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.