Although it has taken 7 days, I will fill ya'll in on the sugar bush ride if it's the last thing I do. The transition from late winter to late summer seemed to have happened during the last week. Looking back at the photos from last Sunday's ride makes me appreciate the unique environment we live in. This week feels like the middle of summer - blue skies, lots 'o sunshine and temps unseasonably high....25 - 29 degrees centigrade. Crazy!
Prior to the dis-organized sugar bush ride, most of the team has been busy logging training miles for the upcoming spring season of bike racing. Since most of the team members will be travelling down to New York for the Tour of Battenkill, myself and a few others thought it would be a good time to enjoy a lower intensity, higher mileage tour of Lanark County. The plan (unofficial of course) was to venture West (and slightly South West) of Ottawa and find ourselves a sugar bush, eat pancakes and beans, then return home.
After some google map browsing, the route was confirmed a mere 11 hours prior to the unofficial 9 am start. I agreed to plot the route from Ottawa to Fulton's Sugar Bush, just West of Almonte, while Thom agreed to plan the return back to Ottawa. After some late night and early morning e-mails, most of the regulars confirmed they would be rolling and were anticipating the now infamous pancake brunch. Here is a look at the collaborative route plan:
OK....seems like Bikely is down. I'll link to the route in the next day or so.
To summarize the route - West to Kanata, then onward to Carp via Old Carp Road. Northwest from Carp then Southwest across the great windy plains towards Almonte. The road veers to the West again then into the wood and finally Fulton's Pancake House. The roads were a mix of city asphalt, chip seal and firm gravel. The whether....well, cold it was not, but the wind - oh the wind. My theory is that if yer gonna ride outdoors, might as well not discriminate. Gotta enjoy the good with the not so good. Riding and working together in the wind definitely helps.
The pancake house arrived at the 65km mark, with empty water bottles and tired legs. Although the elevation gain was much lower than usual - I think it is safe to say that we were all happy to take a well needed refuelling stop. Coffee, pancakes, beans, maple tarts and fiddle music. What more could you possibly ask for. A true Lanark County experience. After about an hour the group was refuelled and ready to go. The return trip had the group frolicking on the gravel around the backside of Mount Pakenham (who woulda thunk?) then heading due East towards Dunrobin. This portion of the route included some great county roads with a gradual elevation gain from the rest stop - then gradually dropping back down. The roads were fast rolling, mostly dry and mainly wind free. Thom managed to incorporate some muddy double track in the back section which provided some resistance for those with limited tire clearance and big tires.
From Dunrobin the route rolled West, then South along the Connaught Range (at Shirley's Bay). At this point some of our members departed while the rest of us rolled through the National Defense Training Center. Since we were nearing the 160km mark and the day was rolling into evening some of the group needed to push though the last 10 km to home. Our fixed rider extraordinaire experienced some bad cramping, so some of us remained to offer support. The remaining 3 of us decided to slowly roll the bike path into the city. We separated again as the path crosses Carling avenue....Steve pedaled home, Martin pushed on toward a dinner reservation while Rodd and I decided to load up on some Shwarma Palace action.
Overall the route seemed to be enjoyed by all. It was definitely a far cry from the roads normally traveled. Total mileage for the day...171 km. Not bad for the last week of March.