
I had packed 2 Gatorades and 2 chocolate bars for the trip. I planned on having the first chocolate bar at 40km, and opportunity arose in an unpleasant fashion. We passed through the village of Dunrobin just past 35km, and we descended into a lowland swamp, complete with an osprey nest. Ahead of us, though, was a hill that dwarfed Richardson Side Road. In the distance I could see bikes compressed together on the climb, a sure sign that it was as long and tough as it looked.
Of course, it was only a hill, and folks in other parts of the country would probably laugh. Still, this early in the season, it was very tough. Even worse, it featured a false summit. I would say that I did at least a kilometer of climbing on that hill alone. When I finally made it to the top, I was at 40.5km. Time for a Mars bar.
We finally hit the asymetrical turnaround at 50km, on a beach on the Ottawa River. There was the opportunity to get off our bikes, have some orange slices and some bottled water, and even use the portable facilities.
When I resumed, I found myself riding into the wind. We also had a long slow climb to Mars hill. By the 60km mark, I was starting to feel a bit tired. I was looking forward to being back in the city, with some small shelter from the wind.
The nice part is that this was a charity ride, not a race. I was content to do whatever speed the wind would let me, and just keep moving. The wind was drying the roads, and probably drying me out too. I worked on my second bottle of Gatorade and pondered my second chocolate bar, but overall I was in decent spirits.
Right on the 70km mark, we turned back into Kanata. As we wove our way through the subdivision, my spirits rose. Before I knew it, I was at the finish line, being offered bottled water and chocolate chip muffins.