Newsletter - 2001 Archive

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A Lumpy Flatlander

Harold Bridge


What's with this Tim Pollock guy? For years I have turned up at brevets, collected control card and route sheet, stuffed the latter away and never looked at it, 'cause I know where I'm going. Then this year, I turn up to find there is an optional route over the hills instead of around them. But I had to waste time reading the route sheet! Seriously though, Tim has done a grand job of introducing some fresh roads into our catalog. That coupled with the almost perfect conditions (the wind swung from east to west a bit too soon) made for a specatular wynde-up (mustn't have the same word twice in one sentence) to our 2001 activities.

A broken bracket on my front mudguard had caused me to use another guard. It was a wider one and caused an irritating rattle on the underside of the brake bolt mounted head lamp. We were promised good conditions for the day of the event, so I decided to remove the 'guards altogether. Besides, after the spring series 'guards are optional anyway. Aren't they? So, a first; 'Arold riding a brevet sans 'guards!

I had bought some expensive Continental 3000 700Cx25 tyres. Over the Labour Day weekend, with loaded Carradice saddlebag, I had been happy to use them. But, in comparison to my Michelin Axial Pros they felt "dead". So I changed the tyres ready for the "Flatlander. After a frustrated season due to running a yellow light on Easter Monday, I wanted to feel the final 200 was worth getting up early for.

Well hydrated, well fed and well slept I turned up at Albion Hall c/w $15.00 cheque and a Waiver form already filled out. Got there in time to see the double arrival of Bob Marsh, second time after he had been home for the Hall key!

The damp mist made it advisable to start in tights. Before long my specs were down on the end of my nose. I have learnt that when fog seems to be getting thicker and thicker and I am having to go slower and slower it is worth using the windscreen wipers or putting the specs down one's nose! Those unfortunates who can't see with out specs are in trouble at such times. Wayne Harrington fell foul of the situation at the intersection of Riverside and Townshipline when the stop sign suddenly appeared out of the fog. He rode the rest the way with a bloodied knee.

The word "GO", more or less on time at 07:02, found me at the front and ready to drag myself up that deceptive climb of Albion Hill. No worries, heart rate up to 148 straight away. I felt I was moving along quite smartly but all the same there was a steady stream of the other 60 or so riders whipping past at a great rate of knots.

A fast ride to Mission is a good news/bad news thing. One always has to consider the return trip when the wind has built up. But the fog through Matsqui was the worst restriction and I was glad I had chosen the "Highlander" option as it took me over Sumas Mountain thus avoiding that nasty stretch of Hwy 11 and the Abbotsford mess. Neither of these are pleasant at the best of times and certainly not in the fog.

At this point I seemed to be on the same average speed as Derek Shackleford and Frances Caton, although we had different ways of maintaining it. Thus we were passing and re-passing each other. But not on the 4 km climb up to Straiton (where you turn right!). Frances is a very nice person, very pleasant to ride and talk with. But get her on a relatively long climb and then her true colours are shown. It's evil the way she just glides away from one and disappears up the hill!

Once over the top I found them shedding clothes (not all of them) and a brisk 75 kph down to Kilgard was exhilarating. I too felt it time to stop and disrobe. But my brevet format is to keep stops to an absolute minimum and if I could stay over-dressed until the first control at Popkum then so much the better.

Where the route sheet came in useful was in turning off Industrial Way onto Old Orchard Rd. This was a brand new set of roads to me. From turning off Keith Wilson at Chadsey Rd through to turning onto Schweyey Rd enroute to Chilliwack, I was in unknown territory for about 14 km. Although much of Industrial Way is right alongside Hwy 1 it is a very quiet road at weekends. As I knew Chilliwack Mountain Road where it goes north from Lickman I had assumed that Old Orchard Road was some sort of connector at that end of Chilliwack Mtn Road. Luckily, I was keeping my eyes open and saw the sign "Old Orchard Road" pointing to the left and north. It is a delightful road that goes round the back of Chilliwack Mountain to join the latter road close by the River. But, when the road is unknown the series of false summits can create some frustration for an over geared (39x28=37") OAP! Add to that the Caton's precise timing in coming along as we hit the climb and doing her disappearing trick again and you can understand I was happy get into Chilliwack.

