|Newsletter - 2008 Archive|
"Oh, you're coming for Passover - how nice!" Then I had to disappoint my incipient hostess by confessing that I had forgotten entirely about Passover, and in fact I was coming to Vancouver, I hoped, to go cycling. I am an equal opportunity neglecter, though: I was equally surprised by Easter.
"You're doing WHAT?!"
The wonderful thing about true friends is that they will tolerate the most amazing range of foolishness, so with minimal headshaking, I was made comfortable in the wilds of Kitsilano.
More than a little chagrined at missing the 2008 Tour of the Cowichan Valley, I was determined to get 2008 started ASAP, so the Flying Beaver 200 on the following weekend was the obvious choice. Besides, the route was bound to be dead flat, surely! What could go wrong? For a guy who's spent a lot of his life sailing, it's odd that I had forgotten about destinations. "Destination: where you are going to and the wind is coming from" - turns out it works for bicycles, too.
But that wasn't what was on my mind as I left my hostess' house at 06:00. What was on my mind was also on my car - about 3 cm of snow. With no small trepidation I set out for Richmond, and what they say about Vancouver seems to be true: the farther you get from the mountains, the better the weather is. It was positively positive as by the time I spotted the McDonald's marshalling point, although I managed to pooch the approach to McDonalds and had to do a go-round (an omen for the day's navigation?) That wasn't really the reason I was 7 minutes late at the start - I'm just not organized. Not good, because I'm slow at the best of times and I'd been hoping to hook up with someone from the mainland who might know the route; there seemed little prospect of catching up.
I did eventually get away, and was both startled and relieved to discover a rando stopped at the near end of the No 2 Road bridge - here was at least some chance of company. This was Colin, who said he had a flat as well as the means to deal with it, so I continued on, pretty confident that he would soon join me, which indeed he did. We rode together for a while until for some reason we were overtaken by Team Coastal. It was really no surprise getting caught, I just couldn't figure out where they had stopped for coffee, and so soon. Still, with a little extra effort (speaking for myself at least) Colin and I managed to stay hooked up and enjoyed a splendid tow up to the Alex Fraser bridge - thank you, ladies, and next time the Gatorades are on me. I certainly don't object to taking a turn on the front, but I've found that most other riders regard my pace as obstruction rather than pulling!
Having sailed beneath the Fraser bridge, I ought to have remembered that it does attain a certain elevation. I was soon reminded, and at the same time separated from the locomotives, and also separated from Colin, whose flat turned out to be a chronic slow leak that was to plague him all morning. So while he reinflated, I carried on down the other side of the bridge, a bit more my style, and eventually found myself on River Road, again mooching a tow, this time from Deirdre and Bob on the tandem along with Jeff. This lasted until the tandem lost a chain and I carried on, regretting it when I realized that it was the front chain, and I might have learned something from the replacement exercise. Jeff later told me that apparently there's enough slack that it can be worked around the chain rings without undue fuss - at least, that's the way he told it!
Ken and Teresa kept me company into Tsawwassen where there was once again - a hill! This was not part of my plan - this was supposed to be flat; if I'd wanted hills I could have stayed on the Island and subjected myself to Ray's tender mercies. Nevertheless, Diefenbaker Park eventually showed up and with it, refreshments! That's more like it. Refuelled, I doddled off for what I was sure would be a nice pleasant cruise across the flats to Crescent Beach.
That was where the "destination" business really made itself felt and it occurred to me that while I'm dreadful going uphill, at least when you do that, there's some chance of payback on the other side, but as every sailor knows, after you've finished traveling upwind, you get to turn around and travel upwind again back home. Colin caught up with me again while I was contemplating these points, having found a helpful relative and a better tube in Tsawwassen, and we rode together again for a while, until the 58th Avenue hill separated the sheep from the mountain goats. But at least the wind was reduced, and sure enough, there was payback going down to Crescent Beach! The only thing I didn't like about Crescent Beach was overhearing someone say, "Better get some food in me before those rolling hills coming up " Gotta be a mistake - this is a flat ride, right?
I remember visiting White Rock as an infant in the late 1940s, but have hardly been back since and really enjoyed the undulating spin through the town - positively nostalgic. And these must be the hills I'd heard about.
Apparently not, and apparently the 0 in 0 Avenue does not refer to the elevation, at least not everywhere; maybe at one end. Who ordered this? And whaddup with 232nd Street? That's a nasty little pitch to throw at a guy when he's trying to memorize the name of some family that adopted a highway, a backroad really, just because he didn't bring a pencil - where's the justice in that?
Maybe in Fort Langley - 'Arold was in Fort Langley, why not justice? 'Arold was dispensing Gatorade; justice would have to wait. 'Arold was also dispensing advice on the care and folding of brevet cards, duly noted, and with a memo to self that if I remarked that on the Island, that bastion of civilization and refinement, Ray and Amanda fold them properly for you at registration, it would only betray my soft and overprivileged lifestyle. So with less sniveling than I felt like, off on the home stretch. Surely it's all downhill from here; we are traveling with the river current after all?
Why, yes, it is downhill, or at least most of it - and what a spiffy descent down Surrey Road! No-one in his right mind would waste all that elevation if there was any need to go wait, wait, what's this? King Road? It tends upward or my eyes deceive me! Eyes be damned, my legs can't be fooled - this is annoying and hardly the thing at this time in the afternoon. I'd been hoping to sample Richmond's Asian fare, but it looks like a sunshine burger on the Queen of Leechtown if I'm to be back in Shawnigan Lake tonight.
But at last the Alex Fraser bridge is in sight, and not too far, either - we'll get this done yet. What, not the Fraser bridge? The rotters! They've built a Skytrain bridge to look like the Fraser bridge and befuddle the innocents who visit the mainland only occasionally, like maybe once so far this century. I'm sticking to the Island, where we don't have any bridges, at least none built in the last 100 years.
All things come to him who waits, including the Fraser bridge, so finally over that and back down River Road to Richmond. A couple of decades ago I lived in New Westminster and worked in Richmond, and rode that route fairly frequently. On the out leg in the morning I had been trying desperately to be a well-behaved paceliner, not something I'm used to, and hadn't taken the opportunity to reflect and reminisce. Now, although the time was later than I'd hoped, the afternoon light and my solo ride gave me the chance to rewind and unwind, bringing the day to a very agreeable conclusion.
Except for the wind, which obligingly blew on the nose yet again, particularly on the last kilometer to the finish. There I was greeted with apologies for the lack of hills, which as an Islander I must have missed, but I had to say that there were enough for me, and there was that other factor
They say that any day spent fishing is better than any day in the office, and surely the same is true of riding. I'd been hoping for a little better time, as usual, but also as usual had a day I'd be glad to live over.
And that sunshine burger? I did manage to catch the 9:00 pm ferry, and eschewed the burger in favour of butter chicken, a choice that caught the attention of a silver-haired matron next to me in the food line. She proceeded to declaim at length on matters gastronomic and then catching herself, remarked, "Well, here we are talking about food again - I guess that's about all we have left to talk about, eh?"
I thought, "Well, I've just ridden my bicycle 200 kilometers - we could talk about that " but there's something to be said for fatigue, and for once I kept my mouth shut.
May 15, 2008