Newsletter - 2001 Archive

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Serpents on the Lower Mainland 200

Ian Stephen


Happy thanks to Dan McGuire and all who helped with the April 22 200 km through Ferndale. It was a beautiful and interesting route that showed me some great parts of Washington State. The route also taught me that Ferndale is not somewhere near Mission!

Crossing the border always causes me worry. Not that I have any reason to worry. I think it's just due to an overactive imagination that is always going 'what if....' My border crossing strategy is to smile lots and look extra harmless. It seemed to work and I was sent on my way with a minimum of questions. I had a moment's panic when Bob Bailey good naturedly berated a border guard about the lack of bike racks. Fortunately it was a friendly border guard and nobody was strip searched or shot.

I had good company on the ride and it was quite an adventure what with the torrential rain and so many flats that one rider dubbed our group 'Team Flat-out'. The worst damaged was Gerry Nichol's, unfortunately a 27" tyre. A couple of riders had spare tyres, but all 700C. I commented that having 27" tyres was akin to owning a Macintosh computer. Well, guess what kind of computer Gerry has! After valiant attempts to make his tyre work, we finally left him in the middle of nowhere. I refrained from bringing up the movie Deliverance as we parted and Bob Bose was kind enough to drive down and pick Gerry up before any further ill came his way.

The rest of our little group finished the ride, in spite of a frightening spill by Simon Goland at that tight turn in the gully bottom on 56 Ave. We finished wet, cold and tired with about 7 minutes to spare. Why isn't there an award for closest to the limit without going over?

The most significant lesson I took from this ride was about flats. One of the many flats we had was my front tyre. It went flat quite abruptly and as I examined the tube I found what looked like the twin punctures of a serpent's bite! 'Another sign of the current US administration' I thought, but then some unromantic sort ruined the moment by suggesting it was a pinch-flat. 'Hmmm, strange...' I thought, having noticed no cause for a pinch-flat. I should have clued in, as whenever I think 'Hmmm, strange...' it is a sure sign that further thinking is in order. However, I missed the clue and hastened to patch the tyre and get under way. Sure enough, when I pumped up the tyre I heard that telltale 'hisss' (and it wasn't the serpent). More time was lost while I took the tube out again to patch the original puncture which had dropped the rim onto the tyre and caused the 'serpent's bite' that I had patched the first time.

Next time, if I don't actually see the serpent in the road I'll know to look for the triple puncture the devil's fork.