I'm not going to lie. I've been a long time gear head (ever since my first shitty car) and have loved anything with an engine since. Growing up I was always interested in how things worked and figuring them out on my own. Once in High School, I signed up for every auto shop class I possibly could while working at a local grocery store trying to save enough money for my first car. Once I had that first car at seventeen (and a Haynes manual in hand) I had to keep it on the road and was working on my $700 heap of crap every weekend. I learned alot in a hurry and my interest in motorized things was going from a bubble to a roaring boil.
A car just wasn't enough to keep me satisfied and after some time spent with ATV's and dirtbikes, I decided to get my motorcycle license on a whim one day. I woke up, drove to the drive-test center and wrote my M1 license test. I passed with flying colours. I got home an told my parents the good news, both of them looking at me very surprised as they didn't know I was going for my license (and in all honesty neither did I until that morning). My mom and dad were supportive, being motorcyclists themselves, and my mom offered up her bike for my maiden voyage. I quickly tossed on some jeans, a hoodie, and an old snowmobile helmet and roared out of the laneway on her 1986 Suzuki GR 650 Tempter. I muddled about the back roads near Delhi getting comfortable with the handling of the bike, the little parallel twin sewing machine humming away underneath me.
It was my first taste of motorized two wheel freedom (on pavement) and I knew I needed more. I returned mom's bike home with a full tank of fuel, smiling ear to ear. I pulled a copy of "Boat Bike & RV Trader" from the saddlebag that I picked up at the gas station and began studying each page. In the days before Kijiji we had to wait a week for each new issue, hoping to score that deal of a lifetime. My dad and I looked it over, lots of me pointing to a bike excitedly and him doing his best humm and haw. Finally we came to agreement on a good looking Yamaha in Woodstock. A phone call later and we were on the road.
It was a 1982 Yamaha Seca 550. The bike was mint and I put down my $1400 and loaded it on my trailer. This bike was so clean you could eat off it. My first motorcycle might have been plain Jane to everyone else, but to me it became an icon of freedom and speed. I still get starry eyed whenever I see one out in the wild. My vintage rocket, 550cc's of engine spread out over four cylinders, front disc brake and rear drum, chain drive, and pure fucking black with a red stripe that said "I'm sexy".
In all honesty the bike was a little slow, but it didn't matter to me. It would reach 140 km/h on a long flat stretch and the brakes were weak to say the least. In two years I put over 60,000km on it, commuting to work, pleasure cruising, and even some iron butt 500km+ days. That bike took me places, from lake shore vistas to the stop and go of city traffic, onto roads and places I didn't even know existed. We had some close calls too, nearly being run into a few times by distracted drivers. I had to learn quickly to ride like no one could see me and always assume that the guy at the stop sign is going to pull out in front of you.
One of my favourite rides was to head south out of Delhi to Turkey Point and head east along the lake shore passing through Port Dover, Nanticoke, Peacock Point, and eventually way down the lake shore to Fort Erie. I'd head north and grab some lunch at a retro looking diner in Niagara Falls (I don't even think the diner is open anymore, I can't remember the name) and either head home via Dunnville and Highway #3 or West on the QEW and over the Burlington skyway, around the north side of Hamilton and eventually south from Brantford on Cockshutt Road. I also did quite a few late night runs to Brantford to eat the huge hamburgers at Admiral Submarine and watch the drunks walk the streets after being kicked out of the bars.
I ended up selling that bike, which I still regret to this day. I did own another Seca 550 a few years later but it was a heap of shit to be honest and having a toddler and a baby made the insurance hard to pay for. I'm bike-less now but I know that my motorcycle days are far from over. I can feel the itch every now and again. I keep teasing myself by dropping in at the local toy store and drooling over machines like the FZ-09, the V-Strom, even the Harley Davidson Iron 883. I dream of bikes I will never afford from the likes of Triumph and Ducati. I spend time looking at 2-3 day routes around Ontario or the Great Lakes, imagining putting on big miles over a few long days. A new bike might not happen today, or tomorrow, but I can see one far off in the future. Besides, my midlife crisis is only 8 years away and I'm guaranteed a new motorcycle then..... or a sports car...... nope, fuck that, it will be a motorcycle.
