So, just a quick ride report from this past Rideau Lakes Tour.
o.k. ..it's not so quick but that cause there's lots to cover!
First, going into it I wasn't really motivated for a long road ride. I'd only recently got the Brodie built up and am still in the process of final tweaks (more on that later) so have been really focused on sorting all that out, and coupled with the scheduled training transition from heavy miles with shorter hard efforts to almost exclusively hard, short intense efforts on the MTB, I was concerned that 12-14 hrs on the road bike was pulling valuble time away from the MTB training (that I'm quite worried about). ..anyway though, we'd paid, signed up, commited to it so off we went.
Siobhan had signed up intending to do the full there and back but having battle competing demands from work, home, Decko etc. didn't feel enthusiastic about riding the full distance so was only going to accompany me to Perth where Melissa who was in the same boat training wise and was driving the Kinderwagen to Perth would switch up places with Siobhan. That seemed a definite win-win for them as they both got to enjoy a manageable ride each day and spelled each other off on taking care of the bairns (with much help from Shayla).
Anyway, so back to the ride.
As mentioned, I wasn't really into it at first. I've ridden that route to Perth many times and it's o.k. but a bit boring. Flat, straight, no hills, and heading west you're virtually guaranteed a headwind. Which is what we got. In spades. I'm guessing 30km/h headwind at least which was relentless with no trees or cover of any kind until Ashton. Riding in a group mitigates much of the headwind however, I'm a MTB'r and Siobhan isn't a group rider either so we had some difficulty staying in draft for awhile. Basically we were on our own much of the time until Ashton where we really got the hang of group riding. That was a hard slog into the headwind which actually gave me a headache with the damn noise. I hate headwinds and would rather have a 30km sustained climb than a 15km headwind. I was actually pretty dark from Ottawa to Ashton thinking I should be out on the Brodie climbing hills in the shelter and shade instead of headdown into the roaring wind on a boring stretch of farmland road.
After Ashton however, the road starts to get a bit more interesting and Siobhan and I had better success hanging in with a friendly group for much of the way into Perth. In that group I met Riel (sp?) an accomplished adventure racer who was doing his 20th(!) RLCT. When I mentioned that I was meeting up with CoCo he became quite animated explaining that there was quite a rivalry between his team (phoenix) and Tobins teams in past years. He dished out some good trash talk for me to pass on to Coco but it was also obvious there was a lot of respect and admiration there. Another page in the "it's a small world" book!
So, we rolled into Perth to chow down. Refuelled in no big hurry with the kiddies doing their best to keep us from staying in one place and once refueling was complete Gilles & Melissa headed out towards Westport. They got a bit of a headstart on me as I wasnt' quite sorted yet, but figured I could hang onto a fastish group for long enough to reel in the 10 or 15 minute lead.
When I headed out I should have noticed that there weren't any other groups going out cause it was pretty barren out on Christie Lake road. Not too many riders out there, just ones and twos and all of them were taking it easy on account of the heat & headwind. I had a hard time keeping it above 24km/h for the first 10 or 15k but I likes me my heat and after about half an hour i'd started to see large groups of riders slumped in the shady patches along the route. The ones still on the road appeared for the most part to be suffering a bit from the heat and slowing down as a result. and. ..I love that shit. Damn, its perhaps a bit twisted but the more riders I saw slumped in the ditches with blotchy complexions the faster I got. I started cruising by folks easily at 28-30km/h for awhile then about 45min from Perth I caught up with Gilles and Melissa. They were just getting on with a group of runners "who just happen to bike" who apparently were quite happy with the size of their group as it was before we showed up.
..yeah, it was sorta like that..
anyway, I didn't care. I'd been working alone against the wind for the last 3/4 hr and was at that point thinking to myself that I'm only really halfway there so I'm going to recover a bit to be safe and if these clowns want me gone they'll have to drop me or drop off. So we hung with them for 10 or 15min until they had an 'issue' that forced them all to stop whereupon we continued without them..
It was around that time that my camel-esque desert furnace kicked in and the continued sight of large groups huddled into shady spots or small broken up groups sluggin along was too much. I felt so good I just took all their suffering and fed off it. the speed just kept going up until I was cruising around 34-36 on the flats (which there weren't many of) alone with a bit of head/cross wind and was powering happily up the climbs and easily overtaking riders. **
That section was more than worth the boring flat section into Ashton and the speed kept going up all the way to the Westport Esso. I stopped at the Esso to buy up some fluids and Gilles & Melissa and Paul rolled in only a couple minutes behind and we all hung out in the shade for a bit chatting and drinking. I'd had my little hammerfest so when it came time get going I stuck with them and we all cruised together to the next stop.
On a couple other RLCTs I'd noticed the folks that stop at one of two or three lakes for a quick cool down and thought
"gee, that looks like fun, but I wanna get this thing done and riding with a sopping wet diaper isn't too appealing"
but this time it was too hot, sunny and the lake was too beautifull to pass up. so we stopped and jumped in.
Best decision all weekend!! Unbelievably good way to cool off, and it really added a great experience to the trip. about 10-15 minutes later we were back on the bike and the whole sopping diaper thing wasn't even an issue. I'd forgotten that it was even wet 5 minutes later, so that is a definate do-over for next year. The rest of the trip went smoothly, our group broke up a little while later when we stopped for fresh squeezed lemonade and Melissa picked up Shayla who rode the last 20km with her. Gilles and I stayed together until Kingston where we got seperated at traffic lights but met up again at Queens. So there you have it. Saturdays ride 7hr 19min, 6100 calories, and 198km.
Sundays ride to follow. Police warnings, tailwinds and fast times.
** Yes, I know all the legitimately fast cats were already way off the front if not already sipping tea and admiring their matching aero shoe covers in Kingston but this was one chance where a shmoe like me gets to feel fast so I'm grabbin it and holdin on!