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Rocky Mountain 1200


What I Did On My Summer Vacation
by Jim Joy

On the line waiting to start at 4am. How do you keep from thinking about the immense distance that lies ahead? This was my first 1200 and I was all keyed up. I had been in BC for a week and a half already. The week before the 1200 I had driven up to Kamloops to ride TourBC. TourBC 2000 had been my first introduction to the natural beauty of BC and I was hooked. This year TourBC had started in Kamloops and circled counter-clockwise to the south (Osoyoos) before returning north to finish in Kamloops. Temperatures had been in the high 30's to the low-40s all week. We had ridden just over 800k in seven days with about the same amount of climbing that I expected for the 1200. I had a great time and felt that it was an excellent warm-up for the 1200, but I was really hoping for cooler weather. I tend to wilt in the heat.

I had spent a lot of time on preparation for the 1200. I had ridden three years of the full brevet series, ending up this year with a (relatively) flat 600k which I had managed to knock off in 29 hours--quite a contrast to my first 38 hour 600. I had a new bike this year, with a titanium beam that suspended my saddle. It was the most comfortable bike I had ridden for the longer distances, and I had done well with it on TourBC, riding with a fellow who was preparing for his tenth Penticton Ironman. I had kept up pretty well except on the climbs. My climbing has improved over the years, but at 195 pounds, I'm still slow. I had outfitted the bike with a compact crank, a double, giving me a low gear of 34-27. I hoped that would be low enough.

Being a computer geek, I (naturally) had a spreadsheet where I had planned out the entire 1200--every planned stop, how long I expected to spend there, how much food I would consume, what average speed I anticipated, etc. The plan told me that I should be able to finish in just under 70 hours. But was it realistic? I had ridden part of the route (Revelstoke to Lake Louise) two years earlier, so I had some idea of the actual conditions. And I had read every account of the 1200 from earlier years that I could find. On the drive up to Kamloops, I had driven the last third of the route, including finding all the controls, so I felt that I was better prepared for that period when my reserves would be lowest. My diet would be mostly liquid, except for sleep stops where I planned to fill up with solids which I could digest during the night. Over the prior three seasons I had developed a home-made recipe consisting of a 7:1 mixture of maltodextrin and flavored soy powder, with a few Endurolyte capsules thrown in to supply electrolytes. I mixed these up so each bottle held 650 calories, or two hours worth of nourishment. Then I set my watch alarm to go off every twenty minutes, at which time I would drink one-sixth of a bottle. That alarm would get annoying after three days.

But even with all this preparation the big question remained--could I do it? Could I ride twice as far as I ever had before? This year's 600 was the first one where I had NOT felt at the end that there was no way I could turn around and do it again. So, the adrenaline was churning. Two friends with whom I had ridden several brevets were also on the line. Charles Breer, a Minnesotan like me, had done PBP last year in 66 hours and was going to try for under 65 on the 1200. Landon Beachy, an Iowa rider, was also doing his first 1200. Like me, Landon was trying for under 70 hours so he could be "RAAM-qualified". Neither of us had any plans for doing RAAM, but we both thought it would be fun to be listed among those who were "qualified".

Kamloops to Clearwater 124K (77mi)
4:00am - 7:50am Thursday
32.3kph (20.1mph)

Finally, it was time to go. After a few words of wisdom from Doug Latornell we rolled out. At 4am it was starting to get a little light in the East already. My plan was to ride as little during darkness as possible. I really didn't want to miss the scenery; it sure beat the heck out of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. We started out at a reasonable pace, crossing the most dangerous railroad tracks on the course within the first kilometer or so, and going north over the Red Bridge. With my minimalist LED light, it was tough to see the really bad asphalt on the bridge, so I just followed the wheel in front of me. Once out of town, the pace began to pick up. I have always had a problem pacing myself at the start and this was no different. But the lead group was large--20 or more riders--and I allowed myself to be pulled along quite a bit faster than I had planned. Almost from the first I could see that there was already a rider who had broken away off the front. I was not surprised to learn that this was Ken Bonner, whom neither I nor most other riders would see again until the post-ride banquet. The time to Clearwater passed fairly quickly. With a group as large as this was, I only found myself at the front three or four times, and I felt strong. By the time we pulled into the control, the group had dwindled only slightly. I think there were still 17 of us that came in together. When I looked at what our average speed to this point had been, I was totally amazed--this was faster than I do most club rides! Somehow, with just over 10% of the ride done, I felt I would be paying for this in the days to come.