Just imagine... you're having a great ride deep in the backwoods with nothing but yourself and the sounds of your tires on dirt and birds chirping, miles away from civilization. Just as you're enjoying the ride, the urge strikes and nothing is going to hold it back. Maybe you had a few too many tacos the night before or forgot to take the pre-ride dump, either way you need to get yourself out of the woods without toasting your riding shorts. If you're a rugged bushman you won't be a stranger to the bush dump, but some people are shy about having a crap in the woods and need some inspiration. Here are a few good tips for the "Bush Dump" that I've learned on my own, and with some guidance from dad in my younger years (he is the bush dump master).
Location, Location, Location
You need to scout out some good terrain for your bush crap. The best areas are flat and open with soil that can be easily dug. Keep away from the trail and any water source by at least a few hundred feet. Make sure the area is clear of nasty things like poison ivy. Watch out for signs that others have used the same spot for their bush dumps, they are usually marked by a stick pointing out of the ground or a set of sticks in a cross, this is common bush etiquette.
Dig it out
Time to dig your hole. Luckily the typical stiff soles of cycling shoes make digging a hole nice and easy. Dig down about six inches and large enough for your deposit. You're not digging to China here, just taking a dump.
I'm a fan of the good old fashioned squat. Some people will hang onto a tree or sit over a log, even hold hands with a dump buddy (if thats your thing), but the squat can't be beat. Every other animal out in the bush does the squat, you should too.
Keep it Clean
Good thing you're like me and packed a flattened out roll of toilet paper in your hydration pack. If you're a racer type and skip the TP in the name of weight savings, you're going to have a bad day. Look for an inviting leaf or pinecone, even birtch bark will work in a pinch (haha, pun) and get you feeling closer to nature. If you have a sensitive posterior like some of the lycra-clad XC geeks, you are going to be riding out with one sock. Refill your hole and burn the TP (be careful, only you can prevent forest fires). No lighter? Start rubbing sticks together or stuff your pockets, don't leave your TP out there to float in the breeze. Mark your hole with sticks as mentioned earlier.
There you have it. Now you hold the knowledge and can escape a back country bush dump without making your favourite riding outfit look like a 9-month-old's onesie after eating three servings of beans. Follow these simple rules and leave no trace, don't be the asshole that shits in the woods and leaves it like a dick for someone else to stumble into.
When you gotta go you gotta go.
Its no secret by now that my fatbike frame is cracked and I sold my trusty Norco. I enjoyed my time on the Norco Torrent (review here) but needed less of a "go fast" bike and something more along the lines of a quiver killer. I set my sights on the RSD Sergeant from a relatively new company based right here in Ontario. These guys are big into the fat and plus bike scene and have incredible value for the dollar, not to mention well spec'd bikes with no corners cut. Customer service at Rubber Side Down is top notch. I placed my order late on a Sunday night and I had an email Monday morning from Alex, the head honcho at RSD, thanking me and providing my tracking number. Wow.
So, here it is, the RSD Sergeant.
The bike has what I'm calling a "super spec". I can only find one part I don't like, but more on that later. It comes with 27.5" x 3" tires, but do some nosing around the interwebs and you'll find that it can swallow 27.5" x 3.8" tires from Maxxis and Bontrager. A true two bikes in one, or a fatty with a narrow Q factor (73mm bb shell). I'll be rocking the 3" tires for everything but snow, whereas I'll toss on some 3.8" tires. I can't wait to put some miles on this bike and will do a full review after putting it through its paces.
