What’s the perfect pairing with wine? Not cheese, guess again …. cycling! The GranFondo Niagara Falls Pre-Ride event (ROUTE MAP) pampered all riders with VIP treatment and previewed the upcoming GranFondo Niagara Falls cycling race in September. It was a day of good cycling, good company, good food, and good wine.
The ride started at Jackson Triggs Estate Winery in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was chilly with strong winds when I arrived, shivering from head-to-toe and chattering teeth. As I registered and received my map, I realized most of the riders were doing the 50km. I also realized my 80km was extended to 90km to detour around construction. To cure the shivering, I spent most of my time lounging in front of the fireplace before the ride.
That was where I met Neil …. over the fireplace. It was the place to be on a cold morning! I shortly met his other friends and we planned to ride together.
Before heading out, our marshals gathered our small group of 90km-ers to warn us about a couple steep sections with potholes, go easy on those sections since today was not about racing, and regroup at certain points of the ride. I breathed a sigh of relief. I needed those regrouping with my speedy-looking group and without directional road signs setup.
I kept up well with them for about 5km, pacing at 25-27kph. Then the false flats in headwind got the best of me and I drifted back. There was nothing I could do but try to keep the group in sight, now just moving specks of colour. Eventually at 8km, I caught up to 3 other riders (A marshal, Nancy, Kathryn) who also got separated from the main group which was out of sight at this point. At 10km, we found out we missed a turn. Rather than retracing our steps, Nancy who lived in the Niagara region showed us a detour. She eventually led us back on track and we hit our 1st rest stop at 25km.
The rest stop was heavenly gourmet – fruits, and Honey Stingers chews, gels, and waffles!!
The marshal left us to ride with the main group but another rider, Jerry, joined us. We creatively called ourselves the “Team”. We eventually reached the hilly part of the route along Roland Rd and saw riders coming the opposite way. Weird. Finally, at the intersection of Roland Rd and Effingham Rd, we saw the marshals and a large group. Turned out we were riding in reverse direction since the rest stop!! We were stubborn and didn’t want to follow them which would shorten our route. We kept going on reverse until the route eventually came together on the return trip. Turning onto Pelham Rd, we saw the largest downhill of the day, followed by an uphill of equal magnitude, at least average 10% grade according to the road sign. We couldn’t help but yelped out a few woo-hoo’s on the way down.
It wasn’t long until we caught up to the main group at the 50km rest stop. While fueling up, our marshal announced that it was already noon. The targeted lunch time was 12pm – either we take a shorter 28km route back or we continue for another 40km. The general consensus was “LUNCH!!!!! WE WANT WINE!!!”
I followed the boys from here onwards, traveling at 30kph+. While the boys were chatting up front making it look all easy, I was concentrating on pounding the pedals. I was surprised I kept up with them all the way to the end at 78.5km. What a rush!!
The day ended with some delicious buffet-style lunch, unlimited Jackson Triggs wine, and speeches. I hung out with Neil and his gang for a bit, then bumped into 2 other Blog Ambassadors, Laura and Kent, followed by GranFondo organizers. It was so great to finally meet everyone in person! Can’t wait to see everyone again in September!
All the chit-chatting, riding, food, and especially the wine made me too merry. It was best to let it wear out before the drive home. I rekindled my couch by the fireplace again, letting the crackling sound of the fire take me out for a short nap.
Are you registered for GranFondo Niagara Falls? This ride is for anyone. You will be treated to a spectacular 125km route through the scenic Niagara region, riding along the escarpment and wine country, and finishing right at the Falls. This is followed by post-ride meals and celebration with live entertainment! To make your stay in Niagara even more enjoyable, the Niagara Wine Festival has also been extended to include the GranFondo weekend! Come join us on September 14 for this inaugural ride. Register HERE!! 😀