As I turned off First Av onto Broadway Gordy Cook appeared from nowhere (late start due to Albion ferry) and accused me of going off route. I had to explain the Highlander thing to him. A group of us got together for that pleasant ride along Hope and Camp River Roads where we were looking for Bustin Road. But both Gordy and I were "Bustin" and that led to a break up of the group. I came across them disrobing. But being about 10 km from the control I pressed on. Arrived at Popkum Market with Lyle Beaulac to find my Nemisis wasting time there. I removed tights, undershirt and socks and left them in Sharon Street's Volvo.

I got away in about 10 minutes with Derek and Frances. It had been a delightful struggle up that gentle slope to the control. I say delightful because it meant we had a tail wind for much of the return and so it proved. Straight into the 90" (48x14) top gear and up to about 40 kph with no trouble. But a mental block prevented me from hanging onto their back wheels as we headed down Annis Road. My legs were trying to tell me something. The inside 4 hours for 89 km had had some detrimental effect on my legs and it seemed the next 29.4 km to Pointe Vista should be used for recovery and they took about 70 minutes, about 25 kph.

Peter Lysne gave me a 12:24 at Pointe Vista and I felt that with a riding average of 21.5 kph I could afford some apple pie and ice cream. When I came out of the café the average was down to 20.5, time to go! But with the unknown quantity of Majuba I was reluctant to try and make up too much time. As it turned out, tackled from the east, Majuba isn't too bad at all. It ascends in a series of steps and so recovery between the grunts is possible. But it is a swift descent to a nasty rail crossing and a stop sign where it rejoins our more usual route.

By 2nd Av in Huntingdon I felt a sit down in the grass while I ate half my emergency sandwich of Dempster bread, peanut butter, honey and cheese would be worthwhile. Another 5 minutes gone. Along Huntingdon Road I passed Rita and Tim Pollock doing their "Lung Trek" as they do every year. It was a chance for me to complain about having to read route sheets!

The ride along Zero Av was tough enough to be respected and I did, in a 64" gear. Another stop just before Hwy 13 for the rest of my sandwich and I faced that wearying drag up to Aldergrove. Along there I came across Derek and Frances changing a punctured tube. Otherwise I doubt I would have seen them again before the finish.

My progress over the final 25 km was erratic as I tried to make use of every fast bit and struggled to deal with my dying legs on the inclines. My sights had been lowered to 9 hours 30 minutes and from 72nd Av I could see that was not on. Even so, it was a bit of a surprise when Neil Jorgenson appeared from nowhere and glided past on River Road, under the Fort.

Bob Marsh gave us a finishing time of 9:37, my fastest since an 8:55 in 1991. The 9:37 included an exceptional amount of time off the bike by my usual standards. About 50 minutes I think, twice the usual. Bob also gave me a "pin". That was the main reason for riding. The committee decided to use my design this year and I wanted one.

When I got off my bike the first thing I had to do was remove my wooden soled sprinters' shoes. Although the shoes were beautifully comfortable throughout the ride, as soon as I stood outside the "Fort" I suffered extreme pain in my foot.

Of the 48 entries in the 200 only 6 chose the "Highlander": Eric Fergusson, John Bates and Danelle Laidlaw ont' tandem, Frances, Derek and me. Apparently David Blanche had intended (He says?) to ride the Highlander but was with a group (He says?) that were doing the little girls' ride!

I feel very fortuneate to be able to ride an event like this. Surprisingly, the 26 days I spent in Royal Columbian Hospital, April 16 -May 12 did me a lot of good. The food, by comparison with the popular concepts, was good and gave my system a chance to get purified. I dropped at least 10 lbs and quickly put about 5 back on as I got some strength back.