|Newsletter - 2010 Archive|
This story was originally on Steve's own web space, now off line. In June 2012 he transferred the story here. [EF]
Attempt number two at completing the Hills are Alive started ominously with a steady drizzle as I left home for the Vic West start. The rain stopped by the time the ride began, fooling all of four of us into proceeding. I was determined not to make last year's mistake of hammering the first fifty kilometers, only to pay for it by DNFing. By the time we were around the harbor a light drizzle had started and accompanied us as we made our way along the waterfront to Mount Doug. The pace was relaxed as we all rode together and got reacquainted. The weather improved as we headed to Sidney, Jim Fidler and Nigel Aspinal picking up the pace with the lure of the blue patches of sky. We all came together at Control # 1, where bananas and muffins were offered by Mark Ford. This would be the last I would see of Jim and Nigel until just before dark as I entered Sooke.
The weather stayed cool, but dry, as the peninsula slipped away and the climbs in the highlands began. When I arrived at the Millstream gas station (control # 2), Mike and Steven Croy were already waiting for Brynne Croy. Mike advised me she had fallen back a bit by the time I passed them (Mike & Steven) playing on the beach near the airport. As I pulled away a light drizzle decided to accompany me to the highway, only to dry up then return part way up the Malahat. The summit was dry(ish), the weather gods toying with my determination. Once I had my speed up, going down the North Slope, the clouds unloaded what felt like sleet stinging my cheeks. On the approach to the Mill Bay turnoff I cursed my luck convinced the dark clouds over the Cowichan Valley meant more of the same for the next hour. Contemplating a ferry ride home via Brentwood, I decided sit out the weather in Mill Bay with a hot bowl of soup. With that the weather cleared and a few hundred meters past the ferry dock was the secret control complete with Mark, Mikael Jansson, Mike, Brynne and Steven. Brynne informed me she had been overcome by a bout of common sense and that now third place was mine for the taking. The gauntlet firmly dropped, the sun peaking from behind the clouds, I let my testosterone levels rise up and throw out anything looking vaguely like common sense.
The soup stop was put off to Hillary's in Cowichan Bay, only to arrive as the last bowl was sold in front of me. After a waterside picnic that depleted my stores of munchies, plan C became Timmy's chicken noodle at control # 3. As I turned up Lakes road the distinct sound of a dry chain began its rhythmical nagging. EXPERIANCE CYCLING in Duncan came to my aid. I walked in asking to purchase some chain oil and borrow a rag. Upon hearing I was doing "the Hills", the mechanic offered to oil the chain gratis, mentioning "Graham Fishlock" in passing. After stocking up on snickers and poweraide, I was happy to discover a tailwind would accompany me along the Shawnigan portion of the ride. Dave MacMurchie had accompanied me last year on the climb up from the lake, advising me of the number of "steppes" to reach the highway. Good advice then, better advice today as the weather was taking its toll on my determination.
The rain started in earnest as I began my descent of the South slope, only long enough to chill my hands so that when it came time to turn towards Sooke I would be looking for the common sense that I left on the roadside in Mill Bay. As I was searching, Brynne's words came back, "...you have to at least go further than last year." What were my options? A bus should I breakdown, my cousins should I burn out. The ride through Humpback was what I needed to rejuvenate my spirits; the forest embraced me as I spun along. Alas Sooke road shattered the moment, but at least the rain held off and it was still light. This was important as Melissa had informed me the battery for the light I borrowed would only last 2 to 2 1/2 hours and my target of finishing by 9 PM was off by at least that. Restocking at the store before Sooke River Bridge I realized just how far off when the clerk informed me they would soon be closed at 8 PM.
The short term goal was to get to the Kemp Lake Road turnoff while I could still see the sign. Having been warned of the hassle of missing the turn and aware of the battery time crunch I was concerned. As luck would have it I flatted on a staple on Golledge. Checking my watch I decided this would not be "busride" mechanical DNF. A quick change and I was back spinning along. The distance countdown started when I turned on Otterpoint Road. The light faded in the last kilometer to the Kemp Lake turnoff, but my night vision had adjusted and I headed down to #14 without aid from my headlight. The plan would be to save battery wherever I could and in this light the run down Kemp Lake Road was doable. Signed off at the cafe for Control # 4, I was determined to complete. Forgetting to top up fluids at the cafe posed a small problem as I found out Sooke rolls up the streets after 9 PM.
Having cycled Gillespe, East Sooke, etc. many times before in the daylight I devised a plan to use my MEC blinky to highlight the shoulder line while climbing, then to use the headlamp for the flats and down hills. Taillights worked fine so they were no trouble. This worked extremely well giving me an eerie ride through Metchosin, while still being able to make time that was quickly becoming valuable. Ironically, at one point a woman pulled up beside me, in her car, demanding directions as she was lost trying to find her way to Victoria. The weather gods were laughing too hard at my lighting predicament to bother with rain. Lagoon road made for a wild ride down to the beach where the light from the city allowed blinky riding on Ocean Boulevard. I was truly enjoying the night ride. Crossing the bridge required lighting as did the spin down the last hill to the Island Highway. Turning onto the Island Highway there was plenty of light so back to blinky, only to see two police cars waiting on the side of the road, so back to the headlight which now began to signal the battery was dying. We had made it to the city lights and all was well, except I had run out of fluids on Ocean Boulevard and the Colwood Strip closed up at 11 PM. Not sure if I would bonk, I was able to top up at the gas station before heading into View Royal. Arriving just before midnight, I was elated to find Mark waiting at the Finish and apologized for my late arrival. A dry cycle home for an accumulated distance of 322 km topped off my day. What an adventure!
The Hills are Alive 300 Brevet Pin
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April 26, 2010