Bikepacking the Simcoe County Loop Trail

Fresh off an amazing bikepacking trip with the folks from Mariposa Bicycles in July to the Karwartha's, I had the idea to tackle the Simcoe County Loop Trail (SCLT) over the August long weekend.  The "Loop" trail is made up of a series of rail and waterfront trails stitched together forming a 165km loop around the central/northern portion of Simcoe County.  Two thirds of the loop is also associated with the Trans Canada Trail, which joins together over 150 communities in Ontario through a collection of multi-use trails.  The SCLT links together small farming communities with waterfront towns, boasting stunning vistas and panoramic views that leave you wanting more.

The decision of where to start our ride was based on a discussion with the local expert from Cycle Simcoe, Brendan Matheson. With plans to experience the loop over the course of two days, we needed a stopping point approximately half way through the loop that had sufficient accommodation for a Saturday evening stay.  After weighing all the options, we decided that it would be best to start in the City of Barrie and ride the loop in a clockwise fashion. We would stop in Midland at the 80km mark for the evening and then continue on with the remainder the next day; taking in Port McNicoll, Victoria Park, Waubaushene, Coldwater, Orillia and then back to Barrie. 

In my research leading up to our ride, I learned that our route for the first day was a portion of the North Simcoe Railway Line which was built in 1878 to replace the stagecoach service that ran between Barrie and Penetanguishene.  Previous to the rail system, taverns were located very close together along the route (every 2km) to house weary travellers. 

With our bikes loaded up we departed downtown Barrie in search of a day of adventure.  Getting out of the city was fairly simple as we left early enough to avoid any local traffic.  The residential built up area quickly became typical Ontario rural farmland as we left the sounds of the city behind us.

North Simcoe Rail Trail (Barrie to Elmvale)

We caught the North Simcoe Rail Trail just off George Johnston Road.  Immediately I was excited. As we began our day rolling through some narrow rail trail, I took in all the sights, sounds and smells of the Minesing Wetlands.  Blue wild flowers lined both sides of the trail as we headed towards Phelpston.  There are plenty of things to see along the way, including Josephine, a ghost town from the early timber days, Mayers Marsh, the Minesing Station Park, dairy farms and dense hardwood forests. 

Our first stop for a coffee was in the small town of Elmvale.  With no real traditional local cafe in town, we decided to pop our heads into the Elmvale Bakery for baked goods and grab a coffee at the local Coffee Time just down the street.  We sat in the sun at the park across the road and listened to a local band play a few tunes before heading out again.

Tiny Trail (Elmvale to Penetanguishene)

As you leave Elmvale through Heritage Park, there is a short bypass that takes you onto County Road 27 for a short time until you pick up the trail again just off of County Road 6 South. However, before you get any farther, this is a great spot to stop and fill your bottles.   Elmvale, and aptly named Springwater Township, is well known for having some of the cleanest water in the world.  Be sure to check out the artisan wells located on County Road 27.  Just south of Flos Road 10 West you will see a small red clad building on the east side of the road, stop and fill your bottles, it's not every day you will have an experience like this.  Please note: This is one of areas of trail improvement for the near future.  I’ve heard they are working on a solution to develop better trail access at this point as the highway is very busy at times. We were able to ride along the side of the road, but the highway was very busy.

As the trail continues north towards Wyevale, it runs parallel with the highway.  Despite this, you still feel like you are hidden away in the forest.  With some sandy sections and several small rail bridges, this section was a bit more challenging than the earlier portions of trail.  Wyevale provides a small picnic area if you are carrying your own food, with plenty of tables and places to rest trail side. 

The Tiny Trail continues through mature forests and fields eventually veering to the north east heading towards Penetanguishene.  As you near shoreline town, the trail turns to pavement and the fun begins as you fly over eleven bridges that cross the Copeland Creek.  After a long day in the saddle of riding straight, flat trails, this section in the forest was definitely a breath of fresh air.

Eventually you find yourself cycling through a graffiti filled steel tunnel under Bridge Road and onto the Penetanguishene Rotary Waterfront Trail. The trail meanders along the waterfront which includes a beach, playground, skate park, picnic facilities and stunning views of the harbour.  We were lucky enough to be passing through the same day the "Urban Slide" was in town.  After taking in some of the excitement from the festivities, we continued to follow the trail through the maze of streets to the Mid Pen Link Trail. 

Mid-Pen Trail Link

The Mid-Pen link trail is a paved section that runs between the two communities.  It starts with a great downhill section that continues around numerous corners, simulating the feeling of riding a roller coaster.  The trail meanders through a stunning mature hardwood forest, eventually connecting you with the Rotary Midland Waterfront Trail.

Our first day of riding ended at the Midland Harbour.  King Street runs directly away from the harbour where you will find several restaurants and coffee shops to suit all tastes.  If you're looking for a great lunch, be sure to check out the amazing panini's and soup at Cibolette Et Cie.  For the best java in town, Grounded Coffee Co. is located just another block and a half up the street. This little cafe is hopping with people and they absolutely love cyclists, so be sure to stop in while you are there.

There are a variety of places to stay in Midland.  To make the most out of your stay, it would be best to stay within the downtown area.  There are limited places in the downtown, mostly B&B's so be sure to book well in advance if you can.  Since our trip was last minute, most places were fully booked but we were lucky enough to obtain a reservation at the Best Western Highland Inn & Conference Centre, which is located approximately 3 km from the downtown area.  During the evening we were able to grab a very reasonably priced cab back to the downtown area to enjoy dinner and watch the sunset behind in the harbour, a truly amazing finish to a great day.

Day two started off right with a smoothie and a tasty espresso from Grounded Coffee on the main street.  As we left Midland, we continued to ride along the waterfront, taking in the beautiful panoramic views of the harbour.

Leaving Midland we crossed a bridge that leads to Sainte-Marie Amongst the Hurons, Ontario's first European settlement dating back to 1639. The last time we had visited the site was when we were both young children, so we decided to stopped in for the experience.  We stayed for roughly an hour, watched a 15 minute film and walked around the historic settlement taking in everything the cultural site had to offer.  There was plenty of bike parking located at the front of the building, just be sure to bring a lock with you. We didn’t travel with locks, but the staff allowed us to store our bikes just inside the main foyer where they were safe.

Tay Shore Trail

The Tay Shore Trail runs between Midland and Waubaushene passing through Victoria Harbour on its way.  This section of the trail is well maintained with an asphalt surface, filled with joggers, cyclists and walkers. A few kilometers east of Midland is the Trestle Trail which takes you into Port McNicoll where you can check out the SS Keywatin docked in the harbour.  Here you can take a tour of the historic passenger ship that carried people across Georgian Bay for over 50 years.

As you pass through Victoria Park there is a Cycle Simcoe bike stand if you need to make any adjustments or repairs to your bike.  There is also a pump if your tires are in need of inflation. 

The paved portion of the Tay Shore Trail comes to a end as you pass under Highway 400 on the other side of Waubaushene.  Back on gravel, it is a quick 7 km ride to Coldwater, a perfect place to stop and check out Em's Cafe.  We grabbed an espresso and pastry and sat outside in the sun.  Coldwater is a cute town, a great place to people watch and enjoy the atmosphere of the small quaint downtown.

Uhthoff Trail

On the east side of Coldwater we picked up the Uhthoff Trail and headed east inland toward Lake Couchiching.  This section of rail trail is unlike the other sections.  At times it appears as two single track paths with grass growing in the middle.  Don't let this discourage you, this was some of the smoothest parts of the non-paved sections on the SCLT.  Cycling through farm county and hardwood forests, the trail is very sheltered from most of the elements.  Keep an eye out for farm crossings, wetlands, Purbrook Creek and the bridges over the North River and Silver Creek.  As you approach Orillia, the trail surface changes to something similar to a gravel road, making it very tough to navigate at times.  This is a shorter section, so be sure to stay in the same track as everyone else and you’ll be fine.

Orillia Millennium Trail

Passing under Highway 11, the trail turns into the Orillia Millennium Trail.  As Lake Couchiching comes into sight, the trail meanders through Couchiching Beach Park, Central Park and Veterans Memorial Park.  We arrived in town just in time for Funfest, an annual festival put on by the local Lions and Rotary clubs.  With a midway, arts and crafts vendors and food trucks: it definitely added the excitement of arriving in Orillia.  We decided to stop for lunch at the Mariposa Market which is located in the busy downtown core.  We had heard that it was a local landmark was extremely busy, but well worth it.  After figuring out how to order, we settled in with some delicious veggie sandwiches and cookies, all washed down with some refreshing lemonade.   There are many things to see and do in Orillia, so be sure to set aside time to explore when you are here.

