I believe it was Greg Lemond who said "It never gets easier, You just go faster". That today really summed up the Sunday ride on the fabulous Kleinburg Loop.
About 20 of us pitched up, mostly by car, and some by bike at Major Mac/Leslie Car park to take on this 105km BCC classic route. Colonel Jeff Norman called all riders to order in the absence of our Illustrious leader (sunning himself somewhere in Italy on a well deserved break). The route was set, with a few instructions on potential "hard efforts", and we all set off. I do enjoy getting everyone off together at the start as it is a good chance to warm up slowly and have a bit of a chat with riders we don't necessarily see all the time.
Teston road on the way into Kleinburg was where groups started to organize themselves with a little Hammer, finishing with Stegman's Hill to get into Zone 5, up to Kleinburg itself, some 25km into the ride. This little sharpener suggested a natural split in the groups, and then the long slow burner up Nashville, out of Kleinburg confirmed the 2 pace groups. The split was even, about 10 riders in each group. Our group contained Andrew M, Paul M, Brendan, Keld, Lucas, Chris, Steve J, Mitch, Jim W and myself. The second group graciously took it easy to allow our front group to establish a gap, which was necessary as the general pace between both groups was very similar. The story of the ride on our front group was as you would expect with a push to ride hard, but without destroying anyone in the process. The 3M's (or group 0.5) were particularly strong (That's Mouck, McKeever and Mahoney), and dictated the general pace, which again, was fast but not ridiculous. As we climbed up Mount Wolfe, Group 0.5 went into beast mode on the couple of major climbs, leaving the rest of us to wonder how on earth you can ascend so quickly without an engine. We regrouped at the top. Group 0.5 challenged some skateboarders to a race (strange but true) as they circled around waiting for the rest of us, so Steve J, Chris W and myself saw the shameless opportunity to forge ahead and gain some ground. It was good to be able to split the group at this point as we all know that Highway 9 was approaching for a formal regroup.
I absolutely love the ride back from Highway 9 to Kleinburg, with the Lion's share of the climbing out of the way it was time for the Man with the Hammer to join us. It was Quick. Funnily enough Mouckie and i both remembered the same ride last year where i got dropped riding with the big boys, and he pulled me all the way back to Kleinburg, with me cursing myself that i had to be nursed to the coffee stop, but one year on i was personally much happier that i have made some ground and held my own. Maybe buying that miserable device (Turbo Trainer) was worthwhile after all. The coffee is always excellent in Kleinburg, as are their pastries and Pizza, although it did take a very long time to get served. Hopefully they will come up to speed in how to manage 20 hungry cyclists who all descend on them at once. The trip back from Kleinburg to the car is about 30km, and the route must have been finessed, as it is much nicer this year, keeping more to quiet roads, and only on the busy roads when necessary, finishing with the obligatory Hammer down Leslie from Elgin Mills back to Major Mac.
Now back to my initial point, from Greg Lemond. Today's ride certainly gave the legs a bit of a burn, but I think we were all quite surprised to see our collective achievements on Strava. The same riders averaged 33kmh this year. Same ride last year 31kmh. This is where Strava is awesome, as although my riding felt just like it did last year, the stats begged to differ. It seems all in our group of 10 absolutely crushed their PRs on many sections, including numerous top ten cups and a few KOMs to boot. The whole club has moved on significantly in terms of pace, and ability. It is very impressive riding with the likes of the 3Ms to help push our riding to new levels, and as a club we seem to be right up there with others who also Strava themselves over the same roads.
Today was awesome, it had that perfect mix of personnel, route, pace, weather and pain. Greg was right.