Clearwater to Blue River 106K (66mi)
8:10am - 12:03pm Thursday
28.5 kph (17.7mph)

Gord Cook greeted us at the Clearwater control. Most of the group were in and out in short order. I didn't want to waste time at the controls, but I had lots to do. My liquid diet meant mixing additional bottles at every control which always seems to take twice as long as you would think it should. In addition, I had another unplanned task. During the lull between TourBC and the 1200, I had mysteriously developed a number of heat rash blisters in an awkward location that didn't lend itself to my sitting for three days. At each control I had to duck into the washroom and apply a set of potions from my ziplock medicine chest--antibiotic/lidocaine cream, bag balm and chamois butter. Naturally, this too took longer than I would have liked, but there was really no alternative if I wanted to go the distance. By the time I finished these tasks, reapplied sunscreen, refilled my camelback, and retrieved my brevet card from Gord, about twenty minutes had elapsed. The only ones left from the original group were Charles, Landon and myself. And the other two had been waiting for me. Oh well.

We left Clearwater at a slightly slower pace than we had arrived, but still managed to pick up four or five riders as we went along. The weather was perfect--not too hot, and with little wind. We rolled along easily for three hours or so until I noticed that my rear tire was flat. Immediately, it was just the three of us again. A quick examination revealed one of the infamous strands of steel tire belting. I put in a new tube and we were off in about ten minutes. This was to be my only mechanical problem of the entire ride. The last hour into Blue River found our trio drifting apart whenever we got to a hilly bit. (Apparently this included the first named climb, Messiter Summit--who knew?) Charles would gain, I would struggle as always on hills, and Landon seemed to be losing gas. But we all arrived at the Husky station within a couple of minutes of one another.

Blue River to Tête Jaune Cache 111K (69mi)
12:23pm - 4:04pm Thursday
30.1kph (18.7mph)

Landon's wife, Carolyn, greeted us as we pulled in. She and Landon had driven up from Iowa and she was now driving the route to support him. I'm not sure what she gave him but he perked up considerably after that stop. We arrived just after noon and the day was starting to heat up. Again, I performed my rituals, topped up my fluids and we were off.

The next leg to Tête Jaune Cache felt really long. We had been gaining altitude all day, but much of it was not really perceptible. The road looked flat, but it didn't feel that way. I spent a lot of time ooching around on my saddle, trying to decide how much of a problem the (now broken) blisters were going to be. Again, we picked up a number of riders; by the time we reached Valemount we were a group of ten or so. This really helped for the stretch from there to Tête Jaune; we were looking for the turnoff for Jasper just over each rise of ground. With this large group, however, our speed was excellent even though it felt like we weren't making much progress. After about five false alarms, we finally arrived at the intersection with Highway 16 and turned west for the short jog to the Tête Jaune Lodge.

Tête Jaune Cache to Jasper 105K (65mi)
4:24pm - 8:11pm Thursday
27.8kph (17.2mph)

The Lodge was an idyllic stop, with the sound of the Fraser River burbling along behind the picturesque cabins. It was just after 4:00 and the day had gotten quite hot. I really felt like taking off my shoes and going wading, but decided to press on. Since the entire control was being run out of a lodge room, and because we had now caught up with a number of the 90-hour riders, there was a bit of a crowd and a wait for services. The volunteers at the control, as was true throughout the ride, were eager to help out but as I waited for the single bathroom with my medicine kit, there was little they could do for me. This stop, like the previous ones, turned out to be about 20 minutes.