Oro-Medonte Rail Trail

After navigating a few streets in Orillia, the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail leaves town heading south west towards Barrie.  This section of trail is long and straight.  The surface is great and the trail is very well sheltered from any environmental elements.  Over this section of trail you will see large wetland areas, beaver dams and mature forests.  Keep your eyes peeled for osprey nests, blue herons, deer and other wildlife.

As we rolled into Barrie along the waterfront, we chatted about what an amazing experience we had.  We discussed doing it again, but maybe in the reverse direction next time, or maybe taking a large group of friends with us during the fall to take in the colours and the changing seasons.

Our experience riding the Simcoe County Loop Trail was incredible. The trail sections are all so unique in their own little ways.  Gravel, stone dust, paved, hilly, twisty or narrow, the majority of the trails were excellent to ride on.  I would highly recommend discovering the SCLT over the course of two days, maybe even a long weekend so you have one extra day to explore.  For those of you that can ride anytime of the week, this would make a great mid week excursion. 

Currently the SCLT is just being completed as the municipalities and County work to close the links.  They hope to offically launch the route in 2017. 

For more information regarding the trails and the Simcoe County Loop Trail:

http://experience.simcoe.ca/trails

For Cycling Information specific to Simcoe County

http://cyclesimcoe.ca/

 

 

August Long weekend and the Growling Beaver Brevet is Sold Out!

The Growling Beaver Brevet – SOLD OUT!

It’s been a hot summer for cycling in Southern Georgian Bay.  As we approach the  August long weekend, I can’t help but look ahead to the fall.  After its introduction into the local cycling world last October, the Growling Beaver Brevet has once again sold  (Note:  this year there is a waiting list for participants that missed out on the early registration).

The Growling Beaver Brevet made its debut in 2015 to celebrate cycling and to help people with Parkinson's to live well today. All fundraising proceeds will go to support the joint work of the Davis Phinney Foundation and ParkinGo Wellness Society.

The Growling Beaver Brevet is a social (non-race) ride to celebrate cycling with 200 cyclists riding 40, 100 or 200 km routes through the scenic Beaver Valley at what should be the height of the fall colours. The day will feature Beaver Valley and Georgian Bay communities and merchants that have supported cyclists through the summer season.

The routes have been conceived with a mix of tarmac and scenic country gravel roads. Every rider will carry a “passport” that will be authenticated at checkpoints. 

Those that got in this year will love some of the new swag and additions to the event.  It’s going to be a great year.  For more information and to buy swag, please go to: www.growlingbeaver.com

Cycle Simcoe Releases new "Explore South Georgian Bay by Bike Video

Check out the new, freshly released today video from Cycle Simcoe.

The Long Weekend Excursion

I’m spending my August long weekend bike packing around Southern Georgian Bay.  I’m super excited about a project I’m working on with our friends at Cycle Simcoe.   Keep your eyes peeled in an upcoming  blog about my day tripping experience around Southern Georgian Bay. 

Weekend Weather Outlook

As usual, I’ve looked over my favorite weather services for the long weekend forecast.  There are conflicting predictions, but for the most part the weather looks great.  Winds this weekend will be fairly light out of the N to NE to NEE, depending on the day.  Saturday looks like a great day to be out on a bike.  There is a bit of conflict with the Sunday forecast, with one weather service showing  sun and cloud, while the other predicts rain on and off for the day.  You may want to keep a closer eye on Sunday’s weather as it nears.  Holiday Monday looks like a perfect day for a long ride.

Have a great weekend, hope to see you on the road.

Elvis Fest Weekend - Scott Demo Day

As we near the end of July each year, Collingwood becomes filled with fanatical Elvis fans.  With over 30,000 visitors to the area, you can expect the roads in and around town to be very busy starting Friday morning and running through until Sunday evening when the tribute king is crowned for 2016.  This years event will draw some 100 tribute artists all competing for their spot in Graceland.  If you plan on riding downtown be sure to take a lock with you. 

Scott Demo Day

The Scott team will be at 3 Stage this Saturday morning at 10am-3pm with a ton of bikes for you to demo and try out.

Things to bring: Helmet, Pedals, Drivers License, Credit Card

List of Bikes available for demo:

GENIUS:

  • Genius LT 700 Tuned Large
  • Genius LY 700 Tuned Medium
  • Genius 700 Tuned Plus Medium (TBC)
  • Genius 730 Medium
  • Genius 730 Medium
  • Contessa Genius 700 Small
  • Contessa Genius 710 Small

SPARK

  • Spark 720 Medium
  • Spark 720 Large

SCALE

  • Scale 720 Plus Small
  • Scale 720 Plus Medium
  • Scale 720 Plus Large

E-ASPECT

  • E-Aspect 710 Medium

E-Sub Tour

  • E-Sub Tour Medium

FOIL

  • Foil 30 Small
  • Foil 30 Medium
  • Foil 30 Large
  • Foil 30 X-Large

SOLACE:

  • Contessa Solace 35 - Small

Weekend Weather Outlook

Elvis weekend is typically a perfect summer weekend.  It's not too often that we get a lot of rain at the end of July, and with the drought we have been experiencing over the last few months, there is nothing but hot summer weather coming our way again this weekend.  On Friday the heat warning will remain in place, but is said to be removed for the the weekend with temperatures still high, but below the trigger mark for the heat warning.   Temperatures in the high 20's to mid 30's can still be expected for Saturday and Sunday.  Winds will be moderate coming from the NW on Saturday and then switching to the S and SE on Sunday.  I'll be riding towards Kimberley on Saturday and Creemore area on Sunday to take advantage of the tail winds home.  Be sure to drink lots of fluids both before, during and after your ride this weekend, its going to be warm. 

Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include
- dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting
- headache
- rapid breathing and heartbeat
- extreme thirst and
- decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine.

If you experience any of these symptoms during a heat event, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids. Water is best.

Have a great weekend of riding, hope to see you on the road!

 

 

Scotch Hollow Market & Deli - where to ride this weekend

The local place you should ride to that you haven’t - Scotch Hollow Market & Deli

I have a little secret, I know a local place you should ride to that I can almost guarantee you haven’t been.  New route, new road.  I know, I know…I can hear all you locals say…”I’ve ridden all roads in this area and drank coffee at all the cafes, what are you talking about?”. 

Scotch Hollow Market & Deli is located in the heart of Singhampton, to the rear of Mylar and Loreta’s parking lot.  New this spring, owners Scott Holmes and Kate Sparling have been huge supporters of cycling and mountain biking in the area for many years.  The cafe is open most days between 10am - 5pm (10am-4pm Sun & Mon). I’ve been up to visit a handful of times now and love going back.  Great staff, fresh coffee, all local baked goods, deli sandwiches, small pizza’s, oat bars, butter tarts and of course ice cream (last weekend they included fresh strawberries on it!).

So your asking, how do I get there?  Personally, my favourite route includes gravel, so most of the time I take my cx bike.  If you are setting out for a back road adventure, head straight up Tenth Line, climb up to the Duntroon quarry.  Turn left onto Grey Road 31/Simcoe Rd 95 and continue south straight into Singhampton (Scotch Hollow will be on your right).  If you prefer all paved roads, head up the Pretty River Valley, take a left at Rob Roy and follow Grey Road 31 all the way to Signhampton.  There is plenty of construction going on at the top of the valley this year, however, you should be fine if you stick to Grey Road 31.

The Scotch Hollow Market & Deli follow the simple philosophy “Shop local, Eat local, Spend local, Enjoy local”….we might as well add Ride local, I think it fits just fine with the rest of the mantra.  Stop by and check them out, I promise you won't be disappointed.

 

 

Roads to avoid

It looks like another amazing weekend to ride!  Mid summer means the middle of road construction season in the area so there are still a few places to avoid.  Construction on Fairgrounds Road has been completed from the railway tracks just south of Airport Rd to County Road 91.  Grey Road 31 also has new pavement along with a healthy 1 meter shoulder for bikes (thanks to a group of locals rallying the County of Grey this past winter).  Places that are still torn up include a short section at Rob Roy heading south one concession as well as Grey Road 119 from Banks to Ravenna.  If you avoid these two sections, you should have a great weekend of riding.

Weekend Weather Outlook

The weather outlook couldn’t be better, sunny with temperatures in the mid to high twenties on Saturday and Sunday, with a light winds out of the west.  Pretty idea weekend to ride. 

See you on the road!

 

Canada Day - Corporate Tours - Pivot Demo Day - Weekend Weather Outlook

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day is a great time to head out with a group of friends and explore the area.  Unfortunately this Friday doesn’t look so great for weather.  If you are willing to deal with the rain and wind,  stick close to the area and do a coffee run. If riding in wet weather is not your thing, it may be a good day to check out all the tent sales around the Collingwood area and get stocked up for the next winter.

