Jason & I convinced Catherine and her husband Jeff to sign up along with us. There are three different distances - 140, 100 and 50 km - and between the four of us we signed up for them all. Jason did the 140km, arriving at our start with a couple of minutes to spare. Last year he rode with the lead group until Ryder dropped the hammer at about 10 km to go and blew it apart. This year he said he wasn't going to ride with the lead group because he was tired from racing the Victoria Half Iron the weekend before. But sure enough, he was among one of the first through to the 100 km start line, where he joined Catherine and I.
The route is absolutely stunning and showcases all of Victoria's best riding. It starts out in the inner harbour downtown, winds through town (along the ocean in parts) to the westshore, where the 100 km riders started. After that it gets kind of nasty, with Munn Road and some other climbs that are legendary here. Munn Rd is actually my nemesis, and the last time I rode it I cried. Yeah, it's that hard, or... yeah, I'm that much of a pansy. Both, actually. But I didn't cry this time, and even kind of enjoyed it. It's much more fun with hundreds of people around you to experience a shared suffering.
While I suck at climbing, I really enjoy descending and thought I'd let it all go on the way down Munn. It's a pretty technical descent, with narrow winding roads, but I kept my head up, stayed low, picked good lines and screamed downhill. I'm pretty sure I passed everyone back who passed me on the way up. Jason says I get the Queen of the Mountain descending award for the day (if only there was one) and he asked me if I used my brakes at all. Um yes I did, those corners are tricky!
After the brutal but fun fiesta of climbing and descending, we popped out onto the Saanich Peninsula where the route wound along the ocean on its way north. One thing I love about living on southern Vancouver Island (besides the natural beauty all around us): we turned into an aid station to grab some food, and before we'd barely even stopped the volunteers assured us that all the fruit was organic! It's so Portlandia here! Later Jason thought he was in an actual Portlandia episode when getting his salmon burger at the finish. He was assured that it was line-caught sockeye by Captain So-and-so from Sooke, but apologies as they weren't sure what specific run it was from.
Our timing was perfect (we were actually faster than we thought we'd be) and we arrived at Jeff's 50 km start to stuff our faces at the aid station for a few minutes before his start. It was exciting riding with Jeff, as this was his first cycling event and I was happy to be a part of it! From Sidney where the 50 km starts, the route winds past the ocean (again) then through some lovely farms, fields and vineyards for finally some flat riding. There were some more hills to keep us honest though. The smile on Jeff's face definitely made up for any pain in the legs as I'd done a long run the day before and was feeling it on some of the last climbs.
|Jeff, Catherine and I rolling through some Saanich farmlands.|
I wore my super-cool Betty Designs kit and got tonnes of comments on it!
|Jason's self portrait. Doesn't the huge smile on Jeff's face|
behind him say it all?!
We rode back into Victoria, through the neighbourhoods of Cadboro Bay and Oak Bay - along the ocean again (one never tires of the ocean views here, especially on a perfect & sunny day) - and back to the inner harbour for the finish. What a treat to ride in such a well-organized, scenic, and 5-star event... I can't wait until next year!
(I'll update with more photos when the TdV photographers post theirs - they had what seemed like 100's of photographers all over the route so there has to be some of us!)