People normally go DOWNhill at Blue Mountains. I beg to be different, I go UPhill. For the 1st time in the 2 years I’ve been cycling, I did not enjoy my ride at all. The combination of terrifying weather, challenging terrain, & getting lost made yesterday’s ride the most traumatic ride yet.
In preparation for my brother’s upcoming race (50 miles) in Centurion Canada this September, he wanted to test-ride the route yesterday. Centurion Canada is basically an amateur cycling race located in the Town of the Blue Mountains. I naturally joined him along with my parents. I was really excited to go to Blue Mountains since I’ve NEVER been there in the summer (only winter!). Let’s make this a family road trip!
I was forewarned about the intense elevations in this route – 3 mountains with a total of 3,200ft elevation gain. That literally categorizes the hills of Belfountain as a “piece-of cake”!! (and I was complaining back then!)
We arrived at Village 2 at the Blue Mountains Resort by 10:30am. This place looks so much better without snow (sorry, I’m not a skier!) 😀 My parents spent the day touring the shops at the Village since they don’t cycle.
It was quite exciting to see so many cyclists on the road today. 🙂 There was a stretch of road before we reached our 1st mountain. Time for those granny gears!! I huffed & puffed up the endless mountain. Everytime I thought I reached the top, I would see another hill straight ahead. No downhill in sight, not even flat roads. The 1st mountain is supposed to be the worst out of the 3, at a height of 1,670ft at the highest point.
I could not express how happy I was when I saw some downhills. But they ended quickly!! Before I knew it, I reached the 2nd mountain. It was ~40km into the ride when the weather suddenly changed and storm clouds rolled in. The winds picked up, the air cooled, no cyclists in-sight, & I could see lightning at a short distance. It was like a scene from “Twister”. By ~44km into the ride, the rained poured heavily with strong wind. I was stuck in a flippin’ thunderstorm! Buckets of water came down & my vision was completely obscured by the rain in my eyes. I wanted to speed up but the hills got steeper. Another endless mountain – no downhill, no flat roads. I couldn’t spot my brother since he rides much faster than me. I was alone in the middle of nowhere & completely terrified.
Being on a “metal” bike heading up in elevation is never a good idea in a thunderstorm. Was I going to get struck by lightning? Or get blown away by the wind? It took a lot out of me to keep biking. 2-3 km of absolute terror later, I heard someone yelled to catch my attention. I looked to my left … it was my brother taking shelter under someone’s front porch. I cycled & ran over there happy with relief. I was drenched & dripping from head to toe complete with squishy shoes. It took a while for me to calm my nerves.
We waited until the storm subsided a bit, all the while shivering from the cold. I was not geared up for the rain at all (at least I wasn’t wearing a white jersey?! ) It was still drizzling when we set out again but we have to get going!! There was a ‘quick’ but steep downhill from the 2nd mountain. I nearly lost control at a turn as I veered into the lane in the opposite direction. Very close call!!
We finally approached a short stretch of flat roads. Due to my desperate wish to finish this route today, I didn’t stop much for breaks. This took a toll on hydration. Ever since last week’s MS Bike Tour, I’ve gotten better at riding with one hand. It was during this flat road where I finally managed to drink from my water bottle while pedaling! 😀 (My next goal is to ride uphill with my butt off the saddle!)
Another downpour at ~60km into the ride. Oy! My brother & I sought shelter outside an abandoned ice cream shop.
It was extremely cold waiting outside with the chilly wind blowing against our wet clothes. I fueled up with a Larabar while bouncing around trying to keep warm. My toes were completely frozen in my wet socks & shoes. We waited close to 30min but the rain never ceased. We couldn’t wait any longer knowing we still have at least an hour to go before we finish (it was almost 2:30pm & we didn’t even have lunch!) We braved the rain & continued cycling. So COLD! I couldn’t feel my toes which was not a good sign when pedaling.
Here we go with the 3rd mountain (1,621 ft at the highest point)!! Oh my gosh, I want to go home!! Just endless uphills. Once again, just when I thought I was at the top, there were more uphills ahead. What seemed like flat roads was just deceiving landscapes & false flats. I was literally riding at 8-9km/hr the entire time on the lowest possible gear. I was pushing to my limit & running out of steam. Finally, I reached my last turn in the route where I met an even STEEPER hill. How is this possible????
At more than 80km into the ride, I met the most extreme downhill ever at Scenic Caves. So that’s where it was! It was such a steep drop with sharp twists & turns. I was holding on for dear life. I am pretty sure I went over the speed limit, zooming down the road at close to 70km/hr. (Broke my record there!)
At the end of the road was a Roundabout. That’s when I got completely lost. I couldn’t find my brother anywhere. I knew I was close to the Blue Mountain Resort (final destination) as I could see the ski hills. My gut told me to go towards it but the scenery got unfamiliar & I knew something was wrong. I took out my cell phone. NO RECEPTION! I started panicking, my throat was all choked up.
I returned to the Roundabout & went the opposite direction until I saw a Skis Rental building. I remembered seeing it while we were driving to the Village! Uh oh, I went too far! I decided to go inside the building to ask for help. At that moment, a couple in the car stopped & asked me for directions to Toronto. HAH!! I told them I was COMPLETELY lost myself. Luckily, they knew where I needed to go. It turned out my initial gut feeling was correct. It was the same direction but I had to take a road parallel to it. I was crying with joy when I saw the parking lot to Village 2. People probably thought I was crazy! I had to stand there for 5min to calm my nerves, yet again!
It was past 4PM & I didn’t even have lunch yet! What a brutal day. My bike was so dirty from the rain & mud. I didn’t bring a change of clothes & ended up putting on my dad’s over-sized shirt. I think I got some weird stares when I went inside Starbucks to order a much needed coffee!
I was so glad to arrive home. I immediately hosed my bike down & took a hot shower. The latter was the best thing I’ve done all day! 😀
I cycled closed to 96km today for 4hrs15min. An average speed of 22km/hr with a max of 68km/hr.
This was by far the worst weather I’ve cycled in. I was supposed to go swimming today, but I guess I already went yesterday … on a bike. Will I do this route again? Probably not this year!
Best of luck to all the riders for Centurion. I have NO IDEA how they do it!!!