Newsletter - 2003 Archive

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Sadism, Masochism and Lower Mainland 300s.

Harold Bridge


What did the sadist answer when the masochist said "Hurt me!" - "NO"! I don't know who is worse; the sadists who put these routes together or the masochists who support their events by riding them. In 2002 Michel Richard, aided and abetted by Karen Smith, dreamed up a finish over Westwood Plateau through the new "British Properties". And to ensure we rode it there were friends in Anmore willing to host a control.

This year, John Bates and Danelle Laidlaw picked on a similarly torturous climb up to Ryder Lake. It's saving grace was that is came early enough in the event we all got to climbed it in daylight. The peaceful, pastoral scene in that remote Shangri-la was almost worth the 5 km of agony on Promontory and Thornton Roads.

Of course it must be said that I can claim some responsibility for the discovery of this elevated domain. Two or three years ago Sean Williams prodded a few of us in going for a "Social" ride. The plan was to meet in the industrial area of Huntingdon and go pedal some of those quiet, and flat, roads round Sumas Prairie and return to Huntingdon's "Frosty Mug" for lunch. Before long we found ourselves turning off Vedder Road onto Promontory Road, the westernmost kilometre of which we know well from past events. My inquisitive nature, that in my youth had me always wanting to see what was over the next hill, forced me to suggest we explore the rest of Promontory beyond Chilliwack River Road. Eventually, at the top, the other 6 were very good, they didn't beat me up or wreak my bike, they just moaned a lot!

But, that was just a social ride, there was no time constriction, we could stop and smell the roses and enjoy the beautiful day and the sweeping view across the Valley. Putting an event up there was cruel and unusual punishment.

Enough of the fly, what of the ointment? A chilly start from Burnaby Lake Sport Complex augured well for the rest of the day, and in fact it was delightful, especially if you were ignorant of the implications of a strong Sou-wester that would probably build up. A few minutes past 06:00 about 50 bodies on nearly as many bicycles charged off after the lecture from John on how to make sure we stayed on route near Ryder Lake and avoided the STEEP hill on Extrom Road.

It is my least favourite start, struggling up those early hills had my heart rate up toward 160, it's not very often I see that these days. An emergency use of the Chevron facilities in Sapperton ensured a solo ride to the first control at Crescent Beach where Bob Bose was in charge. Here I met a few stragglers just leaving and found Fletcher and Bailey and someone I can't place still there. We got under way just as the late Bogart arrived. I have cause to thank Barry for starting half hour late. Bob Bose and I had been so busy nattering; I forgot to retrieve my control card from him! But I didn't find this out until Barry caught me on 8th Av near Hwy 15, he let me have my card free of charge!

The long trek by the border was aided by the rising wind, and by Whatcom Mall we had made up some time. I stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee and a muffin and watched Fletcher and Bailey take off, as did Madam Prez and Derek. Bogart, I thought, was well on his way too. When I got out onto North Parallel I found a new lease of life and had the 94 and 88 turning over nicely. To me these days 36 clicks seems fast and before long I was passing Francis and Derek who appeared to riding in awe of what was to come. But I knew enough to know I would be walking the really difficult bits up to Ryder Lake.

Walking uses different muscles and is in effect an extremely low gear. Therefore I was enjoying "Making Hay while the Sun Shines". Thus, just before #3 Road I caught Barry who, like the Prez and escort, seemed to be conserving himself. Even when I stopped on #3 Road to check my route sheet, to make sure we weren't to use #2 Road, Barry didn't catch me..

Along Keith Wilson I had Fletcher and Bailey in sight for quite a while before I finally caught them just before Vedder Road. As soon as we got to the infamous Promontory Road they dived off to Tim Horton's. Fletcher was sleepy and wanted coffee. Harrington appeared at that point and proceeded to glide away up the first step as I clumped down into 28 for a short bit before dismounting. How many times I got off, got on I don't know. But 5.3 km was too long to walk the whole way and the fluctuations in the gradient were considerate enough to make probably 70% rideable for me.

I seemed to be too close to the control to stop and eat. But on Huston Road I had to get off to eat while I walked. At this point Bob Marsh drove by followed shortly by the Holts. It was quite a merry crowd at Val White's control. Her home made cookies and a banana improved my disposition and it was time to head off down Elk View Road for a delightful 6 km twisting swoop to the Valley floor.

At this point, around lunchtime, the wind was up and I felt some sympathy for the fast riders who by this time were heading west on #7. But at the same time I felt smug that by deliberately avoiding riding with them and instead hanging back (yeah, sure!) I could miss the fury of that wind when it died down in the evening. I was not afraid to use the tail wind to make up some time and was reasonably content with an event average speed of about 18kph.

Seabird Island Café would have been deserted but for David Blanche and the few of his clients still there. To me it seemed best to eat there; it would use less time than in Harrison. A BLT and apple pie seemed to work okay and by the time I was ready to leave the "Boys" turned up. As they intended to eat at Harrison they left with me and we all enjoyed the peaceful ride round the Wahleach and Seabird Roads loop to Lyle Beaulac's secret control just before rejoining the highway.

I left Harrison by myself and plodded gently into the wind via the back roads to the Highway. Here Paul Lee appeared and we tackled Woodside not quite in sight of each other. Bogart was at the water stop when we got there and that was the last I saw of him. But once off the mountain I suggested that Paul should go catch Barry, their riding speeds were more compatible.

The wind had not only died down but was backing so that some stretches of the Highway were tail-winded. I stopped at Deroche for a coffee as well as to drape my reflective belt over my shoulder and to install batteries bought that morning. But the Cateye wouldn't work. I had a spare in the bag and I used that. But that one is poorly focused and is more or less useless. I had my LED light on and used the generator as and when required. Despite my stop there and again along Nicomen Island, no one caught me.

Tim Horton's at Mission looked inviting and I planned a 15-minute stop for a Danish and coffee. I was outside and about leave when Francis and Derek pulled up. They had me in sight on Nicomen Island and then had a puncture. So I decided to wait for them. The 3 of us were about to leave when Fletcher and Bailey turned up and we decided wait for them. My 15 minutes turned into an hour and we finally got away about 21:55.

It's not a nice time of day to ride that highway but we survived and got a control at the 7-11 at 228th St, in Haney at about 23:15. At that point there was no worries about time. Anything decent in the way of a performance went out the window early in the day and barring accidents we would finish inside 20 hours. My main consideration was schooling myself to go straight on past the bottom of Coast Meridian Road and not turn off and go to bed. Along that dogs breakfast of a highway through Maple Ridge a honking fool distracted Francis and she hit the curb and came off. But she seemed completely unfazed, got back on and carried on. But she does now have a very stiff and bruised arm.

I was dragging on the hills and it was a relief to get to the top of the hill by the Velodrome. Just to let us know how lucky we were the weatherman turned on the taps for the last 3 km through the back streets of Burnaby. But we survived and there was quite a party going on at Danelle's finish control.

Barry's altimeter suggested the total elevation gain on Promontory and Thornton was, I think, 565 metres, with an event total of about 2300 m. But how much the climatic changes affected that I don't know. I don't have to do a 400 now; 19:10 looks good enough for that!