Newsletter - 2003 Archive

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Island Riding

Cheryl Lynch


Having just returned from Vancouver Island and still feeling elated from another "breath-taking" (in more ways than one) ride there, I am … procrastinating, or no, torn (!) between entering the club membership forms from the Social and writing a blurb about Stephen and Carol's own little paradise for the newsletter (oh, don't worry the memberships will get entered..).

I think I understand how one goes about earning 9 or 10 Super-Randonneur medals, as our esteemed ride organizers have done. The roads are idyllic, some with so few cars you can forget that cars drive on them too. The scenery is spectacular. The Populaire route had several great views of Georgia Strait from exotic corners of Nanaimo, we crossed several raging rivers, fruit trees were blossoming and hobby farms are incredibly interesting to check out as you pedal past. Is there really indoor fox hunting in Cowichan Valley? There are monkeys and emus, we saw them.

It is said (and I can corroborate) that island rides are excellent training for PBP. Why, the un-initiated might ask? Well, as Keith would say, if there is a hill anywhere nearby, the route will go over it. A "Stephen- route" is one where you see a hill in the distance down one fork, and flats down the other and you just know which fork you will be taking. Okay, maybe you take the flat fork on the 200, but you take the hill on the 300.

So how much climbing is there, you ask? Well it seems nobody is sure. I measured 3100 feet or so on the Populaire, which Stephen said was too low. More like 4000, he said. Great I think, going into the 200 km brevet, this weekend has only another 1000 feet of climbing in twice the distance. Susan tells me Stephen told her the Populaire was 3000, so we ask Stephen and he says 3500. Okay, an extra 1500. I should be fine.

Since Susan has been keeping our Sunday rides at race pace all winter, I suggest we try to ride with Ken Bonner for as long as we can. The good news (!) at registration was that Ken has the flu so will be taking it easy. Sarah and John somehow got wind of the plan, and also having survived the winter training rides, are nowhere to be seen as the ride starts. I go to the front thinking, just try to pass me, and hear Susan and Ken chatting behind me. Soon I am pretty much anaerobic, and yes they are still chatting. Finally Ken does pass and we latch on. In fact, I think we hung on for a couple of kilometres, but only because Ken seemed to be slowing down for us at the top of the two hills we hammered up after him. I think he mentioned that the 50 km to the first control at Shawnigan Lake was "all downhill." I guess, if you discount the "all uphill" parts.**

Rolling is more the descriptor I would use. Which is also how PBP is described. Personally I like rolling hills. I'm convinced that they train recovery, like fartlek training I guess.

Another really great part of the Island 200 is the grey Volvo at Youbou. We were all happy to see Sharon`s smiling face (and banana bread and coffee) although Roger missed one of the best days of weather that ride has ever seen.

Amazingly Ken was still at the finish when we arrived (guess he really was sick), and the number on his altimeter seemed to confirm what my legs had been trying to tell me. 6100 feet. Or maybe he did a couple of extra hills. Hmm.. maybe he helps Stephen invent these courses? Somehow I don't think Stephen needs any extra encouragement.

Anyhow to make a lengthening story short (the membership forms are staring at me), if you haven't had the opportunity to take in the early season Vancouver Island rides…. there is still always the 300!! I am not sure how much climbing, 10,000 is just one of the numbers I have heard. Oh, and it is always dry (this year at least). Many thanks to Stephen and Carol for all their fantastic support!!

** I should mention that one person did stick with Ken through the "downhill" stretch, and he also came in very handy in keeping our train running for the remainder of the ride- Thanks Mike. And Keith, of course.