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After suffering through our hard won January and February permanents to see a day so early in March where the forecast was for SUN, 'Hallelujah'! Karen Smith and I decided, as did many other randonneurs ( I assume) Monday, March 12 was to be too good a day to pass up. Ross Nichol has been keen to join me in the past on permanents out in the Valley away from the traffic, the noise, and the stop lights of the City. I knew that Ross was X-country skiing in Vernon and fired off an e-mail saying Karen and I were planning to ride and would move our start from Chilliwack to Ft. Langley if he wanted to join us. His first reply indicated he could not make the travel arrangements so Karen and I printed up the control cards and route sheet with our usual Chilliwack start. But wait, a second e-mail from Ross, he could do the ride after all.
The night before the ride Karen, Sheryl (my wife) and I went to see the musical play "Onegin" at the community theatre in Mission, factoring in the drive back to Chilliwack it was going to be a long night and an early start the next morning. At 7AM sharp Karen and I headed for the Fort. We had driven almost the full distance from Garrison Crossing to the Keith-Wilson Bridge over the Vedder Channel ( 8km) when Karen gasped, " I forgot my helmet!" *&%$&_%$. Back we went. The plan was to meet Ross for an 8AM start, even with the extra driving we got there at 8:05, and I don't speed. Another gasp from Karen as we hurried to get on the road. She has forgotten her cycling shoes, she was wearing her light hiking boots, they would have to do. As we would be riding within a block or so of where she and Michel live ( approx. 115km from the Fort) we could stop and make the ex-change, there.
There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but as is almost always the case the ambient temperature at the Fort is MUCH lower that even a few kilometres way from the river. I ride cold and I was freezing. Note to self, throw away the gloves and wear mitts. My fingers warmed up after about 30km of riding, my toes were still cold when we got to the Yellow Barn ( 53km from the Fort). The turn around point on this ride is Popkum Market at the round about on Hwy # 9 (90km). That was one tough 90km (It took 6hrs) as we had strong headwinds the entire way. Sumas Prairie lived up to it's name, yes it is flat, but flat and windy are synonymous in my books. The yellow barn is like an oasis in the desert when the wind is howling.
The route from Chilliwack back at Birchwood and to the Fort was sublime thanks to the accompanying tailwinds. The only complication was that we planned to have a light meal at Birchwood only to learn that during Winter hours they close the kitchen at 4pm, we got there at 4:30 and I was famished. Between a chocolate milk, a coke and a stale croissant I was recharged. Karen managed to wolf down an equally stale pastry and some cheeses. I'm not sure what Ross eat, but he did finish off Karen's cheeses. it was the salt he craved!
The food may not have been of our choice, but all those calories did the job. We made short work of the climbs, on Farmer Rd. along Vye Rd, and up 272nd. St. Karen who felt she was struggling on the hills held her own and set a blistering pace when she took the lead on any of the flat stretches. It was great to she her riding so strongly. She felt it too!
It was a fun day. Ross was effusive about how much more enjoyable it was riding away from the City and commented on how lucky Karen and I were to be be able to ride out in the valley (Believe me we know it.). Should anyone out there like to join us, let me know. I'll let you know when we plan to ride.
Have a great Rando season, and be safe out there.
March 15, 2018