Newsletter - 2000 Archive

BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo

BC Randonneurs
Cycling Club
BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo


Donna und Blitzen 300

Harold Bridge


Getting round my birthday 200 inside 10 hours gave me some encouragement to try a similar average in the 300. It's 1993 since I got round a 300 in less than 15 hours & it was only something to aim at, not mandatory. The promise of thunderstorms did not endear itself to me, but the change from Friday's oppressive heat did.

The drive, with Wayne Harrington, from PoCo to Albion was made spectacular for a few minutes by an incredible sunrise sky & I'm not sure that Wayne was happy with me looking sideways at the beautiful sight.

The rain was quite heavy, but as we arrived in Albion school parking lot it stopped. Ted had arranged for the school to be open for toilet access. But, as in the past, it wasn't. I don't know where the Janitor comes from, but probably from a society where crossing the palm with silver works wonders. However, the Albion Ferry toilet is only about 500 metres away & I was back in time for Ted's demand we be on our way at 06:00. Ted was planning to staff the start control for the mandatory hour & then start his ride with the aim of getting back first to sign people in. But his plan was thwarted when the other half of the Termnator Twins, Keith Fraser, turned up!

I have recently found that 26 kph is just as practical on the 64" gear (39x16) as it is on anything bigger, early in the ride anyway. There wasn't much wind but what there was seemed to be from the east & progress was fairly consistent with the other riders passing by in fits & starts. I'm not anti-social, I am quite willing to ride with others as long as they ride at a speed I want to ride. So, most of the time I ride alone. Most riders used to ride too slow, now they ride too fast!

I was perhps lucky in that a major group of 6 riders got away from me enroute to Mission. On Nicomen Island I saw they had stopped in a rather big pile that suggested something other than a flat tyre. Val White was sitting on the verge holding her shoulder, Bob Bailey & Larry Voth were holding their arms. Cell phones are useful at such times & apparently Bob's wife came out from Langley & picked up the injured parties & took them to Langley hospital. Bob & Val came out with their arms in slings, Val with a broken collar bone. But Larry stayed in to get a steel plate inserted in his elbow.

Before long most of the survivors had passed me & Ted did a remarkable ride to catch me on the first steep slope of Woodside Mountain at about 60 kms in the ride, nearly 3 hours for me, nearly 2 hours for him! Feeling the need of something more than pocket food I stopped at what was once the Kent Hotel (where we once finished a Fleche) when I saw the cafe was open and empty. During pancakes & coffee the rest of the riders passed me by. But they stopped further into Agassiz & they caught me on one of those slopes beyond Sea Bird Island as I removed my undershirt in deference to the increased temperature. There was a definite tailwind by this time & it was a "float" most of the way to the end of #7.

There isn't much around there, it looks quite desolate. But what seems a long way from Hope itself there is a sign suggesting one is entering Hope. Did I imagine it, but was there a Randonneur Advisory there too? I'm sure I saw something that read "Enter Hope All Ye That Abandon Here!" Perhaps I dreamt it while blocking out the traffic along Hwy #1 later. My hopes of 4 hours for the first 100 were dashed by the stops I had & I signed in at the 106km control at 10:51. I had thought of stopping at what was the Pancake House for another meal, but tempus fugis or something.

The thought of 50 or more kilometres along that main road flog was a bit daunting. But at least one is encouaged to get on with it & I managed to do it non-stop, except for one foot down on the very busy Young Road high speed turn off. I'll offer my thoughts on that elsewhere. Through the funnel created by the mountains there was a stiff punch into the wind & then the same funnel created quite a tail wind as one left it. That lasted until we cleared the mountains when the wind was not impeded or re-directed.

I was glad to creep up the Lickman Road ramp & signed in at the 161 km control at the Esso at 13:22. Seven hours 22 minutes for an imperial century was quite respectable I thought. My average was encouaging & I felt I could spare 20 minutes across the parking lot at the Copper Kettle cafe. A large bowl of cream of veg soup followed by apple pie & ice cream with very quick service set me up for the tedium of those flat roads across Sumas Prairie (been there, done that all too often). Roger & Alie caught & passed me along there & gradually drew away. They had lost Wayne on a Hwy #1 slope, but I knew he wouldn't be far behind. I had to stop again to put back on my undershirt; it was getting quite chilly.

