The day of the Tour de Guelph dawned cool, dry and sunny with heat forecast for later in the day. This was to be the longest ride of my life at 111km. It was advertised as a 100km long ride on the website where I signed up for the ride. After registering and paying I looked more closely at the route and learned that it was actually 111km. Patti was riding with me and her longest ride ever was back in 2008 when we rode the rail trail from Cataract to Elora and back for a total of 92km. We were on hybrid bikes. It took us all day and we were miserable for the final 20 km.
More recently, Patti rode about 75km on the day of Bike the Creek since she biked the creek to the creek, biked the creek and then biked the creek back home.
We studied the route and determined that we could take a shortcut near the end and cut off 20 km if we needed to do so.
I left home at 6:15am, picked up Patti in Mississauga and we were in Guelph by about 7:30. As we got out of the car I spotted Kamil, with whom I rode Ride Don’t Hide a couple weeks earlier. It was his birthday so he was riding the 50km to allow time to celebrate later in the day. We didn’t run into him again.
There always seems to be a lot of waiting around at the start of these rides. They encourage people to arrive an hour before the start times, which are staggered with the cyclists riding the longer distances going out first. Our ride was scheduled to begin at 8am. However, our experience has been that the speeches usually begin at the published start time and the registration lines are not usually too long so we aim to arrive in time to unload, register, go to the bathroom and head out.
This was the second annual Tour de Guelph and participants were fundraising for the local hospital. 398 people pre-registered and raised about $40K.
The ride started at the University of Guelph. I had no idea what a large campus it is. Once we got off the campus and out of the Guelph we headed down a lovely leafy road that led us to Eden Mills, which has a goal of being the first carbon neutral village in North America. Every house we saw had solar panels. It looked like a beautiful place to live.
At the first rest stop, the volunteers were dressed like medical personal and had water, bananas oranges and granola bars to refresh us.
I am always torn when I am on these types of rides between maintaining my speed and stopping to take pictures. I couldn’t resist stopping for this. It appeared to be unoccupied and shared a property with a more conventional home.
As we neared the second rest stop I started feeling had been in the area before. I saw a cemetery that look familiar. Then I saw a covered bridge and realized I was in West Montrose. Here are a couple pictures from the first time I was there back in 2007.
And here is one in the winter 2008, taken on my birthday. My friend Gail picked me up and we went out for the day looking for photo opportunities. It was a beautiful crisp winter day with fresh snowfall from the day before. You can follow this link to see the pictures from that day. We had a great lunch that day at the Elora Mill.
The bridge was built is 1881 and is the last of this type of bridge still standing in Ontario.
At the second stop we learned we were the last of the 100km riders and they packed up as we had our snack. While we are able to ride 100km, we are not able to ride it as fast as many of the other riders. It’s a bit disconcerting to have everyone packing up around you as you reach each rest stop. The same thing happened to me on the Ride Don’t Hide and the Tour de Grand. Here we are at the second rest stop – still smiling.
The worst hill of the day was just before we returned to the first rest stop and I gave in and pushed my bike up the top part of the hill. Even though we had just decended a hill, I did not have enough momentum or energy to make it to the top. From the top of the previous hill we could see down and up to the sign indicating a t-junction. That morning, someone had driven their car right through the junction into a field of corn, driven back towards the road, gotten trapped in the ditch and gone to sleep. The police, who had been present because of the Tour de Guelph, apparently didn’t realize anything was amiss for hours and were in attendance when we came by. Consensus was drunk driver.
We arrived back at the start at 2:30 to find we had missed the BBQ and everyone had packed up and gone home. It was getting pretty hot and we were exhausted. It was somewhat anticlimactic to arrive back to an empty campus. We loaded up our bikes, did some stretching and headed to Panera Bread for lunch and Marble Slab for some well deserved ice cream. I was annoyed to find there was a bug in the MapMyRide app and our elevation gain for the day showed as zero. It had been a hillier ride than we had expected and I had wanted to verify that. As I check back today for the ride stats I see the elevation data is now available.
Our average speed was much higher than when we did the Tour de Grand, (19.6 kpm) despite it being a much longer ride. I encouraged Patti to draft behind me and it really seemed to help keep our speed up.
- Length: 111.73 km
- Ascents: 724 m
- Riding Time: 5:10:18
- Elapsed Time: 6:26:51
- Average Speed: 21.6 kph
- Top Speed: 55.2 kph