Again, we three musketeers left together but this didn't last for long. Shortly after leaving Tête Jaune we came to the first real climbs of the day. With the heat, the distance we had already ridden and these hills, I suddenly found myself down in my lowest gears, struggling along at barely 10kph. Charles and Landon disappeared ahead, and then for the first time since the start, several other riders passed me like I was standing still. This went on for about a half hour until two fortuitous events coincided: I reached the top of the steep part, and the temperature dropped a few degrees. I felt like a new man. Well, maybe not new, but nicely refurbished at least. My speed picked up and I started reeling in a few of the folks who had passed me by.

The scenery was spectacular. I passed Moose Lake; if I were a moose I certainly would have been there but, alas, I saw no moose. I reached Yellowhead Pass and the Alberta border. This was anticlimactic after the previous climbs on this leg. I had spurred myself on by telling myself that, after this point, it was all downhill until Jasper. This turned out to be an illusion. Sure, there were plenty of downhill stretches, but every one of them ended with a little uphill flourish, like the grace notes that embellish the main theme. By this time I had had just about enough of this and took these as a personal affront. I pretended I was riding my fixed-gear bike; when I got to the uphill parts, instead of shifting down, I just stood and grunted them out. For some strange reason, probably having to do with the fact that none of these stretches was all THAT long, this tactic worked surprisingly well. I was 10K out from Jasper when I caught sight of Landon ahead of me, riding with another fellow. This was the final spur I needed to press harder and catch up. Landon said that Charles was long gone and, indeed, we would not see him again for another 20 hours. I really had a head of steam built up now and ended up pulling most of the way into Jasper. I could smell the barn.

     Day 1 - 446K (277mi)
     29.7kph (18.5mph)

Just as we turned to ride into the town of Jasper we caught up with Roger and Ali Holt whom I had met on TourBC. They were in the 90-hour start and appeared to be near the front of that group. We pulled into the control a little after 8pm. I was tired but also incredibly happy to have made such good time this first day and to have finished before dark. I was over two hours ahead of my original plan and decided to cash in these hours right away, for extra sleep. But the first order of business was solid food. Throughout this ride I would have to turn away offers of real food at each control; many of these were quite enticing. But I knew that my liquid nutrition, while increasingly monotonous, would not turn around and cause trouble for me down the road. But at night I could be more adventurous. Who knew that mashed potatoes and lentil soup could be so sublime?

I had reserved a room at the Athabasca Hotel. I retrieved my drop bag, left my bike at the control and walked to the hotel, managing to get myself lost in downtown Jasper for a bit. When I finally got there, Roger and Ali were just checking in. After I checked in, I stopped at the vending machine for a few liters of iced tea and other tasty liquids, and climbed up to the second floor. The room was ornate, and very warm. Being in the Rockies, there was no A/C, so I opened a window. After a quick shower, it was off to bed. But not to sleep. Apparently my room overlooked a gathering point for the skateboarding youth of Jasper. I finally gave up and closed the window. Ah, quiet bliss, and to sleep.

Jasper to Beauty Creek 87K (54mi)
4:31am - 8:10am Friday
23.8kph (14.8mph)

I had set an alarm to give myself six hours of sleep but actually awoke a few minutes ahead of time. I had only awakened once before when my right foot had suddenly decided to cramp. Luckily, this had abated quickly and had not recurred. I got up and put myself together, feeling decadent at taking the time to shave, and enjoying clean clothes. When I checked out, the clerk told me that "another riding couple" had had a mix-up with their wakeup call due to the change to Mountain Time and had been awakened an hour later than they wanted. I hoped Roger and Ali had at least enjoyed the extra sleep. A quick walk back to the control and I was soon heading south. With the time change, it was 5:30 in Jasper so that, again, I didn't need any lights. I was riding alone.

