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So what happened? - a 600 odyssey

Danelle Laidlaw


So what happened - didn't we have good weather for the Populaire and the 200? So what is up now? My booties have never had such a workout and all my socks are blue!

14 of us huddled around John Bates van hoping that the rain would stop before we had to start riding. Stu Wood kept trying to boot us out, but we weren't moving. Eventually, we decided just to set off, though one person thought better of it and headed home.

The route from Abbotsford out towards Mission is a familiar one and very pleasant. We mostly stayed in a group for about the first 40 km or so, and then a few of us decided that if we were going to complete this 600, we had better back off a bit. The rain stopped within the first 20 kms and by the time we got to Hope, it was time to take some of the heavy duty wet gear off.

Has anyone ever been to Allison Pass when it hasn't snowed? There was no exception this time, but it was a short-lived shower of slush and by the time we got to Manning Park Lodge, it almost looked like it might clear. But no, just before Sunday Summit the hail hit and that was a little painful. Thankfully, the storm was brief and cleared before the wonderful descent into Princeton.

Our cards look really boring - Stu Wood, Stu Wood, Stu Wood - Stu did a great job of staffing the controls - he was in Hope and Manning and Spence's Bridge. Bob Marsh was out as support slut - his new by-line is that he will pick up anyone, and he picked up Harold in Princeton. Harold was doing well, but thought the better of going on in the dark on his own.

The route between Princeton and Merritt is a gem - it is so pretty through that area. The climbs are not too bad with rolling hills and lots of lakes. We encountered some road works and unfortunately, it looks like the Ministry has taken a good road and plans to cover the entire thing with chip seal. The sign said 32 km of gravel, but it was only 14 or so and some of that we were able to ride on a small strip of asphalt on the side of the road. All other traffic was piloted through the area, but we were allowed to go at our own pace. This meant there were little batches of traffic and then none for quite awhile. Wonderful.

The descent into Merritt was a "cracker", though like all the hills we rode, I ended up pedaling just to keep the boys in sight. I wonder if I will ever be able to plummet down hills like that. The stretch from Merritt to Spence's Bridge was enchanting - the moon was bright, the river was roaring, the road was quiet, it wasn't too cold, what else could we want. And there was Stu waiting for us with a motel key in hand for our favourite stop (actually, my favourite motel is in Kamloops, but that is another story).

With way too little sleep, we set off the next morning in brilliant sunshine. So promising that I sent ALL my rain gear back with Stuart. Big mistake.... But our ride into Canyon Alpine was great - warm, fairly quiet roads, no problems except a little hunger and what a view. We did start to get a bit of a headwind around Lytton which made us a little grumpy, but it is the canyon - right? It is always windy.

Val White and I had ridden the canyon four weeks previously. Now, I am sure that at that time, the Tunnels Café was closed and the Canyon Alpine was no longer 24 hours - but, not so on Sunday - everything was as per usual. I must have been on drugs or something when we rode it in May.

It was a real treat to hit the top of American Creek hill and know that that was the last major climb of the day - no Woodside - yes! That was a great variation on the route. I mean, I like Woodside and everything, but at the end of a 600, it was really, really nice to have no huge hills in the last 80 km. We thought we were home-free when we pulled into SeaBird Café. Unfortunately, the start and the finish were going to resemble each other - it started raining shortly after we left SBC and it was still pounding down when we got to Abbotsford Park and Ride. It was great to be able to pace-line all the way in and it certainly was warm for me tucked in behind the boys.

I think the finish went like this - Barry Chase was first in as he couldn't sleep in Spence's Bridge; then came Eric Ferguson, Peter Stary, and Hank at around 31 hours; next was Dave Johnson and Michel Richard at about 35 hours, then there was Nobo; and then the gang of five - Manfred, Ron Himschoot, Neil Jorgenson, John Bates (still on sabbatical) and myself.

And let me tell you - it was a good thing Harold dropped out because his bike got cannibalized at Canyon Alpine - Eric took his chain, Nobo took his tire - it was like a garage sale! Our only mechanical was one flat tire - that was a bonus.

I love this route. The weather could have been a bit better and it might have been nice to get a little more sleep, but isn't sleep deprivation what rando riding is all about? I hope we see this route on the calendar again soon - it's a winner.