Saturday…the day of my longest bike ride leading up to Great White North. I had 120 km (74.5 mi) on the schedule. My friends Pam and Tara were all up for an adventure, along with a couple of Pam’s friends. Kate made our 120K ride part of her final long ride before racing a 200K bike race in Alaska in a few weeks, and another friend met up with us part way through as well.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how the ride was going to go. I still have some swelling on my palm and bruising is coming to the surface:
Putting pressure on the front brake and changing into my big chain ring is somewhat painful. Riding itself doesn’t bother things too much though.
We started off in Cochrane and took off south down Highway 22 towards Bragg Creek. It was absolutely amazing weather. Not too windy, a clear blue sky and a perfectly comfortable temperature. Since I knew it was going to be one long (almost continuous) climb to Bragg Creek I took it nice and easy. We stopped off at the Cinnamon Spoon in Bragg for a quick bathroom break – the only place for us to stop along the way and about 18 miles in. We rolled out of the parking lot and hit a stop sign to get back on Highway 22 to keep heading south. At the stop sign all of a sudden I heard a loud “pshewwwww.” I looked over at Kate and her front tire was quickly going flat. She must have accidently rolled over something as we approached the stop sign. The flat was changed pretty quickly, and then it was back on the road.
We turned south onto 762 and headed south towards Millarville. From here the scenery was just amazing. We started to hit rolling hills and we were riding past fields and farms and things were so green and beautiful. We also had glimpses off the Rockies just off in the distance.
This seemed to be a pretty popular route for Sunday drivers and motor bikes. There were a couple of cyclists out besides us, but not too many. When 762 ended we had a choice. We were a few kilometres short of the halfway point so we could go a bit farther for an out and back, or we could add on a little extra and loop towards Millarville to come back to Bragg Creek. We decided to just go for an out and back as if we went through Millarville we’d be riding highway all the way back to Bragg instead of this more country road. Both options would be equally as hilly, but it was nice to ride on the quiet road. I felt really strong on the uphills on the way back, it was fantastic! Then just as we approached Bragg I saw two deer, just off the side of the road. Amazing!
As I approached the three hour mark for the ride my stomach was rumbling. I had brought along a Honey Stinger protein bar, a pack of Honey Stinger chews and a gel. I think the amount of calories was okay, but my stomach was crying for something to approximate lunch. I also brought along two bottles of nuun, but after the first bottle I was tired of drinking something with flavour and I really wanted just water. When we hit Bragg again I refilled with some water and Pam also suggested Coke for the final part of the ride. I also scarfed down a date bar from the Cinnamon Spoon as well to help quiet the rumbles. Then it was time to finish the ride up and head back to Cochrane!
When we hit the parking lot we were just a little bit short for the full 120K and I was keen to reach that milestone. I did another quick out and back(up Susi’s bonus hill) and back to the car. 120K done! My longest distance ride to date, and done in 4:30, with about 2400m of climbing. Here’s a map of our ride:
After that Pam and I took off for our brick run. The legs felt good on the run, although my brain was having a tough time getting motivated for the run. Ugh… Oh well, we got the brick done!
Afterwards it was time to refuel. I’ve been wanting to try the ice cream at MacKay’s for ages and this seemed like the perfect excuse. This place is super popular and it is easy to see why. The ice cream is amazing!! I had a cone with scoop of Saskatoon Berry and a scoop of Nanaimo Bar. A perfect end to a really great ride! Thanks ladies!!