A Rainy Tour de Grand

Today Patti and I rode the 18th annual Cambridge Tour de Grand.  I’ve been watching the weather for two weeks and taking a screen cap every couple days.  The forecast for today on June 4th was close in terms of the amount of rain that ended up falling although it was calling for warmer temperatures than we actually experienced. The forecast on June 6 got me excited with only a 10% probability of precipitation and 22 degrees Celsius.  June 8th’s forecast was similar to the 6th, but on June 10, rain was forecast again.  Then on June 14, little or no rain was forecast during the time we would be riding.  I have long suspected there is no point in looking at the forecast for more than a day or two in the future, and this exercise proved it to me.

The day dawned cloudy, but dry.  I got up at 6am and left to pick up Patti just before 7am.  Around Milton it started to pour and rained heavily until we got to Cambridge.  The rain stopped in time for us to unload our bikes, get registered, have my tires filled and join the crowd for the 9am start.  We thought we were getting free t-shirts, but apparently we registered too late.  When I saw the t-shirts, I was happy I wasn’t getting one – they were fluorescent yellow, not a colour I wear.

There were rides ranging from 10-160km.  We chose 72km.  The ride started at Duncan McIntosh Arena in Churchill Park in Cambridge.  Last year they had over 3000 riders.  I don’t know how many there were this year, but there were a lot and the fields surrounding the community centre will filled with cars.

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The area was well organized with lots of volunteers helping to get participants parked and registered.

I was curious about the umbrella on this bike and saw the rider and passenger, a little dog, later at the start line.

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Here are the crowds ready to leave for the 60km and 72km rides.  The 100km riders left at 8:30 and the 160km riders left at 8am.  The shorter routes had staggered start times after us.

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The ground is wet, but the rain has stopped.  Here I am ready to go.  I usually track my rides with MapMyRide on my iPad.  I don’t have a data plan, but it works anyway.  Unfortunately, somehow I had gotten logged out of the app and couldn’t log in as there was no wifi around.  Fortunately, Patti also uses MapMyRide on her phone, so I was able to copy her ride since we rode together.

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Here is a group passing us when we stopped to take our jackets off after about 10km on one of the country roads we followed.

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The route was well posted, except for the last few kilometres where the signs seemed to have disappeared,  and even told you if you were going the wrong way.

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We were starting to get hungry by the first rest stop at 26km.  There was a nice selection of drinks, fruit, granola bars and cookies.  As I was parking my bike I heard my name called and it was Henrik, a transportation planner with the city of Brampton who also sits on the Cycling Advisory Committee, a new committee of council to which I have been appointed.   Small world.

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There was a covered area, food, water, washrooms and a picnic area.

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As we left the rest stop it started to rain.  It wasn’t long before we were soaking.  It was the kind of rain that is steady and persistent and looks like it will never stop.  We rode in it for the next 50km.  At least that was my recollection.  It looks like it was just spitting for a while though as there are dry patches on the road in this picture.

Last September, in the Tour de Mississauga, on my first ride ever doing 100km, it poured for the first 35.  Patti wasn’t with me as she was jet-lagged from recently returning from the UK.  And, even if she had planned to ride, she admits she would have bailed when she saw the pouring rain.  I almost didn’t go, but had trained all summer for the ride so went anyway.  It was a great day.  You can read about it here.

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Here were are crossing the Grand River and it is raining hard.  I used to kayak from Glen Morris to Paris.  This is just north of Glen Morris.

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The next rest stop was at 40km and felt like it came really quickly.  At this rest stop there were bananas, oranges and water for re-filling your bottle.  There were porta potties, a first aid station and a place to park bikes.  One woman complained that they didn’t have something different from the previous rest stop, however, I was enjoying the fruit.

Another group of women took a look at the map and found a route that cut off about 20km.

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Today was Patti’s first time riding in the rain, but she was still smiling and taking it in stride.  I asked her if she wanted to take the shortcut but she declined.  Even though this rest stop was supposed to stay open until noon, they were dismantling it as we arrived.  We didn’t stay for long.

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Up until the second rest stop there were always other cyclists in sight.  Usually at least ten or more if I looked ahead and behind.  Once we left the second rest stop we didn’t see a soul for almost 20 km.  It was as it everyone had suddenly just disappeared off the course.  We ended up seeing only three others cyclists and one was the sweeper, and she was unwilling to stay behind us, once she checked that we were alright and had cell phones.  We only encountered two other riders.  I think most people took the short cut back into town along Spragues Road or went onto the 60km route which separated from the 72km route a few kilometres after the second rest stop.

Look at these poor horses in the pouring rain.  They looked wetter than we did.  They all seemed to be staring at the house across the road willing the farmer to come over and take them to the barn.

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There was a massive concrete formation plant along the route that looked quite interesting.

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Here I am catching my breath at the top of the one hill that I had to stand on the pedals to get to the top.  I am still smiling and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

The final rest stop was at 65km and was almost packed up when we arrived.  The rain slowed us down, plus, with no one arriving due to people taking a short cut, I think they were not expecting anyone else.  We travelled for a few kilometres along this lovely corridor of trees.  The only problem was that it was packed limestone screenings and we got filthy.

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When we arrived back at the community centre most people had already left.  The rain stopped long enough to load our bikes, have lunch and get back to the car.  We grabbed our dry clothes.  Neither of us had thought to bring a towel.  We went into the change rooms.  I had stayed fairly clean, because I had a basket on a rear rack with my kayaking dry bag in it which deflected the dirt and spray.  Patti was not so fortunate and her cycling pants were filthy, even on the inside.

When I rode the Tour de Mississauga, my iPad got wet and it damaged one side of the screen.  I was able to continue using it, but recently switched to Michael’s old iPad, which was undamaged, when he got an Android tablet.  I had the undamaged one with me today.  I put it in a Ziplock  bag, in my purse, and put my purse in the dry bag, which has kept my things dry over a whole day of kayaking or rafting.  It didn’t stand up to the constant spray from the back tire though, as my purse was damp at the end of the ride.  Fortunately, the iPad was dry inside the Ziplock bag.

I brought a dress in case it was hot when we finished and jeans and a t-shirt in case I was cold.  I showered and dried myself off on the dress.

There was water everywhere.  The floors in the halls, the bathrooms, the change room and the arena, where lunch was served, were soaking from all the dripping cyclists.

By the time we got changed and got to the arena for lunch they were taking down the tables and stacking the chairs.  We were served lunch, but people coming in after us had to make their own.  Lunch was deli meat on a selections of breads, with lettuce and tomatoes, chips, fruit, cookies, juice and water.  It was delicious.

After lunch we stopped at Starbucks for a hot drink before heading home.  The rain continued intermittently as we drove.

We felt a great sense of accomplishment, amplified by defying the bad weather and sticking to our planned 72km route as the rest of the riders abandoned it in droves.

From Velomati Rule #9:
If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.  Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

Ride statistics:

  • Length:  76.72 km
  • Ascents: 544 m
  • Riding Time: 3:54:15
  • Elapsed Time (approx): 4:50:00
  • Average Speed: 19.6 kph
  • Top Speed: 50.6 kph





About Lisa Stokes

I am a stay-at-home mother of four whose hobbies include photography, quilting and cycling. I have recently started to advocate for better cycling infrastructure in my community. I am the photographer at the Brampton Quilters' Guild.
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