Sunday, July 27, 2014

Just For Fun tour

I am determined to enjoy the weeks before my big and scary surgery. After having to cancel the Cabot Trail trip and the associated training rides I decided to make the next few weeks all about me and summer in Nova Scotia. I will choose cycling routes that are magic because of the scenery or the food or both. It's remarkably difficult for me to completely take off my coaching hat so I am hoping that these rides will attract people who were intimidated by the goal of riding the Cabot Trail.

Here's the email I sent out on Thursday afternoon.

AWOLNATION has wrapped their 'Never Let Fear Decide Your Fate Tour' and the Rolling Stones just finished their '50 and Counting Tour'. I think it is time for the 'Just For Fun' tour here in Nova Scotia. Since I am booking the events I am focusing on what will entertain me, regardless of distance or challenge. One of the things I have always wanted to do is take the ferry across the LaHave river. And two of my favourite rides last year included a stop at the LaHave Bakery. So I designed a route that incorporates both for the first stop of the Tour.
We will start in Bridgewater and ride along the eastern bank of the LaHave until we get to the ferry. We will cross, stop at the bakery and then ride back along the western shore of the river. The route is only 37 km long and very flat for the first half with some rollers in the second half. We should do it fairly speedily and even with time added for a meal be home for an afternoon of beaching or sailing or golfing. 
We will park and meet at the Bridgewater Home Hardware store. This link includes a map. Be ready for departure at 9:00 am. You don't have to let me know if you are coming but you will be left behind if you arrive late.

There aren't too many rules associated with this ride. As a courtesy to everyone please ensure that your bike is in good working order and that your tires are inflated. I really think you should wear high visibility clothing but please come even if you don't have anything suitable. Several of us have vests we can lend out. In any event, we can sandwich you between more visible people. This route is a great opportunity for those of you who are unsure about riding on the road. We will be moving at a relaxed pace and you will benefit from the protection and wisdom of the more experienced cyclists.

What a day we had! It started with surprise after surprise as cars pulled into the parking lot. There were people who had never come on a group ride, strong riders who I thought would skip such a short and easy trip and a whole family - husband, wife and two kids (five and two years old.) In all there were 17 adults and two children. It was a beautiful morning, sunny but not too warm with a breeze that turned into a bit of a headwind at around 10 km. We all arrived just in time for the ferry across the river. The kids were pretty thrilled by the short trip.

The bakery is right where the ferry docks on the other side of the river and it wasn't too busy - until we got there. It took a long time to prepare the various breakfast wraps and to pour coffee and dole out muffins but no one was in a hurry. We all sat outside in the sun to wait and eat. New acquaintances were made, others caught up with people they hadn't seen in a while and notes were exchanged with another group of cyclists who had stopped for a coffee break. 

The ride back to the cars went quickly and the group subdivided into skills/strength groups so no one felt held back or pushed. Back at the cars no one seemed to want to leave. There were many more long conversations and lots of smiles. I couldn't have asked for a better start to my Just For Fun tour. I'm not sure whether the big turnout was because of the easy route, the ferry ride, the bakery or a desire to support me. It was probably a bit of 'all of the above'. The 'why' doesn't really matter. What makes me happy is that people got some exercise, enjoyed the companionship of others, ate some great food and had fun.

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