They came frae a'the airts and pairts: U.S.A., Canada and even little Scotia, from where was dispatched a shilpit nyaff, to ride a 2000 km randonnée in AD 2000 through British Columbia. During the event the carnivores devoured excesses of chicken and bubblyjocks, but the twa veggies had a lean time of it with pizzas, cheese and carrots. Lots of french fries and pokey hats were enjoyed by all.
Mac Cooper, our driver, did us proud and helped to locate the overnight abodes and organized late and early morning beanfeasts. He also did his Tarzan act and frightened away roadside bears. I saw most of the best bits of B.C. in the dark and will always recall the noise of the lumbering, mile-long trains, rumbling and screeching through the trees, then getting a reek of rotten grain from their derailed wagons.
The high heid yin was Réal Préfontaine, the President of les Randonneurs Mondiaux. The event started from his hoose in Abbotsford. We corried in Réal's large garage on June 24th praying that the rain would cease. It didn't, so seven subdued cyclists merged into the smirr and it remained dreich over Coquihalla Pass then into the promised land of sun, warmth and easy riding to Merritt. .
Réal, our braw organizer, touched a wheel and showed us gringos how to crash gracefully. Closely following, I skillfully avoided his heid and took the softer option of his bike before joining Réal's badly bruised body on the highway. Our versatile organizer patched himself up and Manfred worked wonders with the velo. Soon the shoogly line-out gained speed and the bright lights of Kamloops added to the exciting descent to the Hostel. Here the bikes were parked in the toilet cubicles for safekeeping and we went up town for a pizza after a near 200-mile day.
John, who started at Kamloops, birled away with Michel next morning. We usually saw them only at the first control and at breakfast each day, so this saga deals with the bletherers. This select group groveled beneath the sun on a wide road with good shoulder making the trees too far away to give and shade.
After 200 miles we eventually reached Valemont gone midnight. The B&B with hot tub would have been a great place to rest awhile, a pity we could only spare six hours. Methinks I'll have to return, for my wally teeth lie yet beneath the bed.
Bear moose were spotted next morning en route to the highest mountain in the Rockies. But before that we'd choked on the stoor whilst negotiating twelve miles of road works. Between McBride and Prince George I managed to miss the checkpoint at the 'Dome Café' the name had changed to 'Ma and Pa's'. Ah weel, it was a nice, quiet and hungry 120 miles along the rolling road. Asking a road worker how far to Prince George, I was told "Forty-five minutes". It took me four hours! In the dark I chapped on a number of doors trying to locate the B&B in Baird Street. Happiness is getting to bed before midnight after a mere 190-mile day.
Sob Lake Road on Highway 16 was the turning point, 1005 km on the nock. Under the hot sun, Réal decided it would be unwise for him to continue as an auld injury was playing up. In the evening, as we had a group meal at a pub, a shooter was lurking around waiting for a black bear to return. It seems it had gatecrashed the pub earlier - must be good beer there. A hard and sad day with less than a hundred miles to show for it.
We were away by 4a.m. next day. I had my camera ready for black bears. No bears, only greasy, black chips at 'Ma & Pa's'. Réal took my rainwear, "no chance of rain", he said. A mistake! Heavy showers started an hour later and the wind rose. I rode to McBride on my tod and was drookit by the time I was re-united with my Peter Storm jacket.
Ron, Dave, Manfred and I set off together for the Jasper junction and the 12 miles of road works on Highway 5. The driver of the pilot truck offered us a lift to Valemont but we declined and rode through the stoor. Manfred and I wheeled about and in the late evening found ourselves on a new-laid surface with no road markings. Headlights from massive, fast moving trucks made it a tricky ride and we were thankful to arrive at Blue River intact by 1 a.m. Manfred rode into a 'sleeping policeman' in the motel car park which woke him (Manfred) up! Two hundred and fifty miles and nae supper! .
We dined at the 'Husky Restaurant" - truck stop - and by 7 a.m. we were setting off again into the misty morning. It was easy going down the Thompson River so the pace was high. As usual John and Michel sailed off like linties. Surprisingly at Clearwater the pair were still around. A stramash had occurred when Michel ran into John's rear wheel. Réal was doing his medical bit again patching up Michel's damaged elbow and broken ribs.
It was snell headwind along the broad, treeless highway to Kamloops, not only that, it was very hard! - a precursor of what was in store along the Nicola Valley. The nock was striking 7 p.m. as we climmed up the long hill out of Kamloops then groveled along the never-ending road to Merritt. In the gloaming I started girning about Canada, and especially the fact that in such a huge country there's never any place to lean a bike against. Manfred and I lay on the road beside the torture machines for a wee nap. We were on Highway 5A, the tarry old road. Meanwhile, one hour behind, Michel was struggling on with the help of Réal's analgesics. Being a fearty in the dark, I tucked in behind Manfred's tri-bar posterior until the bright lights of Merritt beckoned. We were soon into a king-size bed and in noddyland by 1 a.m. Michel arrived by 2 a.m. and Ron and Dave at 3 a.m.. Another 200-mile day.
I was in a havering state over breakfast. The group had a late start for the last day's fun. The old road was a mixture of tar and gravel. Once over the Coquihalla Pass I was in a peely-wally state on the twenty-five mile descent to Hope. Here we were piped in by fellow BC randonneurs. Three hours later the reunited group departed down the freeway to ride the last sixty miles together. This was a stop and go affair. We bade farewell to John, who had to return to Hope and Kamloops. Réal's home was reached by 10 p.m. Manfred and Michel departed to Vancouver, Ron and Dave to Seattle and me to my B&B and a bath.
Thanks, Réal for the pleasure, it was a stoter of a run but don't expect a pokey hat from me.
Next morning it was back on the bike to Mission for Canada Day. Then, a day later, I boxed the bike and boarded the Greyhound bus to the Rockies. Despite the box the bike suffered a broken gear mech. A few miles on as shortened chain, and I was able to stay with Jimmy Valence in Fernie for a couple of days. Then it was some real cycling back to Vancouver. Nae bother to the chancer! Aurra best, .
Glossary: Scots to English.
(Canadian readers will have to translate!)
frae : from
a'the airts and pairts : everywhere
shilpit nyaff : weakling
bubblyjocks : turkeys
pokey-hats : ice cream cones
the high heid yin : the boss (lit. high head one)
hoose : house
corried : cowered
smirr : misty drizzle
dreich : dark and gloomy
braw : fine , handsome
shoogly : uneven, wobbling
birled : turned (the pedals) fast
bletherers : the slow, chatty ones
wally teeth : false teeth (wally : china)
stoor : dust
chapped : knocked
the nock : the clock
auld : old
on my tod : alone
drookit : soaked
wheeled about : took turns at the front
'sleeping policeman' : anti-speed hump on the road
like linties : like small birds (linnets), fast
stramash : commotion
snell : cold and penetrating
climmed : climbed
gloaming : dusk
girning : complaining
tarry : bitumen surfaced
a fearty : a coward
havering : undecided confused speech
peely wally : pale and weak
stoter : a really good event or thing
nae bother : no bother, easy
chancer : one who'll try anything, take a risk
aurra best : all the best, 'Good Luck'
McNasty : George Berwick's nickname
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