The only part I don't like right off the hop is the cassette. Nothing wrong with the cassette but its a cheaper Sram model with no carrier body and mounted to an aluminum freehub. Tisk Tisk! This is a recipe for a completely fucked freehub body and I'm changing out the cassette before I even ride it. Would have been a non-issue with a steel freehub body.
The rest of the build is tough looking with a 34mm stanchion fork, 4 piston Avid brakes, and Race Face Turbine cranks. There are a few nice touches too, like Race Face grips, Avid matchmaker clamps, and genuine brand name handlebars / stem / post that you don't see alot of for OEM. My completely stock large weighs in at 31 lbs.
Five years ago I strolled into Ancaster Cycle just to nose around and day dream of owning more bikes. I wandered the shop and inspected each mountain bike they had then move towards the roadie side of the rack where I noticed a black and white bike with disc brakes. Upon closer inspection I found myself drooling over the Norco CCX3, a do-it-all style of CX bike that I would categorize as a gravel-cross-commuter. I was strangely drawn to this bike, never having the urge to own a CX bike before. I returned home and did some humming and hawing before digging up some cash and heading back to Ancaster to make the Norco mine. I remember my wife's puzzled look when I wheeled it in the door, as it looked like a road bike at first glance and I'm not a road going kind of guy.
After adding some bottle cages and clipless pedals I was off to see what this rig could do. My first ride was down the Lynn Valley Trail to Dover, then across Radical Road to Hay Creek for some light trail riding before riding pavement back to Simcoe.
I did some awesome rides in its first year. A few trips to Brantford and back via the rail trail, a tour of the area surrounding Port Burwell including a closed section of Lakeshore Road.
On year two, the bike became mostly a kiddie hauler. I had the Chariot trailer hooked up almost permenantly and cover alot of miles pulling my son while he slept most of the way.
Year three was alot of the same as year two, pulling a trailer. Although now my son would stay awake and watch the interesting things go by. One of the kid's first words was "bike".
Year four started out with a major overhaul. Complete disassembly and clean / lube job. I finally washed away the years of road grime it had worn like a badge of honour. I spent alot of time again pulling a trailer, now with the added weight of my daughter along for the ride. Lots of funs times had with the three of us, stopping at each park to play wherever we would go. The trailer saw so much use it needed an overhaul too including new tires and some minor repairs.
Year five (2016) and shit got real. I decided to push the bike hard and see when it would push back. I made a few more modifications to the bike and off I went, logging the most miles of any year I had it. I did some mixed surface rides, doing pavement out to Turkey Point then riding the singletrack for a little cyclocross action. I also did the TillsonBurn ride this year, pushing outside of my comfort zone. I rode it in the ice and snow, the rain, the mud, and the burning hot sun.
After this year of hard riding, it needs some attention again. Nothing a little elbow grease and spit shine can't fix. The crap conditions are here and the fatbike will get all the glory for the next couple months, which gives me lots of time to refurb the CCX and do some more tweaking of my setup. Its been an excellent companion and proven to be very tough, never leaving me stranded. Funny how I had never given the thought of a CX bike as a serious do-it-all machine, and after buying it on a whim it became one of my all time favourite bikes. Here's to many more years on this awesome bike.
My setup as of now:
Frame - 2012 Norco CCX3 (bought the bike in 2011)
Fork - Norco cromoly CCX
Headset - Kore
Stem - stock Norco
Handlebar - Salsa Cowbell
Shifters - Shimano Sora 9 speed
Derailleurs - Shimano Sora front, Shimano SLX rear
Cassette - Shimano XT 32-11
Crankset - FSA
Wheels - Alex Black Dragon
Tires - Specialized Trigger 42c
Brakes - Avid BB7 road
Post - FSA
Saddle - Specialized Power
Pedals - Shimano PDM-520
I've had this certain ride on my "biking bucket list" for a while now. I wanted to ride from home out to the long closed up Little Lake Conservation Area and explore the area a bit. I was up nice and early on a Sunday morning so it seemed like the right time to check it out. I really enjoy Hay Creek (another closed camp ground) and the trails / old roads within it and thought Little Lake would be worth the look. I was out just after sunrise, leaving town via the Waterford Heritage Trail. At this early hour I had the entire trail to myself.