As soon as I left Jasper proper I realized that this day would be a lot different than the previous one. My legs had no energy and my muscles were sore. The temperature was cool - mid 40's? - and I was wearing a wool undershirt, a wool jersey, as well as my leg and arm warmers, but no coat or vest. (My vest was the one item that escaped my meticulous planning and my coat was too heavy for the uphill bits I expected this day.) The road to Beauty Creek was nearly deserted except for me and a large number of elk. I wasn't paying the attention I should have been and passed within about six feet of one who was grazing by the side of the road. He didn't seem fazed by this. On the flat stretches I could maintain a reasonable speed, although nothing like the previous day, but whenever I came to a rise I would slow to what felt like a crawl. There were quite a few rises. I did, however, manage to pass probably about a dozen riders, many of whom looked like they might have been on the road for much of the night. This not only made me feel lucky to have gotten the sleep I had, but also gave me a renewed appreciation for what people go through to complete rides like this.

After a couple of hours, I again saw Landon ahead of me and slowly closed the gap. He had left Jasper about 20 minutes ahead of me, I think. We hooked up again at this point and would ride the balance of the course together. He made me aware of how much I was concentrating on the road ahead of me as he continually pointed out wildlife that I had missed. Sheep on one side. A wolf in the ditch on the other. I really needed to smell the flowers. We were both tired, and very happy to pull into Beauty Creek just after 8am.

Beauty Creek to Lake Louise 147K (92mi)
8:30am - 3:16pm Friday
21.7kph (13.5mph)

Carolyn was parked by the side of the road at the entrance road to the hostel, so Landon stopped there. I got off my bike and walked down the graveled hill. This was the only control where I really felt that the mosquitoes were bothersome. When I stepped inside the control, the heat from a wood stove felt about 20 degrees warmer than outside. And the food... Once again I lusted after the oatmeal and pancakes, but turned aside to mix more liquid. Another 20 minute stop and we headed off toward Sunwapta.

Sunwapta. This was what I had been thinking about ever since the ride started. This was reputed to be the fiercest climb of the ride; after it was done we would be at about the half-way point. It wasn't long after leaving Beauty Creek before we arrived at the point where the road canted sharply up. By this time, there was more traffic as well as a number of riders ahead. It wasn't very long before I was down to my lowest gear, standing...and looking for more. I grunted past Roger once and then took a detour into a fairly flat overlook just to get a breather. Coming back out, I wheezed past him again as he said something to the effect of "this is the reason God made triples". I didn't have the breath to agree with him. A little further up, the shoulder widened out into the size of a full traffic lane and I took advantage of it, traversing back and forth to lessen the slope a little. Landon was cruising along, steadily opening a lead on me. I had misread the map/profile and when we reached what I thought was only about a third of the distance up, I found to my delight that I had crested this climb (which is not Sunwapta proper, but certainly the worst part of it). But just as I started to use my weight to my advantage, I had to pull up short. There were a group of sheep on the slope to the left of the road and traffic in my lane had stopped completely to watch them. I very carefully threaded myself between the stopped cars, the sheep, and the oncoming traffic before resuming my hard-earned swoop down the back side of the climb.

I caught up to Landon just about the time we reached the Icefields Centre. The breeze off of the glacier was cold but I didn't mind a bit. We motored on to the actual Sunwapta summit and then had a wonderful ride down the back side, followed by a few rollers before we pulled into the Saskatchewan River Crossing. By this time it was just past noon, and much warmer at this lower elevation. I was starting to question the wisdom of my wool jersey. We met Carolyn again, who was gracious enough to refill my camelback with ice as well as water. For some reason I rarely put ice in my camelback, but on this day it was a real life saver. We spent about 15 minutes there and, as always, I mixed more food. I was feeling tired, but was eager to push on to the second big climb of the day, Bow Summit. Just before we left we talked with Dave Johnson, whom I had also met on both of my TourBCs. It was strange to see him on a single bike instead of his usual tandem. Carolyn asked him about the upcoming climb and he said "you can't miss it--just go down the road, around a bend, and up". So we did.

