My first 200 brevet of 2018 was a beautiful ride through Lanark Highlands cottage country. Because there are no supplies along most of the route, this ride is supported by a randonneur driving to control points with food etc. The controls were not dictated by corner store and restaurant locations so the route was absolutely gorgeous with minimal “transit” stages.
I had been training for this ride since February having missed it last year due to some newbie mistakes (not training enough…). It was early May and we showed up at the start wrapped up in winter gear. There is no spring or fall in this part of Canada. It is really cold until it gets really hot. We met summer at the second control.
I scrapped the winter wool off, got sunscreen out and continued the ride in shorts and t-shirt. There was significant debris on the road from the winter road maintenance and April wind storms. Most of the climbing was contained between 40th and 90th kilometre. This is also the most beautiful part with rolling hills and pine forests.
The perfect quiet was interrupted by cheerfully painted souped up Subarus (and occasionally equally funnily painted non-Subaru) every few minutes. I noticed that the drivers were wearing helmets. Then a Gothbaru labeled “Rally medic” passed by, then a car with flashing orange lights and CB antenna. Finally a souped up minivan labeled “SWEEP”. They did not appear to be driving dangerously or even speeding, but when I later mentioned this to Chris he said that what I saw was probably an illegal rally. It looked a bit too expensive to risk detection to me so we looked it up and it was organized, publicly advertised and completely legal and family friendly. You could meet the drivers and check out the cars as part of the event. The area is apparently filled with snowmobile trails and what I saw was the transport stage between two different racing areas. Having ridden the public roads around there, with all the hills and forests and lakes, I can only imagine that the snowmobile trails must be just perfect for rally racing.
The controls were at highest peaks and perfectly spaced. Anytime I got tired and started wondering why I am doing this, I would look at my cue sheet and realize the control is just a few doable kilometres up from there. After a lovely picnic lunch on a lake in South Lavant, much of the route was downhill.
There was more farms and “permanent residences” as we approached Perth. I took a quick break when the road was blocked by a couple of people trying to get a runaway cow back inside the fence. I passed by a snapping turtle. Those guys make other turtles look modern! In Perth I needed a big break and a full dinner. We stopped at the pub for this purpose. I hemmed and hawed for a moment and then ordered a beer also. We had a flat and familiar 45km left. I knew I could finish the ride but I was doubtful that I will enjoy it (in the end it was fine). I figured I had an amazing time up until this point and might as well pat myself on the back and enjoy the meal.