Newsletter - 2004 Archive

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by Harold Bridge

Oh Boy, did I screw up! Deirdre asked for my assistance in revising the established 300 route to avoid the uncertainties pertaining to the realigning of 200 St across Trans Canada at Walnut Grove. The route was originally detoured up Armstrong Road when John Bates realized there was not enough distance between start & Aldergrove Border Crossing to allow for the fact that facility is closed from 00:00 to 08:00.

Deirdre's enthusiasm for starting & finishing in Fort Langley led me to rearrange the route with this in mind. But I forgot about the 08:00 problem at the border! With start time & location already published there was no changing them. Dan McGuire came to the rescue & the route was revised to use Huntingdon/Sumas Border Crossing. My punishment was being allowed to ride the event!

Due to lack of wheels the comfort bike is out of action for awhile & I spent much of Friday getting the "fast" bike kitted out for a 300. I enjoy riding that bike, a CBS masquerading as a Tony Hoar Custom, but have been made aware of its stiff inconsideration on bad surfaces.

Working back from a Fort Langley start at 06:00 meant catching the first ferry from Albion at 05:00. That meant leaving home by 04:30 & that meant getting up at 03:15. Wayne arrived in plenty of time to get both bikes int' truck & we were away. It promised to be a fine day, but a morning chill required an undershirt & a jacket. They in turn required a wedge bag big enough to add those to the normal supplies therein.

06:00 & 60 riders took off on about 58 bikes & they disappeared from view in great haste. As a result there was no one around to witness my heroic struggle with a 36" (39x28) bottom gear on Armsrong Road. But late starter Henry Berkenbos (he spent too much time riding from home in Richmond to the start) flew past at the top of the climb oblivious to the still climbing road. Once Ali had gone by I had the route to myself all the way to Huntingdon /Vye. As a result, while day dreaming my way down 248th St I overshot Robertsn Crescent. But fortunately I looked at my computer & saw "13.6" & realized I was 100m past Robertson. Quickly corrected, I was well along Huntindon/Vye before 3 more late starters passed me by. I tucked for a few metres, there was a nasty wind blowing off the Cascades, but the effort was more than I prepared to make at that point in the ride.

I got into US Customs, used the facilities & removed my jacket & was away ahead of the 3 pace liners. On Goodwin they caught me & after the right turn on South Pass Road I watched with a certain amount of envy as they disappeared in the distance. State Route #544 and Everson-Goshen Road are pleasant riding, even though the latter has some roller coaster lumps that climax with a stiff climb up to SR #542, Mount Baker Highway.

Soon after turning onto Britton Road yet 2 more late starters, the always late Bogart & Margaret caught me just before Dan McGuire's control at Whatcom Lake. From there is a beautiful ride down the west side of the Lake that was spoilt be the condition of the road. I think road builders are the power behind the growing numbers of suspension bikes, that save them bothering about their standards of workmanship. Of course I was riding the wrong bike from that point of view. Once past the Lake there is a few kms of pleasant country along Park St to the intersection of Highway 9. I had a tandem in view, that later turned out to be Manfred & Margaret, & I seemed to be gaining on them but every down slope & they were away. Once over the height of land they were outta sight.

Plan A; ride non-stop between controls. It was getting warm & the removal of tights & undershirt was becoming a priority. But being stubborn I kept going out of Sedro Woolley & was passed by Ali again. She too did a quick disappearing trick. Apparently I had also passed a stationary Kuchenmuller tandem, unseen by me, for they came along soon after around Lymen.

Somewhere along here the first riders were heading west. A pace line of 5, including Keith Fraser in the unaccustomed rear position, were the first on the road. Keith even appeared to be enjoying himself! Saw Sarah G & John L thrashing about down in the ditch with John muttering something about annoyances. Also along there a certain blue GMC S15 truck went past as secretly as possible, but there was no hiding the Litespeed on the roof rack Bob.

