Newsletter - 2005 Archive

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Information on the Tour des Lacs route (scheduled for May 21) based on the May 7 pre-ride by Susan Allen, Doug Latornell and Keith Nichol:

The Road Ahead: Lower Mainland 400
by Susan Allen

The Tour of the Lakes is an exploration of the two sides of the Fraser Valley. As such it is hilly (about 100 km), relatively flat (about 100 km), quite hilly (about 100 km) and then relatively flat (last 100 km). Besides being hillier than the valley floor, the sides of the Fraser Valley are quieter and also have less services. This latter point is one to keep in mind, particularly if you are toward the back of the pack.

The ride starts behind McDonalds near the intersection of Broadway and Boundary. This short stretch of 4th Ave East has little to recommend it, being a light industrial park, other than it is actually in Vancouver (a bonus for those of us who live here). However it is near the finish restaurant and does have allowable parking on the North side of the road (the South side is now marked 2 hr only).

The ride starts on Lougheed but quickly turns onto Winston for a quieter warm up. Then back onto Lougheed until the second respite on United Boulevard. Mary Hill bypass is busy, even just after six in the morning, with dump trucks and pups (why they are called pups beats me... they are huge). The shoulder is well strewn.

Once over the Pitt River Bridge you will be making a left turn onto Dewdney Trunk Rd. Be careful, its a wide road to merge across. Dewdney its a bit quieter and on portions the ride misses the main route and gets positively peaceful. Back on Dewdney Trunk Road you pass a number of services. These end at Websters Corners (256th) and then the road gets quieter and starts to roll. Except the rolls aren't even. Big up hill, small down hill. At 50 km you pass the Iron Mountain Store. This is the last service on the route until after the first control. Just after the store you turn on Wilson for a really nice decent. The turn is a left, its unmarked and looks more like a pedestrian route than a road (though cars use it). It crosses the top of the Ruskin dam that forms Hayward Lake. Once across the bridge you climb Keystone through lovely forest. Keystone becomes Dewdney Trunk. At Cedar the main road turns south. You make a left off the main road to continue east on Dewndey Trunk. If, however, you really need a store, 0.2 km S on Cedar is a Husky and Cedar Country Store. After this (63 km) there really is nothing until 95.6 km.

As Dewdney Trunk road becomes Ferndale the road becomes peaceful. Stave Lake St/Rd is super in this direction. A second marvelous decent takes you down to Hatzic Valley floor and then you roll along the west side. The climb to Hartley is rewarded with another short decent before you make a new (to me at least) turn north on Spratt. A short wander, including a section beside a gravel bedded river will bring you to your first control. It will be simply a car with water
and two smiling faces. We hope to have some cookies/bananas/gatorade as well.

Controls 1,2,3 and 4 are at the four lakes of the title of the ride. Three are "at the top". This is one of them. It's a nice decent down Sylvester. Just as you pass Hartley you'll see Allan Lake (not very big) and later, on the top of one of the rollers, you'll get a lovely view of Hatzic Lake. The first store on the route since Iron Mountain is at the intersection with Lougheed, more follow. Sylvester takes you to Lougheed in time to experience Nicomen Island (you would not want to miss that ;-> we had a tail wind... I hope you do too) and then roll along to the bottom of Woodside - east is easier than west! Once down you'll be happy that the altitude of Harrison Lake is not much more than the Fraser River. Control where you like in the Village. We used the Tempo and the clerk was very nice.

You are now finished the exploration of the North side of the Valley, and so it's across the Valley and up the south side. The way across is through Agassiz and then over the Rosedale Bridge. If you have not done this bridge before it is quite narrow and often populated with yahoos. Sorry but swimming is not a good option with the Fraser approaching freshet. Up to the Country Store at the corner with Yale, down through Rosedale (bike wash offered to us at the Church), left on
Annis and more quiet roads. Also flat roads; a place to roll the miles under the wheels at a good strong clip.

Vedder is more built up than ever, be careful with the left turn onto Vedder Road. You head past the ex-military base, quiet and getting overgrown. Before the bridge over the Chilliwack River, it's a left and along the river on Chilliwack River Road. They have paved it all the way to the park at the lake and so you are going 40 km up and 40 km back. The last services on the road are at the Pointa Vista restaurant 7 km from the turn off Vedder. The first 20 km of this road are familar to those who have done rides to the Fish Hatchery. Just after the Fish Hatchery (where you hit 200 km) is a 13% climb. Its a bit nasty but do take heart. The whole 20 km remaining is not like this! Once past the hatchery you are truly in the Mountains. Snow peaks start appearing. The road is rough and gets rougher until about 7 km from the top. At this point the pavement is new but you
start getting slower. You might be bonking, you might be tired but the main reason is the road is slowly increasing in grade and you can't see it. Just before the top, it gets really steep for a short stretch. I actually found this a relief because now I could tell I was climbing.

