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FARMLANDER 200 - 2004-APRIL-17

by Harold Bridge

As a very strong proponent of Club activities being consistently reported upon I always feel I should write about those in which I participate. Unless, ofcourse, there is an alternate scribe. Dump this if there is.

Difficult decision, what was the weather going to do? How much bag did I need for surplus clothing? Did I need a bag, would my tyre sock be sufficient? I erred on the side of caution & used my weekender wedge bag. That really makes a light lively bike feel utilitarian. Spare tyre strapped underneath, 3 spare tubes, 6 Clif bars, tool kit, chain braeaker & still room to stow tights & jacket if need be. (Didn't need to)

As usual I set the alarm too early but by the time I got to Albion Hall there were others milling about at 06:20 outside the Hall. No key? The place was a bustling, Manfred & Margaret were dishing out control cards & route sheets like they were going out of style & I'm told 62 signed on for this relatively easy route.

There has been a lot of pressure on us to use a rear mudguard extension recently.
I have used one for years, not that I need one, no one rides behind me these days! But it was encouraging to see evidence the pleas have been taken to heart.

Right on 07:00 Manfred got us away having to first do a make up loop west before heading east for the long treck to Johnson Slough. Saturday mornings are not good for using the Lougheed Highway, it is very busy. But most of the way to Mission there is a shoulder. Beyond Mission the traffic thinned out & I was briefly involved in a pace line with Marsh, Bose & Fletcher. But I went to the front & they decided to ignore me.

Woodside from the west is a comfortable climb. The initial ramp calls for the 36" bottom gear, but after that the 45" & 54" gears are low enough (that's 39x 28,23,19). Near the top the grey tandem glided past with a promise not to get in my way down the otherside. They were outta sight by then anyway. I thought conditions were going to be good for descending that 11% average (about 18% on the hairpin I guess) hill. But I didn't even make my age going down there, the wind was too strong - 75.7kph was the best I could manage. What did the tandem do John?

After doing the bike check at the start Bill Kitchen drove out to Johnson Slough & precided over the 90 km control. Having been barricaded off during the winter it was nice of the Highways s people to open the rest area up for us. It had been plain sailing thus far & there was some concern about the relentless wind we would be fighting on our way southwest. But the wind proved to be very erratic & it was only on a few occasions that I had to struggle.

Having built up to a 25kph average prior to the Woodside climb I was fairly confident I could maintain a 20kph, albeit for a 205km route 20.5kph is the prefered minimum if "9hours something" is the aim. I think I stopped to talk too much at the control because the 23.4 average I arrived with was down to 22 by the time I left. The detour round Waleach & Seabird Island Roads is a pleasant interlude that really needs an "Unspecified Control". But a cheat would miss out on a beautiful little detour.

It was a relief to get across the Rosedale Bridge at a time when there were no great big semis bypassing Hope. I resisted the temptation to stop at Popkum Store setting my mind on non-stop to Tim Horton's at Sardis. Suddenly, on Annis Road, Sharon glided up alongside & we rode together for a while until a rain squall caused her to stop to put her jacket on. But I think the rain had stopped by the time she had donned the garment.

When I pulled into Tim Hortons a whole chain of riders went by. I don't know if they really needed to be sucked along by the immense draft of my progress or if they were diffident about passing someone so aged? As it turned out the TH stop was but a visit to the can. By the time I came out of there the line up at the counter was too long.

However the stop & the wash helped to brighten me up & I set out for the Yellow Barn & the 148km control with renewed vigour.

By this time I was scraping along at about the 21kph average & had forebodings about the infamous South Parallel Road. But a cheerful greeting from controller Alard Malek, followed by a cup of coffee while sitting in the sun did wonders for my demeanour & I thought I was going ride the SPR in company with Wayne Harrington. But he had other ideas & he sailed away from me & it took a good deal of effort to get closer. But with Vile Vye Hill soon to be suffered I knew I wouldn't stay with him. Sure enough, by the time I got the hill in sight, Wayne was outta sight, at least, a speck in the distance.

One thing in my (our?) favour was the erratic wind. Zero Av can be a brute when riding into a westerly. But this day it wasn't too bad & I arrived at Control #3 at about 15:55. Wayne was already in one of the Cook's chairs & Doreen volunteered her chair for me. I gave myself the bonus 5 minutes rest as 9 hours for 180 kms put me on my limit & the next 18kms should have a tailwind, albeit with tiring drags up to Aldergrove. Wayne ofcourse glided away again. But the T/L at Fraser Hwy was nearly his undoing.The first green was a left turn arrow only, but he got across.

264th street hill down to 88th Av is a blast, good surface, sweeping bends, no side turnings & good visibility. But, again, I failed to make my age & I didn't disturb the 75.7 max still showing from Woodside.

A grin crossed my face when I saw the long freight train holding Wayne up just past the 240th St junction & I too had to put my foot down.. My aim of under 10 hours had expired. But at just about 9:59:45 I passed the 201 km point. That's good enough, & 10:14 will still fit into the data base.

Thanx to Manfred & Gordon for putting this on. I had doubts when Manfred said he wanted the first 200 to start out at Albion. A few years ago we decided, I thought, that the first 200 should start closer into town as we have lost riders by moving out to Albion for the first event. However, 62 riders suggests that even Vancouverites are getting fed up with riding in town.

I think we should get rid of that Mickey Mouse make up loop at the start of this route. While it would mean moving control #2 from the Yellow Barn to Huntigdon, the loop down Whatcom Road, Boundary Road & 2nd Av & up Farmer Road adds enough distance & is far nicer & quieter than Vile Vye Hill.

Another change I would make would be to turn off Prairie Central 1.6 kms before busy Prest & use Banford which turns into Lindell Rd then Bailey Road to Chwk River Road. Perhaps the new Route coordinator (Who?) will check that out.

April 18, 2004