|Newsletter - 2000 Archive|
This ride was scheduled for June 17/18, 2000. Since no-one in the region qualified for this ride, except yours truly, it was another case of "the lone rider on the prairies." The forecast called for good weather, mainly cloudy conditions and W and SW winds for the next two days. A definite bonus, since most of the 335 km of the first day would be cycled eastward. Leaving Fort St. John at 5 am first going north, then an eastward steep descent into, and a similar ascent out of the Beatton River Valley, all within the first 15 kilometers. Definitely awake by now. Rolling along at a good pace to Goodlow [control # 1] near the BC Alberta border in no time. An hour or so into Alberta, another steep decent into, and out of the Clear River valley this time. Incidentally, a highways flag person was wondering if I was going in the right direction, since cyclists on this road are a rare commodity indeed. I indicated that I knew exactly where I was going.
After a brief pit stop at the Cleardale general store, I found myself competing with a coyote who was racing alongside in the ditch in order to find a safe escape into the bush. Finally it found its way. A lunch break at Hines Creek [control # 2] was certainly welcome. Then an hour into the wind, followed by a stop at Fairview [control #3] to have one of the cranks tightened. Eastward again with a great tail wind, at times reaching speeds between 30 and 40 kph. [O Shelley, now I know why you wrote your "Ode to the West wind"]. Meanwhile large thunderstorms to the south moved in the same direction as I did, making me wonder where and when our paths would cross for a heavenly shower. Luckily we did not! The downpour reached Peace River [control # 4] well before I did. Just when I thought that I had escaped the weather gods for the day, they had a surprise. I should know better by now. The next 65 km of the course went south; but this was now also the wind direction, which means: where the wind was coming from! The laws of physics dictate that when two objects travel in opposite direction toward one another, friction results. The laws are right! This tough section took me to Girouxville [control #5], a small French community in the Alberta Peace region. Here I found a small hotel in a hamlet which definitely had seen better days, but who complains about a $ 25.00 per night charge. Unfortunately, the grocery store and hotel kitchen had both closed. Luckily a local snack-bar provided the essential caloric requirements. With something like eight hours in hand on the ride so far, a sleep break was well deserved. Or at least I thought so.
Daybreak came early and at 4 am the wheels were rolling again, this time eastward for a distance of some 200 km with a steady west and head wind. O blast -- no pun intended -- why couldn't Shelley write an "Ode to the East wind ?" I guess as a poet, he must not have been into randonneuring! How could I forget. A brief stop at Rycroft [control # 6] and onward to Dawson Creek through miles and miles of bush, some farmland and little or no settlement. While the wind persisted, I decided to ignore it. A sprinkle of rain and a flat tire, just as I was developing some 'bragging thoughts' about those great tires. Another great wisdom acquired: "don't praise the quality of the tires before the ride is over." [A few days after the ride I found out that I also rode part of this brevet with a broken rear axle.] Soup and pasta in Dawson Creek [control #7] tasted awesome. Another 75 km or so to go. Less wind, but more hills. I started to figure out how many ups and downs to go - and that I would make it. The long downhill 'sail' into the Peace River valley was sheer joy, followed by one more uphill battle out of Taylor. Two of our kids greeted me at the top the last hill: how sweet! The last few kilometers would be easy. Then the 'infamous' Baldonnel railway underpass where the course goes west. The west winds picked up again [oh Shelley!], and rain started to come down now. The law of benefits of fenders was also proven! At 7:20 p.m. I checked in at the last control [# 8] knowing that the 622 km had been completed in 38 hours and 20 minutes. An average speed of 16.2 kph including all the breaks. Pure riding time has been calculated at about 30 hours for an average speed of about 21 kph. What a ride. Recovery time!