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Peace 400:
the Roller Coaster Ride to Tumbler Ridge and Back
by E.W. (Wim) Kok, Brevet Organizer

At 3 am the crack of dawn Erik Snucins and I left Fort St John for the 400 km Peace brevet. First north up the Alaska Highway and back down to Dawson Creek, then westward on the Hart Highway to the turnoff to Tumbler Ridge and then back to Fort St John. The course is marked by several up-and-downs through remote section on the Heritage Highway to Tumbler Ridge (no services for some 100 km). The forecast called for cool temperatures with moderate winds from the east up to 20 kph. Close to ideal cycling weather, I'd say. The ride went smooth up to about 170 km, at which point the shifter for the rear derailleur malfunctioned. Initially I thought it was a broken cable. The gear was stuck in the smallest gear, which indicated no broken cable. This was fine as long as we were climbing. We did a lot of that. So the bicycle was reduced to 3 gears instead of my usual 30, back to the simpler days. As long as I did not touch the shifter, it would stay in the smallest gear. Descending was fine too because gravity does the most the work. The problem occurs of course on the flats where one usually can crank up the speed to 30 kph or so. However with the small gears I spun out at 23 kph and one can't usher the machine along on the gentle downhill grades. This meant a slowdown.

Then in a moment of absentmindedness, I did touch the shifter and lo and behold, it released and now I had only the biggest gear. With that I limped in Tumbler Ridge. First things first, which meant lunch. After that I took a look at the dilemma: the problem of a malfunctioning shifter was confirmed. What to do. In a small place like Tumbler Ridge there isn't a lot of choice for bicycle repair, especially when it comes to high tech stuff. Abandoning was a possibility, but DNF'ing isn't an option I like very much. After looking at what was possible under the circumstances, I confirmed that the cable was still intact. I then pushed the real derailleur in the position of the largest sprocket (= smallest gear) and tightened the cable, so that it would keep the derailleur fixed in that position. With a 30-42-53 on the front and a 26 at the rear, I had a three speed bicycle for the return trip. It worked, and we made it back at 1:52 am on the next day in a time of 22:52. This was a bit slower than what I had in mind, but at least we finished within the time limit. Now it's off to the local bicycle shop for some mechanical diagnosis.

Ride Date: May 29, 2010

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May 31, 2010