Newsletter - 2002 Archive

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Personal Best at 75? You've Gotta be Kiddin'!

Harold Bridge


No, it's a fact! Of course, I have only ridden randonnees since my mid-fifties and there is no true comparison with the two decades of time trialling, 1944 through 1964. Nonetheless, to put things in perspective, it would be appropriate to compare a 200 km randonnee with a 100-mile (161.026 km @ the RTTC standard of 1761 yards to the mile) time trial. My best "100", in 1950-August, was 4:47:12 and amounts to 33.64 kph. Apply that to a "200" randonnee and you have a time of 5:57:43. That is a bit different from the 8:40 I was very happy to record in yesterday's 200. I knocked 15 minutes off my previous fastest 200. As time trials were, traditionally, run on relatively flat courses there is a correlation with a "Flatlander" randonnee.

In 2001 I arrived at the start of the Flatlander to find a new option; "The Highlander". It goes over, not round, the bigger lumps. That is a much more interesting route and I enjoyed it and was happy to get round that in about 9:40. However, this year I wanted to test the limits and see how close to 9 hours I could get. Given my diminishing climbing abilities I felt the Flatlander would provide a better proving ground for a "fast" ride. For more than a year my 'fast" bike has been equipped with a Sachs 7 block; 14,15,16,17,19,23,28. I also have a virtually unused block with 13,14,15,16,17,19,23 and felt that would be appropriate for the Flatlander's miniscule lumps. I also took the time to put my best tyres on. It was worthwhile going to all this trouble; I didn't need my spare tubes and tyre levers. I didn't need the 28 sprocket either but know full well that if it had been there I would have used it!

An intended training ride the previous Tuesday got foreshortened when I discovered that my right cleat was falling off the shoe. So the Fort Langley-Glacier-Bellingham Lyndon loop I planned became an out and back turning at Zero Av. I was annoyed. But I was lucky it happened when it did, it would have been a disaster during the 200. I had time to get some small nails and re-attach the metal plate and install new cleats. The old ones were worn to breaking point.

Consternation Saturday night at 21:30! Phone call from Keith Fletcher. He was unable to contact the man with the key to Albion Hall. I got to the Hall at about 05:50 Sunday morn and promptly had to drive to the Ferry to use the facilities. Got back to find Don Munro had alighted from the ferry whilst I was in the can. He had good news. Keith was also ont' ferry and was at that moment heading into the hills north of Webster's Corner to pick up the key from the man who had had to work all day Saturday.

At 06:40 there were very few riders around. Then, like magic, ten minutes to start time the hordes arrived. The Holts were threatening to organise events from Ladner just to redress the balance in the commuting stakes!

I seemed to remember everything, including to start my computer as the "off" was sounded. The traffic light saw me coming and went to green so I got a run at that drag up Albion hill. A very sedate Craig Premack rode to the top with me saying he likes to warm up before putting the hammer down. Then he was gone and I didn't see him for the rest of the day.

The cloud cover was welcome, although it carried with it the chance of rain. The ride to Mission was easy and the 97" top gear was a benefit on the down grades. By the time I got to Hwy 11 most of the other riders had passed me, including two lawyers. On Cyril Street I found them at the side of the road. I later learnt that the heavy one had knocked the light one off his bike. That makes for an interesting legal point!

Traffic in Abbotsford was still light and the left turn onto Delair proved easy. But the traffic light did cause my first stop of the ride. Soon after, the Bates / Laidlaw tandem drifted past just in time to help out on the rather tedious few km on North Parallel Road. As a born again time triallist I always feel that if one wishes to "see how fast I can go" then one should do it unaided by wheel sucking. But, the 4 or 5 extra kph of the tandem are like the Sirens to Ulysses and I didn't have my earplugs! It was fun and the heavy lawyer didn't knock me off in his attempt to get attached, he made do with my back wheel. (Thanx Gary)

At No 3 Rd I let the tandem and the crowd go. I know the devastation that can be caused by hanging on too long early in a ride, and anyway, I was well ahead of my intended schedule. Steady cruising was made a bit uncomfortable by the need of a comfort station. Esso on Luckacuck Way provided the facility and as I parked the bike a nice young man came out and asked if he could help me. He pointed the way to the appropriate door.

