A free cycling event? I’m in! I haven’t ridden any long rides since June. The Niagara Falls training ride hosted by Centurion Cycling was the perfect chance to end the hiatus, especially since the GranFondo Niagara Falls is fast approaching. Under sunny skies, a sprained wrist, & a slight cold, I was excited to get back my endurance.
The ride started & finished at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. A never-ending wait for washrooms kicked off the day.
The 100km riders were split into different pace groups. I didn’t feel powerful & stuck with the “25kph and under” group. After Graham Fraser made his speech, we were the 1st group off. “Everyone must stick together and not drop anyone” was iterated in the speech — I had no confidence in that statement when we were dealing with a bunch of roadies.
Steve Bauer rode with us for a bit and I had the short opportunity to chit-chat with him before other riders took away that honour. As predicted, our pace was never 25kph and under, more like 30kph+. Oh well, I somehow felt strong & kept pace with the front riders. Our poor group leader kept riding back & forth between the front & back of the group, eventually telling us to slow down because we were dropping half the group. We slowed for a short 2sec before pounding the pedals again.
While riding closely in a group, I took my eyes off the boring rear wheel ahead of me for a second to look at the surroundings. I overlapped her wheel, somehow wobbled to her other side, & hit her bum with my knuckles. I was impressed with my balance; she was not impressed. My first taste of group contact I guess.
Before turning onto the hill on Woolverton Rd, the leader forewarned us of its intensity and gave us the choice to bypass it or endure the pain. He claimed it was steeper than Scenic Caves in Blue Mountains, averaging 15% grade. No thanks, not feeling it. I detoured around it along with half the group.
After the 1st rest stop, part of the group was ditched behind, me included. While hanging onto its tail-end, I never really caught up & was officially dropped traveling at 30kph. Eventually, the faster pace group caught up & created chaos with groups merging together. It was a blur but I somehow hung with a group of Etobicoke Cycling Club riders.
68km was my breaking point. I looked down at my speedometer, avg 27.6kph, and knew it was time to slow down. My lack of long rides took a toll, I was starting to suffer.
The last portion of the route, the Effingham area, had enough hills and rollers. One-third up a particular steep hill on Effingham Rd, I stopped & walked. My mind wasn’t in the right place. At the top, I saw Tice Rd up ahead and realized I cycled up this hill last year! Shameful.
The last 20km was lonely – everyone somehow disappeared. I couldn’t be happier when I finished.
The upcoming GranFondo Niagara Falls will be my redemption because guess what, Effingham hill is in it!