Newsletter - 2002 Archive

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'arold's Cariboo-Boo

Harold Bridge


I might have been better off, as far as the event goes, doing a "Jack Eason". That would involve tying some Safeway bags of spare clothing ont' carrier and pedaling off to 100 Mile House in the middle of the week prior to Adrian Messner's Cariboo 200.

I had arranged to travel with Keith Fletcher. He works; I'm retired. Thus it was that at about 14:00 I was making my way to Keith's Langley home from Port Coquitlam. That was the plan anyway. A truck driver had different ideas and he deliberately impeded me by tipping his semi over on the Cape Horn Overpass. (The name should be corrected to the Riverview Interchange, it's more appropriate).

Scared of spending the rest of the afternoon in the Mallardville traffic mess while attempting to get on the Freeway at Brunette, I turned off Hwy 7 and headed home. Phoned Keith and suggested I drive to Albion, walk onto Ferry and he collect me, bike and bag at the south side. We got away about 16:15 and had an uneventful trip up to 97 Mile, where we would be staying at Keith's daughter's home. I have often left my truck at Albion before but never for 2 overnights and I did wonder what I would find when I returned Sunday evening. (I found my truck, intact!).

With several things on my mind I had forgotten lunch and had a hurried cheese sandwich. Not wanting to keep the family up too late we drove straight through and had sandwiches in the car enroute. There was another doubt in my mind too. I had put a lot into the "Highlander" on the Sunday and the couple of rides I went on during the intervening week told me my legs were still tired. Should I, at 74, attempt 2-200s within 6 days? I would find out soon enough!

We got to "Hills", across the Highway from 108 Ranch, in plenty of time for the 07:00 start. I had brought the OM-2 (ed: One of Harold's cameras), planning on making this an easygoing event with rose sniffing time spent with the camera. Lined up John Bates, Danelle Laidlaw, Larry Voth, Sharon Street, Roger Street, Susan Barr and Keith Fletcher for a start photo. Click and no Clunk! The mirror didn't drop down and the OM-2 was jammed. At least it happened by the cars and I could leave the camera behind. Sorry, but the slide show won't include the Cariboo 200. We will make do with snap shots from simpler, working cameras.

We started on 700 m of gross gravel among out of control horses. Before the highway I had to stop twice to unhook my rear fender extension, it kept getting caught in the coarse tread of the Avocet "Cross" tyres installed especially for this event. I cut the offending piece of mylar off. Don't need it these days, there's no one slow enough to take back wheel off me anyway!

I was at the north entrance to 108 just in time to see the others bumping over the grassy track that would take us round the lake. It soon turned to gravel and then disaster. A few days before they had decided to lavish a few tons of sand and gravel on the trail and it became a tedious plod. I was so thankful I decided on wearing uncleated touring shoes!

I was ahead of Keith as we tried to make up time. I knew we were a long way behind the others; I was breaking through spider webs all the way! When we eventually got back onto terra firma, well, the road anyway, we knew the first control at Lone Butte was in doubt, it was to close at 10:34 and we were averaging about 11 kph!

I didn't eat enough and the long climb south of 100 Mile House was the last nail in my coffin. Keith was very patient, like he was caring for his dear old Dad! We arrived at Milline's Restaurant in Lone Butte at 10:46 or so. Only 53.5 km in 3 hours 46 minutes? 14.25kph!? Sharon was still there and would have cooperated on the control card I'm sure. If we had been jumping for joy and raring to go I think we could have pleaded exceptional circumstances and continued. But we weren't jumping or raring except to get a second breaky in Milline's. The day was getting too warm for exertion anyway.

With local knowledge, Keith led me on a relatively secondary road that took us back to 100 Mile House via Horse Lake. A final couple of suffers got us back to Hills and Keith's car with about 86 km of cycling for the day. We went looking for the others so we could gloat. But Keith's navigator didn't (couldn't?) read the map provided and we finished up at Sheridan Lake, well on the way to Little Fort. A dozing navigator isn't much use so Keith dropped me off at 97 Mile and he went looking for the others by himself.

A shower and a doze recreated me to a certain extent and after dinner we went to Marmont's Pub to spend a quick half hour with the crowd. 90 minutes of natter and laughter made short work of the intended 30 minutes and we said our farewells to return to our beds.

An interesting trip. I shall know what to expect another time.