The first annual SRCC Big Gravel Ride multi surface bicycle event took place this past Sunday July 7th under near perfect conditions. The humidity broke the evening before for a cool start at Fixed Gear Brewing at 9:00 AM for the ‘Leisurely’ group (C ride) led by veteran club member Meg Thorburn. With her were 5 other keen souls ready to tackle the 70 km course that basically never left Guelph city limits for all but 6 kms.
At 9:30 AM the ‘Moderate’ group (B ride) headed out with 17 riders breaking into two groups led by Lorenz Calcagno and SRCC VP Rich Lyle.
And at 9:45 AM The Prez, James Fedosov, led out another 12 riders on the ‘Fast’ group (A ride).
Shortly after entering the ‘Highway’ trail at Guelph Lake Andrew Krucker of the ‘Fast’ ride was derailed when a forest gremlin wrapped his rear derailleur in his wheel. Fortunately for him, pro mechanic Mike Dennis was on his ride and in ten minutes Mike converted the multi gear bike to a single speed to allow Andrew to ride out of the trails, short cut the route and meet everyone at the rest stop later on. Although ride-able, the gearing was not conducive for keeping up with Chancie Knights (like any of us ever could?) or Wilfred Ferwerda on their single speed bikes. There is something to be said for keeping your important parts up and out of the way and not dangling vulnerably near the ground or close to moving objects. Just nutty.
Speaking of Wilfred Ferwerda, a bizarre recessed curb beside War Memorial Hall at the U of G caused him to take a tumble at the same moment that it pinch flatted Daryl LeBlanc. I am sure this is not part of the School of Landscape Architecture preferred method of transitioning ground cover to pavement. Shaken, but not stirred, Wilfred was certified fit to ride by methods seen on TV and he went off to watch the women’s Dutch Soccer team lose to the Americans, also as seen on TV.
Precisely at that moment, the ‘Fast’ ride had their heads down and cadence up as they shuttled across Johnston Green in pursuit of the ‘Moderate’ ride to hand off a rider who was struggling to hang on to their speed average. However, the combination of those factors didn’t allow them to break focus and notice as they passed the ‘Moderate’ group just meters away as Daryl LeBlanc repaired his flat in the shade of trees. The irony is not lost that all of this literally took place on the grounds of higher learning.
Meanwhile, over on the ‘Leisurely’, ride Vince Mayne was convinced to lower his tire pressure to sub road racing values which made for a more pleasant ride and was far less slippery in the mud and rock. And, with less then 10 kilometers to go, club veteran Anne Nederend flatted on her trusty 26’er mountain bike. So trusty had it been, that she didn’t have a spare tube handy for the repair. The passing ride leader, Lorenz Calcagno, from the ‘Moderate’ group issued advice from his off-road motorcycle racing days, “…just stick a 700 in it, a larger tube always works in a smaller tire!”. So they did, and it did.
A few riders had to cut out early as family and other duties called – 70 km on multi surface is a longer ride than expected. Fortunately for them, being almost always in the city, the ride home was never long.
A couple of astonishing feats need mentioning: Both Will Teron and Daryl LeBlanc completed the, at times, slippery and rocky course on road bikes, on road tires! Kids, don’t try this at home, these are trained madmen! If only we awarded trophies.
Thanks to Kirsty at Fixed Gear Brewing for coming in at 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning to open up the brewery for the club (who do we talk to, to expand your business license to allow for coffee service?).
A super ‘thank you’ to the rest stop volunteers: Kevin Bodbyl (sidelined from riding with injury), Brian Hoey (local handsome and competent nursing student), Madeleine Krucker and Natalie Tiberghien who were strong-armed into service by club member Andrew Krucker – we appreciate that. You all made our ride that much more pleasant. Thanks so much!
Nearly one quarter of the club participated. Riders of varying speeds and abilities got to meet and mingle and share food and drink on a beautiful day. Every rider polled said there were multiple sections of the route they had never ridden before or hadn’t even known about.
The jury has tallied the votes and responses… the event was a success. Quoting one of SRCC’s major sponsor’s Mark Chappel, “…this might have been the best ride I have ever been on.” And all within minutes of home.
A super duper thank you to our course designers, Taylor Moran from SRB, Heather Lylyk, Meg Thorburn and Lorenz Calcagno. And to our pre riders and Ride Leaders James Fedosov, Meg Thorburn, Rich Lyle and Lorenz Calcagno. And to Gord Drewitt, Lorenz Calcagno and Meg Thorburn who went out and cut brush and grass on the Monday of the long weekend to make sure the ride was as pleasant and as successful as it could be. 0
A special thank you to the coyotes of Preservation Park for keeping the snowflakes out of our way in there. Long may they reign.
There was some loose talk about changing the name for next year’s event to be more descriptive of the type of ride. ‘The Dirty Tour of Guelph’ was suggested, but after some research, it was found that that tour already exists. It however doesn’t include bicycles, but does include some club members!
Another special thanks to Fixed Gear Brewing for being our newest sponsor, for providing a perfect start and end point for our first Annual Big Gravel Ride and handing out free beer at the end of the ride (I believe we have stumbled upon an important discovery…). Cheers!
See you next time!
Rusty Knutts (pronounced: kahnoots)