Introducing the Reggie Ramble
Well that was fun.
I just have one question: What the hell is a Reggie?
Whatever a Reggie is, they/it made a thing of beauty. The Reggie Ramble wasn’t just a gravel ride–it was a farm track, singletrack, double track, boulder track, hella fun romp through the spectacularly beautiful Trent Hills.
The race consisted of three different loops, based around the START/LAP/FINISH barn at the community centre in the rustic town of Warkworth, Ontario. Racers chose one of three options:
- Loop 1 = 65k
- Loop 1 + Loop 2 = 130k
- Loop 1 + Loop 2 + Loop 3 = 3,000k
I only did the 65k, so everything I’m going to write is based on that distance. I sort of kinda almost wish I had tackled the 130k, but than again, the Epic 8 Hour the weekend before kicked my butt, and my body was still a bit too creaky.
Plus, it was my 16th–and last–race this season, and I wanted to go out with a bang, not on a gurney.
Describing the actual race is a tough one, so instead, I’ll compare it to some other local rips (keeping in mind that it is as unique as each of the races that follow):
- It’s the El Bandito70 without The Ganny…
- P2A70 without the crowds…
- Steaming Nostril without the, um, steaming nostrils…
- It’s a HAPPY Scrappy Badger! Same geographical location and terrain, with the same climbing, but at 65k, Reggie Ramble was just a bit less scrappy…
The Reggie Ramble 65k was exactly what a gravel rip should be: mean and ugly, and hilly, punctuated frequently by sections of meaner, hillier, and uglier stuff.
So much hilly. I have one word: Ihatedrumlins!
…and I only did the 65k. Respect to ANYONE who tackled a second loop after finishing the first (and to anyone who nailed a third loop after the first two).
Also, I don’t think I hate drumlins. In fact, after Saturday’s race, I think they’re kinda growing on me. You know, like a third arm. You don’t want a third arm, and you hate growing a third arm, but then you grow a third arm and realize “This isn’t so bad. I’ll need new shirts, and have to buy a third glove, buuuuuut I can hold the bowl of chips, AND the bowl of dip, AND eat the chips.” Okay, awkward analogies aside (so very awkward), what I mean to say is that after a summer of epic riding and racing, the beautifully ugly drumlins of Northumberland County weren’t so bad. In fact, they were kinda fun–which is a good thing because Warkworth is in a valley surrounded by the damn things.
Maybe a Reggie is another word for drumlin…or registration…REGGIE-stration…cute.
Okay, so I may not know much about a Reggie, but know lots about a Ramble. It’s what a Led Zeppelin does, right?”
You know that perfect autumn road…the one in the tourism brochures? Yeah, that one. Well, you just might find it if you ramble on the right roads, and we rode ALL of them. We were on one of the first gravel bits after the start, and the beauty of the road punched me in the throat. The puddles from the rain the night before glistened, the morning light shone through an archway of trees, the leaves were swirling, and my heart was swooning. I wanted to raise my arms, tilt my head back, and bask in the glory of it all, just like Meg Ryan did in “City of Angels”…except I think she crashed and died while doing it, so maybe not ENTIRELY like Meg Ryan.
How tough was the course? Well, I can say that I almost enjoyed the 65k, but riders in the 130k and 200k were slightly less enthusiastic about the drumlin situation. In fact, the race proved too much for many racers, who dropped from 2 loops to 1, or 3 loops to 2. Actually, after the first loop, about a third of the 130k riders dropped to 65k
Yeah, all the pain.
Btw, I placed 14/32 in my age category, but 6 of those riders actually dropped from the 2 loop 130k, to the one loop 65k, which means I actually placed 8th.
Okay, so it was a ramble…it was ugly and beautiful…and it was awesome and fun…but seriously, what’s a Reggie?
Maybe it’s a covert hipster operative based in Warkworth…or Toronto?
Race Report. Reggie Ramble (p/b Superfly Racing): September 28, 2019. Warkworth, ON
Did I say how much I enjoyed this race? I think 65k might be my wheelhouse.
