This year's fondo was an epic one, with loads of Wheelers and OBB folk representing.
The start of the ride was at the Empress again with breakfast. A big part of the experience is just seeing all of the bikes out front of the Empress during breakfast, then afterwards, watching the crowd assemble outside once everyone has eaten. It slowly assembles, but then suddenly there's over 100 people standing on Wharf half mounting their bikes. It really sets a tone of anticipation. Thankfully, roll out happened promptly at 6:30, the escort van this year took us out Craigflower to the Island Highway, then detoured us through Colwood to avoid a fallen power line. Things kicked off as soon as the group got to Jacklin, and the pace was solid, but manageable. Things started to thin out just before Sooke with the rollers and the first rest stop. The pace stayed high as we took in the rolling West Coast roads and the beautiful scenary.
The descent into Shirley did the most damage to the pack, with things noticeably getting spread out leading into the climb and on the Shirley Delicious climb itself. From there, the tempo really was set by the groups that everyone split up into. I found a pack of lone Todd's gents and rode with them to Port Renfrew. Hot food was at Port Renfew was foreshadowing for the events to come.... As the temperatures neared 37 degrees as we rolled through the mid island towards Cowichan Lake. At the rest stop, the heat clearly had taken it's toll on everyone. Many people were dumping ice and water on themselves and demolishing every ounce of liquid in sight. After Cowichan, the last 80KM of the ride was purely a mental battle to get through the 240K. The final climb up to the top of Shawnigan was brutal. But the finish line is always a glorious sight. A big special mention to the volunteers this year. The support on the ride was amazing. Also, hero of the ride award goes to Mark Karau for doing it all on a fixie.
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