The first stretch of the climb was hot. After the stop, and drinking a lot of ice water, I just sort of endured it. After a while, things flattened out some for the next 20 or 25K. This was a pleasant interlude. Then we reached the part where it pitched up again. Landon moved smoothly ahead. I got into a zen state where I was counting pedal strokes and waiting for it to end. When it did, I was elated, thinking "this is it, the hardest part of the ride is over". We had a fun ride down the back, although this descent was more frequently interrupted by short rollers than the last one had been. I again enjoyed my weight advantage and pulled ahead of Landon as we approached the turnoff for Lake Louise. When I got to the intersection and turned onto the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH), I slowed and Landon quickly caught up--we rolled into the control together about a quarter after three. My average speed may not have been anything to write home about was still above what I had planned for this leg.

Lake Louise to Castle Junction (16mi) 25K
3:46pm - 4:50pm Friday
23.4kph (14.6mph)

Since I had planned on only two nighttime stops, I had sent my third drop bag to Lake Louise. I was able to change out of my wool clothing into something cooler, as well as to drop off a lot of my gear that I wouldn't need for the short loop to Castle Junction and back. All of this changing and packing and repacking added to my growing fatigue and conspired to stretch my stop at Lake Louise to half an hour. My plan was to ride as light as possible to Castle Junction and back, and then to reload for going forward.

The ride down the Bow Valley Parkway was enjoyable. The trees along the road provided much-appreciated shade from what had become a hot sun. The road, for the most part, looked flat; an illusion that we would discover as we retraced our steps. Shortly after turning on to the Parkway, we passed Charles who was on his way back. A quick wave, and that was the last we saw of him for the remainder of the ride. I was now on the part of the route that I had driven, and soon would be on the part I had ridden before. I felt like things were under control.

Castle Junction to Golden 107K (67mi)
5:00pm - 9:31pm Friday
23.9kph (14.9mph)

When we got to Castle Junction there were two volunteers from the Alberta Randonneurs standing under an awning. Landon and I got our cards signed and were soon ready to go, but I felt a little bad rushing off. The volunteers looked like they really appreciated the company. The trip back up the Parkway revealed that we had been going downhill most of the way south. With the lowering sun dappling the road, it was a beautiful ride but we were not in the best state to enjoy it fully. We passed several riders going in the opposite direction, which made me happy for the volunteers. We also passed a beautiful male elk who was calmly eating at the side of the road. The last little hill before we got back to Lake Louise felt like a (short) mountain.

Once we got into the Lake Louise control (which was not even an official control this time), we had a hard time leaving. I repacked my bags again, picking up some of what I had left the first time as well as my high-intensity discharge (HID) light for later, which I had not carried before this point. As I mixed more food I tried to ignore the people eating the real stuff at the next table. We managed to spend another 30 minutes here before we finally got going towards Golden.

Starting the short climb to Kicking Horse Pass, we began to encounter the heavy traffic on the TCH that would be with us for much of the remainder of the ride. The shoulder was variable, wide and smooth in places, narrow, cracked and broken in others. It felt like a third of the traffic was big trucks and another third RVs or cars pulling travel trailers. When we reached the summit and crossed back into BC, I felt like I had it made, nearly. When I had driven this part of the route, my impression was that it was "all downhill from here", at least till near the end. Riding it would prove to leave a somewhat different impression.

Once over the top, there was a LOT of downhill as we wended our way down the canyon. As advertised, there were also some significant crosswinds. My bike, with its monocoque construction, catches wind from the sides fairly effectively. I was about a third of the way down the longest descent, which must be nearly 10K, when all of a sudden the front end went crazy. Luckily, there were no vehicles close by, as I was all over the road. Some might classify this motion as shimmy, but I was totally out of control. A couple of times it felt like the back end was starting to break loose. I eased my weight as far back as possible and tried to grip the bars as loosely as possible, while at the same time applying the front brakes as hard as I dared. After what seemed like forever, but was probably about 30 seconds, I got it slowed down enough to stop the motion and get things back under control. All except my heart, that is. I pulled over and stopped, checking the bike to see if there were any mechanical problem that might explain what had happened, but there was nothing. Landon, who had been behind me, also stopped. He had seen the whole thing and was as glad as I that it had not ended with him sweeping me up from the roadway. After a minute, we started out again. For the rest of the ride (and probably forever) my love of downhill slopes was tempered by my fear of a recurrence. I rode my brakes a lot.

