This week, they were doing another dirt/gravel ride. This one was shorter, and would be just Capitol Forest. Best of all, Michelle put out an email asking if any gals wanted to do it with her--doing an even shorter ride. That sounded like just the ticket for me to give this a shot! Two details had to be worked out for me to do this. One--I had to get a ride to the start (Mima Falls Trailhead). Secondly, it had to be okay to ride Stella. Brian agreed to pick me up (Michelle would bring me home), and Derik said Stella would be fine.
I replaced Stella's trunk bag with a wedge pack under the seat, and put the mount on for my Garmin Edge Touring GPS. This would be a good opportunity to see how detailed the maps are, since I plan to use this when Connor and I do The Great Divide.
Brian picked up Stella and I a little after 9:00. To get Stella onto his roof rack, I had to remove the fender stays from the fork dropouts on the front. His rack is one where the front wheel is removed. With Stella loaded securely, and my bag of dry clothes stowed in the back seat, we headed for the hills!
The Mima Falls Trailhead is located off Bordeaux Rd. on Markham. Shortly after we arrived, everyone else rolled in too. We got our bikes ready to go. As I was reattaching the fender stays while holding the wheel with my knees, I thought, "Why am I holding Stella up with my knees? She has a kickstand!" Sheesh!
Derik and Michelle arrived in their Campervan of Awesomeness. Michelle was also riding her touring bike! It's a beautiful Surly Disc Trucker--one would be hard pressed to find a sturdier rig. It was sporting some 2" tires on its 26" wheels. It also weighed about 50 lbs. That makes for slow going on the uphills, but watch that baby fly on the downhills! Stella was happy to see another touring rig. Everyone else was on all manner of bikes--mountain, cross, and even a couple of single speeds. Here's a photo of the group of us.
Heather being the most fashionable with her pink pig helmet cover!
We rolled out from the trailhead shortly after 10:00. There were 10 of us, but we would quickly split into two groups of 5--the faster guys, and us three gals with the two single speed guys. We took Bordeaux up to the E-Line. There we hit the dirt road, and climbed steadily. It was raining, but not really windy--much better than yesterday's ride.
Stella, in super granny gear, negotiated the uphill just fine. Here's a link to a YouTube video I did of the first bit of the climb on the E-Line. At one point, I was ahead of Michelle and Heather, so I turned around and went a little ways back down. See if you can name that tune I am playing on Stella's front disc brake.
We came to a short downhill section. Stella did fine. Then we were back to climbing. The next bit of downhill was a little steeper and a little longer (actually, a lot longer). Usually, downhill is the sweet reward for climbing, right? Well, that may be true on the road, and it may also be true on a dirt road. However, on Stella, it was a little nerve-wracking. I really wanted to go as fast as the others, but I wasn't sure how Stella would do with her less-than-knobby tires. So, I braked. Because I was so toasty warm from all the climbing, my glasses totally fogged up. I finally stopped and took them off. I know it's pretty bad when I can see better without my glasses!
I continued my cautious descent, really envious of those with heavier tread tires. I actually looked forward to the uphill parts. That was good, because there were a lot of uphill parts--nothing that Stella couldn't handle though. On the downhills when I would get behind, Heather always came back to make sure I was still coming. I thought that was mighty nice of her!
After a particularly steep climb, we took a brief food break. We looked at my Garmin (which did show all the forest roads), and determined we were not too far from the D-Line. Derik had told Michelle we would come out at the top of the first climb from US 12. Heather thought we would come out at the very top of the D-Line.
The next descent was not only steep, but quite bumpy. In order to be able to continuously brake, I had to be in the drops. I really wanted to go faster, but when I tried it, I did not feel like I had control. Since a face-plant into the dirt was NOT on my agenda, I kept on pulling those brakes.
Heather was, again, waiting for me. We met up with the rest, and soon popped out onto the D-Line...at the top of the first climb from US 12. Yep, Derik was right. That meant we still had a large amount of climbing to do to get to the top of the D-Line. But, it was paved, so no biggie. Michelle told the two single speed guys to go ahead, and not wait for us at the top. They would get too cold for the descent. She also told Heather not to wait either. Since Michelle was my ride home, I would stay with her. Besides, Stella and Michelle's Surly were pretty well matched.
The steep parts of the climb up to the top were much easier on Stella than either Tessa or Star. Even though Stella is by far the heavier gal, that mountain gearing makes for pretty easy climbing. Especially without any panniers! From the top, the remainder of the ride was downhill back to the trailhead (okay, with a bit of flatness on Bordeaux).
Back at the vehicles, I was lucky to get to take advantage of Derik and Michelle's Campervan of Awesomeness to change out of my soaking wet clothing. I felt bad because we would not be waiting for the other 5 (doing a longer route), which included Derik. Yes, the Campervan of Awesomeness would be gone by the time Derik got back. He would not have a nice dry and warm place in which to get out of HIS soaking wet clothes.
Bikes secured on the hitch rack (no need to remove anything on Stella), Michelle and I headed for home. All told, the ride was 26.7 miles, and nearly 3 hours. Even though I was nervous on the downhills, it was really fun. I think I'll get a set of knobbier tires ,because I definately want to do it again!