Monday, September 14, 2009
Yours to Discover
That's what Ontario license plates proclaim.
My dream was different, that was to ride the Goddess in full form, the Cascade 1240K.
When Geoff a strong mentor and an early pathway to The Grand Randonee recommended the Ontario Anvil, how could I resist.
Life is a training ride!
Five years in McGill as a young man, no stranger to our English and French speaking Friends to the North. I had driven to Ottawa and visited a Friend in Toronto, travelled across the USA tunnel between Detroit and Windsor. Now I was about to really discover.
Five years in Montreal, twenty years ago, what flashback?
The words of Guy Pisapia, Lead Singer for the little known French Canadian Rock Band "The Box" that oddly enough sang only in English.
"this is the secret, that you keep within yourself, and never to forget. One sees well only with the heart, for what truly matters is invisible to the naked eye"
He goes on in gratitude for efforts that were spent and love that was given, and Proclaims in the Refrain "We will always be friends".
Through Geoff I would make another friend Dave.
I tried not to get uppity about this ride, its a training ride I always tell myself, reassuring myself again with "there are no big mountains there".
I was actually on a pretty tight schedule and I had to steal this one so to speak.
So plan was to fly in with the bike the day before the Randonee and bale the following morning.
A week before the ride I panicked! What if the airline does not bring the bike, that's happened before, there was no space in time for a fallback plan. Now the bike was the only reason for the trip, my imagination was running wild.
I responded by calling the airlines, what it would cost to move my flight a day earlier I could buy a whole new bike, I have very few and disorganized airline miles and had already paid through the nose for the flight. Ship it earlier I thought and remembered my Friend from the McGill days in Montreal, found him and he put his office at my disposal to clear the bike since it is an international shipment and I would arrive too late to clear it myself. I thank him greatly, but after the details and costs involved became clear, I opted to do what the airline agent advised.
Come early with the bike! This I did to find my flight canceled, I swallowed my bile and took the detour through Vancouver that put me even later into Toronto. The ride website had warned that the Start at Durham College in Oshawa was quite a drive from the airport. Once again my friend came to the rescue. Igbo Hospitality, he made sure I was fed thank you, 2 beers as part of the Carbo-loading my pain was alleviated some.
Now we both start thinking about the 3 hour drive God Bless him.
Arriving at Durham College late, late at night, I found a note from the Ride Organizer who I had been considerate enough to call about my late arrival. He left me my package bag and instructions to create 3 drop bags for the 3 overnite spots. Luckily my friend had an odd bag at the back of his truck, he loaned me the bag and left, so with my original SIR style single drop bag, the ride package bag and the loaner, 3 bags, now to divide everything from endurolytes to maltodextrin and extra clothes into 3. I still had not built my bike, to make a long story short I called Trudy who was working nites in Seattle for a time adjusted wake up call. After preparing my gear for a Randonee, I must have just passed out. The call came no more than One hour later and I woke up with the feeling Of sand in my eyes.
A Grand Randonee has a life of its own, it is long enough that if you are feeling good it could still cave in on you, that morning I was hoping for the corollary.
There is energy definitely at that first morning breakfast, the familiar faces for whom the long road is a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end.
Late bike inspection, crammed down breakfast and there was Geoff, he introduced me to Dave, the 3 of us would ride the whole thing together. I was glad I could trust Dr Spock with the logistics decisions, he has a clearer head even with a full nite of sleep.
So they slit the chains and we were off again, Day 1 was long hot and humid, keeping with the Creed; one control at a time, we passed through the Hockley Valley to Eugenia and then on to Victoria Harbor, everything was in English and French but only in Kilometers. We took the Taybike path to the overnite, I braved a cold shower as the hot water was out in the male bathroom and immediately had a back spasm that had me hurling into the porcelain bowl.
Emotionally strong, I slept on 6 chairs put together in 2 rows, when Geoff got me up, I craved more sleep and looked longingly at Mike Fox, who's eyes seemed to say, lets sleep more and ride harder later. Day 2 lots of short steep hills hot and humid made me grateful for an earlier start. We all agreed to nickname the Randonee the Gravel Anvil on account of the miles of gravel roadwork. We spent quite a bit of the day with Carol Bell, for whom I have the greatest respect since the 2008, C1200. Passing through Big Chute and Fenelon Falls (where Greg Courtney, I met at Last Chance and The Dudes 600XTR was concerned at the way I looked) I never felt good that Day, but Carol would have no negative talk, it was hard to suck it up. As we approached the overnite at Bancroft, some rollers allowed me to settle in my aerobars and to respond to the attacks that were now coming frequently. Not a good move as the hills persisted and I just felt worse. I fantasized about having 3 bags of lactated ringers via I.V.
Twenty something miles to Bancroft began to feel like an impassable chasm. Geoff and Dave stuck with me, we pulled over and a country homeowner let us use his hose, I was not the only one as an incidental rider on a mountain bike also sought reprieve from that humid heat. We stood around for long minutes waiting for cooler water to come out of the hose.
There is always a silver lining, for in Bancroft within walking distance of the Control was a Guesthouse Inn. A no-brainer we bought a room, Geoff kindly took care of my bike and I stayed in the Inn to try and recover. I took one bite and and a sip and brought it all out in the bathroom, I crawled into that beautiful bed.
There is no ill that 4 hours of sleep cannot cure, still I woke up very dehydrated. My 2 roomates were clearly concerned about my condition. I urged them to ride on without me if necessary. Dave dismissed this and Geoff reiterated what I already believe, that you ride with your head, know when it is time to say quits but this made my bonehead even thicker. First trial; breakfast at 0100, the sausage tasted good, but be careful with your gut. Rode first 500 meters and I already had bilateral muscle spasms. No panic I am missing salt and water, so I went "tout gauche" and threw caution to the wind downing water and endurolytes furiously till I was pee-ing buckets, that lost the spasms, now I had to pamper my gut as the heat and humidity began to rise.
I felt like I was being a drag on my room mates, but I just will not throw that power out without the Calorie base for it. Then came my Baptism in Lake Sharbot, for I ignored all the logistics babble removed all perishable items from my clothes and walked into that lake up to my neck in water. No asking! I was back!
At the overnite in Tyendinaga I was feeling no pain, I became an asset not a drag, I had 3 plates of food, 2 hours of restful sleep and it felt good to be the one saying to my friends "take your time, no hurry" while chomping at the bit.
A well oiled Englishman at a Bar in Bermuda many rains ago once asked me in jest (knowing I had come from Canada).
"Whats the difference between a canoe and a Canuck"?
"Every now and then a canoe tips" he answered his own question while covering me with inflammable air. He has no idea!
Our Friends to the North, they threw down a big post ride party
Where SIR gear and bling-bling go together.
Where what one girl fears in the night is another girls paradise.
Where old friends finally catch up
And Can-Am award recipients still have legs to stand on.
And the Organizer of this first time Randonee takes it all in.
We will always be friends