The rest of our trip down Kicking Horse Canyon was tame by comparison. We stopped about 20K from Golden to put on lights and reflective gear. As we reached the construction area at the western end of the canyon we were starting to feel really beat. For me, I think part of it was the wearing off of the massive adrenaline surge I had had earlier. After we crossed the bridge we were confronted with a steep climb with very narrow, or no, shoulders. We ended up stopping twice in our exhaustion, just to catch our breath. There is one stretch here where concrete cubes, maybe two meters on a side, are stacked up next to the road to three times my height, leaving a very narrow space outside of the fog line. I was standing in my lowest gear when I heard a semi-trailer truck coming up slowly behind me. It passed so close I felt I could have reached out a hand and touched either the concrete wall or the truck.

Finally we crested the climb and began the slide down into Golden. It had become solidly dark by this time and I was glad for my HID light, which puts out a tremendous amount of light. When we got into the town of Golden I managed to make a wrong turn that cost us a couple K, but we recovered and rolled up to the control just after 9:30pm.

     Day 2 - 366K (227mi)
     24.0kph (14.9mph)

There were quite a few people at the Golden control. Dan Hollingshead, the photographer, helped me to bring my bike inside and store it for the night, and then to find my drop bag. I was moving in a fog. Deirdre Arscott, one of the volunteers on TourBC, was working in the kitchen and dished up a heaping plate of mashed potatoes and green beans. They were heavenly. I made a significant dent in the stores of peach juice as well.

For the second day in a row, I had beaten my estimated arrival by two hours which I again planned to spend on extra sleep. I had made reservations at the Ponderosa Motor Inn which was back on the main highway, about three K (mostly uphill) from the control. Dan volunteered to drive me there but Carolyn, who was attending to Landon's needs as usual, had made the decision that she didn't want him sleeping in their van as they both had done the previous night. Knowing that I had reservations but not knowing where, she had called all the lodgings in town until she had found where I had the reservation and had gotten a room for them as well. The three of us jumped into the van (well, eased gingerly is more like it) and drove to the Ponderosa. As I checked in, I tried explaining what we were doing to the owner of the place, but I don't think I made much sense. Or maybe it was just that he did understand and thought I HAD no sense. Whatever. My room, my shower and my bed followed rapidly.

Golden to Revelstoke 149K (93mi)
6:31am - 12:17pm Saturday
25.8kph (16.1mph)

I awoke just before the alarm, after getting another six hours of much-needed rest. Landon and I had agreed on a departure time the previous evening, so after getting myself geared up I waited for their knock on my door. It came on time and we motored back to the control where I retrieved my bike. We hit the road about 6:30. It was another beautiful day as we rode northward on the TCH. The traffic was relatively light. The temperature was cool, especially as we were often in the shade of the mountains to the east. It turned out that in my packing and repacking in Lake Louise, I had left my arm and leg warmers behind. I knew the day was going to heat up but at this time in the morning I sure could have used them. The ride north was pleasant although I could really feel the previous two days in both my legs and my rear.

Once we crossed the Columbia River and turned westward, things changed. I remembered from my drive that there was a climb before the one to Rogers Pass, but the one I remembered paled in comparison to the one I was on. For me, this was the lowest point of the ride. As I slowly ground my way up, I tried to occupy my mind by debating which hurt most: my leg muscles or my behind. I finally decided it was a tie. The climb went on and on. And the descent that followed did nothing to improve my mood. It just reminded me that I could expect to regain all that I was now throwing away as I climbed to Rogers Pass. Even the scenery, which continued to be spectacular, added nothing to my enjoyment today.

