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  1. #1
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    Thanksgiving Odyssey 2012

    Alen and I had been talking about this one for a while. A point to point ride starting in Pickering and ending in Toronto, riding as much trail as we could string together. I did a small version of it a couple years ago, but it was more direct, about 75km total. We were aiming for over 100. We figured we might get 4 or 5 takers. A group met up at Alens early in the morning and rode the train out to Pickering for the 8am start.

    A few people drove to Pickering, and would end up taking the train back to their cars at the end. I rode down from home, and unsurprisingly, so did Ghettocruiser. As if the thought of a 100km+ ride wasn't enough, he'd just tack on another 30 before it even started.

    I got to the station in time to get up on the bridge and see the train come in.



    Including those not shown, we started with 12 from Pickering GO.

    We started with a mix of road and gravel path on our way to the first real trails, in Greenwood. Most rode the Ewok Village of skinnies.





    We then rode North past the off-leash area, up the Trans Canada Trail and started into the tight twisty stuff. Think MoTown, but with big trees instead of Sumacs, and no red ants!

    Around the 30km mark, we stopped at my house for food and water. Anyone who wanted to shed some layers (it was 4 degrees when we started) put it in my car, and it all got delivered to Alens house as my wife went down to her parents for dinner. Ene was waiting, and we now numbered 13. Mackie went to work on someones frayed derailleur cable, and some tires were topped up with air. Those would be the only repairs needed for the entire day.

    We rode a little road, and dove into West Duffins Creek valley via the Seaton Hiking Trail. We'd climb the 40-50m up out of the valley 5 times in this section. Most riders attempted this sketchy rooty downhill, and not one crashed.

    A river crossing was needed. Several slipped and got wet to the amusement of the hecklers on the other side.


    A pause at one of the lookouts for a nice view and a group shot.


    The day before, I had stashed a 10L jug of water at the end of the Duffins Creek section at a lookout where we could stop to fill out bottles, at around 60km.

    There's a convenient rail trail running across the top of most of Pickering, and that would start our major push West.

    Though we would be forced onto the road for a short section before getting to the Rouge valley.

    Before starting into the Rouge trails, we rode to the top of the landfill for a great view of everything from Ajax to Uxbridge to Toronto.

    Then, into the trails in the Rouge. Jeremy and Scott were the only to make the climb to the top of the old ski hill. Well done guys! It doesn't look like much in this shot, but it's about a 30% grade.



    Down Port Union to the lake, where the first two riders dropped out to head home. West along the lake to East Point Park and eventually the Guild.


    Oggie hopped on the train to get back to his car to be home for a large dinner they were hosting in a few short hours. Two more that were growing tired dropped off the back to slowly ride the road down to Alens. Down to 8. We rode through the Guild to the lakeshore and headed West to the bottom of Gates Gully, 1km of gravel and broken asphalt at a 10% grade, after having already ridden 87km. Brutal.

    Entering the gully....

    We stopped by my in-laws for more water, and to devour what was left of the food stash from my house. Two bags of chips, a big box of cookies, a dozen bananas, a pound of twizzlers, and 14 bottles of gatorade, all gone between the two food stops. Two more were tight for time, and split off shortly after leaving my in-laws to head back to their car at Alens. Down to 6. We headed down Taylor Creek Park into the Don, and Training Loop.

    Jeremy had to split to get to his Thanksgiving dinner back at the Guild, and being Jeremy, rode there. Down to 5. We rode the Ridge to Pottery, back to Loblaws, then up onto the street to Bryants, and on to Alens where the two who dropped off joined us shortly after. After a beer and a couple appetizers to Alens Thanksgiving Feast, I was headed back to my in-laws for my own dinner.


    I had ridden 127km in about 10 hours. Between all of us, over 1500km ridden, with no flats, one minor crash, and two minor mechanicals. Not bad. We didn't think Epic quite cut it, so we called it the Thanksgiving Odyssey 2012.

    Check out the route: Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Thanksgiving Odyssey 2012 near Pickering | Times and Records | Strava

    Big thanks to everyone who attended, whether you started late, ended early, or rode the whole thing. It's not the same without a big group of enthusiastic riders. I hope you can make it back for the 2013 edition.