Seriously, I raced this year with so many challenges: between broken lungs and sickness, some really awful finishes, that time I pre-rode a course on the hottest day in history (absolutely true), when I crashed at the 24 Hour while on the way to do my lap, and so many ultra challenging courses (the Spring AND Fall Epic 8 Hour, Scrappy Badger…) it was nice to just get out and rip.
And rip I did.
Annnnnnd, nothing happened. I just rode and had fun and rode some more. I think I actually rambled. Awesome.
After the neutral spin out of the community centre, we ambled (see what I did there) our way out of the valley and south of the town, on a road that I was all too familiar with. My mom used to live in Warkworth, and the road to the south was our walking route when I visited while in university. It was pretty back then, and prettier now–especially on a bike.
After that, the Reggie Ramble hit gravel nirvana, and it didn’t stop. Every drumlin we went up had a downside, and we just ripped. After a short paved stretch, we hit THAT road (remember, the one from the brochure?).
About 10k in, I was spinning, and enjoying the sights, when two riders zipped past me. They made me realize something: My pace was crap. Roadies, eh? I was riding like I was on my single speed MTB in an 8 Hour race, so I picked up my pace. I don’t have fast twitch muscles (unless there’s only one piece of cake left…) but I can handle a 29-35km/h pace without a wheel to draft.
An ambush! No, we weren’t being attacked by militant Northumberlanders; it was the first section (which the Reggies fittingly call an ambush). Wohoo. Also, on no!
The first ambush-section was a looooong stretch of farm track that led to a gentle, rutted climb. Awesome.
The other ambush-sections were, in order of how much I like-hated them:
- Wickedly cool
- “What the hell…geez this is steep…and rocky too…”
- Horribly beautiful (and awesome)
- Beautifully Gross (and awesome)
- Fast and mean (and rocky and awesome)
Two of the ambushes (Ambushi? Ambusheses?) were so steep and technical that I had to dismount and shoulder my bike. Cue Team Colin shaming. Sad face. But seriously, the first big and mean section literally LOOMED from the gravel patch we were on. I was with a group of riders, and all of us saw it at about the same time. You could actually hear our hearts break and our pants fill. The ambush-section looked like a gravel wall that disappeared into a canopy of autumnal splendor. Oh how I hate thee, ironic trail.
Annnnd, at the top of that hill, I met a new pal. He recognized me and I heard that familiar “Hey, are you Team Colin?”.
“I am” I squealed, as I do every time someone talks about my blog.
We chatted, and then he dropped me almost immediately. Fast dude.
I spent the next 10k trying to catch him . “Hey wait up! Lets talk about bikes and racing and stuff…” When I finally caught him, he dropped me again. Dang. So, I spun harder and caught him again. Then we spent 90 minutes spinning and grunting and chatting.
Ambush/sections, and hills, and gravel, and pavement, and more damn hills. The ambushes ranged from sand traps; to “Ugh, just ugh”; to a deep-puddled swamp bypass. So horrible.
The earth’s crust split apart, and Gollum and the Evil One burst from Middle Earth in a flurry of fangs and anger. They were hungry, and snarling, and they wanted a piece of me. Buggers were fast too. There was a big one and an even bigger one, and they were nipping at me, trying to find a good chance to jump through my spokes so they could eat me when I flung to the ground. I was confident, but not stupid, so I kept my speed to their pace. They wouldn’t let up. Worse, they seemed to be getting angrier–and they weren’t just snarling a warning, they were creating the drool to aid in digestion…
I had to hit about 30km/h before I dropped them. I have never been so terrified on a bike.
Big jerk dogs.
That course tho. With the dogs behind me, and hopefully not gnawing on a competitor, the course got better and better.
Aw geez, I just realized what a Reggie Ramble is. It’s when you go on an epically cool gravel rip, and all you can do is talk about the fun you had, and the stunningly beautiful fall sights of Southern Ontario, and the dogs that wanted to eat you (or worse–just saying), and..ramble indeed.