When the actual Rogers Pass climb came, I began to feel better. At least this time I knew that the top would be followed by a lot of downhill. I wasn't climbing any better, but I felt better about it. The tunnels were a welcome sign that I was making progress, as I knew they were close to the top. The shade they provided was also welcome; the rising temperatures, both external and internal, were starting to get to me. It was about 10:45 when we finally reached the summit, and pulled into the lodge to take a break.

Carolyn provided ice again, for which I was very grateful. This was going to be a hot day. After a short stop, we started down the western side. Riding my brakes with newfound concern, I watched Landon zoom ahead on the steepest parts while my weight kept me close on the not-so-steep ones. Even though much of the rest of the way to Revelstoke was downhill, I had lost my patience. Whenever the road turned up I swore a blue streak. At this point I was probably not a very good riding companion. I made it worse when, in my impatience to get to Revelstoke, I turned one intersection too early and lead us down a hill that was not the one we were looking for. As we worked our way back up and continued to the correct exit, I felt pretty sheepish. My pre-ride driving had, however, prepared me to successfully thread my way through several twists and turns to the control.

Revelstoke to Enderby 114K (71mi)
12:47pm - 5:38pm Saturday
23.5kph (14.6mph)

When we got off our bikes, Landon searched in vain for Carolyn. It turned out that she had underestimated how long it would take us to get in. Since she had all of his food and supplements, we ended up spending a little longer than planned at this stop. This was, however, her only misstep in three days of quiet, competent service. The control was in an ice-rink. The cool dimly lit room was a wonderful relief from the blazing sun outside-at noon the temperature was already near 40. After about half an hour we mounted up. I had filled a bandana with ice and tied it around my neck, but it was melting fast.

After leaving Revelstoke and recrossing the Columbia River, there was another climb, but I felt mentally ready for it. A good part of it was at least partially shaded, which helped a lot. From the top of that climb, I just started cruising. This was great! The heat, which normally beats me up, was proving to be my friend today. I was doing a good job of managing my fluids and electrolytes. Better than that, the heat was going into my leg muscles; they felt better than they had since the middle of the first day! In addition, much of the first half of this leg was in the shadow of high hills to the south which kept the sun from beating directly on us.

We stopped twice on the way to Enderby. The first stop was at a rest area where Landon just wanted to cool down and get some more water. This was followed by a long stretch of some of the worst pavement of the trip. I tried the shoulder-very rough. I tried the driving lane-just as rough. Every once in a while there would be a smooth patch but unfortunately, that was just what it was-a patch. Once it ended we were back on the rough stuff. Just before Sicamous, we pulled into a gas station for a break. This was the beginning of the breakdown of my carefully constructed nutrition plan. I bought a bottle of iced tea and a can of Coke and polished them both off, as well as refilling my camelback with ice water. We talked to a group of motorcycle riders and commiserated about the heat of the day, the road conditions and the traffic, which had been relentless. Many drivers courteously moved over to give us room, but there were a good number who did not, even when there was no oncoming traffic.

At Sicamous, we turned south off of the TCH for Enderby and the traffic volume dropped dramatically. This was a beautiful ride, with the blue waters of Mara Lake calling to us from the right. I envied the kids being pulled on inner tubes through the cool, refreshing spray. Later we entered farm country; the riding got more monotonous as the afternoon wore on. Just before town, we were passed by a group of four or five riders that looked to have a lot more energy than we did. It was shortly after 5:30 when we pulled up to the drill hall. While we had been riding, at least we had made a little cooling breeze. Standing still, there was no breeze and it was HOT.

Enderby to Salmon Arm 22K (14mi)
6:08pm - 7:07pm Saturday
22.4kph (13.9mph)

I learned later that Vernon, about 35K south of Enderby had set a new high-temperature record for the day, somewhere in the mid-40s. The inside of the drill hall was somewhat cooler than outside, but not much. When I saw the watermelon slices, I just had to have some. With the heat, and the knowledge that another big climb awaited us on the road to Salmon Arm, we dawdled here for another half hour. Finally, reminding ourselves of our 70-hour goal, we got going.