  2. #2
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    Great report .
    Was there a thread announcing this ride ?

  3. #3
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    hey Nick, many thanks for putting this together... it was a colossal ride and a great bunch of riders... i look forward to doing another one soon - we do not have to wait until next Thanksgiving...

  4. #4
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    I'll echo the others; thanks for putting this together! No pride in being one of the 1st to bail but I managed to get through all the new-to-me stuff.

    I'd also like to thank the cheering section (Craig, Linda, Scott, Alen, Bryant) at Danforth GO who convinced me to put my CX stair running skills in action to make the train that was pulling into the station at the same time I did. Another 45 seconds late and I probably would not have made the ride at all!

  5. #5
    bi-winning
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    What a ride!
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.


    Shorthills Cycling Club

  6. #6
    sheep in FOX clothing
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    Ewok Village photo:The problem with clear glasses is that they can't conceal the terror in my eyes.

    A few more observations:

    1. When Nick says tires were "topped up with air"... that was after they were refilled with sealant and had the beads re-set with an air compressor. I owe him thanks and a bottle of Stans.

    2. Turnout was huge for a 100km+ mountain bike ride setting off at 5C. I was just glad we didn't over-tax Nick's on-route supply stashes given that he was basically single-handedly providing full ride support.

    3. I don't think I've ever seen a group ride where all 12-15 people cleared so many nasty trail sections so nonchalantly. I felt like a hack.

    4. Bryant (on a rigid steel singlespeed, no less) absolutely crushed the climb up the gully. My pick for the "hammer of the week" award.

    We don't have that award? Well why the hell not?

  7. #7
    sock puppet
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    ah so i could finally put the face

    to your avatar... nice...

    ditto on all points. #3: yes - it was amazing to see that the whole group kept a pretty frisky pace for a 100k ride without saying a boo... clearing some tough sections like it was nobody's business, in the process....

    this was as mechanical free a ride of these proportions as it gets... a testament to the level of aptitude and preparation of all riders...

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    Ewok Village photo:The problem with clear glasses is that they can't conceal the terror in my eyes.

    A few more observations:

    1. When Nick says tires were "topped up with air"... that was after they were refilled with sealant and had the beads re-set with an air compressor. I owe him thanks and a bottle of Stans.

    2. Turnout was huge for a 100km+ mountain bike ride setting off at 5C. I was just glad we didn't over-tax Nick's on-route supply stashes given that he was basically single-handedly providing full ride support.

    3. I don't think I've ever seen a group ride where all 12-15 people cleared so many nasty trail sections so nonchalantly. I felt like a hack.

    4. Bryant (on a rigid steel singlespeed, no less) absolutely crushed the climb up the gully. My pick for the "hammer of the week" award.

    We don't have that award? Well why the hell not?

  8. #8
    Team NFI
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    Quote Originally Posted by veteran_youth View Post
    No pride in being one of the 1st to bail
    What?
    If you hurt in your efforts and suffer painful dings. Then you are doing it right.

  9. #9
    FloridaKeys Fishing Guide
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    Good job!

    Love the ride report and that Ewok trail is sweet! Looks like a lot of fun was had by all.
    Current ride(s) 2011 Santa Cruz Blur LT

  10. #10
    Evil Jr.
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    Wow, that looked awesome!
    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  11. #11
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    That looked like an awesome, well planned ride with much enjoyment for all. I was away near Perrry Sound with the family for the long weekend. I was told by a local of a hiking trail I might want to try. It was a brutal amalgamation of rocks and roots carefully hidden by tons of wet leaves meaning to break your neck. I smashed my knee into the handlebars about 2Km in and hit a tree not long after that. Got bounced around and bruised and I believe had the opposite experience of your ride. Did it solo, so no one to laugh at/with at the whole situation. I least I didn't hurt my bike.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccaddy View Post
    Great report .
    Was there a thread announcing this ride ?
    There was no thread, this was organized via email following another massive ride we did on Labour Day: Labour Day Pain

    I've run a bunch of group rides in the past few years, typically 30-40km in length that started and ended at my place with an open invitation. Sometimes they ran a little long, but with that distance, and everyone going back to the start it's not a big deal. It just means we get back and fire up the BBQ late.

