Hot Springs Pancake
Permanent #76 Report
by Michel Richard
For a while, Karen had been talking about doing permanents to keep her fitness through the winter. I wasn’t so sure myself, my running was keeping me plenty fit and this winter was forecasted to be a cold one. Well my motivation changed with the idea of finishing and staying at the Harrison Hot Springs resort. So that’s how Karen and I found ourselves in the early morning of Sunday, November 28th in front of the Harrison hotel.
The previous day had been icy most of the day, so we thought there was very little chance that we would ride at all today. But when my alarm went off at 6:00 in the morning, I crawled out of bed, put some clothes on and went to check the weather outside. Much to my surprise, there was no ice on the roads. I came back up to the bedroom to let Karen know that the ride was on, and was met with a less than enthusiastic response. But, we had packed the night before so it was a simple matter of putting on the gear, having a quick breakfast, loading the bikes and driving to the start. The roads were fine driving up there, so I guess we were going to have to go through with this.
We were riding by 7:42. Less than a kilometer later we had to stop and secure Karen’s generator cable that was hitting her spokes. At the end of Hot Springs Rd we stopped at the gas station for a pee break, total distance 6.5 km. We got over the awful Rosedale bridge without any problems, no ice and almost no traffic. Just before the Popkum store, we stopped for some photos of the snowy mountains and proof that we were doing this. A few km’s later on Annis Rd, time for another pee break. In this cold weather, we weren’t riding very fast and with all these stops I was beginning to worry about the clock.
The forecast was calling for sunny skies today but the closer we got to Vedder Crossing, our home, the worse the skies were looking. It was going to be difficult to ride by and not stop. When we got to Bailey Rd, which is in the shadow of the mountains, the road had a thin coating of ice and slush on it. As you would guess this slowed us down even more. Once out of the mountain’s shadow the roads improved, but the rain started. Slowly at first, but then by the time we got to Thomas Rd it was pouring. That’s when I noticed I had no air in my back tire. We were beside a school at this point, so I walked my bike through the parking lot to get under the overhang at the front door. I couldn’t find the cause of the flat , so I decided I would change the tire too. Well I couldn’t even get the first bead on the rim, my hands were too weak from the cold. I had to put the old tire back on and hope for the best. When Karen saw that I had things under control she rode on slowly to get ahead and I would catch up to her eventually. But first, I needed a pee break. By the time I caught her, she had made the turn towards Yarrow, away from our home. We were still going through with this.
Things were going well on the way to Yarrow, the rain had mostly stopped and we seemed to have a bit of tailwind. But as we got close our speed started to drop, and I was getting anxious again. And she needed a pee break. We stopped at the gas station and when Karen got off her bike, she touched her back tire. It was very soft, hence the slowing down. So she went inside to pee and I had a look at her tire. I had pumped it up this morning before starting, so something wasn’t right. I tried pumping it again but the air was hissing out. I took the wheel off and found a big cut. OK, tire change attempt number two. It was a filthy job but this time the tire slid on relatively easily, if slowly. Meanwhile, Karen made use of this down time to also get some food. So, we shared canned pasta and a danish, all washed down with meal replacement. Yummy. Again, Karen went ahead while I finished eating and cleaning up.
We definitely had a tailwind now, it wasn’t powerful but we'd take it. As we got closer to the Birchwood Dairy, we both needed to pee badly. It made us ride faster. After our pee we went inside to get our cards signed and it felt so warm. Ice cream was out of the question, but we had hot chocolate and a pastry and some cookie samples. Anyway, we didn't linger and off we went. By the time we got to the Vye Rd hill our legs were warmed up and the climb wasn't too bad, and neither were the rollers that follow it. We saw our first cyclists, a paceline of three heading the other way, a woman doing the pull. Going down Townline and we need to pee again. Zero Ave starts off flat but gets into some pretty serious rollers as you approach 176th. And we could notice the elevation gain with the increase in snow still lingering on the roadside and the frozen water everywhere. We saw another cyclist on this stretch, but he was cooler than the weather as he didn't wave back at us. We were dreading the descent to the Douglas truck crossing, but the surface was fine if gritty. We pulled into the Campbell River Store and another pee break. Got our cards signed and snacked on hot chocolate and chips and pastry, all the healthy stuff. Good quick control and off we go back towards the start. We have to finish it all now.
The stretch on 8th Ave before heading up the hill was the busiest of the day, which is kind of unpleasant when there is no shoulder. But on the hill itself the cars were gone, where did they all go? The hill is quite steep but I think overall this is a quicker way than on Zero Ave. We wound our way to 216th and Zero Ave again for that long monotonous stretch until you can turn and get on Vye Rd again. Boy, it feels good when that's over. We rolled along well along Vye Rd and then down the big hill onto the Sumas Prairie, no more hills today except dikes and bridges. Our immediate goal was to reach the Yellow Barn, our penultimate control before night fall. And we were just on the edge to make it, but first I had to pee. Karen kept on going and I had to time trial to get back to her. We then turned on to Cole Rd and this was a first time for both of us. It's a nice stretch of road along a river with great views all around. The sun was setting at this point and the colours were fantastic. We made it to the Barn before the sun was gone, but it would be dark from now on. We used the washrooms, got our cards signed and sat down for more of the usual stuff. Except instead of hot chocolate we shared a cola, we needed some caffeine to perk us up.
With the sun now down it seemed like the temperature had plummeted, it took me a long time to warm up. Also, I could now see how inadequate my lights were. My taillight was bright enough but kept turning off by itself and I would have stop to turn it back on. We decided that it was best to just have Karen behind me as her taillight was fine. But that exacerbated my front light problem. I was running a battery light with obviously tired batteries and with Karen running an Edelux behind me I was riding in my own shadow and hoping for the best. I least I knew these roads like the back of my hand. We wound our way around Chilliwack and headed to Hope River Rd and another pee break. This was followed by Camp River Rd, it was very dark on this stretch and we were constantly worried about black ice and dogs. One of the least pleasant things about cycling is the unpredictability of dogs. And it's an order of magnitude worse in the dark. This was another interminable stretch until finally we could see the lights of the Rosedale bridge in the distance, we were close. After we almost missed Ferry Rd because it was so dark, we had our final obstacle before us.
The bridge was fine after all, there was no ice on the deck and the traffic, though steady, was friendly. We turned onto Hot Springs Rd which always feels more than 6 km long at the end of a ride, and then pulled in front of the hotel and dismounted. We handed our filthy bikes over to the valet and checked ourselves in, we had done it.
11 hours and 21 minutes for 209 km. That was my slowest '200' ever. And I've never peed so much in my whole life.
Michel Richard et Karen Smith.
PS We had a fabulous stay at the resort.
We got to our room and after peeing, we cracked open a bottle of sparkling wine. Had some hot showers then got dressed up and went for dinner and dancing in the Copper Room. The mushroom agnolottti and ratatouille were delicious. The band played old favourites and we danced a few slow songs, including Edith Piaf's ' La Vie en Rose', but we passed on the fast ones. We then changed into our swim wear and enjoyed every one of the literally steaming hot pools. We had a great sleep. Lingered in our room awhile and then went down to the breakfast buffet. Unfortunately, they had no pancakes, so we had waffles instead and much more. We then had time to linger in the pools again before checking out. It was a great way to finish the ride, especially this time of year.
Ride date: November 28, 2010
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November 30, 2010