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The LM Desperation 600 - The Start to My End
Ride Date: May 28-29, 2022
by Gary Baker

Let’s dispense with the sad news, I DNF’d. More about that later.

It was never my intention to be involved with the direct organization of the LM Spring 600, but evolving circumstances changed that. There was a distinct possibility that there would be no Spring 600. A flurry of telephone calls and e-mails prompted Mike H., Ron S. and I to work together, to select/or design a course, craft a route sheet, buildup a GPX track, prepare an event posting and oversee the actual event day. Time was tight to get everything done, Ron was buried under a mountain of marking and Mike and I had travel commitments that took us to the Okanagan or state side.

The development process was further complicated by differing planning styles. One team member preferred to permit ‘editing’ on the fly so to speak, the others were more comfortable with a two step editing/change process, namely suggest a change, if there was agreement then the change would take place. Whenever a change was made (with the two step process) the revised draft would be relabeled...Version # 1,# 2 and so on. As this was not formally agreed upon it was not uncommon for an edit to have gone unnoticed. A bit like too many cooks in the kitchen, but it worked out in the end.

Before of the time constants and everyone schedule it was not feasible to schedule a pre-ride so the decision was made to utilize portions of previously ridden Spring routes or ride along routes that the organizers ride regularly. Several of the ride participants commented that the route felt like it had been cobbled together; it had been and that was very deliberate. As we were repeating routes and therefore the same control points we had to get very creative identifying suitable control questions. Doing this was fun!

The weather forecast for the days of the event was not very encouraging, particularly for the ride towards Porteau Cove. But as fate would have it, there were only a few light showers along this portion of the ride and we had an almost dry ride out to Agassiz and Hope. As we discussed the details of the route we were getting comments like, avoid the Lougheed Hwy as much as possible, particularly from Port Moody out past Mission; or Dewdney Trunk, or the Stave Lake Road or going out to the Farmer’s Institute up the Hatzic Valley. Gee, that didn’t leave many options to get the required mileage. Finally to get around much of that section of the Lougheed we settled on going through suburbia along Tamarack Lane and UP 102nd and 100 Avenues. There were likely riders who had no idea such suburban neighbourhoods even existed. As for the 102nd and 100 Aves climb, it is physically and psychologically relentless. I’d prefer to ride the Lougheed (with all its traffic but decent shoulders) or the D.T. (with it repeating, relentless climbs) that 102nd. After 100 we were back on the Lougheed (with the exception of riding the Nicoman Island back roads and out and back to Chehalis) all the way to Hope.

To get mileage the route did the 80km loop past Cultus Lake up to Columbia Valley including the deactivated 1.1 km section of Canyon Rd. between the west and east portions of this highland plateau above the lake. As this was an out and back loop there had to be an extrema control along this loop, and there was the issue of possibly riding that tricky canyon section in the dark, which created an interesting strategy issue. Randonneuring is more than just riding a bike.

The faster riders intending to ride through possibly could get through there before darkness set in. They didn’t! Slower riders and riders wanting some sleep ( in Chilliwack or Cultus Lake) and a preference to ride the canyon in daylight were faced with a 6:26 AM control closing time. One rider chose to ride through the canyon ( in the dark) and stop at an Abbotsford motel to sleep. Doing a 400+km first day on a 600 can work well if the controls are suitably placed. On this route it worked.

After the Abby control the course meandered to the 264 St. border crossing then north to Ft. Langley back south into south Surrey, White Rock, South Delta, through Richmond (Steveston) and back to the Start/Finish. Winds were an issue as were a relentless series of stoplights which frustrated many of the riders.

I have reached out to some of the riders for their comments about this course. Some of their comments were mentioned earlier; i.e. cobbled together ( yes), too many traffic lights (time killers), winds (beyond human control), Columbia Valley extrema control should have been an open timed control (agreed). I expected some negative comments about the deactivated Canyon Road. No one screamed negatively about it. Actually one of the ‘skinny tired’ guys even said he liked it, even in the dark. There was a general conscientious that the course was ‘harder’ than the sum of its parts.

I recall doing a 600 into the states some years ago where Susan Bar and I were more or less riding together when I began to fade, and we became separated. Near an extrema control we met up and stopped to compare notes. I felt awful, she had a sore foot. We both commented on what kept us going in this rather eclectic sport; we agreed it was the unforeseen surprises. We agreed to meet up and ride together the next day. She withdraw, I felt better and finished the ride.

What happen to me on the ‘Desperation’ was a surprise. I felt just fine to about the 415km point and ‘bang’ the legs just caved in. I couldn’t hold a draft behind Rick (big and a moving wall for an old, little guy like me to follow). It was a totally out of ‘body’ character for me...the surprise! At this point Bob K. rode up to me and we climbed up 264 St. to Aldergrove where we stopped to eat some real food, which helped. We only had about 20 minutes in the bank. Fifteen km later Bob had his first flat, now nothing in the bank but we both felt the ride was salvageable. Then again, 15km later Bob had a second flat. Now we were behind the clock and would be riding into some strong winds, numerous hills and ‘stop lights’. We were about as close as we could be to ride directly back to the finish location ( 30km). That was it!!!!!

Was this a bit of a ‘rando’ cop out, in hindsight YES. Particularly so when looking at Eric’s ride. He rode the entire ride ‘solo’ at the back of the pact, he barely slept if he had any sleep at all, he was riding sore and finished with 49 minutes to spare. That’s what being one of the very best finishers in the club does. EFI, RFM......

Thanks Ron, Mike and Colin ( the tech guy) for all the team work to mount this brevet.


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June 7, 2022