|Newsletter - 2009 Archive|
It's a "report" from last year's (2008) August 200 on the Island.
Kevin... August 16, 2008
Photo: Stephen Hinde
Alimento en una
The date August 16, 2008 is significant for three reasons. First, it is the 31st anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Second, it was Madonna's 50th birthday. And finally, it was the date of the Tour of Nanaimo & Cowichan 200. Now, let me say this about Elvis: although I am a Beatles fan, I'm just not quite old enough to have developed a genuine affection for Elvis' music. Many riders in the club are a bit older than me and will appreciate the influence of Elvis on the Beatles better than I, and would have better witnessed the transition from the rockabilly-influenced beginnings of rock and roll through to the prog-rock leanings of Sergeant Pepper a decade later. (Harold Bridge, of course, can lay claim to having met Georges Frederick Handel whilst both lived in London during the early 1700s, but I won't even try to compete with that.) As for Madonna, I ask anyone reading this to please not disclose my whereabouts to her.
This is actually supposed to be a ride report on the Island Summer 200, but I find it a bit tedious to merely record obvious details like weather (hot), terrain (hilly), and number of riders (six). Rather, I'd like to focus on what made this particular ride unique of which there were three things: 1) The organizers, 2) A particular stretch of road, 3) An experience involving Mexican food that is not likely to be repeated again soon. I will discuss each of these in order.
One of the best parts about riding any event organized by Stephen and Carole Hinde are the organizers themselves. They faithfully patrol the route throughout the event, seeing riders through as many controls as they can, and rolling up in their car alongside riders between controls to make sure all is well and warning of what lay ahead. At one point, they eased their car up alongside and through the open passenger window Stephen asked how I enjoyed the hills I'd just grunted up. I told him I enjoyed them immensely. "Good!" he said. "Then you're going to love this next part!"
The particular stretch of road where this exchange occurred was at the start of Genoa Bay Road, a 7.3 km stretch of non-stop hills at every conceivable grade from steep to stupid. There was some relief from the relentless climbing as the road is mostly engulfed by a leafy canopy of shade, and on this particular day which was very hot, the cooling effect of having the sun blocked overhead was enough of a relief that I really didn't mind that the climb underfoot was something above ten per cent. In fact, I found myself actually slowing down whenever there was shade to be had regardless of the grade. In double fact, whenever a stretch of road was shaded, I secretly hoped that the grade of the climb would increase dramatically so that I could slow down and linger in the relative coolness.
Numerous times I manufactured excuses to get off the bike while in the shade just to enjoy not being cooked to death. When one does not want to lose face, even to oneself, the reasons for stopping become rather lame, but one needn't feel guilty as long the excuses one makes for dismounting are creative. I think I acquitted myself in the creativity department reasonably well; among the things I said to myself immediately prior to getting off the bike were:
"Is that a yellow-bellied, red-throated, European barn swallow on that branch over there?"
"I believe they're playing the national anthem."
"Better check those dust caps."
Aside from the lovely scenery of forests, inland lakes, and rural back roads, the visuals of this particular ride were enhanced by the sight of hundreds of other cyclists riders all going in the opposite direction to which our six participants were headed. Apparently, there was a charity ride of some sort happening. As I passed by their gathering place at a park near some bay (I forget where, exactly), there were hundreds of cyclists all picnicking and having a lovely time. I searched the scene for a hint of exactly what organization was sponsoring the event and spotted a huge banner stretched between two trees that read, "S.P.M.S". Now, I know what PMS is, but I didn't realize that there was a society for that much less one that holds charity rides.
I caught up with the other two Vancouver-based riders, Nigel and Darren, at the final control as they had finished about a half-hour ahead of me. We decided to ride back to the Departure Bay Ferry together and stop for Mexican food on the way. After locating a nice little restaurant on a hillside overlooking the bay where the ferries pull in, we ordered our food from the comfort of an outdoor patio table. Then we noticed that the boat we thought was going to leave at 7:30 was arriving thirty minutes earlier than we'd anticipated which meant it was going to leave a 7:00 PM and that we wouldn't have time to eat without missing the ferry. We quickly asked the waitress to make our order to take out. Some ten minutes later we found ourselves standing on the sidewalk outside the restaurant each with a styrofoam plate wrapped in tinfoil in one hand, a bicycle in the other. Riding a bike down a steep hill with one hand is difficult at the best of times, but while balancing a plate of burritos with the other was something we quickly realized wasn't going to work without risking broken bones or, worse, spilt salsa.
Nigel figured he could put all three plates of food on top of his handlebar-mounted Berthoud bag and could hold them in place with one hand while he rode with the other. If anyone can ride one-handed downhill without spewing the pavement with guacamole it would be Nigel, but even so I didn't want to see him risk his safety much less my dinner. I happened to have a length of thin elastic cord that I carry in case I ever need to strap something to the outside of my saddle bag and that proved just the ticket to secure the stack of alimento caliente y picante.
We made the ferry with ten minutes to spare and, I think I can safely say, had the best tasting meal of all passengers dining on that particular sailing. There must have been something in that food, by the way, as we had no trouble riding the very hilly 25 km along Marine Drive and over the Lion's Gate Bridge once back on the other side.
April 30, 2009