I really enjoy the Heritage Trail. Its a short (10km) ride from Simcoe to Waterford where it brings you through the old Co-Op silos and the Black Bridge, an old train trestle where you can get a birds eye view of the Waterford Ponds.
I left Waterford after a nice break / photo op and continued my quest North. This section from Waterford to Brantford is not as heavily used as the more Southern end of the trail and makes for a nice escape from the general population. I didn't see another soul for the entire ride from Waterford to Concession 3. Once at Concession 3, it was time to hit the open road and turn West towards my destination along the quiet back roads of Norfolk.
After grinding along I finally reached my destination, the old Little Lake Conservation area. I remember driving past this camp ground when I was younger and it being open. I'd have to guess its been closed for just over a decade, although I can't remember exactly when. I headed into the gate, hoping to find lots of neat abandoned roads and campsites. I did come across the foundation of the old camp office, but the roads where so overgrown it was tough to get anywhere. I tried pushing through but the brush was too thick. I'll have to come back one day in the fall / winter when the brush isn't so thick. It was a disappointment.
I left the camp ground and began my southern route back home. I took the opportunity for more photos in Teeterville at the Teeterville Pond, a man made reservoir with a dam on Big Creek. I have canoed this pond many times with my father and brother when we were young.
Just a bit more South from Teeterville is the little Hamlet of Windham Centre. I checked out the closed up Windham Public School where I attended middle school, which has stood empty for a number of years.
The crown jewel of Windham Centre is the WinDel Park. A baseball and soccer field that is heavily used. Out at the very back of the park though is another abandoned slice of history, The Windel Velodrome. Built in 1972 but it has been unused for many years, its one of the only Olympic Size velodromes in the province and the only outdoor one. The sad old velodrome is in bad shape, its asphalt cracked and weeds growing out of it, the surrounding grassy area over grown, and the lane markers barely visible. I cranked up the good ole CX bike and tore around the track like hell, dodging the renegade shrubbery as I tried to keep my speed up enough to ride high on the banked corners. I was surprised how much speed I was carrying and held a line just below the red center marker. It was a fun sprint but I decided that a few laps were enough as I still had some distance to cover back to Simcoe and my water was running low, not to mention my legs felt pretty heavy at this point.
The rest of the ride through Rattlesnake Harbor and Nixon was a nice quiet country stroll followed by some rail trail back home. I ended up riding nearly 60km and was back home for lunch, it was great. Even though Little Lake was a bust, I had a good time wandering the lonely roads. I've already formulated a plan in my head to get back to Little Lake CA on my fat bike when the brush is thinner in the fall so I can explore the old campground and beyond (Google Earth shows some promising looking stretches of dirt in the bush nearby). It was a typical Sunday adventure.
I was out the door by 6:30. I planned on a ride to Dover and back with some breakfast at the pier but shortly after leaving town on the LVT the forecasted rain started. I hoped I would beat it but luck was not in my favour. I decided to cut it short and bail on my plans, hitting the road at the next crossing. I headed back towards Simcoe along some back roads and came into town through some of the old industrial area. The rain had let up some and I was plodding along slowly taking in the scenery of the derelict buildings when I came across one particular gem that caught my eye.
I took a walk around the outside of the building, looking for anything interesting to photograph when I came across an exterior door that was just ever so slightly opened. I approached the door, hidden by dense bush but with a "deer path" through the vegetation up to it, and pulled it open slowly.
