Newsletter - 2009 Archive

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Jenny & Patrick on the organizers' pre-ride
Photo: Lee Ringham

Tour of the Cowichan Valley - Pre Ride Report
by Lee Ringham

The Tour of the Cowichan Valley took place on April 4, 2009. Six intrepid riders - Patrick Wright and Jenny Watson, aboard their randonneuring tandem, Dave McMurchie, Lee Ringham, Ken Bonner and Keith Nichol on singles met on a cool, clear morning in Chemanius BC. Unfortunately two groups of three - Jenny, Patrick and me and Ken, Keith and Dave were standing around at opposite ends of the street, each group wondering where exactly the other was, which slightly delayed things!
Once we sorted that out and said hello, Jenny handed out route cards and we were off. Keith and Ken immediately roared off, at approximately 7:15 while Dave, Jenny, Patrick and I followed somewhat more sedately at about 7:30. What was pleasant morning standing around - cool, clear and quiet at -1o C, turned out to be a downright chilly first hour! With slightly numb fingers, cold toes and frozen ears, we pedalled sedately through Crofton, Maple Bay, and Cowichan Bay before we stopped at the bakery in Cowichan Bay for half a dozen raisin buns. (At 6 for $7 they are worth it!) After a few minutes rest we pushed onto the first control at Shawningan Lake, arriving roughly 15 minutes before the control closed. This close shave was due to the late start, a flat and the aforementioned bun stop. We were met there by a horde of cookie selling Girl Guides that had strategically staked out all four corners of the crossroads. Fortunately we managed to escape unscathed using the excuse that we could not carry cookies on our bikes.

By the time we arrived at the Glenora control the temperature had risen considerably and we were able to shed layers in anticipation of the climbing up to 'the Lake'. Due to navigational issues in Duncan, Jenny, Patrick and I separated from Dave and decided to ride a few extra kilometres, before sorting ourselves out. Curses on local knowledge! Having lived in Duncan for several years, I knew the way to 'the Lake', unfortunately my direct route did not match the official one. Once the bitter recriminations stopped, our group of three backtracked to the point at which we deviated and we resumed the ride.

We rolled up the Old Lake Cowichan Highway aided by a slight tailwind and proceeded onto Gordon Bay, where we rejoined Dave. The entrance the campsite was torn up and full of potholes, the only bathroom was a long drop and the wind blowing off the lake was chilly. Not pleasant! Accordingly, our stop was brief and the four of us headed back towards Lake Cowichan, where Jenny sensibly suggested a cup of coffee and a snack would be a good idea.

Once refuelled, the last 40 km past relatively quickly and uneventfully and the four of us rolled up to the Dancing Bean Cafe in Chemanius some 10.5 hours after starting. Dave and I were happy to have finished our second ever 200 km brevet and both started planning our first 300!

My wife Cathy and I will once again be at the Gordon Bay control and we will hopefully provide a slightly more hospitable setting that we encountered. I am not sure about the weather, the road and out-house will likely be unchanged, but at the least we will have food, drink and smiling faces! We hope to see you there!


April 9, 2009