|Newsletter - 2011 Archive|
Early Bird 200: Sasquatch Stomper
I’ve learned that there are two kinds of Fraser Valley brevet routes.
The first kind are navigationally-intensive rambles through the farmland and hilly scenery of the Fraser Valley. If you get lost, you can find pockets of the valley where the charming little 12-toed inhabitants speak a dialect of English that includes such words as “begone”, “ye”, and “blackguard”. When asked for directions, these diminutive valleyfolk will indicate that they have no idea that road access to the outside world even exists.
I really like that kind of ride. I have two 12-toed wives in Miracle Valley from the time I took a wrong turn off of Sylvester road on the Hot Gold brevet during last year’s Super Week.
The second kind of Fraser Valley ride is where you pick a long road and ride 100 km down it and then turn around and ride back.
Sasquatch Stomper (I love this name. Don’t just read it; visualize it.) is emphatically one of this second variety. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the route, but it turns out that I can have a pretty good time on that kind of ride, too.
Thirty-eight of us started out in the dark and the rain at 7 AM from a cafe near my house. I was eager to ride in a group, as I’ve spent a lot of time riding alone this winter, but I fell back from the lead pack on the rollers of Lougheed Highway in Burnaby, when gravity reminded me just how much my ass weighs.
On the Mary Hill bypass I started to hear a ticking sound from my front wheel. At first I thought it was my speedometer sensor hitting the magnet, but the ticking got progressively louder. I learned 10 years ago that when smoke starts pouring out from under the hood of your Australian Ford Falcon station wagon, you want to pull over NOW, not at the next exit, so I stopped and discovered that the bead of my tire had somehow become unseated from my rim. The tube hadn’t popped, so this should have been an easy fix, but I inexplicably decided that I should pull my wheel off to fix it, during which process I managed to pull the wire apart from the connector of my brand-new dynamo hub.
I stood there on the shoulder of the Mary Hill bypass, being pelted by rain and sprayed by passing trucks while fiddling around with a tiny wire in the dark. I was passed by about 20 friendly randonneurs, leaving me pretty much dead last in the pack after only 20 km of riding.
The letters D-N-F danced in neon in my head and I pictured my hot wife in our warm bed, just 20 kilometers away. All the food I’d eaten in preparation for the brevet put me at serious risk of growing a second belly somewhere on my body, though, and the fear of where it might pop out got me back on my bike.
The rain settled down and then stopped in Pitt Meadows, and the sky ahead was bright. I passed a couple of the sight-seeing set of randonneurs, which boosted my morale. I always like to have someone behind me, so I have someone to wave at while I’m fixing a flat. The morning dawned and the clouds started to break up. I could see snow-dusted trees covering distant mountains, wreathed in wisps of cloud. Mist rose from the forest. Leafless trees back-lit by the sun sported glowing haloes of moss. You know, the usual stuff.
After the first control, I joined forces with Ron and Laura Penner, who helped me fight the outbound headwinds. At the turnaround point, the winds turned around as well, and I teamed up with Darren Maclachlan and Jacob Murray, a first-time rando.
Jacob is 7-foot 5-inches tall — or he might as well be, from my perspective. I’m about 5’7”, so drafting behind Jacob is like being at a randonneur spa. I could have taken a nap back there.
In downtown Mission, as though by conspiracy, we encountered systematic hostility from the local motorists. We were swooped by one-ton pickups who were clearly trying to intimidate us, we were honked at, and somebody actually threw garbage at us. Nobody at any point of the ride before or after downtown Mission had been anything but courteous and respectful, but in Mission we ran into a lot of jerks.
I refuse to believe that adult Canadians — our fellow voters — could possibly be so incensed by the 10-second inconvenience we caused them. There must be some greater fear at work, like how people used to be afraid of homosexuals. I want to plaster Mission with posters reading, “WE’RE NOT TRYING TO CONVERT YOU. Nobody is going to make you ride a bike. All we ask is, please, try not to kill us — or if that’s too much to ask, at least don’t try to kill us.”
Shortly after Mission, Darren bonked and we abandoned him at a Subway restaurant. I later regretted it, partly because I felt bad for leaving him alone, but mostly because I really could have used a sandwich.
In Pitt Meadows we caught up to Shiro Ogawa, Gary Sparks and Andy Reimer. I think Andy and I were the only ones who weren’t bonking at this point, and we formed a low-speed peloton to the final control in Coquitlam. I’m pretty sure the only reason I didn’t bonk was that I was surrounded by riders who did, and they kept my pace reasonable.
Jacob dropped out to get some scones from a prissy-looking little teahouse in Port Moody (I’m sure they were thrilled to be visited by a sweaty, hypoglycemic giant) and I found myself alone on the Barnet highway. The sun was out and I got sprinkled by a little sun shower. I’ve never finished a brevet in such good spirits.
It was a beautiful afternoon in Vancouver, where I got my 200k finisher’s pin. The new pin design is awesome. I’m not going to describe it. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to get out there and finish a brevet to see it for yourself.
March 21, 2011