A very appropriately named ride. Cycling is a religious tradition, isn't it?
BCCers Paul McKeever, Ken Beattie and I were joined by 29 other cyclists at the start of this year's Hairshirt on Sunday June 23rd. Not a recumbent, helmet mirror, pannier or wool shorts to be seen! Stereotypes be damned!!
As the ride began, two riders took off up the road, never to be seen again. They were Larry Optis (2007 RAAM solo finisher!) , and Jeremy Hatt who finished Hairshirt 2012 in 10 hours flat!
Paul and I settled into a working group of about 20 riders. We made excellent time through to our first water stop at a gas station about 120km from the start. The route to this point was mostly flat, with a bit of climbing up and over the Escarpment. Our group now consisted of about 15 riders, including one tandem! ridden by Steve and Susan Morris from Ottawa. We rode a double paceline the whole way to the Falls. At just over the 5 hour mark we entered Niagara Falls and stopped for a quick photo- op. My moving average speed at Niagara Falls was over 33kmh.
We hammered the 20km or so from the Falls to Niagara on the Lake. The temperature, humidity (32degrees with a humidex of 40 degrees celsius), and accumulated fatigue were beginning to take a toll. At Niagara on the Lake we took an extended break and found some much needed shade.
A few kilometres on we were a group of 6.This was the hardest part of the ride, riding into a consistent headwind with scorching temperatures! The straight stretch along Fly Rd. and Mud St. felt interminable (actually 25km). We stopped at a convenience store and refilled our bottles. There was a fabulous fast switchback descent on Fifty Rd. that followed! I held back a bit on this descent, as my arms and shoulders were feeling tight and I was beginning to experience a lot of chest pain (probably all the particulate in the air).
In Burlington we occupied a Lakefront splashpad, dousing our heads and filling our bottles. The last 40km were extremely difficult, with Tony Gonsalves( Scarborough) and John Hunter(Peterborough) mostly pacing the group.
Paul and I were both suffering in the heat. We made one last stop about 20 km from the finish for more water!
As we turned onto Burnamthorpe Rd. with 13km to go and caught sight of the Marilyn Monroe buildings our spirits lifted. It rained very lightly for the last couple of kilometres. I have never felt so happy to have completed a ride!
My stats: 323.87km, 31.0 kmh moving average, 10h26m33s riding time, 12h20m elapsed time.
According the the TBN site, "overall this appeared to have been the toughest day since 2002".
Here is the link http://www.tbn.ca/cycling/hairshirt.htm