Adventure Bike race (Gravel, pave, forest) 8:15:00  81.27 mi (9.9 mph)
Eager Beaver 100
I had some thoughts about switching from the 100 mile to 100 km version last week, but I was deep in the woods with a canoe on my head. This event was a last minute addition to our calendar (more for the social aspect.....our newly converted gravel buddy wanted to do it, and a gravel-riding/bike-packing fellow I met on social media was going to be there). And I feel I should support Ontario events more often...... It would be a great warm up for Gravel Worlds next weekend. So I started into the 100 mile version, did the worst of the hills, short-coursed myself and thereby missed the sweet tailwind section (d'oh!), and still got to do the nasty headwind section. So I got my money's worth :)
Ontario events seem to be 'way more competitive than the American ones we do. And this one is no exception. The event started at Nordic Highlands' main building (we camped there the night before) and headed up into the woods......then down, down, down some minimum maintenance gravel, then up, up, up on a Bruce Trail side trail past Glen Huron. There was a lot of walking taking place through there (as in, not just me pushing my bike up the hill). More dicey downhills. And grueling uphills. Repeat.
A car with its 4-way flashers was following me for the last few miles into the 2nd check point. I thought that was kind of polite, but odd. Then I realized it was the "pick up the course markings" crew. They weren't kicking me off the course, but I was the last one through...... At the 2nd aid station, I could tell by the drop bags that not everyone had come through, even though I was the last one in. I had some banana, some coke, refilled my bottle with Maple Gingeraid mix .... looked at the map, and decided how to re-route myself to save 15 miles. I let the volunteer know that I was going to short course myself, but carry on to the finish. I texted Paul to let him know too.
The headwind battle made for some slow forward progress. Just me and the wind. After a while, my phone "dinged" and it was Paul texting me to see if I could pick him up at the 3rd aid station. He had seen my text that I was short-coursing myself...not realizing that I would still be out there for another few hours. Once we got that clarified, he carried on.
There are some beautiful Amish farms in this area. I could see three boys (about 8-13 years old) climbing up onto the road from a roadside pond ahead. They were carrying fishing poles and a plastic 5 gallon pail. Two of them were struggling to carry the pail. I passed them, said "hi", then thought, what the heck, may as well stop to chat (somewhat self conscious in my spandex.......) I turned around and rode up to their pail that they had set down. As I approached, I asked if they had caught a turtle or a fish. They said it was a big fish. Those are funny boys.....the pail was empty! We all laughed. One volunteered that their brother had gone "far away" fishing today. I asked if it was on Georgian Bay, and they thought that sounded right. We talked about supper, and I said I hope their garden was more bountiful than the pond. They asked me where I was riding from, so I told them some of the little hamlets I had been through today. Then they asked me if it was fun. I said yes, as moments like this are why I ride. I told them their corn crop looked wonderful, much better than the crops down where I live.
The last bit of the course snakes its way back a farm lane and along some wheat fields (some harvested, some not harvested) before arriving back into the Highlands Nordic woods. I opted for the "mountain bike" short cut back through the woods, then rolled back into the parking lot.
Paul and our new gravel riding buddy rolled in about an hour later, having done the full course. Big improvement over when we did this event 2 years ago: we each got a hamburger!!!! (they had run out of food by the time we finished that time....and another guy finished after us!) I got a couple tablespoons of pasta salad, and the guys got none......but we had snacks and beverages (chocolate milk, of course!) in the cooler in the car.
The gravel-riding/bike-backing fellow from social media flagged me down in the parking lot. He has some exciting plans for the next year.....carpe diem. Good for him!
Then one last night of sleeping in the tent before heading home.