Category Archives: Rides


Recap: Short Sauble Blast

I took my legs out for a quick stretch around the Sauble Falls area yesterday, on the back of Saturday’s long ride from Toronto to Wiarton.

Right from the get go, I was surprised at how strong my legs felt. I expected more of a hangover from Saturday – I’d been stiff since that ride, and was expecting that feeling to carry over to the ride. On the contrary, from the moment I started I felt fresh and strong.

After a fast (30-35km/hr) 5km into Wiarton, the first major climb was on the other side, heading north up the Bruce Penninsula. To my surprise, I handled it fairly easily, averaging over 17km/hr on a hill that I’d only previously descended and had generally dreaded climbing.

Once at the top of the hill, the next 10km was flat and easy – amidst lovely Fall colours and nice scenery, I was able to get well into the 40km/hr range for a good chunk of it without too much effort.

Before too long it was time to turn off the highway and onto a side road that wound its way over to near Lake Huron and Sauble Beach. It was nice being on a quieter road, and the scenery just kept getting better – quiet lakes and rivers, and trees of all sorts of colours.

About that headwind…

Before I knew it, I turned onto Huron Road and started to head south towards Sauble Beach. At that point, the wind that had been nice and refreshing for the 25km or so up to that point became an ugly headwind that didn’t subside until I turned off the road 12km later. It was strong enough that it slowed me down from an average of 30km/hr over the first hour to around 23/24km/hr for that full stretch.


Happily enough, after 30 mins or so I was able to turn off the busy main road onto Rankin Bridge Road – one of my favourite roads in the area thanks to the lovely scenery around Sauble Beach Provincial Park. Despite it being a dirt road, I was able to speed up immediately as the headwind faded completely thanks to the shelter of the trees. I stopped a couple of times to snap quick pictures of the lovely surroundings before pushing on and heading for home.

The duration of the ride was pretty similar to the first half – fast, scenic and flat. My legs continued to feel strong – I don’t know if I’m already seeing the benefit from the long ride this weekend, or if it was just a function of the route being flatter than I’ve been used to recently. Either way, it felt great to be able to cruise along at 35-40km/hr without having to really push too hard.

Before too long I arrived back at my base for the day, having averaged 29km/hr for the full ride – far faster than I usually manage. I pushed to try to crack 30km/hr, but the headwind put a bit too much of a dent in my time to recover fully. Not that it even remotely matters – I had a blast, the scenery reminded me of why I love Fall in Canada and my legs felt great just two days after the longest ride I’ve ever done.

Another spoke bites the dust

The only real downside to the ride was that I arrived home to find that yet another spoke on my back wheel had broken. That makes four spokes since we left for the Ontario Parks tour a few weeks ago. Happily it didn’t affect the ride – in fact, it either happened right at the end of the ride or just had little impact on the bike when it happened, as I didn’t notice until I stopped and noticed that unmistakable rattle of the head of the spoke rattling around inside the wheel rim.

To say I’m unimpressed with the stock spokes on the CAADX is a real understatement.  I’m leaning towards getting the full wheel re-spoked at this point.

My local bike store showed a real disinterest in handling that work when I asked after the previous three broke, so this week I’ll be on the lookout for a place in Toronto that is more willing to take my money (suggestions welcome!).

I was about to write that the good news is that I’ll be indoors on the trainer and not worrying about spokes soon anyway thanks to the changing seasons, but there’s clearly nothing good about that either. Blech.

Technical annoyance aside, this was a lovely ride and a nice way to round off the weekend up north.

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Recap: Toronto to Wiarton

Well, that was… long. My longest ride by almost 60km, in fact.

My wife’s family’s Thanksgiving in Wiarton has been an annual pilgrimage for me ever since I met her back in 2002. I’ve been there every year, including for the first several years before we were even dating. This year, with the cycling itch well entrenched in me, I decided to cycle up instead of driving with Caralin.

Knowing how long the ride would be, I decided to leave early to maximize the daylight hours available to me. After a solid laughable pre-ride dinner yesterday (tacos and half a pitcher of margherita) and plenty of relatively little sleep (5 hours) I left the house at just before 7am today for the trek up north. I figured it would take about 10 hours of cycling to cover the ~220km to Wiarton.

The ride started smoothly – the Toronto roads were quiet at that time of day, and after an hour I’d cleared the busiest of the Toronto roads, hitting The Gore Road (one of my favourite roads to drive along) just after 8am. The colours were lovely today – everything from regular green to deep red – and The Gore Road was possibly the best part of the ride, with huge houses paired with the Fall colours.

