Well, once again we decided to tackle the Hairshirt. James had mentioned to us early in the year that he was thinking of doing it again and with the fun we had last year on the ride, we decided to go for it also. As the day neared, we started to count up the number of long rides that we'd been on so far...needless to say the tally wasn't so great (especially for me), and if it hadn't been for the Rideau Lakes tour a couple of weekends ago, not sure if I'd have even had one century under the belt. So we were approaching this year's ride hoping that a steady and manageable pace would be what would get us through. We were also hoping that the predictions of a strong tailwind home would be helpful in completing the end of the ride.
Sunday morning came really early - getting ready and looking at last year's pictures at Niagara Falls helped to keep the motivation up and had me looking forward to adding a new picture to the collection. We got in the car and were driving to Square One, when we heard the following songs on the radio, in this order:
Bob Seger - Against the Wind
Tragically Hip - Boots or Hearts (key lyric - "See when it starts to fall apart, it really falls apart")
Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Relax (Don't do it)
Led Zeppelin - Fool in the Rain
This did give us a good laugh, but also made us wonder if it was some sort of premonition....unfortunately yes, for the Bob Seger - our tailwind didn't really materialize in the way we'd wished and there were a few stretches, namely on Fly Road on our return when we were squarely riding Against the Wind.
Was great to arrive at Square One and to see James, Dave, QB, Peter, and Ian there also, ready to take on the challenge. We knew that Ian, Peter and QB had a mission in mind, and one that our legs weren't ready to undertake so after the group shot, we all rolled out and formed a nice group that consisted of Dave, James, Steve, Dan (a friend of Steve's from work, who rode with us the one way to get a century ride in), and four riders that we just met that morning - Peter, Noel, Michael and Eugene. Our group was great, all riding well, and taking turns up front. That made all the difference. We were managing a good steady pace of at or just above 30kms, and managed to hold that for the majority of the ride. A highlight was having Emile meet us on our way to Niagara (in his Sunday best) and ride with us for awhile after we stopped for a bite to eat. I think that this is the most water I have ever consumed on the bike, and all of our stops for more liquid were well needed. We tried to go without Heed and stuck to water in the bottles, salt pills and brought perogies, and pb & nutella wraps. Supplemented those staples with a couple of sandwiches bought on the road and of course, a couple bottles of Coke. Our group of 8 hung together until close to the end, when James and Dave hung back with another rider from our group and the remaining 5 of us continuted on. I must say that as we make the final turn onto Burnhamthorpe, the sight of the towers at City Centre really does provide the final bit of motivation to keep those pedals turning. Felt great to finish almost an hour under our time from last year and to have this accomplishment buttoned up. Thanks again to all who shared in the day - as always is a pleasure to ride with you guys. I am always proud to wear the BCC colours and represent, especially with such an outstanding group of individuals. Cheers!