Sunday, September 12, 2010

The way all bike tours should be


This weekend I had the great pleasure of participating in the Ottawa Bicycling Clubs Summer End Century Tour. What a fantastic tour, from start to finish this was a tour worth doing.

The route is gorgeous. We cycled through small communities and splendid countryside en route to Cornwall. We passed sun dappled fields, herds of grazing cattle, horses and in one case a deer. The roads are quiet and the temperature not too hot.

We began at Kelseys which I can walk to. I decided to go with touring 2 and 130km. When you are riding with a group, it is better to go one up from where you can ride solo. In my case, I should have gone touring three. My group was wonderful. There was a former director Tom, John Reilly, Geotz, Gilles, Fletcher and a few others whose name escapes me. Riding in a double peleton as we do, enables wonderful conversations and the time flies.

A few hundred yards out of Kelseys John Reilly had a flat. I tried to help but had one tire iron and his tires appeared glued on. The others were ahead waiting but clearly puzzled. I walked up and explained we needed help. Tom and the others came back and John was set to rights as the group gave John a tire changing lesson.

Our first lunch stop on Saturday was in the Finch arena. We were served toasted bagels and given a banana and juice by an enthusiastic little girl and her grandmother. The little girl has a smile for everyone and seemed dismayed if someone did not want the banana!

This was my first exposure to NavCan. We approached the training site which is along the seaway. What a fantastic place. Our group arrived at 1pm and this gave us plenty of time to find our rooms, check out what is available. We met at outside patio and shared beers and stories. The weather was perfect, the scenery splendid, the site luxurious.

My room had a nice bed, desk, dresser and bathroom as well as a TV. The on site pub named the Jet set had a celtic motif, lots of beers and Karaoke.

Dinner was served near the dining hall. We had large round tables, with white linen tablecloths overlooking another garden and outside patio. Our dinner consisted of salad, roasted potatoes, lasagna, angel hair pasta, roast beef and stewed zucchini in a light garlic and butter sauce. For desert there was apple pie, blueberry pie, lemon meringue pie and assorted smaller treats.

We were served in elegance and our group congratulated each other on a great ride. At this point, I started asking people "why is this tour not more popular". I got various answers but none really satisfied me. Some felt $170.00 was too much. Well for great accommodation, great meals and a great weekend tour, I disagree.

After dinner I decided to check out the famous pool. What a pool. It is 25 meters long, with a working slide, lots of underwater sponge weights and after a swim of 5 lengths (Yes the lifeguard was laughing), I used the whirlpool hot tub. There is nothing like that after a ride. After the whirlpool...what else but the sauna!

There was also a fully gym with weights but by this time, 800pm it was time for Karaoke. I sang Titanic and a few more songs, had a drink and went to bed.

Breakfast was at 630 and the serving lady filled my plate with scrambled eggs, waffles and bacon. I topped it off with coffee and yogurt and was set to ride all day!

We left at 745 (this morning!) and rode at a minimum of 30km/hr. I had heard about the famous carrot cake with creme cheese icing at the OBC picnic in Russell and darned if I was going to miss that! We arrived at lunch at 1030, so it is brunch.

Unfortunately as we entered Russell there was a stop sign in town and gravel. I was leading but bikes were everywhere. I hesitated and fell, cutting my knee. Gilles came to the rescue (he is a ski patroller) and using my first aid kit restored me.

When we arrived at the marquee for the OBC lunch in a picnic ground we were greeted with cold cuts, cheeses, bread, lettuce, tomatoes, salads, juices and drinks of all kinds and....two huge dishes of homemade carrot cake. I had a piece...wow.

We arrived back at Kelsey's shortly before 1pm where I had a drink and spoke about the future of this wonderful tour.

As a first timer for this tour, I was very impressed! The food quality was very good. The picnic was wonderful, the carrot cake outstanding. The people I rode with were kind, helpful, lots of fun and were wonderful to ride with and socialize with.

Anyone who has not done this tour before is truly missing a great time.

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