Hmm. Sounds about right.
The loop ended with a long and gentle descent, a short rip through Somethingberg, and a slight climb back to Warkworth, where we finished to an awesome crowd of enthusiastic bell clangers, and a zip through a big red barn.
End of Race Report
Team Colin literally took over the Reggie Ramble!
Yeah, immediately after the race (like, even before changing out of my kit or returning to my vehicle) Adam Ruppel told his brother Sean to find someone else to call the race. “I’ll do it” I said only half jokingly. Four hours later (I’m not kidding), I returned the mic.
Pro tip: Never give Colin a live mic. Dude loves to talk.
Sweet. The 2019 Reggie Ramble.
How was the weather? For the 65k riders, it was awesome. For the two and three loopers…not so much.
How was the crowd? Awesome. It was a Superfly romp. ‘Nuff said.
How was the craft brewed artisinal small batch free range beer that we got after the race? Not sure. I don’t drink beer (shhhh, don’t tell the others).
How was the swag? WICKED! Racers got a sweet Reggie sling bag, and patch, and a mask. I’m not planning to rob a bank any time soon, but if I do, I’m doing it Reggie style! Hey, maybe a Reggie is a, um, you know, a position…
How was the BBQ? Sweet. I had a burger. And a sausage. And a double burger (that Sean burned, but pfft). Thanks bud.
If you were reading carefully, you may have counted a bag and a mask and a patch and beer and food. Yeah, that’s a big list.
Before I stop rambling (see what I did there), I have to talk about the smell. I’m not talking about the reek of the riders (or Sean after 4 hours at the grill), or the cow poop in the barn. I’m talking about the smell of early autumn: the mix of musty sweet crops, decaying fields, forests getting ready to go to sleep, and falling leaves (yeah, you can smell them). That smell is a true pleasure, and it’s even better on a bike, because the nuance of the different smells changes so frequently as you roll. It reminds me of childhood, and sitting on my bike, hands on the hoods, riding the last race of the season, and feeling the strength in my heart and the push of my legs after a terrific season…well, it makes me want to ramble some more. Not enough to have done a second lap, but it still…
Aw dang it. For my 101sth blog, I went all over the place. 2,500 words, and I’m not sure I even said anything. Now THAT’S a ramble. Hmm, maybe that’s the purpose of a Reggie Ramble: Tooling around–maybe even sometimes through the exact same place a few times–and just riding until you find something…anything…yeah, I dig that.
What an awesome race, an awesome course, an awesome day, and even an awesome emcee (I’m kidding).
And so, the 2019 race season ended, not with a bang or a bonk, but through a barn and with a mic…at the end of a great ramble.
Erm, I mean, RIDE.
Really, it’s all about the people, eh. Mon ami Simon (he’s french) was there, and Gord from the Scrappy Badger was too. The Emsleys, and Annie, and a bunch of other pals were there. I even met someone new. Dylan!
Superfly’s brother, Chico was even there to pitch-in! I love that sense of connection. The race was Superfly all the way (um, beer, Sean, and wicked awesomeness) but it was a collaboration with Reggie (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) and it had touches of a Substance Projects rip. The connections were all around us, and even included me, with Team Colin calling the finish.
These people–the folks who organize the races I do–are family to me, and I love the time I spend with them.
Sean mentioned that he wants to make Reggie Ramble the premier gravel event of the calendar, and it may well become that (at 200k, it sure has the heft), but I think it would be more awesome to see the connections I mentioned meld with the gravel season that precedes RR. In fact, I almost see the Reggie Ramble as the finale of the OnGravel Series. Hmm, I wonder if Dan and Sean read my blog.
A few more pics of racers and winners and a Reggie and a photographer and stuff:
Check it out: The overall winner has my bike too! Except mine is obviously broken–which would explain why I’m so slow!
Also, this shot, from a different perspective is in Canadian Cycling Magazine. Sweet!
Ramble indeed. Led Zeppelin!