Along Vye Road I observed the signs. Instead of ignoring the fact I was gradually riding myself into the ground I stopped & extracted my emergency rations from my bag, a cheese & honey sandwich. While sitting on the grass Wayne appeared in his unflurried way & although he stopped for a chat & to return my front door key (I intended to give him a key to the truck so he could sit in it while awaiting my finish) he was almost outa sight by the time I got back on my bike. I could see him as he approached the US Customs at Sumas. But after I was waved through with a, "They are waiting for you down the road", there was no sign of Wayne. I thought he had stopped to use the facilites, but he hadn't, he'd taken off like a rocket.

The major climb of the day is Reese Hill. I quickly got in bottom gear (37" or 39x28) and rode up there like, well, not quite Pantani. I was hoping to be inside 10 hours at 200. But as the 200 appeared at the top of Reese I didn't make it, about 10:03. Then an attack by vicious white dog that completely ignored its owner rather unsettled me as I was still grovelling up hill & couldn't sprint. By the time I had got my water bottle out the dog realised he was too far from home & returned. The passenger in the following car who tried to scare the dog off from behind was most solicitous.

Arrived at Kendall about 16:30, got card signed, filled up bottle with Poweraid & water & left. As I did it started to rain, & I left Wayne, Roger & Alie to catch me later. Before they did I had stopped to don my rather inadequate racing cape, But it does have a hood that stops rain running down one's neck. It was a change to do South Pass Road from top to bottom. I only remember going that way once before. But descending in the pouring rain wasn't all that much fun.

For some years I have been concerned about a little Bridge (not mine, honest) on Pangborn Road that we use frequently. There was a nasty wheel catching slot that may have created grief. As we rode up Northwood for the left turn onto Pangborn we were met by: "Road Closed - Detour" I saw Roger & Alie just ahead turn & I did too. Then Wayne caught me so he had too. Very often roads closed for motor vehicles are passable by cyclists & thus was the case this time. Anyone who has noticed the flaws in that little bridge will be glad to know they are in the process of rebuilding it.

As we approached the Lynden-Aldergrove border crossing the rain eased off & the skies gave the impression we were to have a dry evening ride back to Albion via Mission. The long line of north bound vehicles were no problem & the customs man who stamped, signed & timed our cards didn't even ask the normal questions. We used the fluid exchange station &, as usual, I was first away. But once more they went past while only 8 km beyond the control. This time there was no catching them. Those nasty lumps on Mount Lehman had me grovelling & their images got smaller & smaller until they vanished altogether. The route turns off Mt Lehman onto Hawkins & Olund to join Harris Road just before Mt Lehman's worst lump. Day dreaming or something, I struggled over that lump & realised I was descending toward the Harris Road cross. I was tempted, as I had done the climb intended to be missed, to press on. But being a purist at heart I turned round & took the official route.

Mission Bridge was built before they gave cyclists any consideration. If a cyclist wishes to use the northbound foot path & also needs to go west (s)he is out of luck & finishes up going to the east end of Mission, about a 3 km detour. The alternative can be hairy, depending on traffic volume. I took it steady climbing up the south side of the bridge & wound it up going down the north side. With the 94" gear (50x14) spinning at about 45 kph I felt fairly safe through the split with east bound traffic. It just remained to grovel up that 'orrid little slope away from the junction of Hwys 11 & 7 before I felt close enough to the finish to put the hammer down.

Ever since the Border control I had been aware I might well miss my 15 hour aim, but now it looked to be in reach & I didn't want anything to disturb me (any more than I am). Another nasty is west of Ruskin, but it, too, is short. Some of the slopes I was able to swing a biggish gear out of the saddle. On others I just had a change down and survive. About 3 km from Albion it started to rain & was the worst of the day. Even the approaching 21:00 hour deadline couldn't induce me to ignore the fast descent in pouring rain with the Albion traffic light at the bottom. But I was lucky, the light stayed green & I almost fell off my bike by Ted's van to get a time of 14:57 recored, 3 minutes after Wayne clocked in.

Ted sacrificed his ride to get back before Keith who did 10:09. I was slowest of the finishers with my ride & Ted was very glad he didn't have to wait until 02:00 the following morning.

The trouble is the ride was good enough to encourage me to ride the 400. I hate 400s! But another SR (super-randonneur) looms after a break of 6 years since the last of my 12 consequtive ones in 1994.