It was pitch black inside and the only things I could see were building debris illuminated by the sliver of sunlight that the door granted passage. I had no flashlight with me to explore any deeper so I decided that the best I could do was step into the dark and use my camera flash to see inside, seemed smart at the time but looking back it seemed more like one of those stupid mistakes that the person about to die in a horror film makes. Two steps in the door and I took a photo in the blackness with the camera flash bursting a moment of light into the black. I looked down at my camera screen to see what I had caught when I heard a sound.
I froze in my tracks as I heard a faint whistle, the kind you use to try and get someones attention. I was standing in the pure black darkness, crippled in fear by the whistle when the muffled voices started, followed by footsteps. I panicked and turned around running out the door and through the bushes to my bike. I stood there, twenty feet or so from the open door, waiting for someone to come out of the abyss inside. It felt like an eternity I stood there waiting. No one ever came out but I had the feeling of being watched from within the darkness. I jumped on my bike and began riding away through the abandoned area, looking back expecting to see someone, but only felt eyes on me. What person or dark force had I disturbed? The feeling of dread was lifted from my shoulders as soon as I had left sight of the door.
I rode back through town to home, reliving the experience in my mind over and over. In all likely hood I only disturbed a vagrant or another would-be explorer, but I don't care to ever go back in that door again.
The plan was to ride, as long as the rain would hold out..... or at least not come down like cats and dogs. My cousin and fellow rider Kyle met me at my place and after fixing a flat on my CX bike we were off on our ride without a plan. Our loose idea is that we would pass through Port Dover at some point and that we wanted to ride some pavement, gravel, and singletrack along the way.
We rode some renegade trails in Simcoe then onto the rail trail system to head it out of town. Another flat tire on the CX bike gave us a bit of a breather while I replaced the tube. My patch job from earlier in the day didn't hold up, so I swapped the tube out and packed the old one to try patching again back at home.
We decided to get off the LVT on Lynn Valley Road so we could tackle the climb up the start of Ryerse Road. It was a hard go but we toughed it out. We carried on through a bit of drizzle and finally arrived at the old Hay Creek Conservation Area. The Conservation Area is home to a winding network of hidden singletrack, it was fun but also a bit sketchy at times. The wet roots and skinny tires on the CX bike didn't get along too well.
We headed down Radical Road, following two fully loaded touring cyclists the entire way. A bit of time spent at the Pier and we decided on a lunch a Willie's.
Upon leaving Dover, the dark skies broke and the sun came out. We rode back towards Simcoe on the LVT, stopping the check out the Lynn River along the way, scouting out possible future canoe / kayak routes. Once in Simcoe, we dropped into the Brook Conservation Area for more trail fun and checking out the dam on the river. We stopped for a little photo op and cyclocross action.
We even happened upon some local wildlife. A deer nibbling on some tender leaves, a snapping turtle crossing the trail. All good things that brought together a great ride. We ended up with just over 35km and lots of laughs and stories told between us.
It wasn't an epic ride, or a soul crushing test of metal, or even a winding singletrack trip, but it was a really great just-two-guys-riding-their-bikes kind of ride. Nothing to prove, no one to impress, going our own pace, and just going with wherever the road takes us. It reminded us of our trips around the back country near Delhi and Teeterville from years ago..... but those are stories for another day. Ride on!
I've realized (after a few emails) that some of you might have noticed that I'm posting less on the blog. Fear not, as I'm still in the game and have a few things coming down the pipe soon. My free time has been limited as of late and I've spent what time I have riding rather than writing. I'm about to have a bit of a schedule shift in life and should have some more free time in the evenings after the kids go to bed, which will let me blog on the couch beside Mrs. Bric while she watches her shows.
I'm also going to focus more on quality articles and stories rather than ride reports consisting of photos and "It was a great ride" kind of thing, it gets boring after a while. The great photos will keep coming though. I'm also planning on doing some more "away" rides this year and more riding with groups which will undoubtedly spur some interesting stories. I'm also reliving my youth and writing about adventures of years gone by that will be slowly published over the next year.
