So we started with me jumping in at the last minute, a day early and apparently unprepared. Dan had told me the week before at M.E.C that I should get a water filter and a couple dehydrated meals and being a flake I ignored him and chose to go at the challenge with minimal food and some cash.
The roads and Trans Canada trail were great right off the hop with little problems and only small changes to the pre- planned route. The weather was great and since it was a 5 pm Friday start the heat was a non-issue.
At this point the lights came out and my favorite part of the summer challenge was about to happen, the fast gravel night riding where monsters are lurking just outside of your vision. We bombed our way to Rossburn and decided to camp at the church\ campground for the night since we though Graham and Mark were staying there. The locals were just coming out of the bar and everything was closed so it was a nervous sleep for the few hours I got while the locals ripped around in their cars and were just basically drunk loud. Mark and Graham were never to be seen in town.
The morning came and we tried to eat something but I couldn’t really even though Pete offered me a bag of noodles so we headed off after hitting the local gas bar for coke.
At the Deep Lake entrance we bumped into the ranger and he said the central trail was fast and mowed . He even went so far as to say we could do about 20 km and hour likely on the mowed track. I had planned on hitting the mandatory park check points then heading out of the park to speed up the route but his recommendation made us all change our minds and hit the trail all the way through the park. We had a new plan and that moment along with the M.E.C conversation, were the nails in the coffin for me.
The Tilson Lake trail started off awesome and was a fun roller coaster ride for about 14.5 km when we hit what was the Central trail I think for about 41.5 km till the Whitewater camp ground . This section was PURE SUFFERING for me . I went through a ton of my limited water and I wasn’t eating any of my crappy food. It was just a 10 km\h slog through freshly cut grass about 4-6″ deep. The picture of me above taken by Pete sums up my ride in this section. I have never suffered that much on a bike, ever…….not even close.
Once we got to the Whitewater campground we chilled for a few minutes only to hear a loud happy group tear into the clearing and who would it be but Dan and Hal. They looked awesome and were in great spirits. They were taking the course as I had originally planned and we told them to avoid the central trail and get the heck out of the park. Of course they did because they are sensible and the rest of their rocket ride is history (or soon to be when they post). They did give us the lowdown on the rest of the trail to Wasagaming since they were going in the opposite direction of us. It was a positive conversation and even though I was feeling extremely dehydrated and out of energy ( since I packed the crappiest non tasty food possible) we were off and ready for the world.
We hit Lake Audy for a quick break and to get some water and although it seemed to me like I was the only one suffering the boys seemed to appreciate the rest. From there we rode some sweet roads with a pile of climbing and road a absolutely CRAZY trail that literally splits South Lake from Clear Lake. We were carrying our bikes in a few sections because the trail was just logs piled up keeping you out of the water. Sadly I didn’t take any pictures because at this point I was in full on survival mode.
We finally arrived in Wasagaming and I was as thrashed as could be but luckily we found a great restaurant to eat and sit. Moments later the happiest guys in Manitoba showed up and joined us for supper. Mark and Graham were just all smiles and great stories. Their positive attitude was infectious but I was in a hole and was just barely staying awake. Ian and I decided that if we could get a room it might be a little better than the ground for sleeping so we cruised town for something / anything. We ended up with a sketchy room and I pretty much passed out after a shower. Yep, that’s why I don’t get invited to parties.
Sunday started and I felt better. The coffee shop was open and things were looking up. The roads were fast and smoothish and the BEST DOWNHILL EVER was the lead up to the Reeves Ravine trail for us, life was great.
Just looking at the pictures reminds me of how fun this section was, I need to go back and ride it again.
The trails we rode were Burls and Bittersweet and a leg of Reeves ravine which are fun but an absolute poison ivy nightmare . That and the humidity was kicking my ass, it was like riding in a sauna. I left the trail a bit wore down but pumped for what I though was going to be a short ride to a close town for lunch, Man was I deluded.
Once we hit 86W heading south and a bit of breeze hit us.It was just the slighest but that was enough for the wheels to fall off and I was just in survival mode. Grinding away towards Kelwood where I though I could get a sandwich or some other pile of calories I just let my mind wander and legs grind away. We hit the town, went in the general store and grabbed a coke, banana and a V8. I sat on a bench trying to pump myself up for what seemed to be a million miles to the finish.
The last 40 km were evil. I stopped a million times to get my shit together ( just barely might i add and I have witnesses to prove it) and swore next time I’d listen to advice from wiser friends. Eventually we got within a few km of Niverville and the boys waited for me yet again so we could ride the last bit together. Those kids are pure class.
Here’s a list of roughly what I ate and drank all weekend and its pretty ugly.
1/2 a banana
3 cokes + 2 glasses
1 cup of coffee
1 cup of pasta from Pete
1 pack of tums
2 pepperoni sticks
4 Laura bars
4 granola bars
1/3rd of a Greek salad
10 liters of water
Thanks for the fun, painful weekend Pete and Ian. I hope to do it with you again next year but I promise I’ll come prepared. Although I did come prepared to suffer this year so that’s something:)
238 miles= 386 km
Total time 47.5 hours
Ride time 30 hours 36 minuites