The control will be near the gatehouse. We'll have water, two smiling faces and there is a pit toilet. We also hope to have cookies, bananas and gatorade. Then its turn around and you'll see how much you were climbing in those last 7 km! Not all the way down is that fast but the first part is grand (even into the headwind we had). We stopped at the Pointa Vista restaurant for dinner. Their kitchen is open until 8 and the store until 9. Food was good. Service was slow to start (because the one woman was so busy) but the food came quickly.

When you reach Vedder Road again you turn left over the bridge to cross the Chilliwack River, then shortly you turn left and start the second adventure on the south side of the valley. You climb immediately and then drop down to Cultus Lake. After not getting a view of Chilliwack Lake you will be rewarded with excellent views of Cultus. At the north end of the lake is a gas station and a small plaza with a Superette. About 1.5 km further south is a pub. The road runs along the lake through the provincial park with campgrounds on both sides. Cars were a bit fast through here. At the end of the lake you climb up, drop down (nice decent) to the second golf course. Beyond the golf course you pass the foot of Frost Rd; thank goodness we're not going up there.. but... Columbia Valley is hanging valley and, in order to get in it, you have to climb the face one way or another. Columbia Road is a bit more gentle than Frost. The gardens on the right are lovely and there's a nice forest to the left (somehow I can always explain the climbing scenery the best ;->) The Columbia Valley is quiet, peaceful and farm country. The control will just be beside the road. Water, two smiling faces (you know the story) and we hope to have cookies, bananas and gatorade.

A small loop in the Valley and then its back down the face (another exhirating decent... lots of corners). Back along the lake (the sun was just setting for us and it was magical), back past the pub (if you are running past 10 pm it might be the only service open, the gas station closes at 9), back over the bump to Vedder Road. The adventures on the Valley sides are over, you've done 300 km, and its
time to go home.

Along the foot of Vedder Mountain, rolling but on average decending, through the small town of Yarrow. It a left turn (really) onto Boundary Road for a short distance to pick-up No 4 and then onto South Parallel. Home lies through Abbotsford. The left turn onto Marshall may be a hassle; remember you can always pull to the right and walk across... its only one intersection. Right onto Riverside and then Railway (nice new pavement), a quick left/right to get onto George Ferguson Way (used to be Hazel St). Then the back way to the Mission Bridge. Nasty little short climb on George Ferguson; steep decent on Gladwin with a nice view (if you have a chance to see it). Right on Harris and then left on Riverside. Slow down here! They have installed "traffic calming" measures which primarily consist of medians set ON THE WHITE LINE! Yuck! After that lovely piece of road its the Mission Bridge. Lots of traffic. Don't ride too far to the right as the drains are angled to catch your wheel. Take the first right off the bridge. Two of the drains on this exit take up the whole shoulder and are angled... you guessed it, to suck your wheel. Left at the T, right and up the steep pitch on Murray. Left on Lougheed and ta da, the last control. Tim Hortons on the right is open all night; Petrocan to the left.

Now its 60 km to go. As you go through Mission you will pass a Motel of particular note to Doug and I. On our first 400 km we slept there (yes actually stopped on a 400 and had a nap). We've improved in strength since then but at that time and in that weather (pouring rain), that Motel was fabulous.

Lougheed is Lougheed and you've done some of it as part of the 200. Of note is the construction at Silverdale and then on the other side of the Stave River Bridge, the Ruskin hill was particularly unpleasant as the shoulder completely disappeared. There are two bypasses you make off of Lougheed. The first is the Haney bypass (bypasses a number of traffic lights and is shorter). After the Haney bypass you are in Maple Ridge. Lots of services but the road can be narrow and busy. Wasn't too bad for us but for those of you finishing earlier it will be noisier. Watch for stuff in the shoulder after Maple Ridge. We had one insident where number two in the line went over a pylon. All well, if a little shaken.

Its over the Pitt River bridge and left off it. One of the turns I dread but due to the lateness of the hour was no trouble for us. Mary Hill Bypass leads easily onto United. This takes you past the new Casino.. open at all hours.. to fill your brain with thoughts of what other people do for entertainment. Left on Lougheed and the final push for home. The finish control will be inside the Knight and Day restaurant.. look for Keith Nichol if you are early, Doug if you are a little later or Doug and I if you are toward the back. Have a good ride. We did.

May 9, 2005