By Sheila Ascroft
There weren’t many cyclists at the Picton Fairgrounds for the first Kiwanis fall Colour Cribbage Ride in 2002. Maybe a dozen of us left for the 100 km route, 40 or so set out later on the 60 km. As Bill Miramontes of the local Kiwanis Club recalls, “it rained something terrible.” It was also a chilly 6º C.
I’ve never cycled in the rain before—oh I’ve been caught in the rain, but never had I deliberately started a ride in the rain. A hard rain at that. And a long ride. 100 km through unfamiliar territory in Prince Edward County. But I wasn’t alone. Well, actually I was, but there were other cyclists doing the same route. I was between the fast riders and the ones who were cycling a shorter route. So I climbed McCauley Mountain by myself in a heavy rain on an early Saturday October morning.
It rained so hard that I felt the drops hammering through my helmet vents. The hill to Lake on the Mountain was a nasty surprise for this Ottawan. Steep! I had to unzip my rain jacket to let out the steam. At Cressy, checkpoint volunteers Don and Pat Stanton proffered delicious granola bars and lots of encouraging words. In turning southwest toward Waupoos, the rain let up but a nasty headwind took its place. It was a great ride!
The stormy “seas” of Lake Ontario were eye-candy to this landlubber. The comradery of strangers suddenly made into friends by sharing two wheels and a fine route. But really, it’s the volunteers who make this bike ride special. They stood uncomplaining for hours in a rain at various locations to succor a few cyclists as we wend our way around the County. At the Sandbanks checkpoint, Ed Krause of Ideal Bike Shop handed out homemade peanut butter and jam sandwiches to us starving riders. It has now become his signature checkpoint treat. Although the sun finally peaked through on the way to Bloomfield, the homemade hot apple cider (thanks KT Misner, Bloomfield Bike Shop) warmed our bodies and spirits for the short trek back to Picton. (There are other volunteers who returned annually but I don’t recall their names—just their positivity that finishing was indeed possible!) Thankfully, there were “sweep riders” so I didn’t have to ride alone for the last 20 km. Sweet.
Lunch that first year was served in the historic Crystal Palace. We felt like VIPs despite our muddied clothes. There was also the infamous cribbage match, door prizes and a swag bag of local produce including apples and a pumpkin, and a chunk of Black River cheese. Yum.
The ride has grown since then. In 2007, the route was altered, less hills, more vineyards, but the volunteers and locals along the route made it all enjoyable. Last year, some new roads were incorporated into the route to make it “vista-fresh” for repeat riders. There are still some rolling hills though. If the weather is good, the sun makes the fall trees dazzle with colour. The 60 km route is now only 50 km long. The lunch is still worth putting time in the saddle and is now served in the Curling Club in Picton.
Mr. Miramontes says that the money raised is used “to support our Terrific Kids project, Sleeping Children Around the World, graduation awards for students from PECI, and support of the local soccer fields and teams.”
The next KCCR takes place on Saturday, October 1—come on out! For more details: http://pictonkiwanis.homestead.com/colour-cribbage-ride.html
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