I have given up old standards, like getting inside 15 hours for a 300, not without a pace line anyway. I decided that the first 100; 5 hours, 2nd; 5:30 & the 3rd: 6 hours. Take an additional 15 minutes for the bonus 5 kms, that should get me inside 17 hours. The first 100 arrived right on the 5th hour. I reckoned 14:00 a good time to be away from the 157 km control at Peskies Espresso in Concrete & the tail wind up Hwy 20 got me there at 13:25. It was a relief to disrobe & put those smelly clothes away in the bag. Bowl of soup, a donated sandwich & some water used up my spare 35 minutes & I left right on 14:00 just as treasurer Wayne arrived. A friendly American rider came in & was out in quick order.

I heard later that this Spokane rider had arrived at the border without his passport & was refused re-admission to the USA. If I've got the story right he went back to Fort Langley, drove back the border, left his car there & continued with the ride to finish in 13 hours. After which he had to ride to the border to get his car to drive off home.

As expected the float east was a tussle west & my resolve regarding control to control non-stop waned at Lymen & I popped into the restaurant for pie, ice cream & coffee. But that is the theory regarding the 100 km splits, not so much a reduced riding speed, but more stops.

It is at this point in the ride, roughly 65% that inconveniences magnify. Enough to make you tired but still a substantial distance to go. We hit F&S Grade Road! We won't dwell on what F&S stand for, but I last rode that road in 1986 & detested it then. It has got worse in the intervening 18 years! 9 kms of jolts on a Paris-Roubaix Road. France donated the Statue Of Liberty to the USA I think the USA should donate F&S Grade Road to the "Hell of the North"
Of course, I wasn't on a modern carbon forked titanium bike. I wonder what difference that would make?

The build up of cloud & some slight hints of rain that had darkened the approach to Sedro Woolley dissipated & the ride along Prairie was a delight in the late afternoon sunshine. Not a good road, but acceptable after the pounding on F&S. Larry Voth's new LeMond was still outside Alger's Food Mart when I got there & he took off while I was getting my card signed. It took about 15 minutes for me to use the can, buy some fluid & sit outside to eat a sandwich. I guess that is the amount I was behind Larry; 15 minutes.

Samish Way is simpler than the instructions suggest. & it is a decent road. But at the entrance into Bellingham I screwed up & got lost. I wasted about 2 kms & about 20 minutes before getting onto Broadway from which point I knew my way. It was getting to that time in the evening when I needed to put my take offs back on. But I was enjoying riding those roads through Ferndale & into Blaine with the cool air spurring me on to the control at the border where I intended to all I needed to do to get ready for the night ride into Fort Langley.

But at the Birrch Bay-Lynden Road I used the barricade to lean the bike upon while I put my undershirt on. Entering the border control I saw Deirdre's note that she would sign our cards at the corner of Route 15 & 8th Av., by the store. They were to close at 21:00 & I had about 10 minutes in which to get some chocolate & some Coke. I donned tights, jacket, reflective Sam Browne belt & ankle straps. The last lap was upon me. The generator light was giving me a good light on those dark roads & most of the way I was fine. But the southern end of 192nd St leaves a lot to be desired. No excess pavement, but a trench dug by vehicle tires constantly running off the road. Not nice is it Mr Surrey Councilor?

The complex intersection where 192nd St, 64th Av & Route #1A converge is a dog's breakfast. I screwed up & instead of turning on to 192 north I turn too soon onto Route #1A west!
Found my mistake when I got to 188th St & Fraser Hwy. Then I compounded the problem by going back the way I came. In crossing the road to the wrong side when riding down the centre reservation I left tire rubber when I saw to curb of the island fast approaching! In the light of day I realize safety & convenience would have been better served by turning right on 188 & right on 72nd to pick up the route when I crossed 192.

Once on 208th & across the TC overpass it remained only to head east on 88th Av & up Glover to the finish. There is a decent descent on 88th & with vehicles behind me I let it rip to encourage them to stay behind. But no, they had to pass when I doing around 60s! A sprint up Glover & there was Bob LePage ready to sign my card at 22:53 for a time of 16:53 - good enough.

I had time for a Guinness & some nachos, Wayne didn't come in until 00:03, with Bogart Margaret, Bose & Fletcher. Larry had dropped me by about 45 minutes from the border to finish inside 16 hours. Great day out, thanx to Bob & Deirdre & their helpers.