Pedal Pushers hosts corporate event with special guest George Hincapie

Noelle Wansbrough from Pedal Pushers has been guiding corporate groups now for a few years.  On June 23 Pedal Pushers hosted their first corporate day of the year for a Toronto based Company with special guest George Hincapie. The event included an all-inclusive day of riding in the Collingwood Beaver Valley are area, with 80km and 100km route options.  With 7 guides, 2 swag vehicles, bike set ups from Kamikaze Bikes and the on road help from Velofix, the Pedal Pushers corporate day was extremely successful again this year.  

For more information regarding private cycling events or corporate cycling events contact Noelle at http://pedal-pushers.ca

Weekend Weather Outlook

This weekends weather looks much better for Saturday and Sunday.  On Friday the weather gods suggest that we will see rain for the majority of the day with winds picking up in the afternoon.  There will really be no great time to get out and ride, so if you are looking to get out, take your rain jacket with you.  If riding in the afternoon, stay as sheltered as possible (Georgian Trail), as the winds are expected to pick up to 50km/hr.  Saturday and Sunday look much better with typical summer temperatures in the mid twenties and winds out of the W or NW or WN. 

Have a great Canada Day long weekend, hope to see you on the road.

PedalFest at The Village at Blue - Cycle Simcoe Videos - Pivot Demo at 3 stage - Weekend Weather Outlook

It’s been a great week for riding in and around the Southern Georgian Bay area.  Temperatures have been seasonable and very pleasant for riding.  This weekend looks like another epic weekend to hit the roads and trails in the area.

PedalFest at Blue (June 25-26)

“All for the love of BIKE”, quoted right from the Blue Mountain Village website.  This weekend marks the 2016 PedalFest happenings out at the mountain.  What should you expect?  A kid’s bike parade, bike demos, bike shows, live music, guided and self-guided trail rides and tons of other awesome activities.  This is the first year the Mountain will be hosting the East Coast “Canada Cup” downhill race which promises to be awesome for spectators!  So if you are looking for something to do, or a place to end or start your ride this weekend, check out the Village at Blue, it looks to be a pretty awesome venue for cyclists.

http://bluemountainvillage.ca/pedalfest/

Cycle Simcoe Releases New Video Series

Stay Safe on the Roads in Ontario!

Road cycling, and in particular, road cycling in groups tends to be a highly controversial topic. Misunderstandings surrounding the highway traffic act (HTA) being the primary culprit. With that in mind, Cycle Simcoe recently partnered with Tourism Simcoe County, RTO7 and Grey County, on a series of cycling safety videos. These videos, directed towards both cyclists and motorists were developed to clarify the rules of the road and encourage all road users to co-exist, practicing courtesy and truly 'Sharing the Road'.

The video's touch on the following topics:

  • Leave 1 Metre - it's the LAW
  • Proper Group Riding Etiquette
  • Safe Cycling Techniques
  • How to Safely Pass a Cyclist in a Vehicle

http://cyclesimcoe.ca/safety-videos/

Weekend Weather Outlook

Not much to say, it’s a green light for riding this weekend here in Collingwood.  Saturday looks great with very low winds out of the NW and temperatures in the high 20’s.  On Sunday the winds will shift to the south and a few clouds will move it.  Thunderstorms are expected later in the afternoon, so if you plan to get out, take advantage of the morning and early afternoon hours.

Have a great weekend of riding!  Hope to see you on the road.

6 HOURS OF GIBRALTAR - DAY TIME RUNNING LIGHTS - ROCKY MOUNTAIN DEMO DAY - WHERE NOT TO RIDE

6 Hours of Gibraltar - July 9th, 2016

6 Hours of Gibraltar Course

6 Hours of Gibraltar Course

During the hurricane winds of last Sunday, I had the chance to pre-ride the 6 hours of Gibraltar course with a little instruction from a local MTB legend.  This race is now in its fourth year and it has become without a doubt the highlight of the season for most locals that shred the trails in the 3 Stage area.  The past two summers I have been away from the area during the event, so this year is the first time I will partake in the festivities.  Anyone who knows me will be surprised to hear that I'm jumping on a mountain bike, but I must admit, I had a blast on the course last weekend.  It was fast, with a ton of corners, a few little climbs and plenty of speedy descents.  Just as you get into your groove, a small rock garden is thrown in just to add a little excitement and slow you down for a second or two.  The course is great for all abilities and I’m really looking forward to the event on July 9th.  

The event is open to everyone and has a 4 person category, a 6-8 corporate team division or if you are brave enough, a solo category.  Last year the event raised $140,000 for the local My Friends House charity.  My Friend's House is a non-profit organization providing emergency shelter and counseling services to abused women and their children escaping violence in their personal relationships.  

For more information or to donate to the cause please check out the website or donate HERE

Day time running lights

Day Time Running Lights (DTRL's) are becoming more popular on the road nowadays with cyclists.

Day Time Running Lights (DTRL's) are becoming more popular on the road nowadays with cyclists.

Over the winter there has been a lot of talk on the interwebs and bike forums about day time running lights (DTRL’s) on bicycles.  I remember reading an article (which I can't find anywhere now) about a group of roadies in California who have started riding with DTRL’s to increase their visibility during the normal hours of the day.  Its funny, I believe most people won't use DTRL's because they actually think it's “uncool” or they are afraid of being the only rider in the bunch with lights on during the day.  As cyclists we need to change the way we think and have a better understanding on how drivers see us on the road.

For the most part,  this year i have been riding with front and rear DTRL’s.  It doesn’t matter if it is sunny and bright, I use them if I have them.  According to a little research I conducted, motor cycle collisions were decreased by 26% when DTRL’s were used. So where does that leave us vulnerable cyclists?  I’m actually beginning to think people are crazy for not using them, DTRL's make you more visible on the road any time of the day.  In Ontario, the law requires us to have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between a half hour before sunset and a half hour after sunrise.  The law does not speak to DTRL's.  I believe that as a cyclist, it's in our best interest to do everything within our power to be seen on the road.  DTRL’s are the way of the future for road cycling, time to give it a chance.  Check out your local bike shop and get fitted with some new lights.  Quick tips- spend money on lights, they are expensive but may save your life.  Don't buy small ones, they are typically useless and can't be seen.  Make sure they are rechargeable so you can plug them in after every ride.  In fact, it doesn't hurt to have two sets, that way one can always be charged and ready to go.

Rockie Mountain Demo Day - 3 Stage Saturday June 18th, 10am-3pm

Looking to demo a new bike for the 6 hours of Gibraltar?  Squire John's is hosting a Rocky Mountain Demo Day tomorrow at 3 Stage between 10am-3pm.  Test ride the latest bikes with new school handling and geometry from Rock Mountain. 

 

Where not to ride this weekend

There is some construction going on this weekend the you may wish to avoid.  Grey Road 119 from Banks to Ravenna is closed for surface modifications.  The County of Grey has also started a bit of construction on Grey Road 31 east of Rob Roy (portion of the local ride called the Newman Loop).  There are a few ridable gravel sections, but you may just want to avoid this area all together.  

Weather Outlook

Last weekend was really a disaster for any great road riding here in Southern Georgian Bay.  The high winds really put a damper on all the excitement for riding.  This weekend looks like it could be the best one yet of 2016, both Saturday and Sunday will have temperatures in the high twenties with very low winds out of the west and north west.  This may be the time to break out the sun sleeves and sunblock, its going to be a hot weekend!  Pack lots of fluids and be sure to stop at all those cafes along the way to refuel!

Hope to see you on the road!

This weekend - The Midland Butter Tart Festival

The Butter Tart Ride

A few years back I rode from Collingwood to Midland for the annual Butter Tart Festival (dubbed "Ontario's Best").  Anyone in the cycling world (at least in Canada) will understand that any good ride should include the chance to devour a few butter tarts along the way.  There are several amazing places to ride to from Collingwood that all have an incredible selection of these heavenly treats; Giffen’s County Market, Affairs Cafe, Kimberley General Store and of course Ravenna General Store.  The great thing about the Midland Butter Tart Festival is that you can ride to one place and get the worlds best BT selection.

Chocolate covered butter tarts 

Chocolate covered butter tarts 

This ride differs from others in the the area because it is completely flat, zero climbing.   From Collingwood it is a 120km return ride, so you will need a bit of time to do it.  For those looking to reduce the length, you can ride out of Wasaga Beach and take 40-50 km off the ride.  I have included the route below.

