The Huron Chapter held its first running of the Scenic Cave 300 route on Saturday June 5 and it was a day to remember. Nathan Klages, Pat Little, Bill Little and Carey Chappelle all started together and FINISHED together. For Nathan, Pat and Bill, this was the longest ride of their cycling lives...in distance only. As route developer and someone with a few miles under his belt, this was and is one challenging ride. Although my altimeter cleared itself at the 260 km mark (or my fat fingers pushed the wrong button) the total altitude gain was in excess of 3500m. The steepest grade was 17%. Despite the challenging terrain, the hardest part of this day was looking at Bill Little in his Mario Cippolini suit (see photo of man in Zebra colors).
We left Port Elgin at 0600hrs and 42 degree F. By the time we hit Hanover, the temp had increased to 65 deg. F and it was time to ditch some clothing. This is where Bill unveiled his Zebra colored spandex, much to the enjoyment of Nathan and Pat who couldn't control their laughter. I've always felt the hardest part of a ride is the half hour it takes to get out of town, but as one lady in line at the Tim Horton's commented "even you look good next to him!". There is a benefit to riding with someone who has "style".
Sunny blue skies were the order of the day and a quick stop at Inglis Falls to take in the view quickly reminded us of the need to stop and smell the roses along the way. The Inglis Falls Rd. into Owen Sound offers a fun downhill with a chance to improve your average speed. It was here that Pat decided to "breakaway" and be the first into town. Bill, being the competitive type, had other ideas and the race was on. Nathan and I could only watch and enjoy the show as these two flew into town. I won't say who won, but the road construction on 8th Ave. tested their breaking abilities and provided a humorous photo op. See photo of man in Zebra suit lying face down on the road sign appropriately named "Missed Turn". As we traveled towards Meaford and the Leeky Canoe Control the terrain got progressively more difficult. By the time we reached the Leeky Canoe we were ready for some top notch grub. As always the food was great. As we sat at the counter on bar stools I told the boys how European riders like to supplement their fuel intake with some amber colored beverages and before long we were doing the European thing. A pint of Creemore Springs to wash down lunch and we were on our way.
At this point, I knew the next 50 km were going to be tough but did not (fairly or unfairly) mention this for fear of a mutiny, which I had already been threatened with on the first long climb towards Meaford. I only hoped that I could gain some ground on these "rookies" and be long gone before they realized what hit them. As we tackled one hill after another, I found myself consistently in 3rd spot, not gaining any ground and worrying about my future. The bike computer I was using had an Altimeter and for a techno- weeny like myself provided some much needed information that should be shared with others. So, as we're climbing a fairly steep, long hill, I kept telling Pat Little the grade.. 6%... 7%... 8%... 9%... 11% until he offered to stick that Altimeter where the sun never shines. Point taken, I decided to keep that much needed info to myself.
Exiting the Beaver Valley brought the steepest grade of the day .. 17% and we earned every foot of elevation gain the hard way...we gutted it out. At the top, on Beaver Valley Rd. we regrouped and after a friendly punch in the shoulder from Pat we limped into Flesherton for a well earned break. Heading west, we made good time and began the home stretch from Hanover, North to Port Elgin against a modest headwind. Taking turns pulling, we made short work of the remaining 60 km and when the traffic lights of Port Elgin came into view the group let out a collective cheer celebrating the end of a fantastic day in the saddle!
Congratulations to Nathan, Pat and Bill who completed their first ever 300.