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. Continue reading “Summer Challenge #4”
So we started with me jumping in at the last minute, a day early and apparently unprepared. Dan had told me the week before at M.E.C that I should get a water filter and a couple dehydrated meals and being a flake I ignored him and chose to go at the challenge with minimal food and some cash.
The roads and Trans Canada trail were great right off the hop with little problems and only small changes to the pre- planned route. The weather was great and since it was a 5 pm Friday start the heat was a non-issue.
At this point the lights came out and my favorite part of the summer challenge was about to happen, the fast gravel night riding where monsters are lurking just outside of your vision. We bombed our way to Rossburn and decided to camp at the church\ campground for the night since we though Graham and Mark were staying there. The locals were just coming out of the bar and everything was closed so it was a nervous sleep for the few hours I got while the locals ripped around in their cars and were just basically drunk loud. Mark and Graham were never to be seen in town.
The morning came and we tried to eat something but I couldn’t really even though Pete offered me a bag of noodles so we headed off after hitting the local gas bar for coke.
At the Deep Lake entrance we bumped into the ranger and he said the central trail was fast and mowed . He even went so far as to say we could do about 20 km and hour likely on the mowed track. I had planned on hitting the mandatory park check points then heading out of the park to speed up the route but his recommendation made us all change our minds and hit the trail all the way through the park. We had a new plan and that moment along with the M.E.C conversation, were the nails in the coffin for me.
The Tilson Lake trail started off awesome and was a fun roller coaster ride for about 14.5 km when we hit what was the Central trail I think for about 41.5 km till the Whitewater camp ground . This section was PURE SUFFERING for me . I went through a ton of my limited water and I wasn’t eating any of my crappy food. It was just a 10 km\h slog through freshly cut grass about 4-6″ deep. The picture of me above taken by Pete sums up my ride in this section. I have never suffered that much on a bike, ever…….not even close.
Once we got to the Whitewater campground we chilled for a few minutes only to hear a loud happy group tear into the clearing and who would it be but Dan and Hal. They looked awesome and were in great spirits. They were taking the course as I had originally planned and we told them to avoid the central trail and get the heck out of the park. Of course they did because they are sensible and the rest of their rocket ride is history (or soon to be when they post). They did give us the lowdown on the rest of the trail to Wasagaming since they were going in the opposite direction of us. It was a positive conversation and even though I was feeling extremely dehydrated and out of energy ( since I packed the crappiest non tasty food possible) we were off and ready for the world.
We hit Lake Audy for a quick break and to get some water and although it seemed to me like I was the only one suffering the boys seemed to appreciate the rest. From there we rode some sweet roads with a pile of climbing and road a absolutely CRAZY trail that literally splits South Lake from Clear Lake. We were carrying our bikes in a few sections because the trail was just logs piled up keeping you out of the water. Sadly I didn’t take any pictures because at this point I was in full on survival mode.
We finally arrived in Wasagaming and I was as thrashed as could be but luckily we found a great restaurant to eat and sit. Moments later the happiest guys in Manitoba showed up and joined us for supper. Mark and Graham were just all smiles and great stories. Their positive attitude was infectious but I was in a hole and was just barely staying awake. Ian and I decided that if we could get a room it might be a little better than the ground for sleeping so we cruised town for something / anything. We ended up with a sketchy room and I pretty much passed out after a shower. Yep, that’s why I don’t get invited to parties.
Sunday started and I felt better. The coffee shop was open and things were looking up. The roads were fast and smoothish and the BEST DOWNHILL EVER was the lead up to the Reeves Ravine trail for us, life was great.
Just looking at the pictures reminds me of how fun this section was, I need to go back and ride it again.
The trails we rode were Burls and Bittersweet and a leg of Reeves ravine which are fun but an absolute poison ivy nightmare . That and the humidity was kicking my ass, it was like riding in a sauna. I left the trail a bit wore down but pumped for what I though was going to be a short ride to a close town for lunch, Man was I deluded.
Once we hit 86W heading south and a bit of breeze hit us.It was just the slighest but that was enough for the wheels to fall off and I was just in survival mode. Grinding away towards Kelwood where I though I could get a sandwich or some other pile of calories I just let my mind wander and legs grind away. We hit the town, went in the general store and grabbed a coke, banana and a V8. I sat on a bench trying to pump myself up for what seemed to be a million miles to the finish.
The last 40 km were evil. I stopped a million times to get my shit together ( just barely might i add and I have witnesses to prove it) and swore next time I’d listen to advice from wiser friends. Eventually we got within a few km of Niverville and the boys waited for me yet again so we could ride the last bit together. Those kids are pure class.
Here’s a list of roughly what I ate and drank all weekend and its pretty ugly.
1/2 a banana
3 cokes + 2 glasses
1 cup of coffee
1 cup of pasta from Pete
1 pack of tums
2 pepperoni sticks
4 Laura bars
4 granola bars
1/3rd of a Greek salad
10 liters of water
Thanks for the fun, painful weekend Pete and Ian. I hope to do it with you again next year but I promise I’ll come prepared. Although I did come prepared to suffer this year so that’s something:)
238 miles= 386 km
Total time 47.5 hours
Ride time 30 hours 36 minuites
Dan picked me up at 5am and we were headed to La Broquerie to get this challenge started. I was feeling very optimistic about the day although it was already a warm 22 Celsius out. We got to the edge of town with ease and after a few pack adjustments I said farewell to my support system and headed out on a slightly altered route than planned. Because of the heat and a nice paved road heading north to Richer being available, I chose to forgo the gravel back road zigzag alternative route and headed on the easier hwy 302.
