I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club (WCC) in 2003 solely as a mountain biker. I’d been mountain biking with my two brothers, usually at Dundas Valley or weekend trips to places like Kelso and I joined the club because I wanted to learn about more local places to ride trails and meet local cyclists. I soon learned that K-W has one of the best mountain bike trail networks in Ontario: The Hydrocut. I also got to know club members through the mountain bike group rides and within a year, I bought a used road bike and learned how to ride in groups on the road.
The Tuesday WCC rides have been going on for a long time (a lot longer than I’ve been with the club) but since I’ve been with the club, the format has always been the same: Meet at the church in Erbsville at 6:30 pm and break out into groups depending on your speed/fitness; Group 1 was the fastest, Group 5, or 6 the slowest. Back in 2003, there were three routes that each group could choose from: Bamberg, Wellesley or Hawkesville (it was at this time I first learned about the Hawkesville hill!). On evenings with good weather, it was not uncommon to see 60 or 80 riders show up (this is still the case in 2016!). With 10-12 riders per group, there can be 6 or more groups forming.
On this particular Tuesday, I decided to blog about my club ride, not because it was particularly long or fast, but because it was probably my toughest 40 km ride in quite a while. Also, I hadn’t been out to the Tuesday rides since 2014, choosing instead to ride Thursdays with the club, since they start closer to where I live.
The loop we ride now goes from Erbsville towards Bamberg, to north of Wellesley and back, for a loop of about 25km. On energetic nights, I might do 2 laps. This was not one of nights. There are good rolling hills on the this loop, and even with the tail wind for the first half of the ride, it was tough. I rolled out of the parking lot with the fourth group (I think there were five groups in total).
The first challenge was the sprint to the town sign in Bamberg. I was feeling good at the time, but I knew if I contested this sprint, I’d burn a match and be cooked for the rest of the lap. I was riding next to Stuart C. and I said quietly to him… “do you want a lead out?”. He smiled and I hit the gas, with him right behind me. He soon took off past me with just one rider (Thiago) in tow. Stu is a strong sprinter and Thiago could do no better than to hang on for dear life. Stu won the sprint and we cruised into Bamberg. The next challenge was coming up.
Although I wasn’t the first up, I felt good on the hill on Weimer Line, but I also burned a match (as it turns out, it was the only match I had… and I could barely keep up after that point). The tail wind helped, but I knew it would be a challenge once we turned back into it on Hessen Strasse. Our speed went from over 40 km/h to under 30. I got dropped on the rollers, completely gassed from the hill climb. The group waited for me at the first stop sign, where some of the group headed south to do another half lap, while the rest of us continued on Hessen Strasse to ride one complete loop. We kept up a good pace for a while (five of us) until I could no longer keep up again. After meeting at the stop sign at Kressler, we decided to go our own ways. I rode casually back to St. Jacobs where I parked…. exhausted.
The Strava Flyby for this ride looks pretty cool. You can see the groups starting out. The fast group pulls away early in the ride. You may or may not be able to pick me out from the mass of cyclists. The cool thing is the great “coming together” as riders converge at the meeting place in the minutes leading up to the start of the ride. Here’s the link: Strava Flyby
Oh and congrats to Joe M. who was the winner of my first giveaway. Joe won a nice price pack from HoneyMaxx. Keep checking my blog for other giveaways from companies for whom I’m an ambassador!