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Chili 200 on Old Tires
by John Oswald

I'm really sorry that what I am about to ask might strike at the core of Vancouver Island Randonneuring. It might not be apparent from my previous posts but..I'm a glass-is-half-empty person. So after riding the Chili 200 I have to ask: Why would anyone ride the Peninsula Wiggly Worm Route more than once a year?

I've ridden from (and back to) the ferry terminal several times for rides out of Victoria and have enjoyed the hospitality of the Croy's almost every time. But having to go out and back and traipse up and down the same roads several times under driving rain whilst enduring four flats was a special kind of challenge/torture. The only redeeming stretch was that Tandemonium of momentum that we managed to surf along on Interurban out of and back into town.

The flats were due to stretching old thin tires too far and the weather is never under a rider's control but the only thing I can possibly imagine as worse would be a 200km that never left Richmond. How many different ways could you get to Steveston and back?!?

The day started out fine with the afore-mentioned rollers and some great momentum out one of the 17 flavours of Saanich road (N/S/E/W/etc) that we would ride on the day. We got out onto the highway after Land’s End Road (Part I) and we tucked into a hard effort to get to town ASAP. It was going great until a puncture at Elk Lake. The old (possibly 10 years?!?) tube I was using as a spare was not up to the challenge and the valve stem snapped during the change. After using the second and final tube we caught back up to the main group at the first control—a Shell Station back in Victoria.

Out in Sydney for the second time (of three times on the ride) we discovered another rear flat after taking advantage of the final day of free coffee at McDonalds.

I swapped out the tire at this point but the spare was past its best before date also so it was really only a matter of time…The only nice thing I can say about this route is that it took us past Oak Bay Bicycles where I grabbed two more tubes. The spare tire suffered a blowout just before our third and final trip through Sydney and then the skies opened. We changed the tire back to the original and had soup at Tim’s to gear up for the final push. It was extremely cold and wet as we arrived at the Ferry Terminal and turned (back) onto Land’s End Road. I was just trying to get home so we were flying up and down every rise.

We almost made it.

We flatted for the fourth and final time with less than 10km to go (Jim gave us another spare as they leap-frogged us for the fourth time during a tire change--just in case) but our final spare held out for the roller coaster run in to the finish.

Thanks to Mark Ford and Jim Runkel who supplied emergency spare tubes and thanks to the Croy’s--Steven too!--for hosting a great post ride chili feed. Getting in some early season miles and getting an early look at this year’s pins were beneficial; however I will not be returning for any ride that echoes that route. You guys can keep it!

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March 5, 2014