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A Century!

2010 July 26
by rob

Here’s some current news! I’m not talking about stuff that happened in New Zealand last year. This stuff happened yesterday!

Janet and I successfully completed our first CENTURY bike ride! We left Toronto and biked more than 160 km to Niagara Falls! It’s called a “century” because that’s 100 miles. Silly Americans. I did my first metric century (100 km) last year. It felt like an accomplishment at the time, but now seems relatively easy. 160 km is SO MUCH HARDER.

Janet is training for a double century bike ride in September with her father. I’m helping her out by taking her on as many long bike rides as we can. We’re going to try a similar distance next weekend, too.

I’ve produced a map of the route we followed yesterday.

We met up at my house at 7:15 AM on Sunday morning and filled our bike tires (very important!). From there, we biked along Eglinton across to Mississauga where we switched to Matheson Blvd and Brittania Rd. Matheson is nice since it doesn’t carry much traffic and takes us a long way across Mississauga which I dreaded biking across. Once we passed highway 407 we were out in the country and things got a lot nicer. We continued in the countryside between Milton and Oakville before turning down Appleby Line and back into Burlington. It seemed like we got through this section quickly. We still had lots of energy and took a break about once an hour (about 20 km). The sky was overcast. The weather was cool. It was comfortable bike weather.

We got blocked at the lift bridge across the canal leading into Hamilton Harbour:

At the Lift Bridge

At the Lift Bridge

I got this picture by putting this camera on the timer and balancing it on the arm of the safety barrier — the kind of barrier that you are not supposed to cross. I crossed it anyways. There were too many people on the “safe” side of the barrier to get good views. Later, both Janet and I crossed to the “unsafe” side of the barrier to get a look at the action . Suddenly, one of the bridge operators used the loudspeaker to tell us to go back for our “personal safety” even though we were a good fifteen feet from the edge. Lame, I say. LAME.

We had to wait about twenty minutes before a long Great Lakes freighter passed through the canal and into Hamilton Harbour. After that, we continued cycling down Hamilton Beach and made it to our lunch stop at a Tim Horton’s in Stoney Creek by noon. There, we met up with Alex Weaver, whom I had backpacked with in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia two years ago. We had lunch, chatted, and caught up. I wanted to talk for a longer time, but I had to cut it off since we still had a long way to bike. That made me sad. We’ll have to try and meet up again soon!

From there, we biked up a KILLER HILL — New Mountain Road — at the Niagara Escarpment. I was forced to nearly pass out on some guy’s lawn at the top in order to catch my breath. The owner of the house checked up on me to see if I was okay. Janet caught up shortly after. Once we were ready to go, we biked along the lovely Ridge Road and farther east in the countryside towards Niagara Falls.

Our rest stops became more frequent. We were getting very tired! We followed this same route when we biked from Burlington to Niagara Falls in June, but it was much harder now. We were going much farther, and there were three places where our ride was complicated by construction that wasn’t there the month before. We had to stop several times to lay down in the grass in the shade. The sky was clear now and the sun’s heat was more intense. We drank water, gatorade, and snacked on some Persian flatbread I had and some homemade peanut butter and date squares that Janet had made.

We finally rolled into Niagara Falls after 5:30 PM and stopped at Wendy’s for salads for dinner. I had a big Frosty with mine. Salad and ice cream seems like an odd dinner, but after cycling 160 km, I’ll eat whatever the hell I want, thanks!

After dinner, we made a quick stop at the falls for a celebratory photo.

After biking 160 km to Niagara Falls!

After biking 160 km to Niagara Falls!

We didn’t have much time to linger. We sped up the River Road the best we could. The road was clogged with tourists and we were so tired. We made it to the train station around 7 PM and bought our tickets for the 7:20 PM GO train back to Toronto Union Station. We did it! The train ride back took two hours. That seems like a long time, but it took us twelve hours to bike there!

We biked home from Union Station. I had cramps in one of my legs when I got up from the train and was worried that I couldn’t do it. Thankfully I made it. After dropping Janet off at her place, I got home around 10:20 and had a shower. I was filthy! I washed off multiple layers of sunscreen, dirt and grease from the road, dried-up sweat, and several dead insects. I find that I have to wash my bath tub after every long bike ride. It took me a while to get to sleep since my muscles were sore.

The overall distance I cycled that day was 175 km. That’s easily the farthest I’ve ever gone (the previous record was 124 km, set the month before). This record will be hard to beat. I’m no longer trying to increase my distance, however. Both Janet and I need to train to be able to cover a similar distance in less time — either with a higher rolling speed, or less breaks.


Rob Szumlakowski
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

One Response leave one →
  1. July 26, 2010

    Congrats!

    Gmaps Pedometer FTW! :)

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