Tour Nortel 2008 - Hardest Tour Nortel Yet

Every year I participate in the Tour Nortel as part of a team of mountain bikers raising funds for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). For the last few years I have rode on a team sponsored by the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA).

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After a couple of nice sunny years, this year it was raining, evident by the smaller number of riders that seemed to be there for the start of the tour. They also raised the length of the long route from 70 to 80 kilometres. But I have rode in the rain before, the first two years I rode were rainstorms, and another 10 kilometres is no big deal, as I have ridden up to 120 kilometres in one ride. Something else would cause my struggle this year.

I started out riding with the main OMBA group and soon realized that perhaps I should add more layers, as the cold and wet was becoming noticeable, but I didn’t want to leave my group. However, I ended up dropping behind the group going up the infamous Corkstown Road Hill, which was probably a good thing, since I now had no reason not to pull over and add more layers. This year I was wise enough to carry extra clothes in my backpack.

I found the rest of the start a real struggle and was contemplating turning around at the 35 km turn around point and just doing the shorter route. But I was revitalized when I got to it and met up with the rest of the OMBA riders who encouraged me to keep going. At that point I joined Cat and Mario and Gabrielle’s group as they were going a slightly slower pace than the main OMBA group. I seemed to get my second wind and the ride to the 80km turn around point was a “breeze”. The group stopped just prior to the turn around point and we got to share “OMBA baker” Chris’s goodies that he had baked for the group and were in my backpack.

When we turned around I then realized the “breeze” that was at our back was a brutal headwind that was now facing us. I ended up having to slow my pace and drop back from the group for the rest of the ride, which, at this point, was a real struggle. But, finally the wind was at my back again when I got to that first section that had caused me problems and I realized that it had been a headwind that caused my original struggle.

Revitalized I was on track again, at least until myself and a few other riders came to an intersection back in the urban area without a Tour Nortel direction sign. One of the riders used his intuition to take what I later realized was a bit of a shortcut to get us back on the official route.

I ended up getting back at 1:15 after all the festivities were over and headed home for a warm bath and rest. Despite all the struggles I never had to walk my bike, not even up the killer Huntmar Hill.

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It was another great day of riding with my OMBA friends. I rode a total of 82.7 kilometres in four hours and nineteen minutes with an average speed of 19.1 kilometres an hour and a maximum downhill speed of 54.4 kilometres an hour. At least that is what my GPS says.

I raised $625 and the three OMBA teams raised $6, 441 for the Tour Nortel and CHEO.

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