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Country Roads, Take Me Home
by Sarah Gallazin

“I’m only happy when it rains....I’m only happy when it’s complicated....” so sings the rock band “Garbage”. This became an earworm in my head that would haunt me all morning, afternoon, and evening for my 200km “Tour of Greater Victoria” Randonneur brevet on April 5, 2014.

The route sheet is the most complicated, turn-intensive one yet. A bit daunting, since I like to just “go”, not have my nose glued to the instructions. Notwithstanding, as it turned out, there was no way you could get lost, the instructions were that meticulous!

We started out and the weather Gods were not yet angry – it was dry and quite mild. Quickly the inimitable Ken Bonner faded into the distance with his speedy posse. We were left as a group of 4, more or less riding the same speed, although Melissa, Steve, and Rob were faster on hills, even at the start.

It was an interesting route that included steep climbs up North Road in the first 14 km. Things, and the hills, got “rolling” when we rode up Atkins and finally crossed Sooke Road. Then the much anticipated climb up Triangle Mountain. The others sped by me, and then waited for me, as I ground up the steep inclines. Part way up, we rode by a group of outdoor exercise enthusiasts doing a morning boot camp. Steve quipped “I’d rather be doing this.” hmmmm..would I? Too late, I paid my money. The sun made a guest appearance as we overlooked a great view of the ocean. Down we went – brakes full-on and grinding road dirt most of the way. On we rode past the Metchosin Golf Club and up Rocky Point Road to Liberty. The secret control was pleasant, chatting with the always-upbeat Mike and Brynne. The familiar hills of Linholm and the rollers on Happy Valley brought me to the first control at Metchosin. The others were behind me, since I left the control first, not wanting to be their anchor.

The descent down Lagoon promised a corresponding “up”. In the ocean I spied a duo performing Eskimo (or is it now “Inuit”) roll repeats in their kayaks....another activity I was glad I was not doing that day, brrrr. So now the rain decided we had done the hard stuff, and it could let loose. Light to start, it was a constant reminder that we would only dry out much later at home.

Through Esquimalt and Dallas road I went, including a scenic loop through Cattle Point, where the expected secret control did not materialize. In one of the quiet ocean bays I spotted a lone figure, silhouetted through the drizzle paddling peacefully on a SUP board. Now THAT I would like to do right about then! The control at Cadboro Bay had gathered more riders tired of the rain and weary from 100 km of riding. They greeted me warmly and enticed me to join them for lunch....”beware the chair....” warns the old ultrarunning saying. Also, I have learned “The longer you’re out there, the longer you’re out there”. So, on I continued alone. Up Telegraph Bay, where a foursome of does stood nose-to-tail in a straight line. They were the only audience to take an interest in my ride. On to Queenswood, and the usual route (thankfully) down Ash. On WSR the route made a right up Old West Saanich in steady rain. Surprisingly busy traffic on a Saturday, on an otherwise quiet and beautiful rural road. Finally a long (9.4) stretch on WSR until the loop around the Golf Course at Ardmore. It was worth it because under some low branches was a stunning display of fawn lilies, bravely blooming in the drizzle. Back on WSR to the turn at Downey and Madrona. A hilly surprise at the overpass for the ferry entrance. The route continued straight and this led to more beautiful (but hilly) country roads at Dunne, Kedge Anchor, Inwood and Tryon (maybe we were “try-ing on” our hill climbing legs). Finally back on McDonald Park and Resthaven.

At the 7-11 control at Sidney I caught up with a Luke on his fixed gear bike. I complained to him about my sore knees – it was not until later I found out his bike was a fixie! How could he have ridden that up Triangle Mountain? Sore knees? Oh yeah. But, as I said he was young.

Now I am on the course I pre-rode with CCCTS Club members and friends, Yvonne, Jean, and Dave 3 days ago. The chances of my not getting lost were 99.9%! In my head John Denver started singing “Take me roads....”! But..something surprising happened here. The hills we so gracefully glided up on Wednesday and barely noticed, had become inflated monsters! On WSR at the left turn onto Willingdon, Yvonne’s prediction of afternoon headwinds came true! Even East Saanich was a challenge. Veyaness and White took their tolls on my knees and Alderly seemed to have grown much, much longer than it was on Wednesday.

I rode through Elk and Beaver Lake Parks, without seeing any wildlife by those names. The speed bumps at Beaver Lake caused me to cry out in pain, since my saddle is not yet 200 km tested. I’m sure the random walker who spied me and heard my curses wondered about bike riders . What a scenic road through those parks, even in the rain.

On to Interurban and Burnside through the Tillicum Mall parking lot, in case we wanted to stock up on caseloads of Bag Balm and Ibuprofen. The quiet streets of Maddock and Balfour were appreciated. On to brave Gorge with no bike lane then Government. I had a good feeling that I was going to make this one! Finally down Vancouver to the finish in Cook Street Village.

Faithful and long-suffering, John, my husband, met me there. He quite possibly had less fun than me, anticipating arrival of a crabby, muddy, wet rider. It was great to see him and Yvonne, who had come out to welcome me home.

I met the ride organizers Holland and Dave and received the much coveted 200 km enameled lapel pin.

Later at home, I studied the pin and realized that it depicted the image of a cyclist on a downward descent! How ironic, since it would have been much more apropos to have the image portray the rider struggling, grinding and swerving uphill.

I would recommend this ride, but not as a first 200 km. It is a challenge and a half. My total time was 10:47; averaging 19.5km/hr riding time. I was the “Oldest Fastest Female” although; everyone knows “a brevet is not a race”.

At home I was sore, cold and road- weary. John quipped “...guess this rules out a 300km...” as I fell asleep.

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April 9, 2014