Tour de Greenbelt 2011

I’ve waited one whole year for this year’s Tour de Greenbelt……yes, a “thumb twiddling” long wait.  It’s finally HERE!!!  😀  I got a cold since Monday, but nothing, I mean NOTHING is going to stop me from participating.  I was prepared… bike bag was stuffed with Kleenex! 😛

Unlike previous years (ie. at Niagara & Uxbridge), this year was held at a new location – Rouge Park, Canada’s newly announced National Park.  I originally planned to ride the 100K Canadian Century route, which is a combination of the 75K Park Push & the 25K Mid-Meander.  But……..

I was out the door by 7:10am after eating my usual “biking-day” breakfast (and after getting overwhelmed by what was on my front porch! :P).  The starting point is at Rouge Valley Conservation Centre right beside the Toronto Zoo.  This was my 1st time driving on the highway for over 2 years (I dislike driving)!!!   I arrived at Rouge Park by 8:15AM.  Lots of people were already there.

Parking at Rouge Park start point

I got my rider kit & grabbed my 2nd breakfast of the day…..bagel + coffee.   I can’t figure it out yet, but there’s something about the bagels they were serving that made them the BEST bagels I’ve ever tasted!!  I had one with soy butter. 😀 (UPDATE: The bagels were from “What a Bagel“)

Registration & Breakfast
Breakfast! Check out those bagels & the bags of corn for lunch!
Jerseys & t-shirts for sale!
Is this a fantastic turnout or what?

I was FINALLY geared up & ready to go by 8:45am, just in time for the 9AM start time for the 100K & 75K riders.  It was so chilly today!!  I wore my bike jersey, arm-warmers, & a jacket.  No bike shorts today either!!  Bike knickers all the way! 🙂

Finally ready to go. Check out my delicious bagel on my trunk!

Did I mention I was biking with Luch today?  😀  We met up at the starting line & listened to the usual pre-ride speeches.

Luch at I at the start area
Pre-ride speeches
Riders 'listening' to the speeches

We were finally off by 9:15am.  Without signs at the start, EVERYONE went the wrong way!!  HAHAHA 😆  We all ended up meeting a dead-end, doing a U-turn, & becoming utterly confused.  What a terrific start! 😉  We somehow found our way & off we pedaled!!  The signage definitely needed improvement today!  The arrows were easily missed & the colours for different routes looked similar.  How about dark green (75K) & dark blue (50K)?  I felt colour-blind!  But no worries, only a minor problem.  It was a good thing I was biking with Luch though.  One of us would sometimes miss an arrow that signaled a turn…..the more eyes the better! 😉

I coughed & sniffled my way through the ride.  I was so congested.  It definitely took a toll on my performance.  Even minor hills sometimes left me gasping for breath because I didn’t have any airway!!! 😦

What I love about Tour de Greenbelt are the amazing rest stops & discovery spots.  Rest stops always offered great selections of snacks.

1st rest stop
Check out the selections....Taste of Nature, Larabars, peaches, pears, apples

Most rest stops were set at unique places for us to explore.  Reesor Farm Market, for instance, had fresh produce & even an in-store bakery!  All those bread, pies, cakes, & muffins were so tempting!!  Special shuttles were available to transport our purchases back to our end point.  Talk about service! 😀

Reesor Farm Market
Reesor Farm Market
Fresh fruits & veggies AND in-store baked goods!!
Rest station at Reesor Farm Market
Riders entering the rest stop at Reesor Farm Market

Another noteworthy rest stop was Herongate Barn Theatre.  The owner (I think?!) gave us a tour of the theatre.  It originally used to be a dairy farm, but is now transformed into a stage theatre with seats that came from the Old Victory Burlesque Theatre in Toronto!  It’s famous for their “dinner theatre” experience.  The decor in the dinner area was so cute.  It gave you a feel of being inside a barn.

We came upon a breath-taking discovery stop, Rouge Beach.  Magnificent view & we even spotted a loon!

Rouge Beach. Spot the loon? The tiny black dot....
Rouge Beach
Path to continue our route from the Rouge Beach Lookout spot

There was someone riding a unicycle today!!  He was also doing the 75K route!  Unbelievable, what a trooper! 😯  I was fearing for his life at one point.  We witnessed an incident where a biker in front of him suddenly turned right.  He nearly lost his balance.  Can you imagine falling off the unicycle from such a height??? 😮

Guy on the unicycle biking in style

By the time we arrived back at the start line (completed 75km route), it was already 2pm.  If we were to proceed with the 25km route, we would be back earliest 3pm.  The BBQ closes at 3:30pm…..I am NOT missing that! 😉  We decided to get lunch & then maybe bike the 25km afterward.

We were starving & didn’t feel like finding a spot to park our bikes.  So Luch showed off his bike-balancing skill.

We had a couple of audience & they were all watching in awe.  One guy insisted on taking a picture of us.  In the midst of his excitement, he chopped off the bikes in the picture!  HAHA 😆

The BBQ featured local food…..beef burgers, veggie burgers, hot dog, cookies, corn on the cob, carrot sticks, assortment of local fruits, & cookies.  So yummy!  Once again, my hunger took over & I forgot to take pictures. 😦

It was 3pm when we finished eating.  By then, volunteers were packing up the BBQ & clearing the area.  So we didn’t end up doing the extra 25km.  Oh well, it was the enjoyment of the ride that mattered.  I have another bike tour tomorrow anyway – Tour de Mississauga! 😀

79km in 3hr21min

I had a great time.  Most of the route took place on busy streets.  It was less scenic & more traffic than I expected on a Tour de Greenbelt event.  We were mostly biking in single file.  I will admit I prefer last year’s Tour de Greenbelt.  However, a combination of great company, good food, unique discovery stops, & an organized ride is still a good ride! 😀  Thanks to all the organizers & volunteers….OH, and the MEC team for doing all the on-site bike maintenance! 😀

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