After heading west on Highway 9, there was a pretty long hill that started to tire the legs a bit – so I paused for a break and second breakfast at the intersection with Airport Road.

A few kilometres later, I hit a major downhill – nearly 2.5km of 6% decent. I averaged 55km/h down the hill, hitting nearly 72km/h at one point before having to brake as I caught up with a couple of turning cars and had to slow down. Sadly, that downhill was mirrored by a similar uphill on the other side… sigh.

For some reason my GPS had plotted a route that turned off the main road before hitting the next east/west highway. I was keen to get away from the long weekend traffic so went along with it… only to find myself on hilly dirt roads for the next 20km. The good news was that there were hardly any cars on the road… the road surface and hills weren’t a lot of fun for the next little while though.

After emerging back onto the asphalt, the next 20km along side roads were scenic and lovely. The section just after passing Shelburne was particularly nice, with countryside views paired with flat, fast terrain. I made good time there, and cruised into Dundalk – my scheduled lunch stop – around 12:45pm.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any sit-down restaurants in Dundalk (I admittedly didn’t look overly hard), so I stopped at the local Foodland and grabbed a bunch of snacks for lunch. Key among them was Gatorade – I was already running low on my first bottle and didn’t want to attempt the last 100km with only one bottle.

The next stretch of the ride was scheduled to be a 77km stretch of trails, along the Grey CP Rail Trail. Unfortunately it lived up to its “more difficult” billing at the outset – lots of loose gravel, potholes and ATV furrows. It was very scenic and blissfully flat, but I was making very poor time and concerned about not making it to Wiarton in daylight, so after 15 very tiring kilometres I bailed back onto the roads and skipped the remainder of the trail in favour of the main road. It might have been nice for mountain bikes, fat bikes or ATVs, but not for my cyclocross bike.

The gravel trail had really taken it out of my legs and I was starting to feel really tired. My body was starting to complain about the level of effort in general and I was starting to get some stomach pains, likely due to my almost carb-free lunch and dinner yesterday (damn you, tacos). After about another 30km I pulled over for a break and wolfed down a banana and half a granola bar. That seemed to fix things up – I got a burst of new energy and the discomfort went away for the duration of the ride.

The rest of the ride into Owen Sound was uneventful. The downhill into town was glorious, although I wasn’t thrilled with the climb out of the town afterwards. I’d picked the route into town due to the trail so contemplated just skirting the city now that I was no longer on that route, but decided to just stick with the plan as I was feeling much better and less tired at this point.

From there the rest of the ride was pretty fast. I had enough energy to set myself a bit of a challenge for the last seven or eight kilometres – I needed to average 30km/h over that portion (which included a couple of small climbs) to finish in less than nine hours according to my Garmin (the Strava app on my iPhone decided I was moving for another 20 minutes for some reason). Part way through it I decided I should slow down as I wanted to feel good at the end of the ride, but my competitiveness got ahead of me and I pushed on, managing to finish a minute under nine hours according to the GPS.

Now, four hours after finishing the ride, my legs aren’t too happy with me but it’s just tiredness rather than anything else. A pretty epic ride overall; if I were to do it again I would make some route changes that I think would save me a fair bit of time, but I don’t know that this will become a regular thing.

Definitely fun today, though!

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Thanksgiving Trek

All I want to do is get out on the bike right now – it’s so relaxing and satisfying at the same time. Unfortunately, we’re heading into Fall and the weather is getting colder – we don’t have too many weeks left before it will be time to put the bike away for the winter. I think I may have made a mistake with the timing of our Ontario Parks tour – it’s just fired me up for more!

Happily, this weekend’s Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend gives me an opportunity to get out and really stretch the legs again, so I’m going to push myself one more time this season.

My in-laws live up in Wiarton on the Bruce Peninsula – an area that is absolutely beautiful this time of year. It’s about 210km from Toronto to Wiarton – 50km further than I’ve ridden in a day so far.

Here’s the rough route.

I’m going to do some polishing of the route tonight, I think. There’s a disused railway path that seems to run for a good amount of what would otherwise be busy main road. There are a couple of other pieces that may be unnecessarily rough roads. I’m going to swing through a couple more small towns too, in case I need a breather.

All told I’m guessing it’ll take about 10 hours to make it up there. I’m going to allow for 12 in case of mechanical issues or other delays. It’s a big distance so I’m going to need to pace myself a bit slower than usual, too.

Sounds like a fun challenge.