Newsletter - 2006 Archive

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Interior 600 - Okanagan Whine Tour
by Bob Goodison

        To be honest, it is not entirely my fault. We ( I ) will blame Richard, because he had reservations about the route and still let me do it. I don't recall his exact words, but I think "You're NUTS" was in there somewhere. What could be wrong with taking a bunch of my favorite short rides and linking them up into one very scenic (hilly) 600 ?

        Seven of us started in beautiful weather at the top of the hill West of Kamloops. The first several km were downhill, and the first real climb wasn't until Chase. With no wind and no hills we were lulled into a false sense of security. After Chase we got into some mild hills, nothing to worry about. Ken was long gone out front. I thought Peter was too, but I saw him just leaving the 1st control South of Salmon Arm as I was arriving. I had an uneventful ride through Deep Creek Rd and Hwy 97 to the second control on Westside Rd. By this point a headwind was developing, and we were heading towards dark clouds.

        After the control, Westside Rd gets VERY HILLY . I normally enjoy this road. I loved the 300 we did going the opposite direction. Today I did NOT love this road. Even going what I thought was an easy pace, granny gear and single digit speeds my legs went away very rapidly. I decided that I should beat the crap out of the idiot who thought of this route- wait a minute - I already am doing that. After the climb to Fintry, I saw an abandoned pylon in the ditch and thought would make a great dunce cap for the guy who laid this out- oops, me again. The nonstop flow of traffic on Hwy 97 was loud and annoying after the quiet of Westside Rd. I decided to stop at the Subway in Westbank for some food, but changed my mind when I saw the line-up right to the door. No time for this, so on I went. About 10 km later in Peachland, I started to bonk badly. I stopped at a roadside restaurant hoping for soup and a sandwich. They had no suitable soup, and no sandwiches on the menu. The waitress said she could make me a sandwich if I told her what I wanted, but at this point my brain had shut down. I ordered the special- bbq chicken and a salad- very tasty, but no carbs. Poor choice. The rest stop did me more good than the food, and I continued South toward an ever blackening sky. I had only ever done this part in a car, and didn't remember it being this hilly. It started to spit rain at Summerland, and by the time I hit Penticton it was gushing and I was soaked. The ride along Skaha Lake is fun, even tired and in the rain. At the Okanagan Falls control I enjoyed a couple of burritos as the food I was packing hadn't appealed to me since before I had bonked.

        I bonked again just as I was starting up the long hill towards Keremeos- the food hadn't processed yet. I ate some gummy fruit things, drank a can of Red Rave (same as Red Bull) that I pack for just such an occasion, and took a few moments to regroup. That was enough to get me over the top and I enjoyed the gentle long downhills into Keremeos.

        At the start of the ride, I had been undecided about whether to ride through or sleep in Princeton, but by now ( 10:00 pm) it was obvious I needed to stop, and the sooner the better. Fortunately the road from Keremeos to Princeton is virtually flat, because so was my energy level. I stopped at an inn just off the hwy in Hedley. Everything was dark, and it looked to be out of my price range. On the road again! Next came a motel with cabins next door. All dark, but the motel had a sign saying "Open-please ring bell." I rang, waited, rang, waited and so on for about ten minutes before giving up and going to the cabins next door. It was locked up tight. On the road again! Soon, another sign advertising cabins. It was now 11:30. I wandered around knocking on various buildings unsure of which was the right one, and finally lights came on and a door opened. I had apparently set off an alarm. The price was right-$50 taxes in, and I had a shower and a good 4 1/2 hrs sleep.

        I left there at about 5:30 and cycled the remaining 25 km to Princeton where I used the A&W for my control and breakfast. Stopping to sleep had been the right choice, as my legs felt stronger after 400 km than they had at 200 km. Good thing too, as there was a major series of climbs on Hwy 5A towards Merritt. Another advantage to having slept was the scenery. This is a beautiful stretch of road, and it would have been a shame to miss it riding in the dark. I was finally feeling good, and neither the rain that started to fall, nor the flat that I got near the summit dampened my spirits. After 5A joined the Okanagan connector there was a section of road construction, but nothing major, then downhill into Merritt. I checked in at a Super Save gas, had a chocolate milk and a bag of Cheesies (rando health food) and continued. It had stopped raining.

        On the way out of Merritt, I met up with Richard, Mike and Barry. Apparently they had passed me by not sleeping as long.To my surprise, none of them tried to hurt me. I looked forward to riding with them to share the work, as a strong headwind was developing. Unfortunately, they had not yet stopped for food and I had so I continued into the wind towards an approaching storm. Did I say a strong headwind? Strong doesn't begin to describe it. It was coming from the front and left diagonally, accompanied by torrential rain and hail. I struggled to maintain 15 kmh. Every time a transport went by, I had to be careful as the momentary windbreak would cause me to veer spastically towards traffic. Also unnerving were the deafening thunder, and lightning I guessed to be about 1 km away. Amazingly, I still felt strong. Luckily the storm didn't last and by Quilchena the rain stopped and I had a good tailwind that pushed me all the was to the top of the Cardew Hill. Suddenly I was cruising at 30-40 kmh. The headwind and heavy rain returned for the last downhill into Kamloops, but I didn't care. I was done. Unloading the bike at home, I found I had another flat tire- must have picked up something on that last downhill- second year in a row I've had a tire go flat after I finished the 600.

        Note for Richard- Never, under any circumstances, let me plan a 600 route again! Roads that are fun on a short ride are not necessarily good for a long one. Destroy any remaining copies of the route sheet! That said, I would not hesitate to recommend this route to anyone looking to do a 5 day tour. It has it all- Tourist attractions, wildlife (lots of coyotes & mule deer), beautiful scenery. At 100 to 150 km a day it would be great. Oh well, live and learn. We do learn, don't we?

June 12, 2006