The sun was in our eyes as we slowly climbed up the road that would lead us to Salmon Arm. It wasn't too steep and we made steady, if slow, progress. By the time we got to the top we could already feel things starting to cool a bit as the sun got lower. I was glad to have driven to the Salmon Arm control before. As it was, once we found the building we still had trouble finding the right entrance. This was another ice rink and the cool temperature inside was exquisite.

Salmon Arm to Kamloops 112K (70mi)
7:47pm - 12:34am Saturday
23.4kph (14.5mph)

Throughout the hot afternoon I had been motivating myself with thoughts of having a cool shower in Salmon Arm. Although it turned out that there was no temperature control in the shower, the reality was even better than I had imagined it. My legs felt great, my body felt rejuvenated and I could see the end in sight. I indulged in some more watermelon and a few cookies and basically just lazed around in the cool temperatures. Landon took a shower, too, but then went out to the parking lot where Carolyn was waiting for him. It was forty minutes before I could roust myself out of this comfortable setting and climb back on the saddle.

It was getting toward dusk, and the temperature was now very pleasant. I congratulated myself on the (actually serendipitous) timing of this final leg. We would not have to endure the heat of the afternoon and the heavy traffic of the TCH for that final stretch into Kamloops. But there was no question that this was a LONG leg. And for once, my driving recollections and my current experience matched: there were a lot of rolling hills, too. About an hour out of Salmon Arm we stopped to put on night gear and I remounted my HID light. Although it had a reputed 4-hour battery life, I had never used it for that long and hoped that it would actually last. Up to this point, we had been riding off and on with two or three other riders, but they continued while we fumbled around by the side of the road. I noticed that everything was getting harder to do. When my accursed watch alarm would go off, the act of getting my bottle, opening the top and drinking was a real chore. I had trouble controlling my bike smoothly at the same time.

Because of my new-found legs, I was pulling much of the time. As the evening wore on, I found myself increasingly squirming around trying to find a comfortable sitting position. I would suddenly stand for two or three strokes to ease the pressure and then sit back down just as suddenly. Landon had a full-time job anticipating and compensating for these moves. Near Chase, he was feeling low and decided he needed something with caffeine. We kept our eyes open, but there were few retail establishments along the road. Finally, we spied a motel next to a closed convenience store and pulled in there. Landon saw a man in the parking lot and asked about stores. It turned out he was the owner of the closed one, which he re-opened just for us. I fortified myself with another Coke. I think Landon had a Mountain Dew. As we pulled back onto the road I saw that several other riders had pulled in to take advantage of the "extended hours" the owner had so graciously provided.

The last two hours of the ride were as monotonous as promised. We just kept cranking along the now mostly flat TCH, getting closer and closer to Kamloops. With just a few K to go we were passed by what I think was the same group that had passed us near Enderby. They invited us to jump on, but their pace was just that small amount faster than what we felt we could manage. My lights lived up to their billing, lasting the full time. Finally, we reached the exit for Kamloops and rode through the silent streets to the Curling Club, pulling in at 34 minutes after midnight.

     Day 3 - 398K (247mi)
     25.0kph (15.5mph)

The same group that had passed us was now camped on folding chairs in front of the entrance, enjoying post-ride beers, which looked pretty tempting. Susan Allen took our cards and gave us our medals, while Doug Latornell rounded up some of those beers. What a sweet feeling of accomplishment. I went out and took a position on one of those chairs, savoring the moment.

     Total distance - 1210K (751mi)
     Average speed on bike - 26.2kph (16.2mph)
     Overall average - 68:34 @ 17.6kph (11.0mph)

In retrospect, this ride went amazingly well for me. For once, all of my anal advance planning really paid off, as I feel that I was really able to "plan my ride, and ride my plan". The ride itself was stupendous in all respects: the organization, the volunteers, the route, the scenery, the weather, everything but the traffic. Even the heat which I had feared had turned to my advantage. Even so, when I called my wife the next day I told her that I would never do another 1200-it was just too much. But the memory is an amazing thing. It was only a few days later that I started thinking of where I might ride another 1200K event next summer.

© Jim Joy, 2004