Stay tuned everyone! Thanks for reading!
I woke up at 3:30. I was wide awake and staring at the bedroom ceiling, excited about my ride today but also dreading having my soul crushed. The steady rain for the last two days have made everything a soaking wet mess, and the cold is just going to make it tougher. I'm diving in head first, knowing full well that this will be one of those rides where throwing in the towel will cross my mind several times. I won't want to even look at a bike for the next week. I eat my breakfast and pack my bag, checking out the window every few minutes to see if everything had miraculously dried up. The cold window fogs as I breathe on it, looking at the wet road in front of my house. The weather forecast is -1 degree all morning, feeling like -8. I had better pack my cold weather gear today, and as much waterproof stuff as I own. And wool..... lots of wool.
I step out into the cold and dark morning with my bag in hand, its chilly out here. The truck warms up as I strap down my bike and throw my gear in the back seat. A little bit of windshield de-icing and I'm off, heading towards Indigo Lounge in Tillsonburg for the start. I'm there early, only three other people so far. It gives me a chance to chat with the mastermind of the TillsonBurn, Jeff Ward. He has put alot of work into planning this ride and it shows. The route map has thoughtfully put together loops that will get the most out of the local gravel roads and hills, lots of hills.
Everyone is rolling in now. I put on my gear and wait for the riders meeting, all while shaking like a leaf in the cold morning. I'm eager to get started and warm myself up, its just too cold to stand still. Before long we are organized into a group, arranged by speed / skill level. I keep near the back, knowing that I'll be stopping for photos and going my usual slow and steady pace.
We set out. Its a one hundred(ish) bike parade through town and out to the Participark. Its not long before we get into our first bit of real mud near highway #3. Its slippery goo and my CX bike is having trouble maintaining traction along this stretch of beat up ATV trail. I start to wonder if a mountain bike might have been a better idea but there is no going back now. I slog through it, using what grip I could get from the 42c tires, and eventually make it to the gravel roads. "At last" I think to myself but little did I know that my struggles were just beginning. Not long into the gravel and the hills started.
Once into the climbs, the mass group starts to split up into smaller groups of similarly skilled riders. I'm suffering on the climbs but a quick glance behind me and I can see the same on everyone else's face. At least I'm not alone. Chit chat along the route with my old friend Donny, and new friend Don, and they assure me that there are no more tough hills and that there are only a few more km to go. I know better and laugh it off.
With each passing climb the group breaks up more and more. Before long I find myself flying solo. I keep my head down and grind out the miles along the country roads, following the orange arrows and hoping like hell I don't miss one. I pass the odd rider and am passed by other in return. One thing I notice is how diverse the group of riders is today. There is everything from full on racing minded guys, to fat bikes, there is even some vintage iron out here today. Some riders are experienced veterans, some are brand new to riding and just trying to slog it out. One thing we all have in common is that we are having fun. And suffering..... lots of suffering.
Miles in and we drop in off the road into a field. Its a hard go in the soft muck but I'm doing the best I can to keep on top of it and moving forward. We enter the first real trail section of the day and the mayhem really begins. I go in following a fat bike, which has no problem riding the soft wet trail, who quickly drops me as I fight the bike to stay upright. I mash on the pedals frantically, trying to keep my lowest gear moving me forward as I'm bogging down in the muck. The Norco is great on mixed surfaces but has a really tough time with full on mountain bike type trails. Its slow in these trails but makes up for it everywhere else.
A little ways through the singletrack and I come across a rather tough looking downhill. Its steep and straight down, with a sharp corner at the bottom. The surface is battered and slippery. I have my first "fuck it" moment and get off the bike to walk down. I'm frustrated that I didn't ride the downhill out but the penalty for failure could mean that I don't finish the ride. I'd rather do the walk of shame then have to ride out in an ambulance.
