So, I've completed the final training ride for the Friends for Life Bike Rally. This Sunday, I'll do the actual ride of 600km from Toronto to Montreal. So far, I have rode on my bike nearly 1700km this year, but even though I am probably stronger than I was at this time last year, I feel like I am less prepared. Perhaps my expectations for myself is higher this time around.
Towards the end if all the training rides, the Saturday morning rides were getting longer, and we started getting some weird weather conditions too. Like in the Kipling-Campbellville ride. It was a wet day. Rain started pouring down as soon as we left Kipling, and didn't let up for half an hour. After that, the sun came out in full force; unfortunately, the rain washed away all the sunscreen that I have put on...The road remained wet though, and a group of riders ahead of me wiped out on a sharp turn after a descent. I hope they were okay. Their misfortune put me towards near the front of all riders, and after awhile, I was in a group of only 3 riders, and we rode back to Kipling Station with Sam and Mark. It was easy to tell that both of them were accomplished cyclists, and we indeed made it back to Kipling Station in relatively good shape. In fact, Sam gave me some very important encouragement along the way. We were making our way through a long ascent, and my legs started to slow. I muttered to myself, "Geez, my legs are pretty useless today." Sam clearly heard what I said, and quiet replied, "No, you're strong." His encouragement was what kept me focused in the back stretch of the ride. Distance travelled: 118km; average speed: 27.2km/h.
The Finch-Keswick training ride is the longest, and usually. Consider how well I did last year, and the fact that I felt stronger this year, I wanted to best my own performance. Only it wasn't meant to be. The ride from Finch to Keswick (with George and Marc) was quick, almost easy, and we made it to the lunch break by Lake Simcoe ahead of most riders. This is despite Marc's pledge to "go slower". On the way back though, winds started picking up from the south, and the pavement was heated to a very uncomfortable 40 degrees under the scorching mid-day sun. I think we also misjudged how many ascents we had to do on the return route. Not long after the lunch stop in Keswick, we got slower with diminishing strength (Marc's "bonking" was most noticeable) as we rode back towards Finch Station. In the last 35km, we had to stop for water 5 times. By the time we made it back to Finch Station, it was close to 2:45pm, and everyone was exhausted. Distance travelled: more than 130km; average speed: 25.5km/h. Not the spectacular 28km/h I did with Jack and Glen last year (under similarly hot conditions, but without the wind), but nevertheless, the route was longer and hillier than the longest day in the Rally; if we could do this, the Rally should be okay.
But the lacklustre performance to Keswick compelled me to do the Kipling-Inglewood ride, the last of the organized training rides, with one week to go. I have already done this route earlier in June. On that day, I did pretty well until the last 10km when (surprise surprise!) the wind picked up from the south. My plan to ride alone was thawed when Jack pulled out ahead of everyone, and the more competitive side of me took over. Soon, we were joined by 3 other riders, and our group of 5 raced ahead, literally. We made one quick water break en route to Inglewood, and another quick break at the designated rest stop ("Inglewood General Store"), and then we raced ahead back towards Kipling Station. We were initially joined by Jason, the proud owner of a real Pinarello Dogma 2 (as opposed to me, a proud owner of a Pinarello knockoff from China) on the return route, but he had some trouble climbing a hill and was dropped soon after. I spent most of my time drafting behind some fast riders, but also got the chance to pull the group along as well. We made it back to Kipling Station in (my) record time. Distance travelled: 98km; average speed: 30.7km/h. The only time I had a similar average speed was the Kipling-Oakville training ride in early June, and that route was very flat, and didn't have any of the climbs that we saw in Caledon.