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This was a personal message to me, not a newsletter submission. Still, what a story. I couldn't resist asking Ray if I could include it in the on line newsletter. Apparently Ray was out there making sure he had a ridable, rode condition appropriate, route for Thursday's New Year's Day Populaire in Victoria. Looks like he's got something. For the brave at heart: Noon start, Christie's Carriage House Pub Details on VanIsle Schedule page. [Eric F]

NewPop Preride Adventure
by Raymond Parker

Well, the Victoria New Year's Populaire pre-ride turned into a bit of an adventure.

I had some problems with formatting the old Excel file on the new Office for Mac, so by the time I printed a route sheet and rode out to the start area, it was 2:30 pm. Still, the sun was shining.

In town, the roads were pretty clear, but after 30km, out on the Saanich Peninsula, the snow was deeper and I soon came upon some impassable sections of the route.

I created a bypass, by bailing out to Pat Bay Hwy., but then made the mistake of cutting into the #2 Reserve, where I had to thread a thin track between icy ridges of frozen snow. I had one fall while paying too much attention to my computer (checking distance). Once back on Lochside Drive, the road was clear, though the bike lane has been turned into a dumping ground for snow.

At the usual halfway control, I grabbed some junk food (why stop Christmas indulgences now?) and jumped back on the trusty Blériot. As the sun disappeared, I began the steady climb up to the high point above the strait, where the San Juan Islands floated on the ocean, bathed in otherworldly light.

By the time I crossed the highway again and entered the narrow, winding roads of the Hunt Valley it was dark. When I stood up to power over the humps leading to Fowler Road, my back wheel spun disconcertingly. The only way to ride safely now was to gear down and not under any circumstance touch the brakes downhill. No sudden turns! Under street lights, the roads sparkled like the cold stars above.

Then, the digital emitter I'd clipped on "just in case I don't get back before dark" powered down to reserve.

Fearing the unlit length of Blenkinsop Road, I hoped maybe the Lochside Trail would be clear enough to get through. I decend narrow E. Lohbrunner, that gives access to the trail, 10 kilometres from town. Once I've navigated a car track onto Lochside, the dim light from my headlight reveals a surface of hard-packed snow. This could work.

Whump! My front wheel dives through a melt hole and I land on my back. So much for that. I turn off my headlight to save the last precious ounces of charge. Standing in the pitch dark, the skeletal winter trees blink on and off in time with my tail light. I listen to the rustle of small animals -- perhaps shivering ducks -- under the hedgerow. There is nothing for it but to get my cold feet back on the pedals and retrace the rutted track back up to Blenkinsop -- easier said than done with frozen, ice-caked cleats.

A couple of phone calls to Amanda to check the map finds me a passable way back through to the start, at Christie's Carriage House Pub for a total 64km -- good enough for a New Year's ride (if we don't get too much more snow beforehand). Rewarded myself with a pint of Guinness. Total for the day = 72km.

I guess I now have to go back to Excel and enter the revised route. I'm not about to venture out into the howling wind and rain that has moved in overnight!



December 29, 2008