Gravel Bike race 9:29:00  97.6 mi (10.3 mph)
Eager Beaver 100
100'ish miles of Dufferin County. Which, unlike around home, has received lots of rain this year, (including the evening before the race). Which means mud and washed out gravel. Bring it on!
We camped at Highlands Nordic the night before, so had a relatively leisurely start to the day (9 am start time). We started at the main building, then up into the woods, past Larry's Glacier, and on out the south end of the property onto a road allowance. It was a bit muddy (!) on the uphills so some of us did some bike pushing, essentially within sight of the start line. Oh boy.
There were several flats and at least one wipe out in the first 2-3 miles. But Paul and I were unscathed, thankfully. Down, down, down we went into Glen Huron. Then up, up, up along a summer-only maintenance road (more bike pushing). And so it continued for about 50 miles, working our way down to Lavender, and a loop around Mulmur Township, through Kilgorie and back up Prince of Wales Drive. Highlights included pushing our bikes up an un-opened road allowance that even the most enthusiastic of settlers in the 1800's decided was too steep to be worth making into a road (if anyone training for a running (or bike pushing race) in the Alps is interested, I will add the location later). At the aid station in Whitmore, we quipped that we must be the last ones in, but the volunteer said there were at least 15 behind us. Then two guys rolled in who had had mechanicals near the start, so maybe there's a dozen behind us? Thankfully, we came down the road into Kilgorie that Mom and I had driven up last summer, when I said "this would be an awesome spot for a gravel bike race".
It started to rain very steadily on Prince of Wales Drive, so I put my raincoat on, as the forecasted high (or lack thereof) plus the expected winds after this section were going to make for chilly miles ahead. The first half of the race was a humbling sub-10 mph average speed for us..... Paul rode up more hills than I did, but was literally going the same speed as me (2.5-3 mph). I was grateful I didn't have 40 lbs of gear in panniers.
Finally, we got into the potato fields of Melancthon. The wind was from the north, so riding towards Shelburne wasn't so bad.......then we had to turn and go back north. Paul wasn't feeling 100%, so couldn't "fly with the wind" when it was at our back. So I pulled, and pulled, and pulled some more. Every now and then, the course would head south again, which only meant there would be more north winds to bike into later. However, as much as I don't get practice riding hills, I do get practice riding into the wind, so was pretty happy with my 12-13 mph speed through here.
At the last "real" aid station, the sun had come out. I ditched my rain coat and Camelbak, and the first aid guy said there was only one behind us. Huh? Where did the other dozen or so go? We were speculating DNFs, which turned out to be the case.
With about 15 miles to go, I needed a nature break. Just as we were picking a discreet spot to stop, two guys in a golf cart, whooping it up with beers in hand, drove by. And circled around and almost made another pass. After not seeing ANYONE for so many miles.....what are the odds?
The last leg was on private land. Horribly muddy private land. So sorry about the mess the bikes made!!!!!!! The route was through mud and grass that had been recently chopped to make a "trail". Bike drivetrains are magnets for mud and freshly chopped grass (or at least mine is), so I did NOT change gears. I even had to put a foot down a couple times I was so bogged down in the mud (I wasn't going to be an @$$ and ride in the farm field). Finally we made it into the Highlands Nordic woods, down the slippery hills, and across the finish line. We were not DFL, but were very close.
A VERY well marked course. A course that either mountain bikes or CX/gravel bikes can tackle. A course that hill climbers would excel at! And us flatlanders, well, we made it through, in less than 10 hours, before they took the finish line down, and before all the hamburgers were gone!