|I left the house at 5:34 and it was a good thing I did because it took me
a good two hours to get to the start. However, I still had time for toast and jam from the local A&W (my only
other option was McDonalds), and to get Machak set up for the ride.
9 of us started the ride (a near-record number for the Alberta Randonneurs) and I didn't recognize three of them, so perhaps they were new!
I liked the way this course was set up. It's approx. a rectangle, but has out-and-back legs coming out at different places. There are two advantages to a set-up like this: 1) If it is windy, the riders are going all different directions all day, so there's a chance they won't be into the wind for any great length of time; 2) Riders get to see each other along the way. If they are not riding together, they might pass each other going the opposite direction several times on these out-and-back legs.
Bill and I took off together at the stroke of 8:01, and left the rest to finish getting ready. We knew they'd catch us, and sure enough, very shortly, they did and left us in the dust. I saw them one more time briefly, but that was it. Bill also took off and gradually increased his lead, until at one point, near the end, he was about 40 kms ahead of me. Meanwhile, Dave from Medicine Hat had departed later than all the rest, and as I was leaving the first control, I discovered that he was behind me. About 1.5 hours later, he caught up to me, and we rode the rest of the way to Okotoks (just over half way) together. We lost each other in Okotoks, but I saw him several times on the out-and-backs after that. It was really nice not to feel like the only one out there!
The first 21 kms out to Priddis (the first control) was really tough for some reason. We were climbing a bit, and we were into a headwind, but I didn't think it should have been that tough. I was wearing my HRM, and my heart rate sat in the 170s the entire time. I felt horrible ... and I arrived at the control with 20 minutes to spare. The scenery, however, was wonderful!! We were heading right for the mountains which were large and snow-covered on the horizon.
|The next 51 kms to Longview (the second control) went faster ... I had 1.5 hours to spare by the time I got
there, but again my heart rate was in the high 160s when I was "cruising" and shot up to the mid-180s when
I was climbing. I wasn't eating enough along this stretch and felt quite nauseated when I arrived in Longview.
Nevertheless the scenery continued to be beautiful ... we were riding beside the mountains which showed
themselves on the horizon, and then ducked behind hills to hide, and then peaked over the hills, and then
showed themselves in all their beauty between the hills. I love the mountains!! :) I also saw a coyote cross
the road in this section.
I thought one bit through here was particularly interesting. On the few kilometers between Turner Valley and Black Diamond, there was a MUP (multi-use path)! I did not notice it until after I'd left Turner Valley, and was quite surprised to see this paved path beside the highway right out in the middle of nowhere. But shortly, I realized it connected the two towns.
It really started to warm up through here, and I began shedding layers. You’ve no idea how wonderful it feels to ride in temperatures that are significantly above freezing after doing almost all your long rides over the past 6 months in sub-freezing temps!!
|The next 39 kms to Okotoks wasn't much better for me! Dave told me
that there would be one hill on this section ... the one out of Longview ... and then it would be flat. I've said it
before .... one person's "flat" is another person's "mountain range". I was thinking about that, and laughing
to myself, as I climbed roller, after roller, and then a 7 km climb! This area reminded me very much of the
Last Chance ... the scenery and the terrain. We came across a large herd of deer, one of whom ran along
beside us for a while, and then ... like it had springs in its feet ... it leaped over the fence in a single bound to
join the rest of the herd.
The last 7 kms into Okotoks was uphill and into a wind, and I was in the early stages of a bonk by the time I rolled into town. However, a half-hour break and some lunch, and I felt much better. When I left Okotoks, my heart rate was comfortably resting in the low 150s, with occasional spikes into the high 160s when I was climbing. That was much, much better ... I finally felt relaxed! I don't know if it takes me 100 kms to warm-up or what ... I'll have to wear the monitor on a ride again.
|Up to this point of the ride, the wind had been coming mainly from the
west and west-north-west. After Okotoks, the route headed east then south, and then from that point on,
there was 60 kms mainly north to the finish. I was dreading that part because I figured I would be fighting a
bit of a headwind to the end. I did the east and south bit, with a tailwind, but as I was pulling into High River,
the wind seemed to calm down, and become shifty and variable. When I left High River, the wind was
west-south-west .... and I basically had a tailwind all the way in!! There were many parts of the route where
I was sailing comfortably at 30 km/h, and coming in at the end, I kicked it up to between 32 and 35 km/h!
I really enjoyed the ride after Okotoks … the route took us various places with many views of the mountains, and lovely view of Calgary. In places, the leaves have started to come out, so there was some green, instead of the usual brown. In addition to that, I miscalculated the distances … I thought I had an additional 10 km to ride. At 24 kms to go I thought I still had 34 kms to go, and it took a little while before I realized my mistake … and realized I was almost done!! It sort of left me with a feeling like I was missing something when I finished the ride.
But I wasn’t! And I had finished the ride in 10 hours and 10 minutes!! Much, much better than I thought I was
going to do when I started the ride, and about an hour less than any of my 200Ks last year!!
On the anniversary of my 16th year of "serious" cycling, this was my 100th century (or longer ride)!!
NOTE: The photos on this page were acquired from various tourist information or town sites. It wasn't quite as green as some of these photos show, but was still beautiful! I plan to add my own when I get them developed.