Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yes, I actually DID ride in the Niagara Falls Gran Fondo

This is not me, just the view from the back of the pack. That is American Falls we see. It is just about 6:45am.

The front of the pack...not my category

My view of the riders in front of me.

And the riders behind me. I think the people in florescent orange are non-timed riders...official type people that did ride beside me encouraging me and just chatting before finding some other slow-poke to encourage & chat with.

My bike behind another in the St. John Ambulance mobile first aid unit. I rode about 89km out of the 124km route. At the fifth rest stop a group of us (about 15) were told we were being pulled off the course because the tunnel under the Welland Canal was opened to traffic was 11:50am and we had until 3pm to cross the finish line. Sooooo not happy campers (er riders) and anarchy works its magic. We are allowed to continue but with an escort and are suppose to stay together. Yeah, that 'staying together' didn't last at all. Like maybe for 10 feet. The 'new' route had us go north of the tunnel and around. I was tired at the rest stop but someone said it was only 35km to go & I thought, "I can do 35km more"...but this new route used up that 35km and I was falling farther behind the dude in front of me who was alone. The motorcyclist escort was staying a respectful distance behind me. 
I had told another rider earlier that I was going to ride until I fell over. And I did. Almost. I stopped and told the escort that there is a time when it is time to stop. I had lost the mental game. I was discouraged, the cara fina had passed me twice while I was going 20km/hr., the tunnel being inaccessible (we should've used it anyway), my wrist was hurting (the drugs had worn off), my inner thighs had tossed in the towel near the start of the ride and I was tired. I also had absolutely no idea where I was. Well, outside of the Niagara region. On the positive, I was able to get off my bike without falling over! 
The St. John unit was pulling up behind the motorcycle and so they loaded up my bike along with the one that was put there at rest stop #5 (that lady knew when to stop before it got hairy). An icepack and a ride to the finish line. 

I got out and wanted a photo with my 'first aider' (whose name escapes me). She rocked.

79.0 KM
Elizabeth OlsonCalgary, CAN
79.0 KM 
Then I hopped on my bike and rode over the finish line with my timing chip. My split time holds, as does the KOM (king of the mountain) but the final time isn't.

The after ride music rocked with Barney Bental,  

Jim Cuddy 
Luke Ducette

Who all rode then sang and played for a few hours. These dudes are definitely fitter than me! (and they can sing too!) A wonderful time in the sun.

With the exception of the politics around the need for the detour, I really enjoyed it. And I did really well for someone who was riding with a broken wrist, numerous bruises and a semi-stable knee. The landscape was amazing, so varied, unlike southern Alberta- ("oh there's a farmer's field. And another one. And I can see Saskatchewan"). 

I'll post the photos I took the next day of part of the route. Effingham Hill where the KOM took place does not photograph well, it's a deceptive hill.

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