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Holy heck was that hard!
A few weeks back, I DNFed a 400, making it clear that I needed to set aside my PBP ambitions for a few years. It also became apparent that that in trying to quickly prepare for qualifying, I have not had much fun. Fun is important. Looking at the schedule, I saw the Lumpy 200, described by Bob Goodison as, “Adventurous, hilly 200 with lots of gravel.” Perfect. Something different and hard, but manageable. The very definition of fun. I contacted Roy Neifer, and he agreed to come along.
We drove up to Sorrento on Friday, and enjoyed the company of Bob & Susan at their home, as well as the five Lower Mainland riders who would be riding a 400 while Bob, Roy and I did the 200.
Saturday started gloriously. Bob showed Roy and me his daily commute to Tappen. Just beautiful. Then we got to the gravel and the mountains, where Bob left us behind.
We descended to Highway 97 at Monte Lake and stopped at the store for fluids. Friendly enough staff, but no toilet. There was also a food truck that we did not investigate. Then a short ride on the highway, and back to gravel to go over another mountain to get to Kamloops.
From east Kamloops, we used Dallas Road to get to the Lafarge bridge, and crossed to the north side of the South Thompson. The air became still and very warm, and a storm had preceded us. Water was evaporating rapidly from the gravel road surface. The heat and humidity hammered Roy. Plus, the wet surface sucked even more energy than when it was dry.
After we had been rolling a half our or so, the rain started. Thank goodness Roy had made me bring his jacket! The road surface developed a thin layer of gumbo, slowing us further. Both of us started to have drive train problems. Roy’s difficulties were worse because he didn’t have fenders to reduce the flow of grit. Then my rear brake failed, although, fortunately at the very top of the last serious descent, so I was able to creep down the slope with the front brake.
Finally we got to pavement for the last time, and the descent was gradual, and we started making time. On this smooth stretch, Roy's GPS chose to fall off his bike. After hours of slogging in damp gravel, I was amazed how fast I could go. I realized that we had 15 km to the finish, and 42 minutes to cover it. If we could average about 22 km/h, we could finish on time.
Roy and I had to reach into the deepest parts and go as hard as we could, and Roy’s front derailleur was still giving him grief. There were just a couple of very minor climbs, and we were able to get back to Bob's house just at the end of the 13.5 hours. "We thought you were our friend!" I said to route-planner Bob in my best mock-accusatory voice. Bob said that he was also surprised by the difficuly of the course, although he had finished in under 10 hours.
What I needed, and had not had in 4 years, was a successful finish in a hard brevet. Roy and I managed it this time. We agree that neither of us could have finished this one alone. We're both a bit chagrined that we had to push the bikes up the switchbacks, but you do what you need to do.
My stated goal for the ride was to have fun. Did we? Only in retrospect. But that’s good enough. Two days after the fact, I am very, very glad to have done it.
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June 27, 2019