Newsletter - 2001 Archive

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The "S.R" That Didn't

Harold Bridge


As this might well be read by the uninitiated "S.R." refers to a Super Randonneur medal awarded each year by Audax Club Parisien. To get one requires the plaintiff to ride, in one season, four brevets or events: 200 km, 300 km, 400 km, 600 km. All have time limits based upon a minimum event speed of 15 kph. Note "event speed:" not riding speed. You can stop as long as you like but make sure you get to the next control before it closes. There are upper speed limits as well and they are in excess of 30 kph.

Once the 400 was completed it was a logical step to take on the 40 hour challenge of the 600 two weeks later. In fact there isn't much point in enduring a 400 unless one intends to go on for the 600.

Two (Ed: Harold and Wayne Harrington) started August 26th at 05:00 in Port Coquitlam and rode the final 16.5 km of the route to the official start in Burnaby, and arrived in time to join the other seven for the official start at 06:00. The cruel route coordinator had us grunting over Coquitlam's hump before we could get rolling along Hwy 7 toward Mission and the first control in Abbotsford, (80 km for the early starters) about 11 km south of Mission. Across the 49th parallel and the last 35 km of the ride to the next control at Sedro Woolley (146 km) were into the teeth of a strong wind. Bob Bose caught up when two of us stopped at Acme Café. From that point on the three of us stayed together for most of the ride.

Newhalem, a company town for Seattle's hydro electric power source, is set in what are called the American Alps. But in reality the mountains are the Cascades. Newhalem has a store and the staff are quite used to requests for signatures, stamps and recorded times on brevet cards. Most of the 87 km from Sedro Woolley were with a tailwind to help with the elevation gain. The 36 km ride back to Rockport was after the wind had dropped for the three tailenders. It might have been fast but for the fact a stop was called for in Marblemount for a meal. As a result, the 300 km point, Darrington, wasn't reached in the hoped for 15 hours but in 16:15 instead. The ride to the next control was on a steady decline as we were heading toward the coast from the mountains. But in the face of headlights speed is difficult to assess and the 51 km to Arlington Motor Inn took almost three hours. But that did include dealing with a debris induced pinch flat. As luck would have it right by where it happened was a fully illuminated, but empty, sawmill. Lots of light by which to change the tube! Keith Fraser, resting after his 58 hour ride in the previous week's Boston-Montreal-Boston, was waiting on our arrival and he signed our cards at 00:26 Sunday morning. Four bed places and 5 riders. I slept on the floor as penance for my snoring. What was Réal's penance?

Up at 03:30, breakfast next door at Denny's & away at about 04:00 into a cold pre-dawn. We had gone about 27 km before Réal & Karen got away from us three slowuns. They had arrived at the motel nearly three hours before us and were sound asleep when we arrived. Once over the Swinomish Channel Bridge it was time to turn left onto the Whidbey Island branch of Hwy 20 and that proved hairy, even early on a Sunday morning. Second breakfast at Country Corner put me well behind the others and they were just leaving Oak Harbor (433 km) as I got there, about 15 minutes inside the 09:49 deadline.

Sharing a narrow shoulderless road with RVs isn't nice and I was thankful to get back to Country Corner where Bob and Wayne were waiting for me. Turning north at Oak Harbor should have been a relief in that almost all the remaining distance should have been with a tail wind. But it wasn't and we were plodding along. But once we had turned off Hwy 20 the Bay View-Edison Road is quite pleasant, quiet and rural. Of course we were heading for that spectacular ride along Chuckanut Drive. It clings to the cliff side and dips and soars through the trees. Coming as it does at around the 500 km mark the slopes are somewhat magnified by our legs' and it can be a grovell. But we had something else in wait for us.

The powers that be had decided Chuckanut needed a face-lift and were preparing for a new surface. Space at the side of the road through there is at a minimum so the machine that scars the old surface goes in one end and works right through the whole way! Thus we were treated to about 14 km of "brrrrr, thump, brrrr" I remembered something I read about the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

Just hammer them hard, you float across the tops of the indentations. As a result, while I had strength I did just that as well as letting the bike go on the descents. It woke me up and I even started laughing. I also caught Bob who was having a miserable time. Wayne on his fat slicks had long gone. To add insult to injury Bob punctured and the Bellingham (512 km) deadline sort of took a hike further up the road. But we made it with about 10 minutes to spare.

The ride from Bellingham to Mission is usually quite fast. We had a northeaster to contend with. To deduct from the available time I had to stop and rest due to my ill advised position shift. I've never been so sore. Bob suggested we get to the border and weigh our options. We did. There was about 44 minutes to do the 17 km to Mission Control (569 km). Normally feasible, but given our condition and the unrelenting northeast wind; Bob phoned Shirley before we went to the Huntingdon pub for a meal and a pint. We said farewell and I staggered up to the Bakerview Inn. Very slow ride home on Monday via Mount Lehman, Fort Langley and the "Billy Miner".

Still recovering Friday Sept 1. Today, I installed a 9.5 cm stem in place of the 10.5 cm I always thought was a 10 cm. Let's see if that was worth the money.

Just as well I had to disassemble that complex set up. The Ergopower gear cable was fraying. "It's an ill wind…….."

PS (Monday Sept 4, "Labour Day"). New shorts, saddle down and back; 'bars one centimeter closer on the new stem and yesterday's 124 km around the Fraser Valley were a joy. But despite my attention to detail the Ergopower gear levers were tending to jam and resist changing. It seems the hood can twist and create a stoppage.