Raspberry filled Butter Tart

Raspberry filled Butter Tart

More information can be found at the Midland Butter Tart Festival Website:  

http://buttertartfestival.ca

Weekend Weather Outlook

The weekend weather looks to be a bit of a mixed bag.  On Saturday, Environment Canada is calling for a 60% chance of thundershowers with the temperature around 26 degrees  (humidex is around 34 degrees). The afternoon looks better for riding if you are planning to get out.  Sunday looks amazing at first glance, but when you take a closer look, the winds will once again move in, just like they have all this week.  Right now the weather gods are forecasting 26 km/hr winds out of the NW gusting to 40 km/hr all day.  There will be no real ideal time to ride on Sunday, so when you do, make sure you head out in a northwest direction (towards Thornbury and Frogs Hollow) so you can enjoy the tail wind home.

Hope to see you on the road!

 

Cannondale Demo night at 3 Stage #LeftyTour - This Thursday

Looking for something to do this Thursday evening?  Cannondale is bringing their demo fleet of MTB’s from the Ontario wide #LeftyTour to the trails up at 3 Stage.  The event starts at 4pm and goes until dusk.  

Things to bring

  • Helmet
  • Pedals of choice
  • Drivers License and Credit Card
  • Desire to ride awesome bikes and have a kickass time

Bikes available for demo

  • Beast Of the East - Small & Large
  • Habit - Small, Medium & Large
  • Fat CAAD - Small, Medium & Large
  • Slate Ultegra - Small & Medium

Why should you demo a bike?

There are so many reasons to demo a bike when the opportunity presents itself.  I always take advantage of events like this, it’s good to stay in tune with the cycling industry, the technology, the different styles of frames, new components and anything else that may be new since your last bike purchase.  Always bring your own helmet and pedals, and don’t forget your shoes.  Do your best to have the bike set up so you are comfortable with it, but remember that it's just a demo session, so you may not be able to have it dialled in as much as you would like.

For the test ride make sure you start off slow and take a bit of time to get use to how the bike rolls, corners, shifts and brakes.  As you feel a little more confident, test out the braking, take different angles and speeds into the corners, spend some time climbing/descending and basically get to know the bike as best you can.  Don’t forget to ask for the low down on the bike itself; what makes it different and unique from everything out there on the market. 

Let them you your coming here

Happy Demo-ing :)

IMG_5256.JPG

The Hero Ride - CCC Youth Mountain Bike Program - Adult Mountain Bike “Learn to Ride” Clinics

After the success of last weekends Grey County Road Race, we have another jammed packed weekend of cycling coming to our area.  The weather this weekend looks great for Friday and Saturday, but with the shift in winds to the north east, we will see a bit of rain on Sunday from noon on.  If you are planning any long rides this weekend, you may want to get them in on Saturday while the suns out and the roads are dry.  

The Hero Ride - 5 Year Anniversary

This weekend marks the 5th anniversary of the “Hero Ride”.  I’ve had the pleasure of participating in this event twice over its life time, and I must say, it truly is an experience like no other in Ontario.  The Hero Ride team has managed to create a very niche, all inclusive, red carpet experience that always leaves its participants with a huge smiles, even after suffering along its 250 km, 2 day course.  The event supports the work of the Bridgepoint Health Foundation and SickKids in Toronto.  Riders leave the Kingbridge Centre on Saturday morning and ride to the Westin Trillium house at Blue Mountain where they’re provided dinner and entertainment for the evening.  On Sunday morning they head south and return back to Toronto.  The event is worth checking out - bonus- there is still time to donate, more information can be found here : http://theheroride.com

CCC / Pedal Pushers Youth Mountain Bike Program

For a few years now the Collingwood Cycling Club (CCC) has been involved in the youth mountain biking clinics out at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon.  Last year, Pedal Pushers paired up with the CCC and build on the already proven Trail Blazers program.  In 2015, 40 youth from the Collingwood area participated in the 10 week program, it was a huge success.  This year the program exploded with over 60 kids registering.  Every Monday evening you can find kids of all different ages and abilities learning cycling and mountain biking skills in a safe environment with the extremely qualified Pedal Pushers coaching staff.  The program runs from May through to the end of June.  Its amazing watching the kids learn proper cycling skills at such an early age, I'm very jealous that I didn’t have a chance to do something like this when I was just a wee lad.  Registration for this program starts in February at the same time as registration for the CCC.  For more information you can contact Noelle at Pedal Pushers or watch the Collingwood Cycling Club Website next winter for registration info. Cost: Early Bird rate $100 (includes $50 jersey), $130 after deadline.

Upcoming Pedal Pushers Co-Ed Adult Mountain Bike Skills Clinic - 6 Hours of Gibraltar Course

  • Thursday June 23rd-6-8PM
  • Thursday June 30th-6-8PM
  • Price: $60.00 per clinic, $120 for both dates
  • Location: 6 Hours of Gibraltar Course-Private Estate (address will be sent out 2 days prior to clinic)
  • Learn to race, learn to ride-All levels welcome

Not sure if you're fitness level is up for the challenge? While mountain biking does require a certain level fitness from riders, we have a full range of lessons that cater towards riders of all abilities.  Many of our lessons run at multiple levels, allowing you participate in a group that suits you best. 

Don't miss out on this opportunity to ride on purpose built trails in a private estate setting. Trails are suitable for all levels of cyclists.

For more information and to register check out : http://pedal-pushers.ca

Where to ride this weekend?

Commit your long ride this weekend to Saturday morning.  With all the lilacs out in full bloom right now, its a great time to take advantage of the Georgian Trail system.  Jump on your urban bike or cross bike and head to Thornbury or Meaford for lunch.  McGinty’s on main street in Meaford is a great place to stop for an amazing custom made sandwich and some great pastries.  Round trip on the trail (totally traffic and car free) from Collingwood to Meaford is 70km.  If you are looking for a decent road ride, I'd personally take advantage of heading into the Beaver Valley, climbing Bowles Hill, Epping or up to Eugenia and having a break at the Emporium in Eugenia or the Kimberley General Store.  Just keep in mind that the winds will be shifting this weekend to the north east, so you may be facing a bit of a head wind on the way back…if thats the case, just make sure you return from the Beaver Valley via Grey Road 31-Grey 2-Grey 19, its the most sheltered route.   Looking for a particular route, message me and I’ll see what I can put together for you.

Growling Beaver Brevet

Registration is now open at for this years Growling Beaver Brevet at www.growlingbeaver.comThe event is a "gravel grinder" ride that has distances of 40km, 100km and 200km.  With Side Launch Brewing Company as home base for this event, you don't want to miss out!

The GBB is a fundraising event for cyclists by cyclists. The principal aim is to raise money for the Davis Phinney Foundation and their Canadian partner, ParkinGO, to help people with Parkinson's Disease to "live well today." We run our event to shower our supporters, you the fundraising riders, with affection, food -- and beer. It's the least we can do for how you've helped us.  This event is already 50% sold, so register early if you plan to raise money and ride.

Have a great weekend of riding, hope to see you out there!

Cycling this weekend in Collingwood – Grey County TT & Road Race - Recommended Rides

It’s hard to believe that the end of May is here, it seems just like yesterday it was March break and Mother Nature kept taunting us with cold arctic air adamant to keep us off our bikes.  For the past few years here in Southern Georgian Bay, the end of May marks the Grey County Road Race & Time Trial.  This event was first introduced to this area three years ago by Bruce Bird, organizer and cyclist.  Originally it was started as an Ontario Cup event and attracted avid amateur cyclists from all over province.  Last year the event changed and became a sanctioned stop for the UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) which was formed in 2011 by the UCI.  In 2016 the event has been renamed as the “UCI Gran Fondo World Series”.  There are 14 qualifying events worldwide where the top 25% in each age group will qualify for the Amateur World Championships.

Time Trial (TT) – Friday May 27th

The TT this year has changed location and will start and finish in Thornbury.  The course itself is 29.1km long, climbing up Grey Road 40 and descending back into Thornbury via 33rd Sideroad.  From the research I have done, it appears the starting line will be at the Town’s water tower on Victoria Street South.  The finishing line will be on Alfred St. W. between Beaver St. S. and Victoria Street by the baseball diamonds.  This would be a great spot to watch all the riders start and finish if you are looking for the best place to cheer.  Another great place to help support the riders would be at the top of the Grey Road 40 climb.  This vantage point would be great as the riders will well into the suffering by that point and may all the encouragement they can get to get over the climb.  The TT event gets underway at 5:15pm tonight.