    With a huge point to point on a typicaly family oriented holiday, it gets different. Everyone has a different deadline, and destination at the end of the day. I chose the route such that after about 70km, there was lots of bailout options, so people could hop on the TTC, ride the train back to their car in Pickering or back downtown when they needed to. Most cut it short because of their deadlines. Some dropped off the back and slowly rode the street down to the end. I'm very happy with how well the group stuck together, and how smoothly it broke apart.

    Two years ago I did a smaller version of this Thanksgiving commute with an open invitation and it didn't turn out like I had hoped. It ended up taking much longer than expected, with myself having to actually bail before the end to make it to dinner. That's why this ride wasn't posted on any forums. Sort of a experiment to see if it could be done.

    I'd like to have made it to dinner earlier in the afternoon, and I'd like for everyone to be able to make it to the end, so I think when this gets done again it will not be on any special weekend. I think if it wasn't for Thanksgiving dinner getting in the way, we would have all ended up at Alens house. Next time it will be open invitation, with the expectation that riders know what they're getting themselves into, have done a thorough check of their gear, and are ready to coast along on the street to the end if they need to. Of course, problems still happen and if we get there late, we get there late. Then, we'll eat and drink and laugh about the day.

  13. #13
    I Strava Hamburgers
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    Nice ride man. Thanks for the Strava info. Might go looking for those places in the near future!
    My EBB so loud
    I'm mashing...

  14. #14
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    [QUOTE=14Stone;9764041..... Might go looking for those places in the near future![/QUOTE]

    Would be happy to show you the way.

  15. #15
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    Nick, in the coming years there maybe less road needed on the Bluffs part. As the city has plans to extend the Waterfront Trail so it goes all along the lake.
    If you hurt in your efforts and suffer painful dings. Then you are doing it right.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enduramil View Post
    Nick, in the coming years there maybe less road needed on the Bluffs part. As the city has plans to extend the Waterfront Trail so it goes all along the lake.
    I wish there was more singletrack through Scarborough. The paved path is better than the road, but not by a lot. I'd rather ride up the Gully and take the road than ride paved path across to Bluffers park and up Brimley.

    We need some trail gnomes in Highland Creek!

  17. #17
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    Nice ride. Love riding those trails but never put them all together. Can't believe that ladder bridge is still up at Greenwood, last time I was on that was 3yrs ago, maybe four.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickboers View Post
    We need some trail gnomes in Highland Creek!
    Doubt it with all the city activity still ongoing.
    If you hurt in your efforts and suffer painful dings. Then you are doing it right.

  19. #19
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    Highland creek is kind of an exception to the use-vs-conservation issues that are in play to the east and west. Unlike the Rouge or the Don, the limited selection of off-road trails have very low user pressures, a reflection, I think, of the new demographics of the surrounding communities.

    There are fall-line downhill trails in there that look the same as they did in the 1990s down to the root, because no one ever rides them and almost no one ever walks them. Needless to say most un-shaded sections of trail grow over by the middle of May and can't really be made out again until the winter.

    The other issue is that it has the highest paved-surface-% of any GTA watershed, meaning that even a moderate summer thunderstorm can cause cataclysmic flooding... trails disappear when entire sections of the floodplain are obliterated in one storm, while other sections end up buried under six feet of sand or covered in flood debris.

    The city has a hard enough time keeping the paved path open from Cedar Ridge down to the lake. As I've said, I had some trail in there in the 90s, I'll go have a look once the leaves are down, but I'm guessing the percent that remains ride-able is close to zero, with the exception of one nasty climb and a matching descent that checked out okay recently.

    There was some talk that the TRCA would regrade and potentially resurface the trail up the Gully at the completion of the Meadowcliffe Drive infill project. I hope that doesn't happen, but there is a backup plan if it does.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post




    There was some talk that the TRCA would regrade and potentially resurface the trail up the Gully at the completion of the Meadowcliffe Drive infill project. I hope that doesn't happen, but there is a backup plan if it does.
    They have been working on the system from below Centennial College. This will finish at the Markham and Progress trailhead. They don't seem to be making any kind of trail to replace the old trail that used to exist.
    If you hurt in your efforts and suffer painful dings. Then you are doing it right.

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