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Eh Team - Sunshine Coast and Beyond
Flèche Pacifique Report
by Keith Nichol

It all started with a ferry ride, well not quite. I left work early to get the last bits and pieces together and then headed across to Doug and Susan's to get a lift with Deirdre and Bob to the ferry. When I arrived Doug hadn't changed yet and announced that he was suffering from the dread lurgy and wouldn't be joining us. Luckily there were three bikes and so we still had a team. We loaded everything up and headed off to the ferry in the luxury of Bob's new station wagon.

Everything was offloaded at Horseshoe Bay, but no sign of Peter. As he was the captain of the tandem this could be tricky. I went and got ferry tickets and we waited as the ferry departure time got closer and closer. Luckily he hadn't missed the bus but wasn't feeling great and had doubts about his health before we even started. The meal on the ferry perked everyone up and all to soon we were at Langdale. I always forget the hill out the ferry terminal, especially when you see the tandem with Deirdre and Peter rocket up it ahead of you. Susan and I were a bit worried that this was what it was going to be like for the rest of the ride! We got to the motel in Gibsons and checked in as reception was going to closed by the time we got back from Egmont village in the early hours of the morning.

The pace was pretty hectic out to Sechelt, Peter having discovered he was feeling all right after the rapid climb from the ferry terminal. After that it started getting dark and more hilly we all settled into our own rhythm. I kept an eye on Susan in my mirror to made sure she didn't get left behind as the tandem eased away yet again. We got to our first stop at the Madeira Park petrol station only to discover everything was shut and there weren't any convenient taps. We decided we could make Egmont village on what water we had left but we'd have to fill up there. Everyone layered up as it was cooling fairly quickly, it was a clear night and the stars were a glowing blanket overhead. Soon we were back on the road, everyone in their little cocoon of light keeping a steady pace over the hills. The turn off to Egmont village came faster than we thought and we grunted over the last hills into the village. At least you couldn't see what was coming, just hope you were in the right gear. There was a very inviting warm fire at the park just before we got in, glowing and sparking in the dark. We took our criminal photographs in front of the village store sign to prove we'd actually got there. Susan had the bright idea of getting a current paper so we could hold this up as proof that it was actually the date. Mind you she said Doug could have doctored that if need be! We all ate and then started the frantic search for water. We asked a passing visitor if he had any idea. but to no avail. The wash rooms were locked and there were boil water advisories posted everywhere which didn't auger well. We had noticed a light on in a house nearby so we went and knocked on the window to see if we could top up our bottles and get our cards signed. The toad creature from hell came to the door and on being asked if we could get some water just said there was a tap at the wharf. She was pretty indifferent to the boil water advisory and closed the door in our faces. We headed back to see if we could find the local resort and a tap. Susan and I got to the top of the hill before we realized we'd missed the road. By the time we got back down Deirdre and Peter had discovered where we could get water. A local hippy had stopped and asked if they needed help and told them there was a pipe with an open outlet next to the parking lot at the top of the hill, so back up we went again. We could hear the water but not see if until the hippy drove up, pointed his lights and hooted. Bottles full with suspect water off we set on our return to Gibsons and bed.

We stopped at the pub just after Madeira Park to toast Susan's joining the 40,000 km club , that's if we finished the Fleche of course. We only had Gatorade but it seemed kind of fitting for the occasion. There was very little traffic so we could use the whole road which made the whole ride easier. Soon we were back in Sechelt and a Scotia Bank ATM outlet beckoned to us being warm and comfortable. The four of us spread out on the floor and started topping up the carbs for the last stretch that night. A car arrived and we were wondering if it was security but it was just someone wanting money. He wasn't particularly phased by us loitering there, more interested in what we were up to.

Back on the bikes and the hotel was soon reached. It was a bit of a bugger getting the tandem up the stairs but we were driven by the thought of a brief sleep. All too soon the alarm went off and we were heading back to the ferry, at least down the hill this time. Breakfast this time and another climb up out of Horseshoe Bay. The rollers along Marine were easier than we thought and before we knew it were at the turn around on Dollerton Highway. A double shot Americano cleared out some of the cobwebs and we retraced our steps and then over Second Narrows bridge to Lougheed Highway. The all to familiar route out of town was pretty uneventful apart from a driver who decided to fit into a no existent gap in front of Susan at the turning I missed being half asleep. We had a real treat when we got to Bruce's Market at the ex Albion ferry turn off, they were having a fund raiser for something or another. There were tents in the parking lot with a band and wild salmon burgers or steaks. Peter was even satisfied as they had rice and salads in addition to buns. We feasted and Susan even won a draw prize. Refreshed we attacked the climb out of there and we were taking the detour around the construction before we knew it. The hill is counter balanced by the scenery, especially if you remember the turn onto Keystone Ave and gear down in time. Chocolate milks all round at the Cedar garage and then a new route back to the Highway via Hatzik from a different angle. It was fine except for getting back onto the Highway, what with all the traffic flying by.

A bit of a wind going out to Deroche, but the Sasquatch inn and our next break at the café didn't take long to arrive. This time it was Java Monsters all around, as the day progressed so the need for more serious stimulants grew. Woodside was climbed and descended in short order and then it was just heads down into the wind to see if we could make our 22 hour turn around at Ruby Creek or whether we would be caught short. We made it on the nail and after a quick bite to eat and getting our cards signed we headed back on the last leg to Harrison. The wind had perversely turned and we now had to deal with a bit of a head wind all the way until we turned for the last 6 kms back to the Hotel. We got to the hotel shortly before Barb arrived with the snacks and Ali appeared with life saving beer.

Another enjoyable Flèche and thanks to the organizers and my team mates who designed the route, made all the the hotel bookings and made it a fun ride.

Flèche Pacifique: May 7-9, 2010

Go to: Keith's Flèche Photos
Go to: Keith's Garmin Connect


May 14, 2010