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Friday, 31 January 2014

Rattlesnake Point

By Pico Triano
Photos: Andrew Egan, Pico Triano, Simon Shirley

The Brampton church cycling club I founded and led years ago had three organized tours that first summer. The first was a forty-kilometre (25 miles) run to Georgetown, Ontario and back. There were no special activities planned. It was more or less just a chance to assess where everyone was at and give the members an idea what kind of conditioning would be necessary to prepare for our main tour to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately no one took any pictures either. It served its purpose though. I covered the planning stages in our last issue in this article: http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/12/scouting-route.html. Now we were ready for something challenging.

Rattlesnake Point is a point of land high on the Niagara Escarpment right by Milton, Ontario. There were a lot of things that made it an excellent day trip/training run.

1)      The distance of eighty kilometres (50 miles) was long enough to push the group hard. We needed to know that we were ready for a long self-contained ride.
2)      The terrain took us out of town away from heavy traffic. It also included one significant hill.
3)      There is a great day use picnic park right at the top. Water, bathrooms and one of the best views in Southern Ontario.
Five riders made the trip and we had a lot of fun. Four of those riders would go on to complete the main tour without any serious trouble.

We started out in front of my apartment near the Bramalea City Centre and headed out on to Steeles Avenue riding in formation (My tours all use the same formation riding plan as discussed in this earlier article: http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/11/group-riding-as-family.html.  Early on a Sunday morning traffic hadn’t built up much yet. We rolled easily on highway seven toward our goal, lunches and drinks nestled in our saddlebags and other makeshift packs.

We travelled incident free all the way to Milton. There we crossed paths with an idiot driver. This guy pulled out of a side road and bulled his way right through the middle of our line of riders. Guess who the lucky middle rider was at that moment? I swerved to avoid the collision. My whole upper body hung over the hood of that car as it advanced. How I cleared the corner of his vehicle without getting hit, I’m not even sure. We were all yelling our heads off at him.

When the dust settled and we had a chance to calm down, I asked, if anyone remembered to get his license plate number. There was a long pause and then we all broke up laughing. We were either too upset or too busy staying alive to think of that.

The day really heated up and before heading up the hill we stopped at a gas station for water and a bathroom break. One of the riders was wearing a moped helmet. ANSI approved but no ventilation. He had, unknown to him, built up a pool of sweat on top of his head. It didn't smell too fresh. He rinsed off while we were there.
The climb up the Niagara Escarpment is not an easy climb. We all made it without incident except that our formation riding got out of whack. As a result two of the riders in their enthusiasm flew right past the park entrance and down the front of Rattlesnake Point. All that tough climbing they just did, had to be done all over again.

We spent the heat of the day resting in the park getting ready for the ride back. I don’t remember what we ate for lunch. I do remember strolling around seeing the sights and having a good old-fashioned water fight.

Great location, awesome weather, good friends, proper training and adequate planning, I’ve never had a planned group trip run so smoothly. Our main event, which I’ll write about next month, brought our group touring up to another level yet.

More Stories (Click photos or titles to access)

Niagara Falls 1989

Rattlesnake point was the warm up for this longer more involved tour. Three days of riding and one rest day for four riders. It was a resounding success.

First Foray

This was my first baby step into long distance touring. I rode from the Niagara area to Toronto and spent the weekend with friends.

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