If you are a cyclist, serious or recreational, and live in the GTA, the Ride for Heart should be on your must do list every spring. I look forward to it every year and this was no exception. I fact, it took some creative scheduling to even make it to the start but I made it happen. Originally I had registered for the 75 km route partly for sheer enjoyment but also as good training for the up coming Toronto Triathlon Festival which would use the same bike route.
My eldest daughter celebrates her birthday the first week of June and this year we promised to take her and a few friends to Wonderland for the day. Unfortunately, the only possible day we could swing it was the same day as the Ride for Heart. Originally I was simply going to skip it. Then I came up with a plan to knock off 50 km, beeline it home, shower and spend the day riding roller coasters with five 9 year old girls. Lots of caffeine and maybe Advil would help me get through the day!
The only wrinkle was that I would have to start at 6 am with those doing the 75 km route in order to make it work. For those who’ve never done it, the 50 km route follows along the Gardiner, up the DVP to York Mills and heads back down to Exhibition Place. Those doing the 75 km turn around at Bayview/Bloor and head back up to York Mills for a second time.
It turned out being a perfect day for a ride. There was the risk of showers but they held off in the morning. The start was uneventful but part way along the Gardiner, the derailleur fell off a woman’s bike right in front of me and she took a header over her handle bars. Luckily she was fine but it was a little rattling to see. Further along, a member of my master’s swim group caught up with me. We chatted for a while until she decided to take off ahead. Once on the DVP, it was quiet and serene. There was a deer in the ravine and a mother goose with her goslings were crossing the highway. Certainly unusual things for one to see in downtown Toronto.
I reached the turn around and went right through the pit stop, partly because I didn’t have time and really didn’t need to. The best part of the ride is the downhill thrill from York Mills. It is so much better on a bike than in a car. Once I reached the turnaround at Bayview/Bloor for the 75 km riders, I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to skip it and just continue down the DVP but that fear was unfounded. From that point on ward, I was literally all by myself in the south bound lanes. The north bound lanes were packed with riders by this point and many of them cheered for me as I passed by. They must have mistakenly thought I was some bad ass bike chick leading the way after having done 75 km! Oh well, it was a riot being in that position and I enjoyed it for what it was. Once I got back to Exhibition Place, I hustled to my car. I had plenty of time to shower and self medicate before spending a lovely albeit rainy day at Wonderland. Next year she wants to go rock climbing. Let’s hope it doesn’t conflict again with my favorite ride.