Well, this year I thought I’d try the challenge with Dan who’s a FAR better rider than I but luckily balanced with patience and the gamble paid off. We left Beasejour early in the am with perfect conditions plenty of water, food, and oodles of excitement. The first few miles ticked by easily until I got a flat and figured it was the beginning of the end only to find it was my rim strip (woohoo). A quick tubed change and electrical tape to replace the strip and we were back in action grinding away.
Yes, we had a scare or two with some B roads but karma was good and we rolled along in the sun eating cheese, pepperoni, gorp bars and skittles. Drifters Inn came quickly and coke was had and tweets were sent.
This is right around where the course gets interesting with TONS of lake traffic, a one lane bridge with traffic lights to alternate east/ west traffic and fast roads.
This asphalt lasts for a bit until finally crossing a bridge on 315 it turns into a crazy loose, dusty, washboard gravel road to test your patience. After that it’s really just a rough, heavily trafficked, twisty, dusty bike handlers dream.
The weather though was spectacular and I felt great. I had 5 litres of water on me almost the whole trip and I bet around 4000+ calories so I was not going to make the summer challenge #2 mistakes again.
Covered in dust and always alert to the 100 cars trucks and boats we shared the road with we eventually hit the Black Lake campground where we filled out with water and chatted with the crazy nice attendants. We were now ready to start the short stint to the first checkpoint the Ancient Mountains trail where luckily the traffic almost disappeared.
We tried to ride a bit but it got very technical and ended up hoofing it the mile or so.
Did I mention we locked the bikes up for the hike?
Well with that done and feeling great we headed off on loose, dusty gravel heading for Bisset where we hoping for some kind nonbike bag snack.
Second turtle sighting.
Seeing this we knew we were there and I picked up the pace looking for coke and such. Since it was July first there was a bbq / beer garden but when we arrived it was just down to beer and the locals sent us to the bar.
4 cans of pop each and a few bags of chip while giving the townies something to talk about we got ready for the night to come. I have to admit I was very surprised hot great I was feeling but didn’t want to get carried away and went with the flow.
From there it was lights out, a million bugs and roads which just got better and better. There was no traffic, my body felt great and my first experience with a dyno light was stellar. This is my favorite part of gravel riding, empty roads, great weather, a good friend and literally forgetting about everything but biking.
Now, of course this couldn’t last forever and as we hit the next checkpoint (Wood falls) I felt a bit sick and tried to puke. Thankfully it quickly past butas we rode I started to get crazy sleepy and fought the dream machine.
Dan helped talk me out of a hole thank goodness and that was one of my highlights of the ride, just being able to get motivated enough to grind away till sunrise. I did however, make the first of very few mistakes on the trip and only brought short finger gloves and as the weather cooled down and my body worked on reserves my hands started to get crazy cold. Dan remembered that he had two produce bags in his kit and I put them on as gloves and it was a god send. (After I got home I immediately put a pair of latex gloves in my frame bag like I have in the winter.)
Daylight came and we ground it out to breakfast in Pine falls.
Now we are in the last section, fed and ready to get it wrapped up. The roads were good until Stead where they were, well….
…………filled with evil gravel all the way to the beach and then worse for a bit after.
After the beach, we just rode steady and tried to beat the heat. Saturday was getting to be a cooker but I was cruising in on fumes thanks to over confidence combined with a lack of eating and drinking.
Last of the very few barns.
Dan pulled into town about a half hour or so ahead of me and we packed up and looked for food. It was a wrap and a mighty fine route with great weather. On a rainy day it would be extra tough, god forbid youd forget chain lube and bug spray.
Thanks Dan for helping a fella out and Hal for picking such a neat challenge.