The back route that avoids the centre of Chilliwack is easy to follow, although there seemed to be more traffic lights than there used to be. Hope River Road and Camp River Road were as delightful as ever but do form an uncontrolled loop as we cross Old Yale and have to return to it due to the Native blockade. Late starter Andreas caught me hereabouts and we rode into Bob Bose's 88 km control at Popkum Country Market together.

Arold's Rando Rule #1: Don't waste time! I had food and drink with me and had seen to the other problem already and so got my card signed at about 10:30 without getting off the bike. I was away and eating, drinking on the fast run west on Old Yale leaving the hares behind. They did of course pass by soon after. The tandem was the first and I resisted the temptation to hang on. But they suffered a snake bite shortly after and so they took awhile to sort that out - no tyre levers!?

Chilliwack Prairie provides several roads set on a one-mile grid so that which ones you use doesn't change the distance. But all the same it's best to stick to the stipulated route as one never knows where a 'secret" might pop up.

The 29 km to Pointa Vista were non-stop thanks to cooperative Sardis traffic lights. Sean Williams was dishing out surplus packs of goodies Tim Pollock had put together for the Rocky Mountain 1200. A brief visit to the washroom and when I came out there was the tandem. The rider I was with at Popkum, Andreas, was the only one I didn't see again until the finish. We wondered why.

Once I crossed the Vedder Bridge I stuck the gear onto 39x16 (64") and decided to peddle that economically @ 22/23kph in the face of a rising wind. Instead of the clouds dumping on us as per TV weather forecast the sun shone. As a result the thermals brought in ocean breezes that tended to hamper progress. But it wasn't too bad and that delightful, but uncontrolled, Arnold loop was ridden in sunshine. At the south end of Marion Rd I found the two lawyers lying int' grass. I wondered whether I should call for an ambulance or a hearse! But I was assured they were all right.

Whatcom Road into Huntingdon is preferable to Vye Road and that nasty climb alongside busy traffic. Climbing Farmer Road is much preferred, even though it's proximity to the Frosty Mug makes for a dangerous temptation. I had emptied my bottle by this time and I planned to stop at the store on Huntingdon Road to get liquid. But I was sailing along there much better than anticipated and passed by the store before I could say "Coke"! Just after turning off Huntingdon onto Townline a young lady went by on a mudguardless bike and I thought she was a local rider out training. She was riding far too easily and fast to have been very far I thought. Then she stopped to pop into the bushes and before long she once more made me feel I was plodding as she glided past. At the finish I found she was one of our riders!

Upon reaching Hwy 13 I made a detour to get water at the Canada Customs facility and assume that is where Andreas passed me by. Knowing the long drag up to Aldergrove causes difficulties toward the end of a day's ride I took the opportunity to eat my emergency rations, multigrain bread sandwich with honey and cheese. There was enough south in the wind that the ride up to Aldergrove wasn't too bad. But even so I was reduced to the 45" gear for some of it. Kevin Bruce and Alard Malek both put the tortoise persona on me as they disappeared north.

But once over the dreaded drag I felt it was time to put the hammer down as I could see an exceptional ride resulting barring any trouble. Alard was still in sight and I started to gain on him and I was really looking forward to that lovely 75 kph swoop down the hill on 264th Rd to River Road. Then, I saw Alard turn left. "Where the hell is he going" I asked myself and felt I should read the route sheet! Yes, in fact we were to turn left at 62nd Av to 256th, 72nd and 240th. Disappointment, we weren't given the privilege of the swoop on 264, we would have make do with the little swoop down 240. I caught Alard at 80th Av just at the top of the hill and was looking forward to a bold finish. But once on the flat Alard came up alongside and my legs were telling me; "No More". We finished together at 15:40.

My Vetta HR computer is automatic and as such gives riding time. It showed 8:21. That suggests 19 minutes off bike time. I should get that down to under 10 minutes!

Thanx to Keith Fletcher, Bob and Patti Marsh, Bob Bose, Sean Williams and Ian Stephen for making this opportunity possible.