TT Start times - https://greycountyroadrace.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/gctt_start_times.pdf

Strava Course : https://www.strava.com/routes/4655566

Friday evening TT Start/Finish map

Friday evening TT Start/Finish map

Road Race Sunday May 29th

This course will not disappoint.  I have spent the last month riding it and I must say that there will be some tired riders at the end of this one, there is no hiding from the climbing, no sitting in a pack and just spinning, riders are going to have to work.  Depending on the age group, racers could see themselves climbing Scenic Caves up to three times during the race.  If this wasn’t bad enough, add in the Red Wing climb and the 7.5km ride up through the Pretty River Valley.  This course will hurt.  The races all begin in the Village at Blue Mountain starting at 8am.  The finish line is on Swiss Meadows Blvd near the top of Scenic Caves Road.

Road Race Start times – Blue Moutain Village between 8am – 8:40am 

Start Schedule: https://greycountyroadrace.com/road-race/road-race-schedule/

Strava Course: https://www.strava.com/routes/3811242

Grey County Road Race - Sunday May 29th

Grey County Road Race - Sunday May 29th

 

Where should you ride this weekend?

With all the activity on Friday night and Sunday, you should really plan your rides accordingly.  Saturday is wide open, since the race is on Sunday, it would be best to take advantage of cycling over in the Beaver Valley area, maybe check out Bowles Hill or Epping and grab a lunch from Stacie at the Kimberley General Store or a panini in Ravenna.  On Sunday, most of these roads will be involved in the race, so unless you are riding to cheer on friends, you may want to steer clear of them. 

Sunday would be a great day to venture on the flats over through Wasaga Beach eventually ending up in Balm Beach.  This is a 100km return trip from Collingwood and utilizes none of the roads that the race will be on. 

Another option would be to head to Creemore, Glen Huron and Maple Valley.  Be sure to stop in Creemore at Affairs for lunch or Giffen’s for buttertarts or breakfast.  As usual, Curries Farm Market is always the best place for après once you arrive back in Collingwood. 

I hope this helps you with your weekend riding!  See you on the roads.

May Long Weekend- Where to ride?

Spring has finally arrived and the forecast for the May long weekend couldn't be any better!  Many of the signs of spring have started to show in the Georgian Triangle and there are a few places you may want to consider checking out on the bike this weekend.  Here's my list of places to ride and places to avoid to make your experience more enjoyable.

Places to Ride

  1. Ride through the Pretty River Valley, with all the leaves and smells of new life just coming out, you will find yourself smiling from the top to the bottom of the climb.  End up at the newly renovated Feversham General Store for a coffee.
  2. Take on the section of road between Dunedin and Glen Huron, honestly, it will feel like your riding in Ireland it is so green! Make a quick stop at Giffen's in Glen Huron for breakfast.
  3. Take on the newly paved Scenic Caves climb and descend down through all the apple orchards past Loree and check out all the apple blossoms that just came out this week.  Grab a panini at Ravenna General store for lunch on your way back to Collingwood. 
  4. Check out the causeway on the way to Eugenia and see if there are any new osprey chicks in the nest :)
  5. Start and end all your rides at Curries Farm Market in Collingwood….opening for the season this weekend and they have a full new setup outside for cyclists!

Places to avoid

  1. Anywhere near Wasaga Beach- with the current forecast, Wasaga will be the last place you want to be on a bike.  The traffic will be backed up with cottagers heading to the beach and the number of cars will make it unsafe and nearly impossible to ride.
  2. Grey Road 31 between Rob Roy and Grey 2.  The road is currently closed for a bridge replacement.

Looking forward to getting out and riding this weekend!  Hope to see you out there.

Pretty River Valley May 17, 2016 Photo: N.Newman

The Mandatory Spring Tune Up

Each spring before I get my bike out on the road I like to do a few things to make sure it is operating properly and ready for a full season of use.  If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want is to be left stranded on the side of the road because of a broken brake cable that could have been completely avoided for a small cost.  Each spring I put my bike through a few key maintenance items to ensure my early rides are free of any mechanicals, the last thing I want is to be left behind while my friends ride off into the horizon.

Cables and Housing - Some will say it isn’t necessary, but I replace my brake and shifter cables on my bikes each spring.  Depending on the age of the housing, it may need to be replaced as well.  Little do most people know that this small change can increase the smoothness of your shifting and braking, improving your all-round efficiency and confidence on the bike, who doesn’t want that? Cables and housing are super cheap, always say yes to this service if you can’t remember the last time they were replaced.

Tubes and Tires - I tend to leave my tires from the previous year on all winter.  The spring is a good time to replace the tires if you don’t remember when you put them on.  There are several other factors you may want to consider as well.  If the rear wheel is worn flat, if you can’t located the wear indicator, or if the rubber looks cracked and flakes off when you run your thumb over the sidewall.  Tires can be a bit more expensive to replace, but well worth it.  I always put new tubes in each spring before I start riding, its simple and cheap.

Drivetrain - For those of us that have the knowledge to take apart the drivetrain on our bikes, tend to break them down each spring to make sure the bearings in the bottom bracket are working well and don’t need to be replaced.  I completely clean the chain, rings and cassette with a good degreaser.  I also clean the front and rear derailleur . Once everything has been degreased, I re-lube the components and put them all back together.  This is also a good time to check chain length to make sure its not time to replace it. Determining chain stretch is something that should be left for your local bike shop (LBS).  If the chain needs to be replaced, don’t be caught off guard, your LBS may suggest that you replace the cassette and chain rings as well, this will be a very costly, but well worth it. Nothing feels better then a fresh clean drivetrain!

Keeping the mechanical parts well lubed and clean are the key to making your bike last longer and run more efficiently.   I would suggest that you get your bike to your local bike shop or mechanic during the winter months so you have it ready to go for that early March day when the temperatures are warm enough for you to get out.  

Local places to take your bike in the Collingwood area include Squire John’s, Kamikaze bikes, or call Velofix for home service.  

PowerWatts Collingwood: The Full indoor riding experience

 I don't know about you, but winters for me here in Canada can be extremely long and cold. Over the past few years I've spent a lot of time in my basement on my trainer watching numerous hours of Netflix and listening to music. When it comes to training inside during the colder months, I guess you could say I'm a bit of a loner. I'm highly motivated by my inner self and really enjoy getting on my trainer at the same time everyday.  This works great for the most part, but what I really miss is the social aspect of the group ride. So...how does someone get the benefit of a interval based workout indoors with the added bonus of a group ride? Why not give Powerwatts Collingwood a try.

Powerwatts Collingwood is located at the Peak to Shore Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine office on the corner of First Street and Hurontario Street.  One of the first things you notice when you walk into the studio is that there are only four bikes. This may seem strange to some, but it actually makes for a nice intimate experience.  Picture yourself riding with three of your best friends on a Saturday morning while chatting about the week and still getting your workout in. There's no distractions of other people walking in,  just you,  your mates, a Powerwatts certified Coach and the challenge of the Powerwatts course.

PowerWatts Coaches Noelle & Steph

PowerWatts Coaches Noelle & Steph

Now don't get me wrong, this is no ordinary spin class. Powerwatts is a "Power" based training system that helps you really focus in on the watts that you generate while pedaling, your cadence and the overall efficiency of your pedal stroke. If anything, I would suggest that it's unlike any class you have been to before.   At first you'll be inundated by numbers; your power, cadence, speed, time of interval, percentage of FTP, but you will quickly learn the system and after a few minutes it becomes like a video game where you find yourself trying to keep the numbers on target.  Over the course of one or two visits you quickly become addicted and before you know it, you'll be purchasing the ten pack to keep you busy through the winter. 

If you're looking for an exciting new challenge and something different than your regular spin class, stop by and check them out, I guarantee you'll have a great time.  The typical class is four riders and one instructor.  For more information please check out:   http://www.powerwatts.com/locations/

Video Credit - Jeff MacInnis on 2015-12-16.



The Top 8 Cafes/General Stores to stop at in Southern Georgian Bay

There are many different types of cyclists, but one thing we all share in common is the love of coffee, pastries and cafes.   In fact, I would go as far as to say that all recreational cycling routes are based around the location of cafes.  The only deviation from this rule is the so called “training” ride where the purpose is strictly for performance reasons.  If this were a perfect world, there would be a espresso bar with pastries every 30 km.

If you follow “the Rules” written by the Velominati, Rule #56 specifically states “When wearing cycling kit and enjoying a pre or post ride coffee, it is only appropriate to drink espresso or macchiato.”  Some cyclists don’t take it this far…others insist.  Some fuel up on a coke, others refill water bottles and just take in the sun.  But for those of us that skip breakfast before the club ride, we need the appropriate fuel.  I seldom say no to a butter tart, croissant, cookie, coffee or San Pellegrino.  In fact, some days I actually contemplate buying a pie.

Here in the South Georgian Bay area we have several amazing cafes/general stores that cater to cyclists.  Amazingly they are located within 30km of the Collingwood downtown core.  

So, lets get down to business, if you're riding around the Southern Georgian Bay area, below are eight places that deserve to be stopped at.

