In the Adventure Stories series, we ask Wild Rock staff and contributors to share some of the most exciting outdoor experiences they've had lately.
First up is Jeff Faulds, Wild Rock's Aerobic (cycling/XC ski) Sports Manager. Jeff has been a fixture of Peterborough's cycling community for years, namely as President of the Peterborough Cycling Club. He also races DH (downhill bikes), Enduro, XC, cyclocross and gravel for fun.
In this post, Jeff shares some details from 200km ride on the backroads to the northwest of Peterborough.
WR: What adventure are you going to tell us about?
Jeff: A gravel bike exploratory mission! This started with Kieran sending a text asking me if I wanted to do a 200km ride. The proposed route promised to be fun but there were parts of it that we had never ridden so we didn’t know if it was even possible. Luckily the unknown portion of the route was 80km into the ride so the distance was going to happen no matter what. Something about not knowing if it was even possible made it more desirable. There is also something special about doing 200km. I think it’s the knowledge you will be thrilled, excited, beat up, and completely miserable all in one ride. This may not make sense to everyone but I have done it before and will do it again. Soon I hope.
Did you go solo, with a pet or friend(s)/family?
The ride consisted of 4 crazy enough souls to accept such a ride. Kieran, our ring leader; Brayden, a partner in crime at work; and the most likely person I know to jump at the opportunity to do an absurd distance on a bike, Anne.
How did you fuel for your adventure? Do you have a favourite food to bring along?
As this was not my first mission of a full day on the bike, I know the key is to eat every hour on the hour. A miscalculation 4 hours in will make the next 5 hours hardly possible. You must keep the calories going in to stay on the bike for 9 hrs. I like a variety of foods while on the bike. A couple of flavours of Clif bars, Hornby bars, and some real food—you know, PB&J sandwich, apple, banana, popsicles bought on the route (don’t judge me - that’s real food). A Snickers bar as a fix for an onsetting crash is good to have on hand also. I also like some Clif Bloks for snacks between the 1-hour interval eating. Lastly, lots of water. For water I used two CamelBak bottles with scratch mix on my bike and a CamelBak pack on with straight water. Not knowing the timeframe between water stops, it is better to be over-prepared here.
Did you make any interesting discoveries along your adventure?
We came across some challenges on our ride. First off, the temperature was not cool. We hit a high of 37°C which I am sure was 200% humidity and “feels like” temperature of 50°C. Also, the gentle tailwind on the first half of the ride really started to pick up for the first 100km of headwinds on the way home. So while it was 200km, it felt more like 300km. We did manage to hit some of my favourite gravel roads and road allowances ,though, Devils 4 Mile Rd being one of them. We also discovered that the unknown part of the route is not passable. It was a piece of amazing ATV trail that goes through a now gated private property. The gate made that part of the ride an "out and back." No big deal though, it was amazing to ride in both directions. We did lose out on about 15-20 kms of riding though. But fear not because we also came across a bridge on our route that was under construction and required a 15-20 km detour. Phew, I thought we lost out on some kilometres there. Bonus (cue the sarcasm), most of it was very exposed headwind riding.
Oh and I almost forgot! While the ATV trail was so much fun to ride, the bugs!!! WOW, stopping was NOT an option. Going slow meant getting a bite. I felt like I was part of a hot pursuit the whole time. Although I loved it, the speed made it even more fun.
Is there one product, story or person that changed you as a person or as a cyclist?
The game changing items on a ride like this for me are 1) the Cervelo Aspero and 2) the Shimano GRX group. A bike that is fast and lively on the pavement but stable and confidence-inspiring on the gravel makes the whole ride fun and amazing. Also having it be super reliable is a must. I never worry about a part not doing its job. Regular maintenance and service is also key to keeping the bike reliable. The last thing you want is a failure 100km from home and having to call for a pick-up. Or worse yet, 20km from the nearest point a car can get to!
I have even skipped out of a proper road bike for this ‘do it all’ drop bar weapon. Two sets of wheels and I am game for everything. Tires really take a good bike and specialize it for a ride so having a couple options here mean this bike really ‘can do everything’ from hard full road tires to the deepest gravel exploring.
Where can people follow along on your adventures?
Jeff Faulds: On Instagram @jeff_faulds
Kieran Andrews: On Instagram @kieranwro
Brayden McGregor: On Instagram @brayden.mcgregor
Anne Corkery: On Instagram @cacorkery