Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Mufferaw Joe: Spring Riding at its Finest

Had to recycle an image from 2011...Rodd's bike didn't make it this time.
Sunday morning held a lot of promise as Alex and I drove west to Quyon for the Wheelers’ Mufferaw Joe. Sunscreen and a bit of summer embrocation on the legs, no base layers required, we ditched our vests before rolling out of the parking lot across from Gavan’s Tavern, warm sun on our skin.

Last year the Wheelers launched a ‘steady as she goes’ group about 10 minutes before the rest. This time around, John Large explained we’d roll out en masse, and allow a selection to occur naturally down the road. Before long, we were rolling on gravel for a bit, then onto the PBR rail trail. Despite a healthy cover of branches from recent winds, the trail was in good shape and proved pleasant to ride. Out onto the road again, we soon found ourselves on some relatively fresh gravel leading into a new section of old double track called ‘Magic Road.’ What a treat it was, rolling through pastoral fields and woods, a real gem from my perspective. A sand trap caught at least one rider…c’est la vie. Regrouping, we continued on and found ourselves in Ladysmith about 50k in for refuelling. The more spirited riders were off before all had come in, thus solidifying the main selection. But I sat around too long before heading inside for supplies, and waited 5 minutes for my interact transaction to go through. Walking out I noted almost all the riders gone, which led to a full pin chase with Alex to catch back on. Thankfully, the road was dirt, which favoured our abilities, and we reeled in group two, then group one without too much fuss. However, Nathan Underwood and David Sugden were still up the road, so I continued on at time trial pace and caught them after a more few minutes of hard work. From there, we continued on, expanded our group with a number of Rouleurs, EuroSports, and others, and worded hard into the wind as the kilometers turned over.

Of the remaining route, only two sections proved particularly challenging. The first was the trail skirting a lake 85k in. The frost must have just come out of the dirt, as the surface was power-suckingly slow. Here Peter Conn and Jean Christophe (EuroSports) shone, floating well and putting down smooth power. This was the hardest part of the ride of the ride for me, as my 25c tires dsunk deep into the ground. Coming out, we’d reduced our numbers, and ultimately spent the remaining portion of the ride as a small pack consisting of Nathan (Independent), Peter (RWR), JC (ES), David Bilenky (ES), David Sugden (ES), Russ Jones (OBC), and another Euro who’s name eludes me. Despite a heavy headwind, we progressed well, and turned onto the second challenging section, this time consisting of fresh gravel, with about 15k to go. No flats, we were through, however, a few kilometres later, the Euro I cannot name went down on the pavement while eating a snack. Scraped up, but otherwise ok, he was able to continue on, and we were back up to speed with 5k to go. Back in town, thoughts turned to homemade chilli and bread.

Once John and the next group arrived, the food was unleashed and we proceeded to enjoy the fare alongside our refreshing beverages. Draw prizes flew before long, and then it was time to roll back to town. I half expected to see Nathan on the road, but didn’t. He rode to the event and back, adding a good 100k to his day. Nice.

If you haven’t tried the Mufferaw Joe, but are comfortable with a dose of gravel, I recommend the event highly. The topography and mix of surfaces made for an interesting ride that will likely be just about right for folks with a decent base in the legs. The ride certainly makes for good preparation for our Ride of the Damned (May 15th), which features more climbs, and steeper ones at that. Tire choice for both rides should be similar to those used for Clarence-Rockland and the Almonte Paris-Roubaix. I was on my 25c tubeless Hutchinson Intensives yesterday, but they are not ideal. While the reinforced casing warded off damage, the lack of volume translated into a more punishing ride overall, i.e., draining. They felt great on the smooth pavement, but everywhere else they were lacking in ride quality. For the Mufferaw I’d lean toward something around 28-30c, and the same applies to the Ride of the Damned. There are no tubeless 28s on the market (or 30s, for that matter), so I’ll go with my 30c Grand Bois with Challenge latex tubes on the 15th. As the ride is not a race, handling and comfort on the dirt will be more valuable than raw speed on the pavement. So if your best option is a set of cross tires, ‘run what you brung.’

Thanks to the Wheelers for putting on a great ride, and to the fine gentlemen I spent the day with for your positive attitudes, whit, and smooth riding. I hope to see you all on the 15th for more all-road fun! Stay tuned for specifics, going up here Tuesday or Wednesday.

1 comment:

David Bilenkey said...

Thanks for hauling me around for the last bit Matt, and the fluids. The ES rider whose name you've forgotten (or didn't know previously) is Fran├žois Demers.