Six in the morning and the alarm goes off. Of course I roll over and hit the snooze button a couple times until I am convinced that I should get up. I have a quick coffee and breakfast grab my unicycle and camping gear and head out the door. There is a thick layer of hoarfrost with a thin layer of snow overtop everything. It could be a chilly one with the weather guy saying a high of 5 degres, with a current temperature of -2. Good thing I put on some long johns.
The drive from Prince Albert to Waskesiu was really quite nice, the frost quickly melted when the sun came up then there was a thick fog over all the puddles and streams near the road, It almost looked like white smoke. I saw some whitetails on the way up, 12 does and two bucks (one spike and one smaller 4X4).
By the time I got to Waskesiu and found where I was supposed to go it had warmed up considerably and was probably already over the forecasted high. After I registered I met my other teammates ate a second breakfast, and also met another guy with a unicycle. It was actually the first time I have ever seen a 36” unicycle that was not mine. The other unicyclists name is Robin Dunlop and this was his second time riding in the Waskesiu MS Bike Tour.
When the ride started at 10:00 it had warmed up quite nicely and was almost 15˚, perfect riding weather. They started us a couple teams at a time to avoid congestion at the start. I started at the end of our group and quickly passed the majority of the group and after the first hill I had lost the whole team except our caption Ryan Galbraith. We got to the first check stop and Ryan convinced me to go on the walk in the boundary bog so we could get entered into an extra draw for prizes. The walk was really nice with a boardwalk the whole way through a tamarack bog but it also turned out to be 4km long and took pertnear half an hour.
Now that we were half an hour behind the bulk of the bikers we played a bit of catch-up. This was probably my fastest stretch and I was keeping my speed between 22 and 25km/h all the way to the highway. I spent a couple minutes at the check stop then kept on going. About 10km later something felt lopsided so I stopped and adjusted my seatpost. I don’t think it was actually crooked but that the road camber was throwing me off but I felt better when I got back on. I tried to catch up to Ryan again but eventually lost sight of him.
When I got to the start/finish line I decided not to go in for lunch thinking that if I just grab a snack from my truck and avoid wasting time I would be able to finish the required 61km before 2:10 and have time to do the extra challenge lap to bring my total distance up to 91km before the course closes at 3:30. I was doing real good passing everyone on the uphills and only occasionally getting passed back on the downhills until km 44, 1.5 km before the marina my left calf started to cramp. I realized that if my leg stops moving properly I would be in trouble sitting atop a 36er so I dismounted and walked for 500m, tried re-mounting and my calf seized right up during the attempted free-mount. I walked the rest of the way to the marina and attempted to massage and walk it out. Various people told me that potassium was what I needed and now I know to eat bananas right before a long ride. It took quite a while to get most of the tension out of my calf and it was becoming quite obvious I would only be finishing the “normal” ride without the extra challenge lap at the end. Very few people did the challenge lap but I figured if I did it then did the same ride again the next day I could use those rides for qualifying for Ride the Lobster. Since I had plenty of time in which to finish the last 15km of the regular ride I decided to wait around for the other unicyclist to show up. After 45 minutes at the marina I rode to the last check-stop and see if anyone knew where Robin was. I met him on the road about 3km from the marina so decided to wait around at the last check stop.
I waited for about 20 minutes until I started to see people who were behind Robin showing up and when his mom pedaled into the stop I asked her if he was coming and she said that he got picked up right before the marina because his knee was giving out. I was disappointed because I was hopping that we could finish together. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, I passed a bunch of people who went buy as I was waiting at the check stop and finished the ride.
This was the 8th MS Bike tour to be held in Waskesiu and was the largest one yet with over 260 riders and nearly $350 000 raised to date (there is still two weeks left to hand in pledges)
Other than that cramp the ride went really well, I still felt pretty good at the finish and was not really sore the next day either. I think I will do my qualifying rides either in two weekends or the first weekend of October.
Here are the numbers from my cyclometer
Trip distance: 60.94 km (I have never checked my computer before but according to the map the ride is 61km. I use a rollout of 2788)
Trip time: 3:05
Max speed: 27.2 km/h
I calculated my average speed to be 19.8 km/h including a couple walking breaks. I felt the most comfortable riding between 20 and 24 km/h, which turns out to be 120/140 RPM.