I’ve been looking forward to the 2012 Acton to Waterloo MS Bike Tour (Aug 18-19) since last year!!
DAY 1 – Acton to Waterloo (115km)
A chilly morning with clear sky at the start (Prospect Park, Acton). It was an ugly start when I stepped on a lady’s foot as I rushed out the washroom. Why was I rushing? I was running late for the team photo!
0-25km. I was the 2nd group of riders to leave past 8:15am. Full of energy, I sped off the start & caught up to the 1st group. We rode together for the first 25km until we reached a confusing intersection. A yellow arrow pointed left & a pink arrow pointed right. I eventually spotted a big red sign lying face down below the yellow arrow. Sure enough, it signaled the extra 25km loop – Brian Carrigan Century Challenge loop. I followed the Yellow arrow without hesitation to endure the extra loop. Too bad most of the riders followed the pink arrow and the group scattered. Time to pull my own weight!
45km. At this point, I still haven’t rode by a rest stop even though they were supposed to be stationed every 15km. Did I miss one? It wasn’t until near the end of the extra loop at 45km when a rest stop materialized. Starving!!! Apparently, the 1st rest stop (before the loop) wasn’t set up in time. Coming out of the rest stop, I passed a rider (later found out to be Mark) on an uphill who later dropped me until the next rest stop. The strong headwind was an unexpected challenge.
Mark & I eventually hit a stretch of unpaved road. Tell me this is a prank! Luckily the weather was dry, or else we’d be riding on mud!! To make matters worst, 2 huge trucks came our way, blowing dust everywhere.
85km. It was past noon & we were starving. At 85km, we arrived at Checkpoint 4 for the long awaited lunch which served deli meat, pasta salad, noodle salad, chickpeas, cucumber, & tomatos all wrapped up in tortilla.
115km. A short distance after lunch, we caught up to 2 riders. The 4 of us rode together all the way to the finish (University of Waterloo) at 27-30km/hr pace, led by a guy in the Tour de France KOM Jersey. He definitely lived up to the jersey as I saw him power up some hills like nobody’s business!! I thanked him at the end for pulling us through some heavy headwind!!!
The 1st thing I did after check-in was signing up for FREE massage. I returned after 45min & there was still another 30min wait. Massage was relaxing but too short. I almost fell asleep on the bed! The evening was followed by beer lounge (I had wine), playing a very competitive game of Hearts with some teammates (good times!), dinner, awards ceremony (my team won “Top Fundraiser – Friend & Family”), scrambler (I won nothing), & playing pool/table tennis. Bedtime at 11pm.
DAY 2 – Waterloo to Acton (98km)
I didn’t sleep well on the tiny dorm bed but a fantastic breakfast (mostly the assortment of granola!) set the tone for the day. It was a late start as I watched several groups of riders leave from my dorm window while waiting for a few teammates to get dressed & fix a flat tire.
0-30km. A much warmer day. As if trying to make up for the lack of rest stops yesterday, they were placed every 5km. The craziest was the 3rd rest stop, serving lunch. It was only 9:23am!! Safe to say, I didn’t eat anything at any of these stops.
50km. I tackled the extra loop again, conquering some nasty hills. At this point, I wanted to burn my shorts. They were so uncomfortable!!
75km. Glad extra loop was over. We eventually caught up to 2 riders, Dave & Heather (who apparently recognized us from last year!? Good memory!) and took turns pulling our 4-rider group. By “we”, I meant “they”. I didn’t have much energy to do my share.
85km. Last rest stop. My legs were shaky as I got off my bike for a refresher. That’s how tired I was! A short distance afterward, Dave & Heather dropped us & we were left to fend for ourselves.
98km. Arrived at Prospect Park with cheers from volunteers. Time for lunch – PIZZA!!! And another free massage!
The ride wasn’t as organized as last year:
1) The signage wasn’t clear. Even the camera man was lost on the 2nd day!
2) Rest stops not set up in time/placed too closed together.
3) Unpaved road.
However, knowing the ride was organized by volunteers, I cannot ask for more. Well, except for the cop who just sat in his almighty car at a busy intersection instead of conducting traffic.
I hope the #of participants will increase next year. It was a disappointing turnout (with only over 300 riders this year) & the fundraising was low. Regardless, I did have a fun weekend while supporting a worthy cause. There’s always something magical about overnight trips with fellow cyclists. I can’t wait until next year!