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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

3rd Qualifying Ride Down - 1 to Go!! 300 km Tour of Detroit

My only goal (other than finishing this 300 km brevet within the maximum time of 20 hrs to make it official for my PBP - Ride) was to finish in daylight!  It turned out that on this day, with the group we had, it wasn't going to be a problem!  What I love about these rides is that in a short time, you get to cement relationships quickly - I now have 5 new friends. But I was also very grateful that another biking buddy, Rick made the trip to Wixom with me. He and I have suffered through some other big rides together, and it was a great relief to know he'd be joining me. In total,  I believe a total of 25 riders turned out for this - some wanting to just finish before the 20 hrs, some that have done countless brevets, and some like the guys in our group that were looking to cover the 300 km in a reasonably expedited fashion.  For 13 hrs and 35 minutes, I rode with this group, with varied cycling experience amongst us (listed from left to right):

  • Rick: he and I have ridden a few tours together: 200's and a 400 (Cremore Classic... epic!)
  • Brian: a strong cyclist who rides gravel all the time, he hopped into his first brevet ever, today
  • Dragi: >21 000 km last year (enough said)
  • Eric: fairly new to Randoeneuring - but already accomplished
  • Darcy: yes - me
  • Al: at 63 is still a rock star; back in the day, he was the US national 24 hr Time Trial Champ
  • Ryan: completing his longest ride ever after a 200 km brevet a few weeks ago
Within the first10 km we emerged as a group that was looking to push the pace a bit and keep the stops as short as possible.  Below, you can see the route with each of the control points - control points are stops where you either have a shop owner sign your card with the time, or you pick up information on the course that would only be available if you rode the course e.g. on Belle Isle, the number 767 is embossed on this anchor (pictured) at the Coast Guard Station at the tip of the island.
We pushed through the early morning darkness and rain westward until we hit drier and brighter times on the shores of Lake St. Clair.  The first two stops - one at 42 km and the other at 75 km - were gas station/convenience stores: great to get some water and take in some more of the nutrition each of us stowed away on our bikes to keep us going all day.

Throughout the day, I had 9 servings of my Custom Infinit (250 calories, 4g protein/serving), some macadamia nuts, 1 serving of Infinit Cold Brew alongside a small bag of potato chips (aaaah), and 2 chocolate fudge Poptarts (best ever) with 40 km left.
 I was sharing with my wife, Brenda that it is incredible how much and how differently you can see things on a bike.  Even though we live close by, I have never been along the U.S. shores of St Clair - what a beautiful place! From the shores I could see the water tower in Tecumseh.  Grosse Point was also great, even with the dull skies that greeted us. I definitely intend to head back there for some sun another time.  Onward... straight down Jefferson through the heart of Detroit, with a dedicated bike lane most of the way (Windsor, we have to do better!).  Next, a loop around Belle Isle. This was so cool - to actually be riding the course that the Indy cars will be ripping around in a few weeks.  Then it was off to downtown Detroit: I go here often for events and food but, again, seeing it on a bike was an entirely new perspective. I loved it! 

When I first previewed this course, I was excited that I was going to see right up close, the places I usually see from across the river from Old Sandwich Town, Lasalle and Amherstburg.  In many ways - a world apart, yet 5 km away from where I ride all the time. Crazy!  In fact our cycling ESRCC - West team was riding along the east banks of the Detroit river at the very same time I was on the west bank on my way to explore Grosse Ile for the first time.  I really enjoyed this community.  Even seeing Zug Island, River Rouge and Wyandotte - all had a certain beauty on this day.  After getting off of Grosse Ile, we finally got away from all the stopping and starting associated with city streets, traffic lights and stop signs.  It was good to put our heads down and find some consistent pace. We worked well together, and when we separated we would wait for one another at the next turn.  After riding together for 7-8 hrs already, I wanted for all seven of us to finish together, which was exactly what we did.  We did have some opportunity to ride at our own pace where we could pick it up on a couple of longer stretches through the Metro-Parks near Kensington and Pickney. It was truly beautiful riding, I now understand why so many Windsor-Essex riders pop over there (and for the nice rolling hills).

I really enjoyed getting to know all the riders on the day while we were all exploring our limits.  We finished strong in the beautiful sunlight - the last 30 km were dominated by multi-use trails carved through the Michigan communities.  I am grateful for my time with the group of six with whom I shared this journey, and especially grateful for knowing a little more of what Michigan has to offer.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I am pumped that 3 of my qualifying rides are complete:
  1. Rondeau Rando - 200 km, March 30th (Link to 200 km)
  2. Greece, Corinth to Thermo - 400 km, Apri 13th (Link to 400 km)
  3. Tour of Detroit - 300 km, May 19th 
  4. Coming soon - Windsor 600 km, June 8th

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada