Local cyclist takes the long and rambling 1,200 km road

Dick Felton on the road. Felton is one of 20 cyclist who took part in Devil’s Week, completing rides of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km and 600 km in one week.

Dick Felton on the road. Felton is one of 20 cyclist who took part in Devil’s Week, completing rides of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km and 600 km in one week.

Randonneur: v. Fr. meaning a rambling journey. That’s the definition of cyclist Dick Felton’s latest challenge but many people think it’s a misnomer.

Felton, a member of Bluewater Trails and a CanBike instructor, has completed what is known as a brevat as part of a Randonneur Ontario event. The “rambling ride” is also known as Devil’s Week.

Riders complete rides of 200 km, 300km, 400km and 600km in over the course of a week. They have set time limits, for example the 600 km has to be completed in 40 hours. Felton estimates that means a rider would have to travel at about 15 kilometers per hour.

“Anybody can do it in that time,” said Felton as he sat in a pub in Port Elgin where this year’s Devils Week is headquartered. “Randonneur is the French word for rambling, looking at the scenery and having a good time. It’s not as arduous as you would think.”

The cyclists compete against themselves and Felton says it is not a big physical challenge for a fit person.

“I describe it as being 90 percent mental and the other 10 percent is mental,” he says with a laugh. Felton says in the longest ride, groups of cyclist traveling together decide where and when they will stop and when and if they will sleep.

Sometimes, Felton says, when a cyclist thinks they simply can’t go on, he encourages them to stop, lie down on the side of the road and close their eyes for 10 minutes before continuing. “Honestly, what you have to do is focus enough to get yourself out of the mood just to finish.

“This trains you to be mentally strong,” he says adding using a GPS helps motivate him to the finish.

Felton, who is one of the organizers of the Devil’s Week ride, had not been on a bike this year and admits he was a little stiff after the 400 km ride Wednesday. But Felton and the 20 or so cyclist who joined him throughout the week needed to complete the run to be involved in this year’s 1,200 km ride in Ontario. That will take riders on a circuit from Oshawa to Bancroft, then Nappanee and then back to Durham.

Felton admits it sounds crazy to some people saying when the cyclists stop, people ask them why they would cycle so far in one day, but Felton likes the challenge.

“I like taking my body to the point that I know that it is stress, you know where your limits are and you know you can still come back from it and control it.”

– Heather Wright

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