Back out onto pavement and my legs are screaming at me. I'm doing what I can to spin them up and work the knots out, but the mental games are beginning. I'm working hard at mind over matter right now. I can't feel most of my toes in my left foot and I can't feel my right foot at all. My hands are killing me from being smashed by drop bars in the singletrack. The next road section of soft sand has my legs burning and my arms numb as I try to pick a line through the wet sinkholes along the way. My first thought of quitting crosses my mind. I'm near 40km in and just keep telling myself "only 10 more to go" even though I know its going to be over 60km by the end. I think of the shame I'd have if I quit now. I've got to keep moving on, I don't want to have to show up in Tillsonburg in the orange van of shame, the "quitter-mobile" I call it in my head.
I block out the noise in my own head and all of my self doubt. I know I can finish this. I am able to hype myself up enough to get a second wind of sorts and hammer on. More miles grind out and I eventually arrive at the rest stop area. I enjoy a banana and some gatorade mix and get a chance to warm up my feet at the fire. Its only a short while before I can finally feel my feet again, its seems that my double wool socks and winter SPD boots are no match for some of the chilling winds out there on the open road sections. I'm back on the bike and into another trail section after the rest stop. I get through the singletrack and onto an old roadway that has been long forgotten and nearly taken back by mother nature. I stall out and walk the long gentle climb to Bell Mill Side Road. Some of the fastest guys running the 100km route are passing me now, they go by me like I'm standing still, which makes me up my mental game to keep from giving up out of frustration.
I emerge from the last trail section, knowing that there isn't far to go now. I pedal into the headwind back into Tillsonburg, the thought that the ride will be over soon it the carrot on the stick for me right now. My legs are shot, I've been running on empty for a while now. I feel like laying down on the side of the road and crying myself to sleep. I eventually cross over Highway#3 again and am in the town limits of Tillsonburg. As I ride down Simcoe St I get a renewed sense of vigor and attack the climb up Tillson Ave. I make it most of the way before completely bonking out and granny gearing it the next few blocks.
Pulling into Indigo Lounge, I am broken but smiling. I can barely stand, I'm out of energy and running on adrenaline only at this point. The endorphins and adrenaline, coupled with the sense of accomplishment, have me feeling a little euphoric.
I did it, I beat the TillsonBurn. According to my GPS the "50km" route was 63km. I've never done such a tough / long ride so early in the year. I guess all that winter fat biking paid off and kept me in somewhat decent enough shape to ride this out. I'm quite happy with myself as I've checked off the first box on a list of achieved personal accomplishments that I hope to fulfill this year. On the flip side, I'm so worn out and hurting that I don't want to even look at a bike for the next week. Its going to take a few days for my cement legs to loosen up anyways. The gravel roads, trails, and climbs have worn me down.
I'd like to extend my personal thanks to Jeff and all the other volunteers for the countless hours spent organizing such a great ride. His commitment to 'The Burn' and his fellow riders was easy to see today and he was happy just having people come out for the ride. His vision brought together a very diverse family of riders, making memories and stories for them that will be remembered for years to come. The ride was completely free of charge, but any donations made were going towards the purchase of a bicycle(s) for disadvantaged children. These selfless acts make him a champion of the local cycling community and I hope that he continues to put on this ride for years to come, I'll be there each time. Thank you Jeff!
I can't wait to bring on the pain again for TillsonBURN 2017!
Sometimes you need to go the hard way and test your metal, to see what you are really made of. This is why I've decided that I'll tackle the TillsonBurn ride this year. Its going to be the "short" loop for me, which is 50km or so of gravel roads and trails with lots of hills tossed in. We are less than a week away so I thought I should get a dry run in and and see if my metal is up to the task at hand come Friday. I hopped aboard my trusty cross bike and decided to make a loop of 50km comprised of road and trail to somewhat mimic what I had ahead of me.
