Ride Report – Warburg 2011

By Joel

Willi, Phil, Bruce and I rode the Warburg 200 on Saturday, April 9. I took a day off work on Friday due to sickness, and wasn’t sure I would feel up to the ride, so I emailed the other riders and told them not to wait for me. Saturday morning came, and I felt better than on Friday, so I decided to ride. I was a little late leaving the house, though, and when I pulled into the Superstore parking lot at 7:55, I saw Willi’s van, but no cyclists. I live only a few kilometers away from the start point, so I rode there instead of driving, so already being on my bike, I took off on the route, and sure enough, a few blocks away, caught up with the other three.

The weather was, for the most part, cooperative. It was already above 0 at the start, and very little wind. Willi and I pulled ahead of Phil and Bruce, and took turns pulling and drafting pretty much all the way to the N. Saskatchewan river crossing (about 60 km). After that was a long, continuous climb out of the valley and to the first check point (Warburg – 88km). That’s a long way to the first check point, and there’s no services save for a gas station about 15 km from the start, so one needs to be prepared. I had gotten a little ahead of Willi on that climb, but he arrived in Warburg only a couple minutes after me.

By then, the wind had started to pick up a bit from the south. Heading east out of Warburg, we had nice smooth highway, and probably a little downhill, and we made really good time at first, but then, for some reason, it became a bit more of a struggle. Willi fell behind again, and my speed also dropped considerably until turning north and getting a nice tail wind through Thorsby. Then it was time to go east again with an increasing cross wind from the south, and my speed dropped again. I stopped in Calmar for the next check point, fully expecting Willi to pull in just behind me, but I didn’t see him (turns out we stopped at different gas stations). I continued to Leduc, feeling even more sluggish, until finally getting to turn north again.

I know a lot of guys would take full advantage of a tail wind and go all out, but I chose to relax and let the wind push me to Nisku. I enjoyed the little reprieve from the effort I had been putting in for the last 30 km. Stopped for a rest and a signature in Nisku, and then headed west towards Devon. I was kind of dreading that 15 km stretch, since the wind was blowing pretty good – mainly a cross wind, but still enough to make the ride a bit tougher. I was just on the overpass over highway 2 when I heard what sounded like a snot rocket being generated right behind me. I looked around, and there was Willi, right on my wheel! I just about jumped out of my skin. He then proceeded to pull me the entire 15 km to Devon, which was a huge help, and lifted my spirits significantly.

After a break in Devon, it was time to head north again, first down into the valley for another river crossing and a tough, but relatively short climb out. Then it was a fast, fast ride back to Highway 16A, then east again back to the finish, Willi leading the way.

A pretty good ride overall, 8h 43m total time, with 7h 23m pedal time (I take long breaks, apparently). Big thanks go to Willi for the company and the assistance.