Newsletter - 2010 Archive

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Lorraine at the start prepping for her damp ride

Rain and Decisions
by Lorraine Nygaard

It doesn't seem right that a newcomer that DNFs at a mere 56 km should get to write a report, but there has to be an explanation. There was no fantastic crash, no bicycle failure; just stupid decisions, and I'd like to blame the rain and my brain.

Thank you to Jim and Philip for organizing the recent Fall Islelander 200. As a newcomer to randonneuring, having these fellows on my side was a good decision. Unsure of my capabilities, they encouraged me and gave me the heart to try the ride. Despite arriving 20 minutes late and rather a nervous wreck, dropping the sacred checkpoint and control card, they assured me, and said "Have a good ride".

Through James Bay was a lovely warm mist, the city a beautiful quiet, and I was happy to be on my way. There were a lot of joggers out first thing in the morning, and I thought they were rather dedicated souls to be out running.

Onto the Goose Trail, for the next 40 or so kilometers, and getting closer to Western Communities, the rain was coming down really hard. Though my torso and upper legs were warm and happy, calves and feet were completely drenched within a very short time. Because of that, I found that riding fast was a great way to keep warm, and so I rode faster than I ever have. (which is a little bit faster than a slug).

The Goose is gorgeous, and the treetops make a wonderful canopy overhead. I saw some bunnies, a beautiful trio of birds with a stark white and black tail, and my heart smiled many times. Closer to Sooke, the mist over the water was breath-taking. I saw many more joggers, and wondered why they were out on a rainy Sunday morning in their soaking wet attire. We would greet each other with a knowing smile. One rather large raindrop smacked me right in my open eye, but that was the only time that I felt offended.

I took two wrong paths, one minor and silly, and the other rather major and tragic. The rain was relentless and there was no freedom for standing around and pondering my whereabouts for very long. As the Goose crosses a road, sometimes it picks up several metres down the road on the other side. I didn't look around for several metres, I just rode a path that turned out to be a very long farmhouse driveway. That re-tracing was not too bad.

Finally coming off the Goose, the control card said R. And my brain said "no way, I am not back-tracking where I just came from, that's bizarre". So I got off the bike, and walked to the first trailer park house to ask for directions. The cat in the window didn't answer the door. Off the bike and realizing how wet and cold it was when standing, I didn't bother to knock at the next trailer. I should have. Carrying on down a road I knew was pointed more or less in the direction of where I was heading, it was wonderful to be off the gravel trail, so I rode really fast. Looking at the map now, I see that it's 5 km. to the Sooke Potholes Parking Lot and outhouses. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Why didn't I recognize the road? Because it's raining! I see in other journals that folks don't bother to take bathroom breaks, but I laughed at my idiocy, and decided to enjoy a roof over my head for a bit.

Backtracking, I stopped at a real house with real chimney smoke, and asked how in the devil do I get to Sooke Road. The nice man had to get out his map and figure it out, and then he wanted to know where I was coming from and why was I doing this. Because it's the day to do it. There are checkpoints and everything!

The jiggy-jogging in the town of Sooke was fun, and I thought that randonneuring was great. Nice to be challenged. And I knew that I was getting close to my first real checkpoint since doing a charity ride back when I was 13 years old. I asked a passing motorist if I was getting close to Otter Point Road and he said that it was the next turn, and when I asked the time, he said 11:15. And a big lump came up in my throat, as I knew that I was so close, but not going to make it. I phoned Jim and left the dreaded DNF message, and turned to head home. He phoned back shortly thereafter and offered to pick me up. Though that seemed very unsportspersonlike, I thought about all the work that was waiting for me back at my B & B, so decided to take the offer.

I was a rather wet dirty mess, and Philip was smart enough to protect the car seats with a blanket. Thank you to Ms. Lennox who is undoubtedly the one that is washing the Goose Trail gravel out of the blanket. Did she know that was part of the deal when she said "I do"?

Many thanks to everyone that is on the organizing end of things...this feels like a great group of folks doing a very cool thing.

See you in the spring. I'll be on time, with a real watch and a map.


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September 14, 2010