Curries County Market - Collingwood

If you are riding out of Collingwood, or coming into town from Creemore or the Beaver Valley, Curries has become the “local” cycling hub.  Located at the corner of Sixth Street and Tenth Concession, Curries is smack dab in the middle of  the main cycling corridor.  The owners are so dedicated to the cycling industry that in 2015 they installed a bike rack that holds up to 20 bikes and covered a section of their market to provide shade for cyclists.  Curries provides great coffee, a plain butter tart, muffins, cookies, a large assortment of organic drinks and of course any fruit that is in season.  In August I regularly buy a 1/2 pint of peaches and hand them out to anyone wanting one.  They also have ice cream if that’s your thing.  It’s the perfect stop at the end of a ride.

Affairs Cafe - Creemore

Norma of Affairs Cafe in Creemore  has welcomed cyclists for years.  She absolutely loves us.  On any Saturday/Sunday morning, you can expect to see upwards of a couple hundred cyclists roll through Creemore.  Many of which stop in for Affairs baked goods, great espresso/lattes or home made lunches.  There is bike parking in the alley beside the Cafe (you’ll see the obvious sign), consider yourself lucky if you get a spot.   There is plenty of seating inside and if it’s sunny outside, spend time around the small tables on the sidewalk.  With Affairs cheerful environment  it’s easy to find your “short break” creeping into an extended stay.  Not a problem, enjoy and be sure to grab one more shot of espresso to help propel you up the Fairgrounds hill.

Eugenia Falls Emporium - Eugenia

The Eugenia Emporium is open from mid spring until mid to late fall.  Just south of the bridge, the Emporium sits in the heart of downtown Eugenia.  Boasting a take out counter at the back of the store, this is the ideal place to stop after the 40km plus trip from Collingwood .  With several picnic tables out front, there is always shade under the umbrellas and enough seating for 15-20 people.  While they offer a variety of baked goods...this stop is famous for its pickles, make sure you try one out.

Ravenna County Market - Ravenna

Looking for a lunch stop, this is the place for you.  Hands down the best panini in the area, there’s no debating.  Located halfway out of the Beaver Valley, it’s a great place to rest before heading back to Collingwood.  Fudge, butter tarts, pies, sandwiches, homemade soups, coffee and any other treats you can dream of can be found here.  I recently heard they’ve introduced a juice bar, a nice addition for a little natural energy to get you back over the escarpment and home!

Kimberley General Store - Kimberley

Nestled in the heart of Kimberley at the base of the Beaver Valley, you will find the Kimberley General Store. The owner Stacie is a great host and provides top notch service to cyclists.  Here you will find gluten free treats, pies and my personal favourite, rhubarb platz.  A very welcoming large honeycombed shaped water container sits next to the coffee machine for cyclists to refill their water bottles.  The coffee is great and the made to perfection veggie sandwiches are to die for.  One thing you will find here that elevates the experience and puts it above the rest, is sliced watermelon.  Once you have figured out what to eat, hang out under the gazebo or chill on the front porch.  Don’t make the mistake of cycling past this gem.

Thornbury Bakery Café - Thornbury

The Thornbury Bakery Café is located on Bruce Street, just a little south west of the traffic light in town.  This little hot spot is known for its amazing lunches.  Pick your favourite bread and stack it high with your choice of toppings.  During the fall months it’s always a great place to stop for soup.  With tons of cookies and treats, this is where you will find the best cinnamon bun or sticky knot in the area!  Whether you’re riding in on the Georgian Trail or cycling in from the Beaver Valley, this is a great place to stop.

Espresso Post – Collingwood

Arguably the best espresso shop in Ontario, Espresso Post boasts not only the top baristas in the business, but the tasty drinks to prove it.  Located in the centre of Collingwood on Hurontario Street, just down from the town hall, Espresso Post is the authentic local café.  With amazing cookies to complement the assortment of espresso, cappuccinos and lattes, you will find yourself re-ordering.  If the weather is lousy out, spend time inside, otherwise, grab a seat on the sidewalk patio and take in the sounds of downtown Collingwood.  Ample bike parking is located out front of the café.

Giffen's County Market - Glen Huron

Just off the beaten path on the way to Creemore is a marvellous little place called Giffen's Country Market.  On a typical morning when you arrive, the smell of breakfast fills the air. Giffen's is known for the famous selections of butter tarts.  The Giffen family has operated the family business on 170 acres of land since 1939.  They offer everything from bacon and eggs to tarts, pies, cheese and lots of fruits and vegetables.  Definitely worth the stop if you are in the Glen Huron area, you wont be regret it!

Pedal Pushers…from Diva Days to Corporate Days

Women specific cycling clinics, corporate cycling events and private coaching

Over that last few years I have had the pleasure of knowing, riding and working with Noelle Wansbrough on many cycling related projects.  Noelle is the owner/operator of Pedal Pushers, a local Collingwood business that helps cyclists of all types learn to ride safer, smarter and faster.  I’ve worked with Pedal Pushers on a few events including a corporate event with over 30 participants and a Diva Day.   I will tell you this, I wish I’d known of Pedal Pushers when I was new to cycling.   Pedal Pushers main event is their “Diva Day”, a non-intimidating women's only clinic that starts with cycling basics and gets women out on the road with everything they need to know to ride safely.

If you are new to cycling and are looking for top notch coaching, or even looking to climb faster or ride smarter, Pedal Pushers is your answer.  I recently had a chance to chat with Noelle and ask her a few questions about her love for cycling and the Pedal Pushers business.  Hopefully you find them helpful.

J: What is Pedal Pushers?

N: Pedal Pushers Cycling provides road and mountain bike clinics, coaching and tours in the Collingwood and Muskoka area.

J: What got you into cycling and what are you’re credentials?

N: My Dad got me into cycling at a young age. I grew up in Toronto and we would ride down to the beaches every Saturday for Ice Cream, which was a smart way for him to get me into the sport! I worked for Backroads bike tours in Whistler and started competing in mountain biking  in my twenties. I've been racing on and off since then.  I've worked in the industry for the past 15 years as a sales rep and I'm also a NCCP level 1 cycling coach.

J: Why did you start Pedal Pushers and how long has pedal pushers been around?

N: Pedal Pushers was started in 2009. The original goal was to get more women on bikes and the business has been growing ever since.

J: Where do you work out of?

N: I work out at Active Life Conditioning in Collingwood. In the winter I teach the Performance Pedal program there along with one of my pedal pushers coaches Stephanie Martinek and Smart Athlete coach Peter Glassford.

J: What services do you offer? 

N: Coaching (road & mountain bike), women specific clinics, co ed clinics, custom group training and corporate and group tours.

J: Can you paint a picture of what someone would experience during a Pedal Pushers Diva Day.

N: The Diva Day is designed for the beginner, intermediate road rider looking to improve their road bike skills in a non intimidating environment. The Diva Day includes a mini mechanic seminar, gear selection demo, skills & drills to improve climbing, descending and group riding. The clinic is fully supported and includes swag bag, snacks,drinks, lunch, nutritional seminar and optional apres at Le Scandinave Spa Blue Mountains.  Pedal Pushers offers a very personalized experience with a high coach-rider ratio. Our coaches Lesley Johnson and Stephanie Martinek have years of experience in both road and mountain biking. We also employ a wide variety of expert level rider leaders on our clinics to ensure everyone has support. My father Robbie Ross drives the support van and loves being involved in the business. Everyone is well looked after on a DD clinic.

J: What levels of riders do you work with for individual personal training?

N: I work with all levels of riders, male and female. Some are just taking up the sport and want to train for a charity ride or the 25 mile Centurion. Others are training for a half Ironman or the C50-C100 Centurion. Some of my clients are road riders wanting to try mountain biking for the first time.

J: Whats your most memorable Pedal Pushers moment/what was the most inspiring Pedal Pushers moment?

N: Seeing the expression on the cyclists faces when they achieve their goals whether its reaching the top of the Pretty River Valley Climb or crossing the finish line at the Centurion. One of my clients is from Mexico and had never ridden a bike. She attended one of my first Diva Day Clinics back in 2009 and seeing her finish the Centurion C50 was a very fufilling moment for me.

J: Whats on the horizon for pedal pushers?

N: There’s been a real increase in corporate groups wanting to get off the golf course and on the road so corporate road and mtn bike tours are something we are now offering. Last year we had a group of 30 executives up from the city for a 100km road tour so we are now also focusing in corp tours in addition to our clinics and camps.

J: When are the upcoming Pedal Pusher Events?

N: Diva Day Clinic May 2nd, May 30th, Climbing Clinic June 6th, Mountain Bike clinic (co-ed June 17th, 24th)and Diva Day Clinic July 25th (Muskoka). 

