At 7am sharp on Day 2 (Sunday), misconceptionz showed up to pick me up for the drive to Blaze's house in Stoney Creek where we would start our ride. The three of us...tired...saddle sore...sun burnt from Day 1 were now joined by Jamie (some call him Shawn)...who was fresh and would help to lead our tired arses.
So by 7:45 the four of us were off to start Day 2...another journey...heading south and beginning almost immediately with a climb up the escarpment...200m of elevation over 1.5kms...a bit of a wall to warm up and get the heart rate spiked. Then it was about 8kms further south to catch the main group heading west towards Niagara...and that is where we hooked into the official ride.
At around 30kms in we hit the first aid station to refuel and refill water bottles...again the stations so well stocked to keep riders going...mixed nu-un for electrolytes, water, ice, and all varieties of food and snacks. Then somewhere after aid station 1 Blaze got Blaingry.
I'm not sure if him and misconceptionz had a lovers quarrel, or if I was starting to smell funny (very possible), or if he just missed his new pet possum, or more likely it was just the smooth pavement and the hefty tailwind...but he started going off on crazy attacks...ramping the speed up at every opportunity...slowing only when we needed to for traffic intersections...and attempting to drop us with a great pass around a large group right at the Welland canal. It was fun actually as he kept this going for the next 30kms or so...a little more invigorating than the casual, barley threshold pace and great training for the upcoming 24 hour race in two weeks. And at this pace we soon rolled into aid station two.
As part of the medical support team, the job was not only to enjoy the ride but to tend to medical incidents as necessary. And as we progressed into the early afternoon part of this became monitoring riders as to how they were managing the climbing temperatures. The 30 degree temperatures were accentuated by the heat reflecting off the pavement...and a tailwind was no help to cool one down. It was getting very, very hot!!
And you thought I wouldn't get a cat pic in!?
In all seriousness (not you Tom...), the only real incident our group had to tend to was when Blaze had to assist ambulance personnel tending to a rider who heat stroked and passed out while riding...breaking his helmet and sustaining a fair bit of road rash. But other than checking on riders as we passed them to make sure they were ok, that was it...for us. (there were other incidents that other groups of medical teams had to tend to...).
After more kilometers...and a couple of more aid stations...our easterly route eventually turned north...and into Niagara Falls to the finish of the official ride...to cheering crowds of volunteers and riders families...at about the 90km mark. There were celebrations going on...for so many finishing this ride is a marked accomplishment. And there was solid food...and there was...beer.
The official ride was over...but ours wasn't. After a small respite of food, water, (ok...and a beer...) we now had nearly 100km ride to get home...and the temps had risen dramatically. And we now had to head back west...the once friendly tailwind was now our nemesis. Adding to the drama...there were no more aid stations. And Blazes early attempts to wreak havoc with his attacks had now left him shattered. Blaze and misconceptions had not been riding much this season...and they were now spent. Jamie was OK...as he didn't ride Day 1...and I have been training for the endurance riding so I was OK (notwithstanding saddle sores).
So, off we went on the journey home...Jamie and I dragging Blaze and misconceptionz...and the occasional coffee shops were now our aid stations...
A bright happy misconceptionz.
A Blaze of glory...(yes, that is sweat salt on his jersey...)
Jamie...fresh as a spring daisy...almost.
Anyways...after what seemed like forever riding into the increasing headwind in scorching temperatures...we made it back to Blazes house...almost 7 hours of riding time...and 185kms...
We arrived to Laura's cheering...and to these fellas on Blaze's lawn...
Snappers...hope they didn't eat Blaze's new pet possum!!
Anyways...this is what this sport is all about (no..not the turtles...). It's about pushing your limits...it's about getting outside...nature...out of the air conditioning; but mostly it's about friends...and sharing a passion. So it was, once again...a great weekend!!
But...after a nearly 400km road bike weekend, it's going to be a long time before my saddle sore arse sees a road bike saddle again. Give me my mountain bike...give me the forest...the trails...into the thick of mother nature. More turtles, possums, deer, and foxes...even the rat cousin squirrels.
And friends to share it with...