Date: Sept 16-18/2011
Location: Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood, On
Race Distances: Hill Climb, 25 mile, 50 mile, 100 mile, Vertical Hill Challenge, Kids Ride.
This is a full weekend event with something for everyone. We had gone up on the Friday night & stayed at a friend’s townhouse withing walking distance of the start line. On Saturday, they had a 25 mile ride, & we noticed that most people rode this race in preparation for their Sunday race. Sunday was the 50 & 100 mile rides & the Kids Ride. They made this a weekend event with having the Sam Roberts Band playing an outdoor concert at 4pm in the village. There was also a great expo, with lots of booths to purchase any last minute items or to get any last minute touch ups done to your bike.
This race starts at the bottom of the Blue Mountain Resort & the 50 & 100 mile rides, ride through the surrounding towns, & end back at the resort.
I got talked into riding this race by my friend Laura who had done the race with previous year on her mountain bike. We rode once a week over the summer, with me not really thinking about doing this race. She talked about it on most of the rides, & I knew that I could do the distance, but it might not be pretty. I am not a good hill climber, but she felt that I could handle any that came my way. She had just received a new road bike for her birthday, so wanted to do this race to see how much faster she would be on a road bike versus her mountain bike. So, I agreed that I would ride, & she said she would stay with me.
Needless to say, after the traffic jam at the start, & another just before the first set of hills, I told her to go ahead & not wait for me. Just too many people for me to be comfortable riding together. She insisted on waiting for me at the top of the hills & I dutifully caught up to her on the flats as agreed. When my catseye was still not working at 8k, I again insisted that she go ahead. Another set of hills was quickly approaching & I hated holding her back. She took off up the next hill, & I plodded up the hill, changing gears as I went, only to loose my chain! I was spinning going nowhere, trying to unclip before I tipped over. Luckily an older gentleman cheering on the hill, saw my predicament & quickly came to my rescue. He grabbed me & my bike just before I tipped, helped me unclip, then put my chain back on & sent me on my way up the hill. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I was glad to see that Laura had gone on without me. I thought that I had only ridden about 15k & I was already tired & my right calf was starting to cramp. I rode hard on the flats, & passed many people, only to have them all pass me back on the next set of hills.
They had one set of hills called King of the Mountain, where they timed you up the 4.2k climb. I can’t believe how many people passed me on that climb. If I hadn’t thought before that I sucked on hills, I definitely knew it after this race.
This was a very scenic ride through the country. Very enjoyable & most people were riding with friends, chatting along the way. I didn’t like that some groups rode 4 or 5 people wide, so it was difficult to maneouver through them. I continued on my journey, passing people on the flats, & wondering exactly how far we were, with my catseye working on & off. There were a few distance signs, but I knew that the ride was about 85k, from my friend riding it the year before. So, when I saw a sign saying 15k to go, was it 15k to reach 80k, or actually 15k to the finish line? I kept thinking that there couldn’t be that many more hills, when I reached one last long hill. I saw some men actually walking with their bikes, pushing them up the hills, so I felt good that I could still ride & smiled as I passed them. Once at the top of this hill, it was a long fast winding descent, with a hard left at the bottom of the hill. I rode hard down the hill & around the corner, only to have my left quad cramp up. I felt like I was riding with only one leg with a few kilometers to go. Not a great feeling, but I pushed hard into the finishing chute. My friend & her husband were waiting cheering for me, & I was glad to finish as I limped off my bike. I knew that I would finish & just as I thought it was not pretty. Quite painful for me in fact! But that’s what happens when you don’t properly train for something, & I do know better.
I did finish better then expected for the 85k ride. I was 12/59 in my Age Group. 81/326 Female Finishers. The average finishing time was 3:24:12, & I finished in 3:15:58. I was 585/1195 finishers overall. But I was 622/1195 on the King of the Mountain Climb. Again I can see that I am not a great hill climber! Something that definitely needs to get worked on next year. And now that my friend has a road bike, we will have better quality rides next year. So hopefuly, my riding will improve with that.
This is a well put on event. They had a fully catered buffet after the race, with awards for the top finishers. I would recommend this race to anyone who just wants to go on a scenic challenging bike ride.