Eight intrepid souls decided to journey north for this ride originating from the Smiths Falls Curling and Squash Club. What was originally only a challenging route of 98 kilometres was expanded, with the gentle urging of Margaret Wild, to include a moderately paced route of 52 kilometres. Margaret then suggested an optional addition to this route extending it to 69 kilometres. The counter-clockwise circuit of the moderate route (another idea of Margaret’s) and the clockwise direction of the challenging route, when factoring in the speeds of each group, would allow both to rendezvous at the pre-arranged luncheon stop in Merrickville at approximately the same time. A brilliant stroke of genius from our club president! Also, one good reason why I would never be suitable for the position of club tour director.
Three bicycles, no waiting. Andrew's, Kristine's, and Paul's bicycles wait in the back of the MacLeod's minivan at the start of the Smiths Falls-Merrickville ride. Three bicycles, plus a bag full of brand-new KVC jerseys, too - you should have been there! Photo by Paul Rappell
Not so mellow in yellow. The gang is itching to go. What a coincidence! Seven of the eight riders wore KVC colours - three in their brand new jerseys. Then they hit the road and got them all sweaty. Joan, Paul, Darrell, Andrew, Kristine, Harald, and Robert await the starter's pistol. Margaret is on the business end of Paul's camera.
At 10:00AM on what promised to be a warm humid day, Paul and Margaret set out north and then east toward Merrickville on the moderate route while Joan, Kris, Andrew, Robert, Harald and I set out south and west on the challenging route around Smiths Falls and out of town. Everyone was resplendent in their KVC jerseys (might I be so bold as to say that it was the first club ride to debut the new jersey!) but for one notable exception … our club president! (NOTE: This is a career-limiting strategy for any would-be presidential candidates.) Passing motorists were heard to say “Wow, look at those cyclists! … All the way from Kingston! … Must be lost!!”
The challenging group, now clear of town, proceeded up Code Drive with a short 2 ½ kilometre stretch on gravel (note to self: Kristine does not enjoy chain cleaning) before heading north at a brisk pace on the sparsely travelled Rosedale Road North. From there it was a short jaunt west to Highway 15 and then north to Franktown, “The Lilac Capital of Ontario”, for a brief rest stop. At this point it was evident by yours truly, that he was not going to be able to maintain the pace of the others. With that in mind, the torch was passed and the rest of the group turned northeast for the first seriously long straight stretch of 13 ½ kilometres along busy Richmond Road. Single file riding was the order of the day here and a blazing pace was maintained until they reached Dwyer Hill Road. Eventually I caught up to them waiting for me, refreshed, relaxed and ready to tear down the next strip of pavement. “But wait, I only just got here … !”
From there it was a straight 21 kilometre run southeast along a less travelled but well paved road through some sparsely populated countryside into the picturesque hamlet of Burritt’s Rapids. Again a torrid pace was maintained by all … except me. Joan awaited my arrival at the end of Dwyer Hill Road and proceeded with me to the swing bridge where the rest were waiting … refreshed, relaxed and … Noticing a pattern here?
Now it was an 8 ½ kilometre ride into Merrickville (and our luncheon break!) along a quiet idyllic country road with riding stables, neat well-kept farms and beautiful waterfront homes. Arriving at the Main Street Family Restaurant in Merrickville (Yes! Everyone else was already seated!), I rejoined the group along with Margaret and Paul from the moderate route. Apparently they had succumbed to the seductive lure of Merrickville’s charms and opted out of the extended loop of their tour in favor of an extra hour of relaxation next to the locks. Good food and conversation were had by all with Joan enjoying the added privilege of learning how to grow her own lemons and grapefruits from the friendly restaurant proprietor.
