Since I started running in 2012, I’ve constantly strived to set ever more ambitious summer goals, and this year that goal will be the Cannonball 300. Update you can read about the adventure here.
When I first started running, any distance was a challenge, the first time I ran 10k felt like a miracle, then hitting 21k was so hard it almost caused me to quit running.
As time went on, I began to realize that endurance is just a mind game and that the only thing preventing me from going further are the head games I play with myself, which constantly tell me I can’t go further, I can’t go faster, and why am I even doing this, what’s left to prove?
I further bought into this theory when I discovered Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In it, Chris tells the story of the Tarahumara, a tribe of ultra running Indians from Mexico. The book set off the barefoot running craze and introduced me to the fact that although the marathon is an accomplishment, it is nowhere close to the end of our limits.
Born to Run started me down the rabbit hole of endurance, and a personal fascination with ultra-endurance athletes. Since then, I have been fascinated by the movies Ride the Divide, The Barkley Marathons, and countless books including David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me, or anything by Scott Jurek.
I particularly find these books inspiring as I hit the hard part of the training cycle, as it helps remind me that the suffering is only in my head, and if I can transcend the self-doubt there are no limits.
By controlling these mind games I have managed to finish three half ironman distance races, two marathons, multiple half marathons, countless adventure races, and many a hard effort.
Last year I became fascinated by the launch of the BT700, a 700km bikepacking route through South Western Ontario. Although the desire was there the timing and preparation were not. Although the BT700 didn’t work out it did inspire me to tackle a 220km ride home from cottage country. This two-day ride took me down the Haliburton Rail Trail, the Victoria Rail Trail, and the Uxbridge Rail Trail.
The Cannonball 300
The fascination with pushing my endurance continues and has brought me to the Cannonball 300. The Cannonball 300 is a 300km beginner bikepacking route through South Western Ontario consisting of rail trail, waterfront trail, and greenbelt routes. The grand depart leaves Dundas, ON, August 22nd at 8 am, and I plan to finish by August 24th at 8 pm.
If this goes well, I may even decide to tackle BT-700 GNR Route later in September. Although not much longer, this route looks to cover a bit more challenging terrain and will add about an extra day of total travel time.
I will say that I don’t have the proper equipment to support this type of adventure yet. With this in mind, I will kind of cheat by staying at an Airbnb instead of camping. I don’t think its technically against the rules, but I do feel that it intrudes on what I want the experience to be.
I want to call out that the Airbnb’s host Sandi is fantastic and has been very accomodating to the needs of an amateur bikepacker. If you are thinking about the race, it sounds like she still has a room available, with proper measures in place for COVID.
The plan now will consist of a first day 186 km ride from Dundas to Brantford to Port Dover to Port Colbourne, mostly on what I hope to be decent rail trail. Day 2 will take me up the Welland Canal to St. Catharine’s following roads back to Hamilton, where I will pick up a bit more trail before finishing back in Dundas a 130 km later.
Now that my summer goal is in place, it looks like I will now need to develop a plan. I guess the first part will be another long ride next weekend.
Please follow my site to learn more about how I intend to train and to see my posts as I move through the event on August 22nd.