8 of us departed from Cadence, plus one who joined on in the NW, but wasn't going to complete the ride once he asked what this group was up to this morning. From left to right: Gary "Big Ring" Chambers, Devin "Surprise I'm here" Erfle, joiner, Cesar "getting in as much riding before the twins as I can" Martin, Trev "I've wanted to do this ride for 4 years" Williams, Jeff "cramming all my volume training into one day" Nielson, Craig "I did a loop of the Water Valley this morning before breakfast to check it out for you mere mortals" Stappler, and Kate "I'm so happy from my coolest birthday cake ever" Aardal. Erik not in photo.
Mmmm... cake. So I hadn't felt good the night before, and Saturday morning my stomach felt ok but not super. I struggled up the first couple km's of climbing out of town, but held in expecting to feel better. I kept wanting cake. I didn't feel much better all day, but true to word, this was a no drop ride, and I got pushes from everyone involved at various times.
The cafe in Water Valley supplied excellend mid morning snacks for us before we headed further west, and also served as Devin's turn around point. From there we did the beauty gravel roads of climbing, and Craig used his supercharged engine to help me along. Very impressive. Gary of course didn't shift out of his big ring, Trev dressed light like it was a summer road ride, Kate just motors on with a smile and no complaints. Jeff and I kept each other good company, and I helped his leg strength and diesel training by being dead weight for him to push at points ; )
The forestry trunk road went well, nice gravel fast pace we held for kilometers and kilometers. No flats all ride other than my double flat in a paceline on the last stretches of gravel where a rock pinched out both tires.
I'd like to have reported on the race to the top of Wildcat Hill, but I was so far off the back! I actually zig zagged the road while the rest were hammering. After lying down at the top for a minute, we coasted down then pedalled into the surprise-wind-shifted-perfectly-for-us late in the day headwind once again.
Quick refuel in Cochrane and the paceline home, I felt decent. All the peel-offs into town left Jeff and I as the two standing outside Cadence at the end. I sat down on a bench waiting for my ride while Jeff packed his stuff into the car, both of us chatting with Alana. Some kids walked by, then turned left into a shop I didn't look at twice before. Pizza by the slice. Holy cow that's exactly what I needed. We slayed a few slices of deliciousness. It's hard to communicate just how good cheap pizza slices can taste after 210km of depletion!
All in it was a great day. Fair weather, good company, great friends to help me along when I was suffering, and what goes around comes around (I got back more than the pushing I gave Cindy in Andalucia, and last year Jon was having a rough day on the long ride). It's not a training ride, 9h rides aren't really something that needs to be worked into most people's training efforts. It's an adventure, it's camraderie, it's scenery, and in some ways it's been kind of the ceremonial closing of the 'cross bikes/gravel roads/winter season of riding.
About 9h and 210km!