I left Simcoe via the Lynn Valley Trail, one of my usual ways of getting out of town. The air was still cold and each breath was a could of steam from my nose. I imagined myself as a coal powered locomotive, puffing steam with each rotation on the cranks. The trail was quite as it was still quite early and cold for the dog walking and trail running crowds.
Once out of town I left the limestone pathway of the Lynn Valley Trail and onto the asphalt of Lynn Valley Road. My first test of metal was just ahead of me, a gruelling short climb up the North tip of Ryerse Road. I held each gear as long as I could, frantically downshifting just as I was about to stall out, until I reached my granny gear. I kept my legs turning and my eyes looking ahead to the crest, eventually besting the hill. The morning cold seemed to have burnt away while under full power and I was warm now, although breathing hard. I made my way down Ryerse Road pointed South towards the lake. A quick stop at Hay Creek for a water and pee break and I was in Port Ryerse before I knew it.
The next few miles along Front Road would be a tough set of short hills. The first of which was up and out of Port Ryerse travelling West, a short but punchy climb that had me sweating. A few miles of rolling hills and lake shore scenery and I was descending into Fisher's Glen which is home to the infamous descend-hairpin turn- cilmb of Front Road. The climb out of Fisher's Glen can be brutal, it seems like you go from the lowest point in the county to the highest in one short steep climb. I reached the top, gasping for air but exhilarated at the same time. So far my dry run was going well and I was crushing these climbs one after another.
I throttled down a bit and spun my way into Normandale and up to the dead end of Mole Side Road, the popular staging area for the Turkey Point trails. This would be the trail section of my "test of metal". As I rolled into the TP trailhead I met, by chance, with Russ who was heading out to do some training with his new trail dog Ryder. Ryder was super excited and bouncing through the woods along the trails. A little bit of chit chat and we went our own ways, each of us having spoken of our commitment to doing the "Burn" on Friday. I rode in on the Finn and Feather trail, then on through Dizzy Lizzy where I met up with the TPMBC gang. They were heading to the dump property and I decided to hang with the group as I was heading that way anyways.
The cross bike wasn't too bad at keeping up with the full on mountain bikes, although after being repeatedly jarred along trails like The Stroller and Methane my wrists were crying in pain. It seems that 42c tires and drop bars are not as pillowy comfortable as four inch fat tires and flat bars. We rode out of the dump and out to Motorhead where I really tested the limits of the CX bike on the big rollers, bridges, and minor jumps along the trail. This sure isn't the kind of bike you want to "get loose" on, some of it was downright scary. After Motorhead (during which I always have the song 'Ace of Spades' playing in my head, RIP Lemmy) I hit the road again for the ride back towards Simcoe.
Back on the road and I was moving North towards the four corners of Walsh. I moved quickly from TP to Walsh but was running out of steam now with about 10km or so to go before hitting home. I turned onto a concession road and was hit by a nasty headwind. It wouldn't have been so bad but I was really starting to feel the burn and the wind was kicking my ass. I found a good gear and just kept churning the pedals, I felt as if I was riding through oatmeal. Lots of effort with little payoff.
I put my head down and kept moving. Before long I was riding back into Simcoe along Evergreen Hill Road, just a few km through town and I would be home. My test of metal complete. Once I pulled into my laneway I nearly collapsed, my legs felt like huge rubber bands. My GPS says I did 49km, but it always reads lower than my bike computer for some reason (I've tested this on a few bikes, all the same results) so I'd have to hazard a guess that I was actually closer to 53-54 km.
My test of metal felt successful, I think I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be for the TillsonBurn but I'm sure I'll still have my ass kicked by the terrain and the weather. I'm really just hoping to survive the ride without having to call Mrs. Bric to pick me up along the route, and I want to keep myself from crying too. I don't mean crying the sense of "my brakes are dragging" either, I mean that I hope I don't give up and sob myself to sleep in a puddle of my own urine on the side of the road. That would be embarrassing.
Can't wait to have my ass kicked and my soul crushed on Friday! See you out there.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.