Newsletter - 2021 Archive

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Murray's Sidney Veloce 300
Start: 7 p.m., June 26
Alternate start location: Atkins Road
by Murray Tough

My first long ride of the year was not meant to be 300k in the middle of a record shattering heat wave! But that is how it ended up. There had been a 200k event the week before that I had signed up for but I crashed my bike the day before the event. Bike and rider are ok but the road rash needed a week to heal. I couldn't do much about the lack of training but I could try to beat the heat by riding at night. I left the start line at 7:00 PM with the expectation that it would take me until mid-morning the following day to finish.

Riding at night was spectacular but none of the photos worked out. At first the sky was completely dark with an amazing display of stars. Around midnight a big, gibbous moon rose. It outshone most of the stars and was bright enough to cast shadows and light up the landscape around me. Just before sunrise, Mt. Baker was a spectacular silhouette on the horizon.

I rode most of the night on deserted roads. It is hard to describe the joy of riding alone on pitch dark, country roads. Just me and the moon.

By midnight the temperatures were still in the low 20's--that never happens in Victoria. Higher elevations were warm while the valleys were cool. It wasn't until I hit the east side of the Peninsula that things started to feel a lot cooler. By the time I hit Dallas Road, just before sunrise, there were pockets of frigid air (probably about 12C). It didn't last long. By 9:00 AM, the sun was oppressively hot, which was about the time that I hit the Pat Bay Highway. I would have eased up on the pace but getting off the highway as soon as possible was the bigger priority. I had ridden the highway on the northbound leg, in the dark, with very little traffic. You don't notice the shoulder debris as much in the dark!

I was going through an alarming amount of fluid. Fortunately I had mapped out the 24hr gas stations on the route. There were only 4 and two of them were in the same place. Sidney, Mt Newton Cross Road and one by the University. I decided that I would need to make a point of stopping and refilling even if I didn't think I needed it. If I needed food, those 4 gas stations were my only option.

I had expected to feel tired during the night and re-energized when the sun came up. In fact the opposite happened. I made it through to sunrise without feeling any sleepiness. But around 7:00 AM, I started to fall asleep at the wheel (or handlebars as the case may be). It was feeling like a ride ending problem. Not wishing to experience another crash, I found a dry patch of grass in a park and closed my eyes for a power nap. It was going well until a well-meaning runner shouted, "Are you OK?" "Yes, thank you," I replied, nap now ended. With coffee shops now open, I lingered over a tea, mostly because it was far too hot to drink, and then went back riding. The break seemed to do the trick as I was able to ride the remaining 70k without any drowsiness.

In the end, the ride took me 16 hours, which meant I only had to endure the worst of the heat for about 2 hours (+ another half hour to ride home). Getting home meant lots of fluids and food and some very much needed sleep.

Of course I missed most of the daytime scenery but the nighttime magic and complete lack of traffic more than made up for it.

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June 28, 2021