The day dawned cool and sunny with a forecast high in the mid-teens – a perfect day for cycling. The 60km ride was scheduled to leave at 10:30. The advertised meeting time was 9:30, but since we were staying at the resort, we were told that we only need be at the assembly point by about 10:20.
We slept until 9am and had the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant. It was $12.50 each and was disappointing. I had a better breakfast in Huntsville at the Holiday Inn Express in February when we went dog sledding and it was included in the price of the room. Although, to be fair, I was feeling a bit nervous about the ride, so I wasn’t feeling much like eating.
There was a lovely deck with tables, accessible from the dining room. However, it was too cold to sit outside.
The view from the deck was beautiful.
After breakfast we headed back to the room, got into our cycling gear, packed, loaded the car and arrived at the assembly point (the tennis courts in the photo above) just as the last of the 60km riders headed out. “Just as well”, Patti opined, “that way we don’t have to ride up the hill in a pack of eager cyclists”.
We had to ride down the hill below to get from the hotel to the tennis courts. These first two hills, encountered before we even left the resort property, foretold the day we had ahead of us. There was very little flat ground.
Patti and I revealed to each other just as we approached the first rest stop that we had each secretly decided that if the first 10km were too challenging, we would just do the 20km ride. Fortunately, we set out with fresh legs, that had practiced ascents the previous week by climbing the Escarpment. After about 7km of riding we both realized that while the hills were challenging, they were also manageable and we agreed that we would push on after the 10km rest stop.
The first stop was at South Portage Dock on the Lake of Bays. There was a beautiful view, a porta potty, a refueling station, with water, gatorade, bananas, granola bars and chocolate chip cookies. We helped ourselves to a banana each and a granola bars to take with us.
Algonquin Outfitters provided mechanical and sweeping support. I realized on the drive north on Friday that I forgot to bring my pump, so I had the ever-so-helpful driver pump my tires at the first stop and put some lubrication on my chain, which had become a bit noisy, at the second stop. The driver was excellent and made us feel like he was there to look after us personally. We saw him a tonne of times. He always slowed, asked if we needed anything and had an encouraging word for us.
The next part of the ride was a little flatter, but still far from flat. Here is one the flat sections we encountered with a beautiful canopy of trees.
I used this trillium as an excuse to stop and catch my breath at the top of one of the hills.
We passed through Dwight, a pretty little place on the lake with cottages, a dock and a small white church.
If I was in the market for a cottage this one would suit me.
Here’s Patti on a descent. We both decided early on to let gravity do the work on the descents and to save our legs for the climbs.
We were still feeling pretty good when we got to the half way point at Port Cunnington. There was another refueling station and the friendly Algonquin Outfitter driver.
We’re still smiling.
The turns were well marked with a coloured arrow corresponding to each route. This is the first turn after leaving the resort so all four routes are marked. The routes didn’t diverge until about the 10km mark.
We were getting tired by the time we got back to the first rest stop after cycling 50km. I’ve rarely ever been so happy to see a bag of chips. I even drank some Gatorade and not just water as I usually do. A number of riders, who had cycled the event in the past, warned us that the last 10km were brutal with four significant hills to climb.
They were right, but I am proud to say that I rode my bike up every last one of them. I had to stop to catch my breath once or twice on each hill, but then I climbed back on my bike and finished the ascent. Patti wasn’t quite as pigheaded as I was and walked past me as I panted and rested. I didn’t get to the top any faster, but I met my goal of riding the whole route.
Remember this hill we rode down to get to the assembly point?
As we rode down it at 10:40 that morning I said to Patti, “At the end of the day, I will wait with the bikes at the tennis courts, you go get the car and we will load up the bikes at the bottom of the hill”. However, I am proud to say that I found the energy, not only to ride up it without stopping to rest, I also passed a lot of other people, riding or walking their bikes up the hill. Patti made it to the top without walking her bike, too. We finished strong!
After loading up our bikes onto the car and cleaning up and changing in the pool area, we headed to the buffet meal provided for the cyclists. It was much better than breakfast, but they ran out of cookies and cheesecake before we got our fill.
On the way out of the resort I asked Patti to pull over so I could take a picture of the snow that remained on the ski hill.
All in all it was a great day and it felt like we had been away more than just one day. We stopped at Starbuck’s in Barrie on the way home to ward off the stupor that was descending upon us as we drove home.
- Length: 59.38 km
- Ascents: 757 m
- Riding Time: 3:12:32
- Elapsed Time: 4:26:00
- Average Speed: 18.5 kph
- Top Speed: 52.3 kph
We plan to go back next year, hopefully to do the 96km route.