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Four Coves and a Mountain
Mainland Summer 200 Report
by Tracy Barill

On July 5th, 36 determined cyclists set off on the inaugural Four Coves and a Mountain 200 km brevet from Harbourside Park in North Vancouver. Conditions were wet with cool to mild temperatures. The route is a new route formed with objectives to see the North Shore, be challenged with some climbs (a good ride for those who are riding the RM1200 2 ½ weeks later), and ride some of the nicer routes west of the Port Mann / Pitt River bridges. Much thanks go out to Kevin Bruce and Dug Andrusiek for pre-riding much of the route, for offering valuable re-routing suggestions, and for significant edits to the route sheet.

The route took the riders along rolling waterfront roads to Deep Cove then over the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge through Burnaby into Port Moody via the Barnett Highway. The first control was skillfully operated by Harold Bridge and Jim McKay. They served up Marjorie Asano’s (my wonderful Mother-in-law) cookies and lemon squares, water, Coke, Five-Alive, Gatorade, bite sized brownies and chips – each control was stocked with similar items. The route then flattened noticeably out to Pitt River then on to New Westminster, over the Queensborough into Richmond, along River Road then over the Arthur Laing bridge to Fraser River Park. ‘Fraser at the Fraser’ control saw all 36 riders through with Keith Fraser providing valuable support 100 km into the ride. The showers had generally eased by the mouth of the Fraser River. The flats of the last 50 km were soon to be replaced with rollers for the next 50 km.

Riders then made their way up to UBC, along Jericho beach, around Stanley Park, over the Lion’s Gate bridge and west to Whytecliff park just past Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Here Bob Koen and his son Alex operated the third control at about the 150 km point in the brevet. Riders tended to spend a little more time at this control – likely enjoying the support from Bob / Alex and resting from the rollers of Marine Drive. Perhaps, like me, the riders also needed a little time to muster some extra mental fortitude (and bury any common sense notions to the contrary) to begin the 27 km climb from Whytecliff to the upper levels highway then on to climb Cypress Mountain.

The Cypress Mountain climb took riders as far as possible on the road to the last parking lot where Janet Barill (my significant other – and likely the hardiest of the two of us) had set up a canopy, a couple tables and chairs, and a Coleman Stove where the typical control items were augmented with hot Chicken Noodle soup and hot chocolate. Conditions at the top of Cypress Mountain for the first four hours of the control was miserable at best – visibility 15-150 metres, windy, temperature 10 degrees Celsius. Riders were encouraged to drink and eat quickly, maintain what body heat they generated on the way up and make their way steadily but cautiously down. Extra jackets were offered for those in need of a little extra warmth on the descent. The first riders down saw the worst conditions with the last riders enjoying some sunshine and much improved conditions.

The long descent back to Harbourside park saw Jeff Schlingloff roar in with a time of 7 hours and 27 minutes. All but one rider completed the full brevet with the last two riders arriving 12 hours and 19 minutes into the ride. Descending Cypress was without incident although Mathers Ave was reported to be slick. Nigel Press reported that he “ate shit” along Mathers which was quickly clarified by his various areas of road rash.

At the finish, many riders hung out for a while to socialize and wait for other riders. Besides the home baking, the chicken soup and hot chocolate was very well received. The route was also much enjoyed with many riders expressing how the route encompassed much of their typical rides, that “it was neat to have these separate rides strung together into a 200 k brevet.” A few riders mentioned that the controls were situated at good intervals (every 50 k) and that the controls were run the clubs’ “VIPs”. The volunteers were much appreciated by all, including me. The volunteers showed up with all that each control demanded. I was more than impressed. The rider experience would have been quite different without the support they received.

I was also impressed by the number of riders (37 in all) and the tenacity of each rider (Phil Jones rode the entire ride with the exception of the climb up Cypress). It is definitely a unique experience to see the ride from a position of support rather than as a cyclist in the ride.

I would make a few changes: make copies of the control card/route sheet with a laser printer. My pre-ride was completely dry. The brevet day was definitely not dry and the cards/route sheets were a mess. The route sheet missed a couple of significant directions – not show stoppers but a couple experienced riders pointed out that riders new to the area could be stumped. All in all, it was a success. Completion rate of 97% is very high. The experienced people at the controls and the extent of the food/fluids were received very positively.

I felt proud to be a part of this event and privileged to be associated with all involved. Thanks also goes to Roger Holt and Danelle Laidlaw for their experience and support behind the scenes amidst all else that they are doing for cycling.

Go to: Results - Photos


July 16, 2008