Together again, for the first time. Slow and fast riders gather on the patio. Funny, but the "slow" riders were there about an hour before the "fast" riders. Lots and lots of water was consumed with lunch. Darrell, Harald, Robert, Paul, Joan, Margaret, Andrew, and Kristine pose while waiting for the food to arrive. Paul Rappell photo
Lock monsters! At Kilmarnock Lock, Darrell, Joan, Kristine, Andrew,and Harald say "cheese" for photographer Robert. Or is that "wheeze", Darrell? Robert Tolley photo
Bellies full, we headed out; Margaret and Paul north then west for the return to Smiths Falls, while I led the rest south down St. Lawrence Street with its many quaint shops and out of Merrickville, turning right on to County Road 16. I mentioned to the group that this 13 ½ kilometre stretch to Jasper was a favorite of mine on my frequent solo rides due to its light traffic and flat, long straights and that I often liked to “air it out” along here. As if Kristine et al needed any encouragement. Following their vapour trail, I eventually arrived in Jasper to find them waiting, refreshed, relaxed … am I repeating myself?
From here it was a right turn on to County Road 16 or the Jasper Highway heading back to Smiths Falls. However, our group would not be taking the direct path back to our destination. We were going to soak up some more of the local scenery. A little over 1 kilometre down (up?) County Road 16 we turned right on to Kilmarnock Road, a 7 kilometre link heading north to Route 43 West or the Merrickville Highway. This road passes through some rich agricultural land bordering the Rideau and a small tributary that helps to create Kilmarnock Island. Past a large apple orchard, the road makes a sweeping, descending curve over the picturesque lock at Kilmarnock. Here the group paused for some photos and a short breather before the final home stretch. Meanwhile, on the moderate route, Margaret and Paul headed north along Rosedale Road to Matheson Drive where they would turn left for the 5 ½ kilometre trek back into Smiths Falls then on to Elmsley/Queen Street before a right turn over the Old Slys Road lock and back to the curling club. (Ed note: As if! In Smiths Falls, they change the street names as frequently as they change their ... . We got lost on Elmsley, or was it Queen, or ... . We discovered that Elmsley goes downhill - only to end in a dead end. And you have to climb back up.)
Watch out for that crack in the pavement! The group, fortified with ice cream, gets ready to make the final turn into the parking lot after a good day out. Andrew, Kristine, Harald, and Joan finish the ride in fine form. Photo by Paul Rappell
Home at last! Robert Tolley heads for the finish, satisfied that he's had his fill of ice cream. Photo by Paul Rappell
Andrew took the lead as our crew made a left turn on to Route 43 West for the final approach to Smiths Falls. The narrower road and the increasingly heavy traffic as we approached town, made single file riding a necessity. Anticipating the finish, the peloton surged ahead of me. Either that or my pace was lagging again. No doubt the latter. In any case, a decided gap had opened up between the others and me, so much so that by the time the final left turn for the 500 metre sprint home was reached, they were too far beyond shouting range for me to warn them that they had missed it. Oh well, I would just return to the curling club and wait for them. Surely it wouldn’t take them long to realize their error.
Arriving back at the curling club, I saw that Margaret and Paul had safely finished and were patiently expecting everyone else’s return. (Ed. note: Margaret's comment was, "It would be very embarrassing if the other group finished ahead of us!") I informed them of what had just happened and assured them that the others would be along very shortly. Ten minutes passed. I started to worry. I began to imagine next day’s headlines (“Inept Ride Leader – no relation to Costa Concordia captain – Loses Entire Entourage!”) when suddenly I realized … our cell phones! A quick call to Kristine quickly allayed my fears.
Let it not be said that KVC members are not an attentive bunch! During idle conversation at the restaurant, I had mentioned to Robert the existence and location of a new ice cream parlour in town. Their wares apparently were “to die for” and line-ups were frequently seen outside the door. It appears our wayward cyclists had merely made a detour to reward themselves for a great effort. Rumour has it one rider downsized his/her original order to a single scoop when seeing the actual size of a double! (Maureen: eat your heart out!) Not only had this group put a fine finish to the ride, they had also unofficially turned it into a metric century by going the extra distance!