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Chili 200 Pre-ride Report
by Rob Scrimgeour

I rode my first Chili 200 last year. The day started off dry, but we had a bit of snow before the weather settled on constant rain all day. I doubt the temperature got much above 5C. It was the worst weather I've ever ridden in. I rode the whole day with veteran randonneur Wim Kok, who had flown south to ride an early season brevet in "warm" Victoria weather. If I hadn't had him along, I doubt I would have finished. It was also tough on the bike, as the grit and grime coming up from the road stuck to everything. My brand new brake pads were worn through by the end of the day, and my chain also needed replacing.

It was with that background that I had some trepidation about riding the Chili 200 again this year. Thankfully the weather was amazing. Still cool, but sunny through much of the day.

After a brief chat and getting our paperwork done, David White and I said goodbye to Steve and Mike Croy and headed off for the ride. It was a cool start to the day, and Mike had warned us to watch for morning frost in the dips on West Saanich Rd. We did see some beautiful looking frost along the side of the road, but didn't have any on the riding surface. It looks like the temperature on the day of the ride may be a degree or two cooler, so it I'd take care on the day.

The ride out West Saanich Road and around Lands End was relaxing and uneventful, and we soon found ourselves headed back towards town alongside the highway. David is a stronger rider than I am, so it was nice to tuck in behind him, save some energy, and make good time. The highway shoulder was cleaner than last year. There was less grit, and what was there was staying dry on the ground, not sticking to my wheels and rims.

After exiting the highway on the Quarda off ramp we came across some construction blocking the right lane. My Garmin showed this at 65.7km into the ride. We were forced into the left lane. Lanes are a bit narrow on Quadra, so take care on the day to make sure traffic sees you.

Arriving at the first control, we found the Shell gas station temporarily closed and the staff cleaning up small fuel spill. We were assured they'd be open next week, and in fact they were pretty much open again by the time we rolled away.

After a nice downhill on Tattersall we found ourselves riding into a headwind heading back out the highway. Again, I found it helpful to have David giving me a draft, except where I lagged back on hills.

The next control is again a Shell station, just off the highway at Mt. Newton Cross Rd. While the highway is simple and straight, it was nice to get away from the traffic. Riding south on Central Saanich Rd. was our first chance in quite a while to be able to chat while riding.

On Lochside, by Mitchell's Farm we pulled off for a pit stop and to adjust our clothing to the warming temperature. David packed away his jacket and leg warmers. I took off my neck warmer and switched to lighter gloves.

From here the route follows pretty close to the Seaside Bike Route, but with a few turns off. I must admit it was nice to turn right onto Majestic and avoid the Ash Rd hill. (Thanks, Mike.). This detour also takes the route past a nice coffee shop at San Juan and Tyndall, though we didn't stop.

At noon we found ourselves stopping at the third control, and our third Shell of the day. My Garmin was saying we were averaging over 26km/h, which is a pretty good pace for me on this route. A quick loop around Oak Bay had us heading back north, again following pretty close to the Seaside Route.

Passing through Cadboro Bay I pointed out Olive Olios to David. (Kitty corner to Starbucks.) It's another good cafe, and Wim and I stopped here to warm up and fuel up last year. Other riders use it as a quality caffeine stop regularly.

It was about here I started to realize that I was losing a bit of power on the hills. It's been months since my last long ride, and my endurance isn't all there. But I knew that if I took it steady and didn't push too hard I'd make it through.

With this in mind I dropped down to my granny gear and spun my way up the hill on Island View after crossing the highway. We rolled along East Saanich Rd at a steady, but slightly reduced pace. And I really enjoyed coasting on the long downhill toward the airport.

In Sidney we chose to stop at 7-11 for the control. There are at least a couple of good coffee shops, but we wanted to keep rolling and I didn't want to stiffen up from sitting down too long. Some clouds rolled in, so the air had cooled a bit, so I switched back to my still damp warmer gloves.

From here around Lands End and coming back West Saanich I found that each hill sapped a little more energy from my legs, so I really need to thank David for stopping and waiting for me so many times. I was a bit concerned about the long climb into Brentwood Bay, but I found a good pace and spun away without pushing too hard. Still, it was nice to turn onto Wallace for some flat riding.

Back on West Saanich the rollers really took their toll. I found I still had decent power if I stood for the climbs, but if I did that too much I'd burn out and have no reserve at all. We stopped by the Observatory so I could recover. Our average speed was now 24.9km/h, so David suggested a final push down Interurban to see if we could get that tenth back.

Coming down Interurban is always fun, and we did a decent pace. Not my fastest by any means, but quite good considering we were nearing the ned of the ride. With only a few short hills along here I powered through them standing, and by the time we stopped at Mike and Brynne's we had got back to an average of 25km/h.

For those who care, here is the link to my ride:

Looking ahead to Sunday, David suggested I remind everyone to bring along the right clothes to change to as the temperature rises through the day, and if it dips again later. I was happy to have two sets of gloves, and could probably have used a change of socks, too.

From a riding perspective, watch out for gravel and debris. It's early in the riding season and the shoulders and bike lanes seem like they haven't been cleared much. In a few places we were forced into the lane to get around gravel.

I hope to see you at the start this Sunday morning. Have a great ride!

Go to: Chili 200 Event Page (pre-registration)

February 25, 2015