Late August marked our annual pilgrimage to Fundy National Park for the Fundy Adventure Rally and our yearly quest for gold, which has painfully eluded EastCoast Al and I thus far. We were a lean mean team of two, highly motivated middle-aged blokes set on crushing all in our path – but then we got tired.
This year’s Rally was extra special with the main sponsor BMW having the Canadian finals of the GS Challenge take place at the Rally this year. Contestants were put through a range of skills both on and off the bike to determine who would make the team for the world GS Challenge in Mongolia. What a great way to motivate us for the Rally. Well, that and clearly highlight our shortcomings as riders…. or maybe just mine. I channeled my enthusiasm into the rider training course in the days leading up to the Rally. Highly recommended for those of us wanting to improve our skills. Ok, NEED to improve their skills.
My Other Brother Derryl showed up again to encourage us (read – worry us) in our quest and we all took part in Friday’s self-guided tour as a prelude to Saturday’s Rally. Weather was fantastic and the tour takes you through twisty paved roads through the scenic Fundy Park and then your choice of trails back to Rally HQ. Derryl impressed us by taking his Weestrom through a C route (most difficult, usually reserved for small dualsports) with ease and precision. Contented Al let on that it was the best ride he’s had in years. It was a true adventure touring ride with a perfect blend of pavement and technical trail through scenic vistas – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Saturday didn’t start well as the drizzly wet had already started Friday evening. No matter, Aggressive Al and I were dead set of gold glory and took off without a second thought to conditions. That served us well as we blasted through the first two C routes even outpacing some of the smaller dualsports which should have had the weight advantage over our 650s. Then we hit the third C route, the end of which marked the halfway point of the Rally. First we got caught up on a muddy hill climb, not helped by our wrong route selection and expended far too much energy getting ourselves out of it. Once on our way, my exhaustion resulted in numerous tip-overs on tree roots and muddy ruts, just adding to my exhaustion (not to mention co-opting innocent passers-by to help me lift my pig – thanks guys).
We came to a treacherous water crossing, which Al and I got through without issue and were pumped knowing that an easy dirt road to the lunch break was all that stood between us and the second half of the Rally. What we didn’t count on was the wet weather turning that easy road into a near foot deep concoction of red ‘goo’. What should have been easy turned into a snail’s pace ordeal.
We contemplated bailing at that point given we were at the lunch stop a good two hours later than planned and the wet weather clearly not letting up (turns out close to 50% on riders did bail, it was that type of day). I was content to bail and head to Rally HQ for a hot shower and a cold beverage, but Adventurous Al decided we could do all the afternoon A routes (easiest) and still attain Silver with a point to spare. Sounded like a plan…crap. So that’s what we did, rode another 200 plus kms to the finish line before it got dark and salvaged what may have been a total disaster.
We pledged at the finish that we would never push it through the harder routes in future Rallys if the weather was not conducive to C route riding. There’s adventure and then there’s stupidity at risking injury through exhaustion and poor conditions. We’re not Dakar riders even though we imagine we are during the Rally, or maybe that’s just me. Fact is, in crappy weather the A routes are fun and even a little challenging. Lesson learned, it was off to get a hot shower and a drink, and tell tall tales of our exploits with fellow FARistas. The mud was two feet deep, the river crossings at least 4 feet, and so on through the night. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, adventure riders are the best bunch of guys and gals you will come across. See you all next year, as the quest continues.