One of the rides that has been in the back of my mind since I dreamed up this 50-in-50 idea was my first double-metric century, or 200 km. My previous longest ride was last year when a group rode down to Port Dover, had lunch by the beach and rode back. I figured I could do 200 km if I just rode at my own pace. My friend Tim K. had also suggested we should do a Pie-athlon, with stops at bakeries along the way, so I though… why not combine the two?
Ride #28 was a 210 km ride on July 9. I first put the word out to Tim, and once he said he was available, I spread the word. There was interest immediately and by the day of the ride, there were eight others who said they’d show up.
200 km wasn’t easy, but after completing the distance, I’ve come up with some tips on how to ride this distance:
- Surround yourself with riders stronger than you (I call them thoroughbreds). The eight people who dragged me around the 200 km loop included: Christian E. (the German machine who had no problem being on the front of the group for most of the ride), Kate M. (who used this ride as training for Leadville – if you don’t know about the Leadville bike race, look it up), Tim (who spent about a year cycling …er I mean on sabbatical … in Portugal), Mike O. who rode a geared bike just for kicks, even though he probably only used about three of those gears (Mike O. usually rides singlespeed bikes on mountain bike trails in all kinds of events), Michael T. (who completed a 24-hour mountain bike race… solo, just two weeks ago, where he completed nearly 250 km of trails), Dave (Tim’s friend who had no problem taking turns at the front), Thiago (who joined us for the first half, and feeling bad that he had to leave early, thought he should take long pulls at the front), and Doug (who worried that he’d be the slowest, but always seemed to surge ahead of me on the hills). With this group, I didn’t need (read: wasn’t strong enough) to take turns at the front pulling (In a group of thoroughbreds, no one wants the mule to pull through!).
- Plan frequent breaks for refuelling. This was the whole point of the Pie-athlon. We (well… most of us) enjoyed delicious french rhubarb pie at Anna Mae’s in Millbank (Great cycling destination, by the way, and then again in Drayton at a place called “a la mode”, which sold baked goods from Anna Mae’s kitchen. At our last stop in Fergus at Van Gali’s, they didn’t have pie, but we did have a nice break. Christian didn’t have pie at any stop, and I explained that he was missing a key component of this event (a comparison with the more-traditional “triathlon” would be skipping the swim leg!).
- Ride at your own pace. I frequently got dropped on hills, but we’d regroup each time (They had to wait for me, since I made up the route!). The purpose wasn’t to set any speed record; rather, the purpose was to complete the distance and still be able to walk up the stairs when I got home (oh, and to enjoy pie… did I mention that?)
- Enjoy the company, the scenery, the weather, and just being on the bike. A couple of times, we got hit with pretty steady rain. It would be easy to get bitter about the weather, but with Tim and Michael constantly cracking jokes, it was impossible not to enjoy myself. Tim and I even had a competition to see who could come up with the best song title with “pie” added. He came up with “High and Pie” (Radiohead), and “I Get Pie With a Little Help from My Friends” (Beatles), while I got in to a Rolling Stones mood with “Pie is on my Side” and “Let’s Spend Some Pie Together” and “Gee Ain’t it Funny How Pie Slips Away” (I had the Willie Nelson version in my head).
I wish I had more photos, but .. I don’t. I did, however, complete the Pie-athlon with a pizza pie!