Newsletter - 2003 Archive

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Challenging The Keith Fraser Canyon One Part Of The Lower Mainland 600 - 2003 (May 31 - June 01)

'Arold Bridge


It was a good idea of Dan's that he and I should use the 600 as a "dummy run" in preparation for assisting Keith during PBP. Instead of being involved with one or two spots on the route we were, for a change, involved with one rider.

Leaving Pitt Meadows Lion's Hall about 8 minutes after the riders meant we didn't see much of the shredding that takes place when Keith goes to the front. By the time we caught up to him near Mission only Ken Bonner was left. Our coffee at Mission's Tim Horton's took enough time for the first big group to catch us up again. Approaching the rail crossing at Dewdney we saw Ken gallantly giving Keith some back wheel, probably the last he had.

They were the first in at Patrick Wright's control at Seabird Island (SBI) at 08:38 and they wasted 6 minutes before getting going again just as Gerry Harley arrived. Not being allowed to assist between controls meant we had time to stand and natter for a while and it was 09:20 before we left. By that time the bulk of the riders had arrived making use, as they were, of a friendly breeze. Somewhere near SBI the first abandon occurred when Shu quit for reasons unknown.

One rider who didn't arrive before we left was Moultonman Jacques Bilinski. A broken gear cable could spell "Fini" for many. But Jacques showed his rando spirit by getting to a garage in Agassiz, cutting the cable, tying a knot in the gear end of it and pressing on. To keep the gear working a piece of wood was entwined in the cable and by moving the piece of wood he could adjust the cable's tension so that it functioned. He finished like that. Take note and remind yourself next time you are looking for a reason to quit.

On Trans Canada we saw Gerry Harley pursuing Ken who was in turn about 5 minutes behind Keith. We noted the odometer reading when we passed Keith and found that the 119.7 km had taken 3:42, 32.5 kph! Ken was already 0.5 kph down having, I think dropped off on that tedious drag up from Haig to Lake of the Woods. Funnily, sitting in the van it didn't look nearly as nasty as it does from the seat of a bike!?

At Canyon Alpine we found Michel with a broken side window after locking himself out at the top of Jackass Mountain where he had been chalking encouragement for the riders. "You need some plastic and duct tape" I said. Low and behold Dan produced some from within his van. By the time we had a breakfast it was time to anticipate Keith's arrival and that happened at 11:30, meaning an average for the 180 km, mostly tailwinded, of 32.7 kph. He took his time because it was about 10 minutes before he left, just before Gerry turned up at 11:42. It was noon before Ken arrived. It was time for us to go.

The significant thing about watching Keith ride is the relaxed and consistent effort, no bursts of effort, no slumps, just keeping up the "Old One-Two". We found it so easy to predict his arrival at a control. It was only at Dogwood, 480 km, on the way south that we were about 15 minutes ambitious.

Bob Marsh, Motel master, had a truck full of drop bags to unload at Spence's Bridge and luckily it wasn't raining so they could stay outside. To put them inside would have left the riders outside! We had arrived at just on 13:00 and it was another 58 minutes before Keith arrived still on a 32 kph average, albeit down to 31.4 kph after an 8 minute stop. We learnt here that Gerry had desisted with an upset stomach.

It is but a 30 minute drive to the 301.7 km turnaround at Cache Creek and we had another hour or so in which to cat nap while one of us kept a dog watch. Keith's turnaround was quick. My records show him in at 15:45 and out at 15:47, still virtually on the 32 kph average, probably for the last time.

We stopped at Ashcroft Hotel for a picture opportunity before proceeding to Spence's Bridge. The motel was quite busy with riders still on their way north arriving. Bob Marsh got a laugh when Keith, sitting in the side of the van, had finished eating. I jokingly said; "you've had your 7 minutes!" Instead of telling me to go do something else Keith jumped up, got on his bike and was away!

At Boston Bar Husky (428.9 km) it was time to get ready for nighttime. At 20:55 Keith arrived. Turning into the wind had had the expected effect; his average was down to 28.8 kph. Dan and I had got out of the van at the top of Jackass Mountain and were being blown around by a very strong wind. A wash and change, dressing for nighttime and a sit down in a chair to eat all took 12 minutes so that it was 21:07 before he departed.

51.4 km is a comfortable distance between controls and we arrived at the Dogwood truck stop at 21:45 to find the "Open 24 Hours" sign to be a hoax. It should say 24/6, not at weekends! The manager was cleaning up at the back and I spoke with her. She said it was a pity she didn't know; she might have been able to do something for us. Future organisers take note! It was another 92 minutes before Keith arrived, some 15 minutes later than we had assessed. The 51.4 km had taken 2:10, an average of 23.7 kph over that stretch. But the essential thing was he was still seemingly as fresh as a daisy and also keeping in mind this was a qualifying ride for PBP, not a record attempt.

The next section was a long one; 90.8 km. But apart from the evil side of Woodside and a bit of a drag south of Dogwood there weren't any great hills. Thus Keith appeared at Mission's Tim Horton's more or less when expected, at 02:55. The 7-minute rule was applied again and he was on his way to the finish that he reached at 04:21. This reduced his best time on this awesome route to 22:19, 40 minutes shorter than his ride of 2 years ago, albeit, over a 5.2 km shorter route. But it is still 4.1 km over distance and having the hall to start and finish at made for a better event I think.

By the time I had gone home, got to bed at 05:00, awoke at 09:30, had breakfast and gone back to the hall, only one other rider had finished, about 08:15. And Ken was catching some winks in his campervan.

Eventually, at something past 13:00 Peter Stary arrived, third finisher.

At about 14:00 Siegfried Palme turned up carrying his rear mudguard. He had a broken spoke in his back wheel quite early on and at Spence's Bridge Bob had spent some time getting the wheel to go round between the brake blocks. As a result it was going out of round quite alarmingly so that riding it must have been like riding a Softride only without the soft bit. Before he finished Siegfried had suffered another broken spoke, thus the uninstalled mudguard. Another lesson in perseverance!

The bulk of the riders finished around the 34/36 hour mark. The regular back marker, Barry Bogart, actually arrived at the start a couple of minutes BEFORE 06:00 and only held up the start proceedings by 2 minutes. He was a happy camper at the finish at 20:06 for a time of 38:04. He commented that it wasn't his slowest. Of course, as he was the reason the start was at 06:02 his time should be 38:06!?

It left Val White and Paul Lee unaccounted for. Val was known to be pressing on. But then the news came through that she had arrived at Mission Control a few minutes outside the closing time. With prior knowledge of the "excuse me lane" she might have been encouraged to finish the last 33 km. But the fact was she was exhausted and suffering asthma. There are times that pluck and guts just ain't enough, you need some luck too. And this is not a route for the weaker hill climbers.

We were concerned about Paul Lee. No one had seen him since Spence's Bridge, which he left after the control closed. Details emerged over the next 12 hours or so. He had not studied his control card which clearly indicated the control opening and closing times. He thought that as 90 hours was the time limit for a 1200 that there was 45 hours for a 600! Thus he didn't feel the need to phone anyone!

Without excluding the more experienced riders, it is to be hoped that one of our newer riders will provide Susan with some copy pertaining to their first 600. This is a challenging one to start with; I think someone said there is about 17,000 ft of vertical included. Awesome!