It was a dark and stormy Thursday morning when a van pulled up in front of my house, two guys jumped out, grabbed my bike and luggage and suddenly I was seated in the back seat of the van, my bike on the roof and I was taken to a local coffee shop, the Birchcliff, where we met up with some others with bike mounted on the roof or in the back seat of vehicles. This looked ominous, until I realized it was fellow members of the Beaches Cycling Club and my imagination was playing tricks. Of course we had taken the time off work to escape the city and head to Blue Mountain in search of 4 days of riding our bikes on local roads. Okay, so did I mention the rain? This was not looking good, even when we stopped in Barrie for gas and yet another coffee. Soon we were approaching Blue Mountain, as I recognized some of the signage from having ridden the Centurion a few years back.
We pull into the office for the chalet rental just before noon, only to be informed that the unit was still being cleaned, and would not be ready yet, as the regular check-in time was 4 p.m. We were told that we could hang out in the village and that she would call us when the unit was ready, but it looked like there would be no riding today. So we left our bikes in the back room of the rental office and headed to drown our sorrows (and get some food too) at a local Irish pub. Slowly other members of the group joined us, even Julian in full motorcycle rain gear, his bike staying dry in the van while mine got a nice wash up on the roof.
I think we got the call that the chalet was ready soon after we started eating, but nobody seemed in too much of a hurry to get there, as long as the rain persisted and the libations flowed.
Finally we returned to gather our bikes and head to the chalet, where it was a free for all to claim the best rooms and get settled in. Some started passing the time learning and playing a cycling board game, while others discovered the pool table or to reassemble their bikes and get them ready for the morning. Then as tradition would have it (last year being the inaugural year) we arranged to head back to the village for a proper dinner out. The party of 12 was welcomed to the restaurant and we partook of a nice meal and more merriment before heading back to the chalet for final instructions for how the next day would roll out.
Even though you think you know someone from riding together for a few years and trusting their wheel, it isn’t until you stick 12 clubmates together until you realize the dynamic that makes this club tick. Everyone has their own routine, whether that be waking up and rushing to the kitchen to fire up the coffee maker, or lounging in their rooms while others dash about in the kitchen scrambling eggs, frying up bacon, burning (make that toasting) bread, checking their tablets, cell phones, or FaceTiming with family, or watching the morning newscast rehash the same stories over and over. But somehow once the dust settled, everyone was ready and dressed in their kits by the time we had arranged to meet to ride.
The rain had stopped earlier Friday morning, and it was just “misting” when we set out for Creemore. The lovely roads were not that busy and allowed us to have a pleasant ride into the quaint town, home of the Creemore Springs Brewery. But before we reached the town there would be a series of rollers and a hill that would rival Stegman’s Mill Road before you enter Kleinburg. And just at the bottom of the descent is a stop sign to test your brake pads. The tasting room and gift shop of the brewery soon played host to us, before we crossed the street and visited Affairs Bakery & Café. Then it was back on the bikes and the group seemed to split up into those keen to return to the chalet, while others chose to visit Collingwood and get a few more kilometres into their legs. The harbour and view of Georgian Bay made the trip worthwhile, and after everyone arrived home, plans were made to start the preparation of the evening meal, but first the naps, private time, games of pool, the hot tub and liquid refreshments. After a great repast of barbequed steak a la Tamblyn, with salads and veggies, and even a cauliflower steak, it was time to relax and unwind. Some of us watched the film “Inspired to Ride”, filmed during the 2014 Trans Am Bike Race before retiring for the evening.
Saturday morning looked like it was going to be a great day weather-wise, which would entail a trip to Wasaga Beach, complete with the prerequisite beachfront photo op, and a Strava segment challenge on Beach Drag Strip. On the way out of Wasaga on the way to Collingwood there was a tense moment as a few riders crashed, but it appeared everyone was okay, save for a broken shoe buckle and some road rash.
It could have been worse, but everyone came together to help and before we knew it we were on the way to Collingwood for a break and rest stop. After the stop we decided that we wanted to ride some more, so we hit Highway 26 following the coastline of Georgian Bay to Thornbury and Pom Pom’s for ice cream. Back at the chalet John had returned early from Collingwood to visit with Rita, who had brought Kato along to surprise us just before our morning departure. Rita had also taken time to start preparing that evening’s dinner of ravioli, salmon, salads and veggies.
After stuffing ourselves at dinner the guitars made an appearance, which meant one thing……jam band on the deck. While Wayne, John and Julian serenaded and led the singalong, others retreated to the basement to play snooker and pool, others opted for the hot tub or reading. Then there was a knock at the door and to our surprise Melanie and Jeff, and their poodle Lucy surprised us. They had seen the group riding to Thornbury, as they had a property in town, and had tracked our location via Strava.
Sunday morning dawned a bit too early for some, but since this was the last day we had asked for a late checkout, which would allow a ride towards Collingwood along roads we had started to recognize and ended with a visit to Blue Mountain Village and a Starbucks visit (thanks Scotty).
Back at the chalet there was a rush for the showers and some last minute packing, then some quick lunches (thanks Bernie) and the splitting up of the leftover food. Goodbyes were said, hugs exchanged all around and a last photo before heading to return the keys and head home. The traffic was better than expected and before you knew it we were home and starting to think about next year.
So despite the rained-out Thursday we still were able to get in rides of 100 km. Friday, another 100 km. Saturday and 50 km. Sunday, along with sharing some unforgettable memories with friends old and new. Quite the experience that will stay with us for a while.
Thanks to Wayne for putting this whole shindig together and to Howard (Mr. Go-Pro) for the use of his photos.