The Georgian Trail, McGuinty's Cafe and Side Launch Brewing Company

It seems that the spring weather has been "hit and miss" this year.  If its sunny out, you have to deal with extreme winds and gusts upwards of 50km/hr, and if its cloudy and cold, the winds seem to be calm and relaxed.  Today was sunny and windy.  On days like this the best thing to do is utilize the Georgian Trail.  A small group of us headed out for a ride to Meaford.  This type of ride doesn't happen too often as most of us enjoy some climbing and hills....the Georgian trail has neither long climbs nor rolling hills.  In fact, as is the case with most rail trails, its completely flat and dead straight.

The winds were very strong and out of the NNW today, so heading to Meaford made complete sense.  We spent an hour and twenty minutes pushing into a head wind just to turn around and fly home with the wind on our back.  The trail was completely void of snow, which is good news, meaning that spring is finally here to stay.  

McGuinty's Cafe

Bike parking around the back of the Cafe where the patio is

You have two options for a coffee break on this ride, Thornbury or Meaford.  Since the overall ride is 70km in length, we always stop at McGuinty's in Meaford, the halfway point.  This perfect little cafe is located on the main street between the two stop lights.  McGuinty's Cafe is a "Ontario By Bike" approved destination.  I had a quick chat with the owner and they absolutely love cyclists and really go out of their way to cater to them.  With a great selection of coffee, espresso and lattes, don't forget to try one of their chocolate butter tarts or a piece of gluten free carrot cake. If you are there over the lunch hour, the veggie bagel sandwiches are amazing.  This gem is definitely worth the stop.  Around the back of the building you will find a patio and bike rack.

Side Launch Brewing Company

The return trip was very fast.  With the wind on our backs, we flew home passing several trail users between Meaford and Collingwood.  After picking up a friend on the way into Collingwood, we decided to do a little apres at the Side Launch Brewing Company which is located CONVENIENTLY just off the trail in Collingwood.  If you are planning on replicating this ride from Collingwood, the SLBC brewery would be a great place to park your car and leave from.  The bonus with this idea is that you can take a tour and taste a few of their award winning beers after the ride.  The four of us finished up with  1 Wheat, 1 Dark Lager and 2 Pale Ales.  Take your pick, you can't go wrong :).  

SLBC is a big supporter of cycling in the Collingwood community.  They have sponsored the local cycling club since its inception and are also designated as an Ontario by Bike destination. No better place to finish up your ride!

The mapping above shows the basic route we followed.  There is a quick detour off the Georgian Trail on the way home, no need to do that yourself.  I had also lost my garmin just before the brewery, it fell off my bike.  I found it beside the trail three hours later.  This map should give you a basic idea of where to go.

Spring has sprung in South Georgian Bay...

After nearly four and half months of cold miserable winter weather, spring finally decided to show its face this past weekend.  Typically we have warmer weekends before mid April, but this year we haven't been so lucky.  

This past Sunday temperatures ventured into the mid teens while brilliant blue skys and sun surrounded us once again.  Saturday evening I sent out an email to several friends with the intentions of getting a small group together for a ride to Creemore.  For several reasons, which I won't bore you with, only 3 of us made the commitment.  For those of you interested, we rode the "Coffee Run" or what others describe as the Creemore Loop.  Personally, I love riding this loop via Fairgrounds Road as I love the climb before my espresso and butter tarts, yes thats plural.

The three of us left Curries at 8:30am and arrived in Creemore at 9:30am....not bad since we were all riding gravel bikes with knobbies.  Typically this time of year the folks at Affairs Cafe in Creemore have their tables and chairs out front on the sidewalk, but since its been such a cold spring, we had to ask to have one brought out for us.  Norma and her staff at the Cafe absolutely love cyclists and really do a great job making you feel welcome.  Be sure to park in the alley way beside the Cafe (try not to lean your bike up against the trees or flower beds along the front of the stores).  We sat there baking in the sun for half and hour; one coffee, one espresso, one latte and a few pastries, the way cycling should be.  

Under a bit of a time crunch, we headed home along the very popular Sixth Line back to Collingwood.  On the way back we passed several groups of cyclists heading toward Creemore, on route for some coffee and pastries.  

The "Coffee Run" is 60km round trip from Collingwood and is one of the flatter rides in the area.  Don't let this trick you, there are still lots of rollers, and if you take Fairgrounds Road, you will climb a bit!  As for now, the Creemore ride is in great shape and waiting for you.


Winter Training in Maui

This winter my wife and I decided to travel to Maui for a few reasons.  One, it's too cold here in February and we wanted to escape to a warmer climate, and secondly, the island provides tons of amazing roads and routes for cycling.

For those of you that don’t know, Maui claims to have the second longest paved climb in the world (some would argue that).  The climb up Heleakala is an astonishing 59km, starting at sea level and topping off at 10,000 ft.  The island also boasts several amazing routes, three of which include the “Road to Hana”, the Winery Road and the West Maui Loop.  Each of these rides is epic in in own sense, each varying in distance and elevation and scenery.  

I haven’t really found any documentation anywhere on the web describing these as official routes, so I thought I would provide you with the info you need in case you had the notion to go ride your bike in Maui; here’s four days of great riding.

Heleakala

The route starts in the small town of Paia (sea level) and ends back in the town 120km later, a typical “out and back” ride.  The general rule of thumb for temperature change on a climb like this goes like this….for every 1000 ft of elevation ascended, the temperature will drop 2 degrees.  So on a climb of 10,000ft the temperature will drop approximately 20 degrees.  The day we went up this year, it was 25 at the beach and 5 degrees at the summit.  In preparation for this ride you will need to carry legs, sleeves, full gloves, a beanie and a coat for your return trip back down.  

The climb can be divided into three parts.  

  1. From Paia to 3000 ft (1000m) , 23km - This first section is where you get your legs warmed up, the grade is light 3-7% with one longer steeper 11-12% section leaving the town of Makawoa.  There is a store (Kula Lodge) around the 23km mark on the right side of the road where you can buy water and food.  You will need to fill up water bottles here as the next place for water isn’t for a while.
  2. From km 24 - First set of switchbacks to National Park Gate (km 42) - This second section is where the grades begin to kick up a bit and the scenery completely changes for the better.  The average grade over this section is 6%, but don’t let that trick you as several of the ramps kick up to the 8-10% mark.  The views of the island looking north and west are amazing on this section.  You shouldn’t be suffering too much yet, so take in all you can!  By the time you reach the gate for the Park, you will have climbed another 3000ft (1000m), so you are two thirds of the way there.  The park will cost you $5 per bike.  A water fountain and bathroom can be found at the visitor centre on the right side of the road about 1km past the gate.
  3. From the Park Gate (km 42) to the summit (km 59) - The final push up the last set of switch backs is when this ride becomes epic.  The grade of the last 1000m is less than the previous section, only averaging 5.5 %, but the wind can be enough to blow you backwards.  Once you get to this point, there is no shelter from the elements.  The only relief comes if your lucky enough to have the wind on your back.  This section will seem like it never ends.  I was working so hard that I can’t even remember much of the scenery!  Once you near the summit, but sure to stick to the right and go passed the visitor centre and go right to the very end of the road…can’t miss the “full” Starva segment!  

Second section of climb

Once at the summit, be sure to put your gear on quick as you will cool down very fast once you stop pedaling.  The descent is long, spend time in the drops to give your hands a rest from all the braking.  There are no worries about cars at this point as you will be traveling faster then most vehicles.  We managed to keep our full kits (legs, sleeves, jackets, gloves, beanies) on all the way to Makawoa.  This is where we stopped and took everything back off.  From Makawoa to Paia is a quick 15 minutes.  We stopped at the Milagros Food Co. on the main corner for lunch and a celebratory pint!  

All in, the ride took us 4:20 hours up and 1.5 hours down.  We left Paia at 7:45am and were back mid afternoon.

Just outside of Paia, beginning of climb, pockets full

As an alternative, Maui Cyclery offers guided rides up with a sag vehicle.  We did this the first time we went.  They carried all of our gear in the vehicle and provided food for us.  This is an option if you wish to have support the first time you do it.  I believe the cost was around $100 usd per rider.

 

“The Road to Hana”

Ask anyone and they will tell you that you are nuts for cycling the Hana Highway.  However, I will tell you that it actually may be safer to be on a bike!  There are approximately 620 curves on the road and several bridges.  Most people in cars get motion sickness, however, on a bike it’s an epic ride!  Not one straight section of road for 105 km of riding.

