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Lessons Learned on the Halfmoan Century
by Doug Chinnery

As the week progressed, the weather report for the Half-Moan century was looking actually pretty good. Then, the night before I woke up several times to a solid downpour and at 5:30 Saturday morning it was still chucking down pretty nicely. Jeff and Sarah picked me up in a downpour. We drove to Horseshoe Bay in a downpour. We waited for the ferry in a downpour. We sailed to Landale in a downpour. But when we got off the ferry, the Sunshine Coast lived up to its name and we pulled up to "Mike's Place" on drying pavement and broken skies.

We started out just after 9AM with a peleton of 8 intent on the imperial century and another 9 for the metric version. I was about to learn first of several lessons that day as I rode away with Michel Richard and Larry Reid. It seemed to be a fairly comfortable pace. Somewhere around the 5km mark, the warm up ended and the hammer dropped, as did I.

Lesson #1: Don't try to keep up with Michel and Larry.

After that I rode on my own along rolling terrain with stunning scenery and a light tailwind. At an early control at the "On The Edge Bike Shop" in Sechelt, the friendly staff provided cookies, muffins, and had just finished mixing up a batch of Gatorade with a 6mm hex key.

Lesson #2: Anything smaller than a 6mm hex key is too skinny for stirring Gatorade.

At the next control, at the Smuggler's Cove parking lot, Bob provided cans of Ensure and bananas to go along with his signature on the control card. With the 1000 calories in the can of Ensure now in my belly and a huge smile on my face, I powered out of the control and on toward the Garden Bay turnaround 40KM away.

The riding continued on rolling terrain, although the hills got bigger and steeper as I pushed on. Ocean views, pleasant roads, a nice tailwind, goats, and little traffic were the order of the day all the way to the Garden Bay. The last few kilometers before the control are very hilly with stiff climbs and some exhilarating descents. After getting my control card signed at the general store I stopped into the roadside burger joint known as "Laverne's".

Lesson #3: Laverne makes a wicked cheeseburger and fries.

While I was eating this fabulous lunch Paul Wright passed by. We spoke briefly and I discovered that after the ride Paul was going for a quick soak in the hot tub then he was off to a 24 hour relay. Yikes!

Shortly after pushing off, I crossed paths with Siegfried Palme, which would be the only other time that I saw any other riders until the last 400km. It was becoming very obvious that the hills on the way back were giving me much more problem than the hills on the way out. It seemed as though I was shifting between 2 gears: my shortest for mashing up the hills and my tallest for blasting down the backsides.

Lesson #4: Hilly riding requires a completely different strategy than flatlands.

The weather deteriorated a bit as I neared Sechelt, with some patchy drizzle; never enough to justify a raincoat, but enough to warn of things to come. Turning onto Mercer Road, I could see what I was pretty sure was a black bear on the edge of the road. Sure enough, as I got closer, I could see it was a small bear grazing on the grass just off the shoulder. I made enough noise to warn it of my approach and it tore off into the bush. Just another outstanding visual treat in this ride that was made of up hundreds of them.

I entered Gibsons and grunted up the final steep hill on Gower Pt Road, and with the finish damn near in sight I road over something and sliced my tire for the second time that day. Only 400 meters to do! However, Lindsay Martin took the "closest to the finish breakdown" prize where his rear wheel went flat less than 100 meters away. He and I weren't the only ones battling the flat demons. Jeff and Sarah also had their share.

Lesson #5: Bring several spare tubes when riding on the coast.

Just after I pulled in and was enjoying the various goodies that I procured at Mike's Place the skies opened and the downpours began. Although I was dry, eating Mike's fabulous gelato, drinking coffee, and thoroughly enjoying myself chatting with folks at the finish, I felt more than a bit sorry for the 3 riders left to finish. They soon come over the hill, wet and tired, but still smiling.

The Half-moan century can be summed up in a word. Outstanding! The riding was challenging. The scenery was unmatched. The organizers were excellent. Thanks a ton to Bob, Julie, Loraine, and Brad, and to the staff at Mike's Place.

Lesson #6: Ride the Half-moan next year.

June 1, 2004