I’ve kept a detailed ride log ever since I got into “serious” cycling in 2002, and according to my records, my first 100 km ride was in 2006, for the Waterloo Cycling Club charity ride, when I rode 162 km on my old road bike. I’ve since covered that distance numerous times, with my ride last week being the longest at 210 km. For each of these rides, however, I’ve been with a group of at least 3 or 4 others, and sometimes, as many as a dozen or more.
For my 29th ride of my 50 memorable rides in my 50th year, I rode this distance again, but this time, I rode alone. My family was visiting my parents in Oakville, so I thought I’d ride my road bike there. On the way, I was hoping to ride 100 km solo plus accomplish another goal by riding some of the escarpment hills around Milton for the first time.
I plotted a route on Strava earlier and my ride started around 11am. The weather was perfect. A light wind from the northwest meant I would have a tail wind most of the way, and the temperature was around 20C, which is just about perfect for long rides.
For the first couple of hours, I enjoyed my solo tour through Kitchener, Hespeler, Puslinch (past the Puslinch Lake mountain bike trails that I’ve ridden many times), Morriston, past Mountsberg Conservation Area and eventually Campbellville, where I made a pit stop at the Flying Monkey Bike Shop that features gourmet coffees and baked goods (plus it’s a full service bike shop!).
After a quick stop and cranberry butter tart (no pie!), I made my way south to Derry Road and Appleby Line, where the dreaded Rattlesnake climb takes you up an elevation of about 100 m in just over a kilometre, with grades reaching as high as 20%. This is what the profile looks like (red means steeper!):
I switched to my easiest gear (39-29, if you’re into the cycling language) around the first yellow part and by the second yellow section, I was already wishing I had more gears. The steepness just kept increasing and I was just trying to keep the bike moving. I stood up a couple of times but I couldn’t keep that pace for very long. I did manage to make it to the top, and once I got there, I pedaled softly while I caught my breath. My original plan was to ride Rattlesnake, then race down 14th Side Road, over to Tremaine, then back UP Steeles. But upon reaching the top of Rattlesnake, I was prepared to just race down and continue to Oakville.
I managed to recover, and after encouragement from a passing motorcyclist (who yelled “it’s a steep one, isn’t it?”….. yep it sure is, I muttered between gasps for breath), I decided to stick with my plan and climb back up Steeles.
The descent on 14th is fast and fun, but I descended cautiously because I wasn’t sure of blind driveways, bumps or gravel. I still hit a peak speed of about 60 km/h and coasted all the way to Tremaine, where I turned north towards Steeles.
The climb on Steeles isn’t as steep (so I was told), but there’s still nearly 90 m of climbing with peak grades higher than 10% and an average grade of 6%.
From the bottom, the climb looks innocent enough (I lost all my speed when I stopped to take that pic. OK, I didn’t have much speed and I had to stop at the stop sign, but it makes for a good read). I didn’t set any speed records on the Steeles climb but I was able to make it to the top. These escarpment climbs are painful (for me), but they’re short, so they’re over quick. I’ll definitely be back to the area to challenge these hills again.
My ride down from the escarpment was fast and fun, down Bell School Line. Again, I descended cautiously because there were cars turning in and out of a farm near the bottom. And I enjoyed my ride towards Burlington and on to Oakville. I rode west to east along Rebecca Street in Oakville where there are bike lanes in some areas, but not others. And this always frustrates me (but I’m used to it):
Once I got to my destination, I had a great visit with family and a delicious recovery feast from my folks. Thanks!
Oh yeah, here’s the route I took: