Newsletter - 2002 Archive

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200 Km Randonnée --- 2002-April-20

Harold Bridge


We take it for granted that if Dan McGuire takes on the organisation of an event then it will be well organised. It was.

Something like 50 or 60 people gathered at Surrey Rec Centre on Fraser Highway at about 168th St. Dan wouldn't let us start until 07:07 as a shortage of volunteers meant there was a delay in getting all riders registered.

80% of my Fleche team were going to use the occasion as a trial run in controlled pacelining. But there were enough hills to spoil that and by River Road we were already among the tail enders. Once on the flats toward Ladner the early morning air currents rolling off the mountain snow fields gave us an easy ride to the 28 km Control #1, at #10 Hwy in Ladner, staffed by friends of Dan's from outside the organisation. From there to Cloverdale it was necessary to endure Hwy #10 and it's constant traffic. But asap Dan turned us off through a sub-division and back streets round the south side of Langley.

At 240th St and Fraser Hwy we returned to the roar of traffic for a short distance before the 67 km Control #2 at Geneva's coffee bar. It was staffed by a healthy looking Manfred Kuchenmuller who is recovering well from his recent major surgery. By this time a coffee and muffin seemed necessary and my average went down from 19.8 to 18.0 kph.

It is always a fast ride from Aldergrove down Hwy #13 to the border and there was a long line of traffic to pass on the right. A National Guardsman and a US Customs man set up a separate control to check our IDs and it was a quickly re-assembled group that set off into Washington State.

Close to 100 lines of instructions for a 200 is a lot. But Dan had done a great job of introducing some new, mostly quiet, roads that we always knew were there but hadn't bothered to use. The roads' grid system meant a right turn took us west and a left turn took us south and so we progressed to the 102 km Control #3 at Pioneer Park, Ferndale. Bob LePage and Deirdre Arscott were staffing this one and told us tales of their pre-ride of the route in atrocious conditions; they did for Dan instead of riding the Populaire.

It was evident at this point that even 11 hours was going to be doubtful. But a much more important aspect was evident. A matey group had formed of Bob's Bailey, Bose and Marsh, Keith Fletcher, Sean Williams, myself and, to help keep a sense of decorum, Francis Caton. We were occasionally joined by Ali Holt and whoever she was riding with, (it wasn't Roger!?) But those two were generally faster than us and we didn't see them after Everson.

It was Bailey who, crying out for food, bullied us into detouring up Main St., Everson, past the turn off, to the café a little way up the road. By this time we were relying on the fact a "pin" can be earned for a time inside 13:30 and so we relaxed and enjoyed the friendly way the young waitress dealt with what must have been seen as a strange bunch of Canadians.

At Huntingdon Canadian Customs provided a staff member to hastily check our IDs so that we hardly needed get off our bikes. That delightful little stretch up Whatcom Road took us to Vye and Faddon and so to the 150 km Control #4 at Birchwood Dairy staffed by Réal Prefontaine and Colin King. One cannot go the Birchwood without going inside for an Ice Cream and Bailey gamely coughed up for Fletcher and me!

Dan's efforts to avoid as much traffic as possible would, I knew, put a few stings in the tail of this randonnee route. And so it was. King Rd was the first and I didn't think I would need the small ring! Ha Ha, grunt grunt! I knew I was asking for trouble if I tried to get down there while pedaling slowly at about 7 kph and so left the chain on the 39 ring. There were a few more but the worst one was Crush Crescent after crossing Glover Rd and I started that with my chain off! But the 26" gear got me up there with one more hill to come. That one is on Fraser Hwy from 176 St back to the finish where a patient Dan was relieved we were allowing him to go home.

A good 12 hour 10 minute day out. I understand there were a few members not riding due to the fact they were entered in the Sun Run. But that was to be the following day. Why would they give up a good day's cycling for something as tedious as a 10 km run? In any case Ken Bonner was over from Victoria to ride the 200 and I suspect he wouldn't have bothered if he didn't have the Sun Run to go to as well. So why give up the Greater for the Lesser?