For the best ride, park at Twin Falls (mile marker #2 Hana Hwy).  By doing this, you avoid all the crappy sections of road and really get into the best of the road.  There is a few things you should know about this ride, 1. people travel with caution on this road, so they really don’t speed (there will be the odd idiot), 2. be sure to take control of the cars and tell them when to pass you.  My wife and I do this and it really does help.  

From Twin Falls to Hana is about 52km.  Despite the fact that you are not climbing a volcano, you are constantly either descending climbing, so by the time you’re done this ride you will have logged about 1850m of elevation. 

Things to note…there is a store at the 24km mark with food, there is also several little fruit stands along the way.  A very important note is “Coconut Glens” coconut ice cream stand, this is a must…if you don’t stop, you really haven’t completed this ride.  There are several places in Hana for lunch, however we typically turn around and head back out of town.  About 10km out of town your way home, there's a market place hidden amongst the forest with 3 or 4 great little places to eat, i would recommend eating here.  

Watch the weather, this side of the island tends to get a bit of rain on an off, may be best to carry a zip lock for your phone and a light rain jacket.

 

The Winery Road

This is another out and back.  It's pretty typical riding in the Maui sense, meaning that you will ride up or down something.  In this case, you descend an amazing road through lava fields to sea level, and then turn around and climb back to your car….sounds simple right….think again!

Maui has one winery, it's a Pineapple Winery and is located on the south west side of the Island on Hwy 37 (Kula Hwy).  For this ride you will need to park in the little town of Kula and start your ride at Grandma’s Coffee House.  This ride is simple, leave Grandma’s and ride 30km until you are basically riding across sections of road that have been washed out by the ocean.  It won't take that long before the road is just too bad, so you need to turn around.  The key thing to remember here is that there is NO help, NO stores, NO PLACE TO GET WATER after you pass the winery.  So, if you take 2 bottles with you, I would save them for the ride back and not drink them during the effortless 30 km descent during the first hour of the ride.  Another thing to remember is that there is no shade on this route, you are exposed the entire time, so be sure to lather on the sun screen and carry an extra water if it is going to be very hot.  On the way back, stop off at the winery, they offer short tours.  There is also a restaurant and small store across  the road where you can get food and water.  From the winery to Grandma’s is about 8km back to your car.  

The “thing” that makes this ride epic…is the breath taking views…I don’t have words for them, you just have to ride it for yourself.

Remember, the climb back is 30km, so it's 2 hours back for most people.  

 

West Maui Loop

The first time we were in Maui, we didn’t get a chance to tackle this ride.  Now that I've done it once, I want to do it again.  The loop takes in the entire western portion of Maui.  We decided to leave from Paia, which made this into a 125km loop.  It's a funny ride, as you will find yourself riding on every category of road possible.  We started out on a two lane highway, moved to a four lane, back to a very windy two lane and eventually a very rough one lane road that resembled a tiny lane way.  However, that being said, all the major roads have bike lanes and the riding is very safe.  

It was suggest that the route be ridden clockwise to account for the typical winds, so we left our little cottage and headed for Lahaina.  This is a great ride to do on a Sunday or a holiday so the traffic is minimized.  The first portion of the ride is completely highways with bike lanes.  It is the worse part of the entire ride.  In fact, if you didn’t know any better, you would turn around and head home, because these are not typical cycling roads.  Try to keep your cool and just relax and take in your surroundings.  Lahaina is at the 50km mark and a great place to stop and refuel and grab a coffee.  We made a quick stop downtown at the Starbucks and continued on our way.  Just down the highway a while is Kapula, this is where this route turns into epic.  The road eventual turns into two lanes, the bike lane disappears and the scenery changes completely.  For the next 40 km the road weaves in and out of little bays, descending and then climbing back up.  This goes on and on…not as much as the Road to Hana, but just as beautiful.  The panoramic views of the ocean and the cliffs is mind blowing.  There are many places to stop along the way for banana bread (Julia’s) and drinks.  For us the road was under construction, with only a short distance of gravel that we had to travel on.  In the last few km’s before you begin descending back into Kahului the road is very rough and needs work, but I believe that is where there was construction on it. 

The final 15 km back to Paia saw us travel through the centre of Kahului, to the airport and then onto a bike path that spit us out onto the Hana Highway near Specklesville.  To say the least, this section was a tad bit stressful.

A better option would be to park your vehicle at the Maalaea Harbor and only ride around the west portion of the Island, this would cut out the majority of the city cycling.  Probably a good idea…but the adventure is a great story that we won’t soon forget!

There are other amazing Maui rides….so if you have any questions, please don’t hold back!



Knighthood Quest

Everyone has their story.  My knighthood story started just one short month ago after my wife and I returned home from vacation.  Before heading back to our regular working lives we spent a Sunday evening hanging out with our great friends.  Only a short few weeks had passed since we had all finished riding the 2015 Tour of Sufferlandria.  It was this evening that the idea was tossed around that we take on the challenge of the Knighthood. At the time I thought “hell, why not, Ive ridden the TOS for the past two years, this is naturally the next step”. 

Together the four of us read over the rules, they seemed simple enough…..ride ten videos back to back, take only ten minutes in-between, record your experience on social media or power/garmin files, own the videos or subscribe to the Sufferfest Video app, and raise money for a charity of your choice.  

Before we knew it, we had moved from the kitchen to the living room and huddled around the coffee table.  After a little debate, we had our 10 videos….

  1. Nine Hammers
  2. Angels
  3. The Rookie
  4. There is no Try
  5. The Downward Spiral
  6. Rubber Glove
  7. The Hunted
  8. Fight Club
  9. The Wretched
  10. Revolver

Record your experience on social media…”check”

Ten minute Rests in-between - check!  Done…worst part of the entire day, only having ten minutes to stretch, hydrate, eat and change kit.  

Own the videos or subscribe to Sufferfest service - I own several videos, but I also subscribe to the IOS app as I like the streaming as compared to storing the files on my computer.

Charity of choice, Davis Phinney Foundation.  It was obvious for us to support this great cause as it has became close to our hearts.  

Now that we had our line up planned and all our bases covered, we could focus on raising money!  Another friend of ours was also part of the 2015 TOS, so we also recruited her to join us on our quest!  

Its funny because the beauty of this entire experience wasn’t so much a personal goal as much as it was a full team experience.  Using the Knighthood quest to raise money is such an amazing concept.  The five of us set out and before we knew it we had past our original goal and were approaching the $10,000 mark!  There was discussion of upping it to $15,000.  At the time I didn’t think it was possible.  This whole process really shows you how much people really do care when you reach out to them.  The more we asked, the more people would give.  I challenged people to pay me per KM ridden after I was done….Laura offered to sing them songs if they donated over a certain amount, Ev and Garn price matched one evening!  People continued to give….and give….and give.  

Events like this just don’t happen.  They take planning, and lots of it.  Laura’s amazing skills came into good use here.  She made sure we had a list of 10 minions that were scheduled to come at different times during the day to help out.  She made sure we had enough food for the day, she set out the schedule, she timed our 8 minute breaks…follow by the dreaded 2 minutes to get back on our bikes.  She got everyones dinner order the day before, ordered it,  and made sure there was a minion to pick it up and bring it to us when the ride was over. Obviously the day went off without a hitch thanks to the superior planning!

IMG_0036.jpg

The hours of suffering, now thats a different story.  We had heard on the facebook planning page that there were “dark hours”, typically between video 4 to 7.  Well, mine started around the middle of video 4…it lasted a while…but you adapt and push through the suffering.  It was great to be surrounded by an amazing supportive team.  

Someone had suggested that we do Rubber Glove in the middle, as it is nice and steady with a long warm up.  Was it a good idea?….sure….did I like it, no.  Lets not kid ourselves here people, this is no walk in the park.  If your not ready for it, it hurts.  It doesn’t matter how much you have been riding, 10 hours on a bike will give you a sore butt, your knees will hurt, your back will tense up and begin to ache.  If you aren’t hydrated properly, you will cramp….it will hurt. But thats what Sufferlandria is all about, sacrificing one thing for another.  You suffer through it, and somewhere, hopefully a the end of the tunnel…there is a bit of light.

By the time Revolver started playing, we were all in better spirits.  Despite the pain, we managed to push through the 16 one minute sprints; all of us pushing hard at the end.  Over the full day, you do get a second wind…and a third…and a forth!  

I loved the event, I love the idea of the Knighthood and the honour involved in being named a Knight of Sufferlandria; but most of all, I loved the idea that 5 people could come together and raise over $16,000 for the Davis Phinney Foundation.  I will hold my head high and be proud of being named into the Knighthood!  

You think you can do it?  Good luck with that….only a few of us out there in the world.  For the time being HTFU, get back on your bike and practice a bit more suffering!  Maybe someday you will be lucky enough to join us, for now, pay your dues.