BRRR … reality check, it’s not summer anymore!! I woke up with excitement for Tour de Greenbelt at Rouge Park. After 2 weeks of inactivity due to a cold, I couldn’t wait to get back in action. Granted, the virus was still in me! I arrived at the start under clear skies & bright sunshine, just a little chilly. It’s going to be a sunny ride!! BOY, WAS I WRONG!!!
The SWAG at registration was way better than last year: T-shirt (women cut!!), sunglasses, & Camino chocolate!! 😀 Breakfast served bagels from What A Bagel. The BEST-BAGELS-EVER!!! Even without toasting, they were crispy on the outside & soft on the inside. I can’t rave enough about them. Yummy!!
Being a genius, I ditched my jacket in the car as I headed to the start, thinking I would ride up a sweat. WRONG!! After never-ending presentations by the organizers & OPP, the 100km-ers were off. Can I say “awesome starting location”? (yes, sarcasm) It was so muddy – one rider rode right into the mud & got her wheel stuck. 😆
I rode in a pace line with a small group for the 1st 30km until ADD got the best of me. We were riding on flat commercial roads – BORING!!! I was in a chatty mood & couldn’t concentrate on the wheel in front of me. I began trailing behind with my friend. The rain clouds were hovering at this point. At around 35km, the rain came. HUH?! Weather is seriously temperamental!! Then I got a bit cranky – congested from my cold, freezing from the rain, runny nose from the wind, & low in fuel. Where were the rest stops??? We rode by 2 stops earlier that weren’t even set up. Finally at 40km, there was a rest stop (Reesor Farm Market) beyond my fogged up sunglasses.
Un-congested & refueled, I was a happy camper again. The sun suddenly came out (but still chilly)! Dry me!! After a long break, we had to continue riding to warm up. Of course, the “fun” began. We were lost (from the rest stop). And then again (at Elgin Mills Rd). After some map consultations & guidance from the support car that magically showed up, we were on our way.
At 71km, we got lost for the 3rd time, reaching a dead-end. Shortly after, lost again at another dead-end. Signage really needed improvement! All frustrations were gone once we hit the Waterfront trail towards Rouge Beach. Finally some nice scenery!!! Now THAT is Greenbelt!!
At 80km, my rear brakes started rubbing. A temporary fix while at a rest stop & I was on my way. My runny nose was bothering me to no measures. Back to cranky mood! Lunch was on my mind which closes at 3:30pm. It was already past 2pm with 20km to go. HURRY UP!!! The route decided to take us to a sketchy & busy part of the city. Couple of close calls with transit buses driving way too close! Great showcase of the “rural” Greenbelt!! 😕
Finally we arrived back at Rouge Park for the BBQ lunch. That is if they had anything left!! They were already starting to pack up! Apparently, they had cookies. What cookies?! They ran out! 😦 I only had a burger & corn, while watching staff pack up the tables. Not the best “hoo-ha” to end a ride.
This ride unfortunately keeps disappointing me ever since it was relocated to Rouge Park last year. I miss the good old days when Tour de Greenbelt was held over 2 weekends (4 days) in different locations (ie. Niagara, Uxbridge).
Here are my suggestions for improvements:
1) Start Time. The 100km should start at 8am, not 9am. Sure we can sleep-in a bit, but I think it really rushes riders who want to “enjoy” the ride. The riding pace may not be slow per se, but time is consumed while enjoying rest stops & exploring discovery spots purposely setup for the ride! It’s no fun returning after the ride for lunch & watching people pack up!!
2) Signage. Signs have to be placed both before & at the turning points. Some were placed at a turn during a downhill without prior notice, while some were placed way before the turn. By the time we arrived at the intersection, there were no signs as reminder! If it’s a cost issue, I would suggest using smaller arrows & placing them more frequently on route rather than large signs placed sparingly along the way.
I sincerely hope it will improve. I love organized rides & will be sad to opt-out of this one in the future. Let’s give them 1 more chance next year (3rd time’s the charm?) …..