Mean Streets 200 - 2005

Sunday Sept 4th, 2005

Its been a while since I last did a ride with the Ontario Randonnuers (then the Toronto Randonneurs). It didn't hit me till the morning of the ride that 1997 was a long time ago. In that year I completed 200, 300 and 400 km rides. The 600 was planned but it conflicted with my yearly ride to the Thousand Islands for a family reunion. Since '97 my kilometers per year have fallen off, and basically the only goal each year was that one ride to the kingston area. THis year however I finally got off my butt and toured across Canada, coast to coast in June, July and August. Finishing that tour August 4th, its been a lazy month since then with just a few mountain biking rides and a couple of commutes into the city. Essentially I've been off the bike most of the last month and when I signed up for this ride I was a bit concerned how well I would fair.

I'm always nervous when I need to be somewhere in the morning, so i was at the start around 7:15 and pulled up the same time Steve showed up. Paul rode up a few minutes later and before we headed out Eli, Ken and Jerzy had all arrived. All names I recognize from lurking on the Ontario Randonnuers email list.

Pulling out of the parking lot just as the clock turned 8am, and down avenue road. I'm surprised I've never been down this road, but the decent down to the waterfront was a gentle start for the day, in fact it was a blast zipping through the city early on a sunday morning. Traffic was sparse, the weather was perfect, warm enough at the start for shorts.

The first re-route was along the Martin Goodman Trail, a sketchy section along the sidewalk to avoid parts of the CNE. Every year they reroute this section in this dangerous manner. We lost Ken during a bathroom break along the MG Trail, well actually he lost us. We saw him briefly before halfway towards the first Control but lost him again. Navigating the bike paths up the river valleys was difficult, using the Toronto Bike Map made the job much easier, but unlike roads, there are no signs to point you in the right direction. Paul's knowledge of the paths came in handy often.

At the first check point we all regrouped at the bakery before heading off along the top of the city through some industrial areas, around york and past the washed out bridge on Finch. A bathroom break at the Harvey's at Yonge/Bayveiw turned into a quick lunch. I've always been a pretty poor eater on rides, I was surprised when others joined me for greasy burgers.

Off again and out towards the north east end of the city. Its amazing how fast you end up out in the countryside. Up swells road and on the only road that i found a bit uneasy, from Sewells rd to Beare Rd on Steels. A pat on the back to who ever designed the a 200km route in toronto with only 1-2kms of bad roads. The decent and climb on Twyn Rivers was new and very enjoyable to me, even after my aborted attempt to sprint up the climb. I must remind myself, despite having urges to sprint up a climb, I should never listen to these urges, I must learn to ignore the voice in my head that says 'go for it'.

The hills in this area had broken us up, Ken and Jerzy and Steve were ahead, with paul, Eli and myself coming into the second control at Reid's Dairy a few minutes later after missing a turn. We somehow forgot to see Rougemont Dr, ended up at Atona and Kingston Rd, about 300 meters from Reid's, but in the spirit of the journey, we backtracked the kilometer and took the correct route to the Dairy. Our rewards, under priced ice cream, milkshakes and chocolate milk.


After the control the route heads back into Toronto along the Water Front Trail route, requiring carrying your bike down a 2 flights of stairs. Actually its not required to carry your bike down the stairs, but its strongly recommended. Shortly after we entered the Highland River valley. THis is where the trip got fun. The path was covered with sand leftover from the flooding from the big storm a couple of weeks prior. Sections of the path were washed away, one of the bridges was gone, and part of the path was under water. We carried our bikes, found alternative bridges, but decided the section underwater was too slippery to continue safely. We re-routed back to the road keeping the original shape of the ride intact.

A trip through Scarborugh Village reminded us that 'No Exit' signs only apply to cars, not cyclists.

It wasn't long before we hit the mentally evil part of the ride, a trip down to bluffers park, just to turn around and come back. The climb back up wasn't that hard, it's just the fact that i was already at the top!

The Trip along Kingston Rd back towards the core was busy, but the traffic was easygoing. The last control before the end was a bit of an issue, the first place we stopped at refused to sign our cards, there was a language barrier so we went elsewhere with our business and our control cards.

The last section to the end going north to lawrence and then through the bridle path area to the start/end control. We had a couple of issues with navigation in this section, but pulling out the map always got us in the right direction. We raced towards the end, trying to squeak under the 12 hour mark, finishing at 7:58, for a 11 hour and 58 minute 200km brevet, my first in over 8 years.

I enjoyed the route, it hit many sections of the city i have not been in. The route is not that easy to navigate, but made easier with the help of the City of Toronto Bike Map. Seeing first hand the damage of the storm a few weeks ago was interesting, along the Highland River the water had left debris on a bridge that was over 10 feet above the normal river level.


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