Saturday, September 26, 2009
Last Saturday I awoke to frost on my sleeping bag after a night under the stars in the Ganaraska forest, just north east of Toronto. After getting my stuff in order, I lined up at the start, half shivering in the 10C dewy morning.
Through the eight and a half hours of riding it warmed up to comfortable weather. Riding, riding, riding. 100k (62 miles) of continuous single track snaking through the woods. I've never seen so much single track. Over 7000 feet of climbing, mostly up little hills, 10-20 feet at a time, like a thousand paper cuts.
Near the end they marked on the map something called the Never Ending Hill. In a dark shady valley, on a totally flat and quiet section of trail, there marked the sign for the "Never Ending Hill: back by popular demand." The trail remained flat as I rode further a minute or so. I was thinking that my tired brain was getting paranoid. Clearly the event organizers were messing with me---lulling me into complacency. These woods were definitely haunted. Probably a massacre or something a long time ago... Then the trail gradually kicked back. Not really a climb, but a few minutes on it got a little steeper still. Finally the angle required getting out of the saddle. I rounded a corner and a few hard grunts and I crested the top. The organizers did mess with me, but in a good way. The hill did end, and was a pice of cake. Out of five single speed riders doing the 100k, I came in 4th. The fastest single speed was only 20 mins behind the leader, clocking in at 6 1/2 hours (winner was 6:10)!
15 minutes later I passed the finish line. Great course. No, amazing course. And an wonderful cause, since proceeds go to suicide prevention for the Canadian Mental Health association, in honour of the eponymous Ganaraska rider Paul who befell that sad fate many years ago...