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Wet, Weary and Woebegone
Loopy Lower Mainland 1000, 2022
Ride Date: May 14, 2022
by Mike Hagen

So. Loopy Lower Mainland 1000. v 2.0. Five registered. Two DNS. Three DNF. Mike's reputation for fiendish 1000s is preserved. I hang my head.

The forecast was dire. Totally dire. Paul withdrew before he even left Pender Harbour. Dave vacillated, and finally decided to ride the LM Meander 400 instead. To his credit, Luke registered at the last minute and set out on Day 1 with Bob and me.

Last year, I rode LLM v 1.0 in September, with Dave riding shotgun on Day 1. Physicals and mechanicals forced Dave's withdrawal after the first 350 km loop, but it was obvious that the first loop was too difficult. Hence, LLM v 2.0 for this year.

Saturday morning was misty when we set out at 5:00 a.m. We hoped it wouldn't rain too hard. Our hopes were dashed. By the time we got to the Birchwood at km 85, I was soaked and had serious reservations about another 915 km in the rain. We pushed on, now fighting into a stiff headwind that slowed us to 20 kph. Just after the Cheam control at 140 km, now on the way back, we stumbled upon Gary Baker and his secret control and soup kitchen for the Meandering 400 also happening on May 14. I should've had some soup!

Shortly after Rosedale, we had one last heavy shower and fate smiled. It stopped raining and the roads dried. But fate is cruel: the headwind was gone, yes, but the tailwind was wimpy; not a compensation for the morning's headwind fight at all. It was about here that Luke eased off the pace and fell behind. We learned later that he found conditions, and the shape he was in, increasingly difficult, and he abandoned when he passed near his home at km 360.

Bob and I had lost a lot of time battling the early rain and wind; at Cheam we were about an hour and a half slower than our optimistic target. We remained about an hour and a half behind all along the 150 km borderlands stretch from Chilliwack to Tsawwassen, not really making up time even with the tailwind. But it was a pleasant ride along there: warm, dry, not much traffic, not many hills. The return from Tsawwassen was also pleasant and we made good time. Now, the direct route from the south end of the Queensborough Bridge to my house is 14 km. The way we went is 30. It zigs. It zags. Not frustrating, just that I subconsciously expect to be home in about 40 minutes from that point. It took almost two hours.

After a quick snack and water bottle replenishment, we set out again to do the second loopy loop around UBC. It was dark by then, but that turned the loop into a nice urban night ride. It was relatively calm and quiet, and normally busy cross-streets were easily traversed. The weather was cooperating too: no longer dry, but not raining. The thing now was that, if we wanted to get back on schedule, the sleep break would be short. Bob managed three hours of sleep, but me, only two. We were up at 4:00 for a planned 5:00 start.

It wasn't enough. With one thing and another, it was after 5:30 before we got going again. It was raining. A few kilometers in, I realized I was in trouble. I felt wretched. My stomach was upset. My legs were weak, I was generating little power. The crunch came when Bob went to the front for a pull and I couldn't keep up. I was done. Abandoned at 433 km. On the slow way home, my knee was acting up and my brakes were failing.

So Bob continued by himself into the mysterious Lower Mainland. The Loopy has several sections that would be unfamiliar even to seasoned LM Region riders, and I was concerned that his route sheet would not be detailed enough. He'd expected a guide! And his Garmin was not always cooperating with turn-by-turn directions. And, yes, that is what happened. He got lost. He encountered construction closures forcing detours into unfamiliar areas. He got lost again. And it rained. And it rained. And it rained. Pleasant trail sections in South Langley proved to be muddy, water disguised tracks; bike path shortcuts in Langley City were hard to find; and TCX directions prompted him to paths that were not there. It was a most weary, wretched, shell-shocked, drowned rider that finally showed up at Grand Gamma Station at 10:30 p.m., hours later than expected, muttering about food, a shower, and a 4:00 a.m. start.

Day 3 starts with a benign (Ha!) 100 km loop through Richmond. Long story short: Bob hit the construction closure on Dyke Road at Boundary in Queensborough, and couldn't find a way to detour. He got turned around and ended up several kilometers off course. By then, his rear brake pads were completely gone; his brakes were failing also. And that was it for Bob; abandoned at 785 km. He had a pleasant wait (he said) in the park he found, sitting in the sunshine, eating his remaining food, waiting for pickup.

So there you have it. I still believe in the route. I think it has the potential to be a very unique brevet. An 80% DNF rate over two years sounds bad, but I'm working on v 3.0. See you next year!


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May 19, 2022