The run on 302 was nice, easy and there were plenty of pictures taken. Sadly I’d loose my camera later so you’ll just have to trust me. Once in Richer I quickly grabbed 2 liters of Gatorade and filled my bladder and handheld. I was now confident I was ready for the dreaded Richer to Hadashville section.
I noticed my salt pills, iPhone (for pictures) and map were missing around forestry road 29 and 19’s intersection. I still had a Garmin GPS and i knew the route, so that was good. However, instead of turning around to find my stuff I decided to plug along. I had 3.5 liters of water with me when i left richer and i felt great. My confidence was high and i felt like I was making great time and I was determined to get it done.
The heat was pretty oppressive but luckily I had mostly overcast skies and a cool breeze on occasion.I passed about 10 quads who were very polite and that made me feel no so alone. Sadly i guess I was burning thru water at a much faster rate than expected and i ran out around forestry road 26 and 31. I was a bit concerned but still felt okay so I thought Id just just take the pace down and grind out the rest. About a mile or two later I made my second biggest mistake. A fellow on a quad drove up behind me asking if I was okay. I gave him the thumbs up and he drove off. From then it went downhill so fast it was like a bad movie.
My legs started cramping up bad, my hands started to tingle and the dreaded breathing echoing in my head came. When I hear my breathing echoing in my head I know I’m done and I’d usually pull out. Where I was though there was no real bail point point to safety. My GPS isn’t as detailed as the maps so as I was texting Dan to come get me I couldn’t give him a location other than Hadashville. That was about 9-10 miles away and too far for my situation. I muddled along starting to freak out a little inside when my legs were starting to get all jelly like.
I eventually dragged myself down an access road to connect with the highway (deviating from my intended fireguard road to #1 intersection) when a fellow came up behind me in a truck. I waved him down and asked for a ride to the highway or Hadashville. Oddly enough he was the fellow I heard all day shooting guns off in a gravel pit kinda freaking me out. He told me to jump in and after driving no more than a mile we hit #1. I had to ask him to pull over and I started what would be a multi hour pukefest. Dan the savior met me at the junction and before I left the driver (I can’t reminder his name i was so out of it) i offered him cash but he wasn’t interested. That kid has some good karma heading his way im sure of it.
Safely in Dan’s car with the a.c blasting we’d stop occasionally so I could throw up what little liquid I’d ingested. Ice cream wasn’t looking to be an option for me or a quick lunch for that matter. We did a slow drive down my previous route where I think I’d lost my stuff but nothing was to be found other than the maps. The iPhone and salt pills were a goner.
3.5 liters of water on hand (6.5 liters consumed total)
22 Celsius to start and 39 Celsius with humidity to finish
46.5 miles in 9.08 hours
A spot that doesn’t seem to work continuously. Maybe its due to proximity to my phone and handheld gps?
One pissed off wife (with good reason)
Well the drive out to Virden was chatty, happy go lucky and dark. Everyone was unsure about what the next day would bring and that kinda made it more exciting than a standard event. Hal really offered something special with this challenge. Once we were there we got into the room and immediately prepared for an early assault on the gravel. I was to use my alarm to wake us up at 4:30 am and well, the rest is history. I think we woke up at around 6:30 -7 and we were ready in no time only to stop at Tims a few doors down for a quick coffee. So 1/2 an hour passed and we were finally on our way. That right there pretty much set the tone for the whole adventure; casual, fun, chatty and food filled.
Over the next day we cruised thru towns, ate our faces off, judged dogs aggressiveness by there 0-60 mph when noticing us and had Pete “the jedi master” refine our route in small but positive ways. once we hit Treehern and had one final hot meal we turned on the lights and prepared to enjoy the good life. the stars were out, roads were great and aura borealis was spectacular. I also had visions of viking ships but I looked at it like a bonus and enjoyed their smooth sailing.
I’m not sure what time it was when we crashed in Brunkild. When i say crashed I mean lay out in a Vancouver island manner on the lawn of a church. 2.5 hours of comma sleep and we were quickly up and pedaling steady to a breakfast of champions in Niverville. Damn, Nivervilles Chicken Chef has an awesome breakfast and with that in mind we ate like pigs. The coffee flowed and trucker breakfast renewed our spirits and deluded us into thinking the rest of the ride was a walk in the park. At this point though the main zipper on my Ergon pack broke and with some doctoring we got it back to usability.
The next section to Richer was fast, chatty and filled with pop. Now we were at the infamous forestry road 29. The sandy , mud pit, rock infested fire road that tested the strength of cross bikes and showed us yet again that Pete is pretty freaking unstoppable on his recumbent. Yes he couldn’t ride some of the bogs but what he could ride was far beyond my bike handling skills on a bike like that. far, far beyond.
From here was fireguard road which was easier but required patience still because of its cross tire sucking sand. The vibes were at an all time high now since we were sure of a finish so we pretty much hammered the Hadashville / Prawda section and that was a great feeling after fighting the sand for the past few hours.
The last section was a short piece of gravel that led us to a huge Marmaduke dog that hit my rear wheel so hard it moved 4-6″ and had us a bit freaked out. After shaking off the encounter we hit the #308 and then #1. All I can say of the final stretch is that I’m glad our luck held out that long. It started raining fairly hard and we had a flat which is quite the ordeal on a recumbent compared to an upright. With that last repair we all cruised into the golf course to be met by the Queen of the weekend Donna who had treats, towels, a friendly smile and a ride home.
I can honestly say that although I expected it to be fun it was way more fun than I thought it could be.the riding at my slow grinding pace was the easiest I have ever done for an ultra distance ride which was amazing to me. Thanks Pete, Dave and Ian for putting up with my motormouth. I owe ya.