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"Begone With the Wind"
Permanent Brevet #90

Ride date: February 24, 2019
by Gary Baker

Feb. ( 2019) was a tough month ( weather wise) to fit in a Permanent, but to keep the streak alive it had to be done. Not only was there the weather but with just five days remaining in the month I had three days committed to volunteer work and meetings. Sunday, Feb. 24 looked the least ugly of the days I had available, so I would forgo making our usual pancake breakfast and go for it.

The first challenge was to look past our driveway and up the street which has a gentle 2-3% slope for about 150m before there is a leveling off. More often than not when we have piles of snow melting at the top of this gentle sloop, and night time temperatures fall below 0C, the roadway turns into the equivalent of a luge track with no sidewalls. I love to go play in the ice and snow and have a vehicle to go with such activities ( 4x4 with ice and snow rated tires), but under such conditions often this vehicle can't traverse the 150m to the top. I have to remind myself the conditions on my quiet street are usually not representative of the roads in the area in general, and thankfully they were mostly dry and clear. Just the same, when my wife looked at the solid sheet of ice covering the road her comment was, "Why do you want to go out in condition like this?" As the ride unfolded those words would become prophetic.

The temperature was about -4C. It tends to be colder near the lake ( Cultus Lake) than out in the valley off set by the fact that the winds tend to be much lighter ( take note....;-))

Before telling you about my experience on the ride I'd like to tell you about the typical weather conditions and patterns in the upper Fraser valley during the winter months (mid- December through to early March), they are very different than what occurs during the summer; Summer: warm to hot, afternoon strong westerly winds; Winter, cold to freezing cold particularly when there is an Arctic outflow like there is now. The wind just screams out of the Fraser Canyon, usually intensifying throughout the day. Are you starting to see a picture developing here?

The upper valley is relatively narrow, so geography tends to force routes to follow an east/west direction. This route( P#90) basically goes west from Chilliwack 70km to the 176St. border crossing, then north/east to Ft. Langley ( approx. 25km), then 85km due east to Rosedale and 20km west back to Chilliwack. You starting to see a picture here?

Leaving Chilliwack towards the first control ( Birchwood Dairy) and on to the Extrema western control at the gas station ( Corner of 176th St/ 8th Ave.) the winds were strong and at my back which made for a fast pace. The forecast was for possible rain or flurries and as I looked south while riding along Zero Ave. the skies looked very ominous. Fortunately the predicted R&S never materialized. Good thing as there was going to be other weather issues to contend with. I also counted five US HLS security vehicles parked ( on the US side) between Townshipline Rd and 240St. They must have been 'tipped off' about something.

The ride from 176th St. to Ft. Langley was uneventful all be it a bit slower that I usually do it. There were signs of the eastern wind, but this part of the route is generally very sheltered. The only hilly part of this route is from Ft. Langley through to Abby. Again it is reasonably sheltered from any prevailing winds, but it was now early afternoon and it was clear that the winds were increasing. Once in Abby I took Gladys Rd to connect with Hwy # 7. Wow, the stretch parallel the railway tracks has been an area of homeless camps for years, but now the structures are looking semi-permanent ...amazing! The next control, the Yellow Barn, was only 14km away. The turn onto Delair Rd immediately foretold what was to befall any rider heading east, it wasn't going to pretty and definitely anything but easy. I recall rides going east from Whatcom Road with Doug L. pulling out front and a westerly wind at our backs cruising at 40kph, this was not going to be one of those days.

From Whatcom Rd. to the Yellow Barn is 9km, a very long 9kms it would be . The puddles from the melting snow on the side of the road had white caps, cresting towards me and I could swear that it would have been possible to surf on the waves in the irrigation ditches along side the roadway. The cold wind on my forehead was producing brain chill. I found myself saying to myself, " Why do you want to go out in conditions like this ?" I couldn't think of a rational, philosophic, religious or for that matter any other reason why, and just because is not reason. That 9 km took over one hour to ride, I was bagged, and I still had another 20km of flat open farmland before I could get shelter from the buildings and urban forest of Chilliwack proper.

Once out of the residential areas of the City, heading east towards Rosedale the wind became an issue again, it took over an hour to cover the 15km to the turnaround control. I was now a full 90 minutes behind my usual check-in time but a smile started to return it my face. I would have a wonderful tailwind the 20km back to the finish control.

Done. Hurray! Riding home I detoured to say hi to Karen and Michel. They were both surprised that I had gone out in such windy conditions and delighted I had got in my February ride. Karen had ridden her favourite Permanent route ( # 18) earlier in the week. We like to ride our monthly permanents together. Next Friday ( March 1) looks promising.



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February 27, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

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