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Our Hail Mary February Permanent
Permanent #18 Report
by Gary Baker

Gary Baker & Karen Smith
Permanent #18 (Chilliwack start) 203 km
February 28, 2014

With our monthly permanent streak on the line we had to go, no matter what! I must admit my heart wasn’t in it. My last decent night’s sleep was Tuesday at a wonderful little boutique hotel (The Casa Platypus) in old town Bogota, Colombia. It was up at 4:30AM (hum, perhaps it wasn’t that great of sleep after all), taxi to the airport, 5hr flight to Washington, D.C., 2 ½ hour layover, 4hr flight to Denver, 60 minute layover extended to 2hrs+ due to weather, 3 hr. flight to Vancouver and a 90 minute drive home to Cultus Lake; arrival time 1:30AM ( Total time =24hrs) to over a foot of snow in the driveway. Welcome home!

At least I was physically ready, after 10 ten days of high altitude riding with considerable climbing I felt ready to roll. An aside.…Colombia is a great place to ride, the roads for the most part are as good if not better than many of our secondary roads, the scenery is wonderful, dogs ( and there are lots of them) ignore cyclists and the drivers are incredibly courteous.

There were some negotiations as to the start time, I wanted to start extra early (6:30AM) as Sheryl and I have dancing lessons Friday evenings. Karen wanted a later start, we compromised for 7AM. As we had ridden this route numerous times together in the 11 hour time range with very leisurely stops at the controls I was feeling OK about making it to the lessons.

The weather forecast for the most part looked promising (low of 3 high of 11), a possibility of rain showers (which didn’t materialize) but there was also a call for sustained easterly winds building through the afternoon to gusts of 70kph (which did).

The ride west through Yarrow and, across the Sumas Prairie, past the YYR and along Zero Ave were accompanied by a moderate but steady tailwind. The first sign we had of what was to come was felt when we turned north on 272St. The winds were building, there was a substantial cross wind, but it wasn’t too bad as trees and building provided lots of wind breaks. We were expecting a much stronger tailwind when we turned west along River Rd. into Ft. Langley, but it didn’t really materialize.

After a hearty lunch of M&C, that had just been taken out of the oven, we tuned eastward with some trepidation as the wind had definitely picked up. The ride over the highlands from Ft. Langley towards 264th St. and onto Matsqui Flats was slower than normal, but not all that bad. The winds were building but again there was lots of ground cover (trees) to break up the wind.

The descent down to Matqui Flats gave us the first real taste of what was to come. I like to see how far I can coast at the bottom of the descent out onto the flats. I went about ¼ of the distance I usually cover. When we turned on to Townshipline Rd. for the 5km straight shot across the flats to River Rd. things got ugly. We usually ride this stretch at a leisurely 25kph, but we were working our butts off doing 12kph. Hum, I wonder what it will be like crossing the Sumas Prairie. We were about to find out!

When we reached North Parallel Rd. it was like riding into an invisible wall. From the intersection of Whatcom Rd. and North Parallel Rd. it is approximately 8km to No. 3 Rd... It was one LONG haul. Heads down we pushed forward. My heart rate was way too high, my thighs were burning, my knees were screaming, “we surrender”, over the wind Karen was repeatedly muttering, “ This is better than being at the dentist….just!” Is that a mirage in the distance, I must be hallucinating, no it’s the Yellow Barn… it will do. We averaged less than 12kph, but in the gusts speeds of 8/9kph was the norm. We were both knackered. Folks at the Barn asked, “Did you just ride across the flats into that wind?’. “Yup!” We had seen one rider going the other way; he went by like a low flying jet plane.

Karen was getting concerned that we wouldn’t finish in time for me to get to my lessons. I also had my doubts, but it was in range until 25km from the finish as we approached Ferry Rd., then this…….^&%)&%*

Thanks to a ‘beginner’s mistake (short stems don’t work on deep dish rims), no apparent cause for the flat and that it was also getting dark and colder this was a 25 minute repair job. A second tube and a new tire saw us on our way. The up side was we were still battling the wind and this break provided some desperately needed recovery time. We both commented that we felt energized when we got back on the bikes; besides we were cold and needed to get moving to warm up.

During the ride Karen had been in regular contact with Michel, who was at work. He was aware of our wind and flat delays and decided upon returning home from work to ride out to meet us. We met up just before the soon to be reopened Popkum Market. He dutifully rode in the rear position (as per the rules). This worked out well as my rear main rear light had failed and my auxiliary tail lights were not all that bright.

We finished in 12:09; I think our slowest time ever for this route….exhausted. I can’t speak for Karen, but was I sore. I still am. So much for the dancing class, there is always next week. Our string of permanents is intact. Mission accomplished.

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March 2, 2014