Newsletter - 2002 Archive

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Switchback 1000

Eric Fergusson


Peter Stary decided not to ride but I left as planned at 8 am, three hours after Keith and Ross Nichol. I guess I knew the climb up Cayoosh Pass was coming, but I don't think that helped - I thought about John and Danelle struggling with the tandem on those steep sections in the bottom third. My speed clock was also saying 6 ...5 km/hr. By the top I had consumed two of my three water bottles, and that was after superhydrating at Pemberton. I could have used that secret control at the top.

Still, I made it to Lillooet - went into the town for control, though Lightfoot gas was still open. Jone's market is a/the social hub of the community - great fun with chatty locals...this was a highlight for me. The tail winds from earlier in the day though diminished, continued for me as I turned down to Lytton. Very unexpected, but welcome.

I had phoned the Canyon Alpine earlier in the week, and the owner, Carl, actually stayed up for me to deliver a food package which was to be left on the door step. The Spain Korea match had just ended (2:00??) - we rehashed some of our favorite world cup moments. I stayed for over an hour. Carl and I are now very tight. Meanwhile Keith and Ross are asleep in the motel. Despite the coffee, I can't seem to stay awake much past Boston Bar and I sleep for an indeterminate time in a bus shelter ...Hope by 8 a.m.

It turns out that the water at the Coquihalla toll booths is "not fit for human consumption" ...I have to beg for fluids ...people were very generous. I napped again before the fabulous plunge into Merritt. Coldwater Road was again a real treat, and it wasn't just the brisk tailwind - it's a lovely road.

I finally ran into Keith on my return from Logan Lake. After a few unpleasant route-inspired personal comments, he filled me in on the Ross situation. An IT band injury worsened and Ross had to abandon in Hope - they were running pretty close to the limit anyway. It turned out that Keith and I were in both Hope and Merrit at the same time, without realizing it. We made vague plans about sleeping in Princeton...

I found myself on the Merritt - Princeton stretch as darkness descended. After close encounter with a nasty dog, I became a little spooked - I was tense and I think I over-strained a bit. For the first time in the ride my hip started to act up. I was expecting not only vicious dogs, but cougars, bears and orks to spring from the ditch at any moment. But I wasn't expecting the deer that I just about hit - it just stood there in the middle of the road as I barreled straight at it. Then it moved in front of me as I tried to swerve around it... another near miss.

The next morning Keith and I left Princeton together to do Hope - Princeton 'the easy way'. The climb itself was indeed no big deal, but after Sunday Summit the headwinds became a nightmare. After a longish meal at the lodge Keith went ahead and I had a nap. There was no question, when we met up later, that for both of us this was by far the toughest stretch. The storm force headwinds meant that there was no advantage to the first portion of the decent. In the flat middle section I was pushing hard to hit 11-12-13 km/hr - and my hip started to ache again. For both Keith and I the bottom part of the decent was worst of all - the winds were so strong that controlling the bike was all that mattered. What a relief to reach Hope - from then on the winds were still there, but normal strength.

I briefly thought I was dilutional as I passed Johnston Slough. I kept hearing my name in the wind Eric...Eric...ERIC..." It was Cheryl... Keith and Cheryl were waiting for me at Seabird. ...a few words of encouragement from Coach Cheryl and Keith and I left...separately. He claimed to be in slow and stead mode, and I was in a plow-through fast mind set. I sprinted to Mission. I was there for no more than a minute when Keith was suddenly there too at Tim Horton's - he hadn't been doing the 'slow' part of the slow and steady routine.

From there the ride together was a real pleasure. We repeatedly congratulated ourselves on having conquered a truly formidable course. You'd be surprised at how many ways you can express the full depths of your personal sufferings and how extraordinary you are for having overcome them. We we still discussing how hard the ride was, and how wonderful we both were, when I dropped Keith at his finish control, the Clark Road Petrocan. He was heading home to his Guinness, and I to a frosty home-brew (and to our chicks too, of course.) In the end my time was 64:05 (my slowest by over five hours), and Keith would have been about 66:30 I guess. Never mind, we survived. I e-mailed Nobo Yonemitsu yesterday to hint that conditioning might be kinda important on this one... he's determined to ride this weekend regardless. If anyone can make it on guts alone it would be Nobo. We'll see. As for my hip ...I'm optimistic. The 600 was problematic. On the 1000 however the climbing was no problem - the hip acted up only with other sorts of strains ...At last I can say Rocky 12, here I come.

The Cariboo Loop sounds like a must to me John - but not this Labour day. June.