With about 10 km to go in the 130-km route of the Reggie Ramble, there’s an incline that riders don’t see until it’s too late. They cruise along a flat dirt track through a swamp, but there’s a gravel wall hidden in the trees. When they get to it, their legs are already cooked. They get ambushed.
“I wanted the Ramble to be hard, but fun,” said organizer Jeff Wills. He set out the routes not only with geography in mind, but rider psychology, as well. The first edition of the gravel event ran in September 2019. From the feedback Wills has received from some of the 130 participants, he succeeded. The ambushes made the routes challenging. They were part of the fun, too.
Looping around the fairgrounds
Another novel feature of the Ramble’s routes is how they all weave back to the start at the Warkworth, Ont., fairgrounds. Riders of the 200-km, 130-km or 65-km routes have staggered starts. They all come back to the fairgrounds after 65 km. The long-distance riders keep going on the second loop. Once the 130-km riders return, they’re done, while the 200-km folks keep pedalling. The advantage of this setup is that riders are never more than 35 km from the finish if they have to end things early. Also, there’s activity at the start/finish throughout the day. This year’s Reggie Ramble will take place in the summer, on June 27. “In 2020, we’re hoping to build out with fairgrounds with more attractions to draw in the community and build up the atmosphere for the riders even more,” Wills said.
The atmosphere in 2019 was actually pretty good. In fact, it might have posed a bit of a challenge for riders who had to pass through the start/finish on their way to their second or third loops. “It can be a bit of a mind game when you come through,” Wills said. “You just killed yourself for about three hours and then you have to go back out and do it again. Meanwhile, the barbecues are going and the free beer is there.” That could be tough, psychologically. But it’s part of the fun.