Newsletter - 2005 Archive

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Toronto's Bewdley Glutebuster 200km
by Melissa Friesen

The Bewdley Glutebuster was truly a glutebuster for me as I experienced substantial cramping of my right glute during the ride. Regardless, the Glutebuster was an incredibly enjoyable ride in the lush farmlands east of Greater Toronto. I wish that I had brought a camera to take some pictures as it was truly beautiful countryside. The ride took 17 riders from Markham east to Bewdley/Rice Lake and back over 6500 ft of climbing. Yes, this Toronto ride took in as much climbing as the Tour of Greater Victoria 200km and much more than the Tour of Cowichan Valley 200km (~5700 ft). Thanks to warnings from two different Toronto Randonneurs that this was their most difficult 200km, I was prepared for a long slow day in the saddle.

The hills were a bit of a different beast than the hills that I've experienced on Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland brevets. No individual hill was long or very tall, but most were steep, and they just kept coming. One advantage, however, was that almost every climb was immediately followed by a thrilling, straight descent that often had you part way up the next hill. For local comparisons, think of climbing "Vile" Vye Rd hill or Zero Avenue Hills over and over and over again, but followed by descents not plateaus. Nothing was as even half as long as Mund Rd hill or as steep as Humpback hill on the island.

With the exception of my first 100km ride, I have not had to navigate in two years of brevets - thanks to my husband and my fleche team mates. My map case was improvised from zip ties and Ziploc bags. Also, I haven't had to ride any brevet solo. Hence, I started the ride a little nervous about possibly being on my own and navigating where I've never been before. As I noticed the gap between the other riders and myself quickly grow in the beginning kilometers of the ride, I also noticed that I was not alone in letting the others disappear into the distance. Thus began a very enjoyable ride with Louis. [Who is expecting his new Mariposa any day now!] We were able to ride side-by-side and chat on most of the route and the time and miles went by quickly. The shared navigation and my improvised map case worked well, with only one missed turn that added about 3 km to our trip.

My cramping started around kilometer 60 which necessitated a stretching break that provided only a brief relief. It wasn't until the turnaround point where a light bulb went off and I realized that I had been sitting on all climbs and that perhaps standing occasionally might provide relief. Indeed, standing occasionally did eliminate the cramping for the return trip. I still need to figure out why I was cramping like this as I had not experienced this type of cramp before, but there has been much that's been unusual about the last week (traveling, tons of walking, a very hard bed, unusual routines, etc…).

There were few services along the route. We had hoped for sandwiches at the grocery store at the turnaround point as the restaurant options were known to be slow. No such luck. But even better, the restaurant next door had delicious potato and leek soup and bread fresh from the oven to our table within 2-3 minutes of sitting down and we were able to keep our break to a half hour. In common with many BC brevets, the Toronto ride started and ended at a Tim Horton's. We did not expect, however, the secret control staffed by Anne Pokocky, the ride organizer, to be so well stocked with Tim Horton's goodies. That Tim Horton's hot chocolate was a real treat. Thanks, Anne!

Louis and I completed the ride in exactly 12 hours, with a bit over 2 hours off the bike. In those 12 hours we had about one hour of moderate rain showers and a thunderstorm. We faced moderate winds from the west/north west on the return trip, but we were often protected from the winds by the hills - a mixed blessing. The temperature was quite comfortable, with a high around 20 C. I had ridden the 29 kilometers to the ride start, so I was incredibly grateful for Louis' offer to drive me back to York University.

The randonneuring community is a very special one, as was exhibited by the support and encouragement I received when I posted on the Ontario randonneur discussion list that I was going to be in Toronto at York University for a week and a half. A very special thank you goes to Eli Brettler, a professor at York U, who coincidentally was also in his second year of randonneuring. Beside providing me with great information and cycling maps, he took me on a bike tour of the countryside north of Toronto in the evening of my first full day and met me for lunch a couple days after the Glutebuster 200km to continue sharing stories. Many other Ontario randonneurs provided great route suggestions, descriptions of the Bewdley route, carpool offers to the start, or cycling ride offers that unfortunately did not fit my tight schedule. Thanks to all of you! I've truly enjoyed exploring Toronto (busy roads aside) and the surrounding countryside on my bicycle.

May 30, 2005