Newsletter - 2011 Archive

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Guido at the Grand Coulee Dam

Happy to Finish
by Guido van Duyn

Eleven of us departed Sigi and Leona’s B&B Saturday morning on the first leg of the Too Dam Far 1000. It was raining, quite heavily at times and I knew I would be in for some tough climbing that day. The first control was at Tim Horton’s at Vedder Crossing in Chilliwack. It was a welcome stop as several of us were already quite wet and cold and feeling miserable barely 3 hours into our 1000K brevet. The next control was the Chevron/White Spot in Hope where we had second breakfast and readied ourselves for the first big to Manning Park and beyond. This climb was new to me as I’d never been beyond Rhododendron Flats during last year’s “Beyond Hope 400”. By now our group had broken up and Gary Sparks and I were bringing up the rear with Bob Koen, Manfred and Rick den Braber riding ahead of us. After Allison Pass we met up with the three again at the Manning Park Lodge which breaks up the climb to Sunday Summit. Later as Gary and I rode together into Princeton Bob, Manfred and Rick were just getting ready to leave after having had dinner. It was now just about 2100, Gary and I had a meal at Subway and continued on our way towards Keremeos. The ride was pleasant along the Similkameen it was nice to have left the cold and rain behind, though there was still some tough riding ahead of us as we rode towards Osoyoos. At first there were series of rollers that were fun then they became lengthier and soon we were again engaged in steady climbing. Eventually we saw the lights of the city and enjoyed the descent into town to the Husky gas station control. A short ride took us to the border crossing; it was now around 0300. It took us until almost 0500 to reach our sleep stop, The Red Apple Inn in Tonasket. A little less than 2 sleep cycles ( 3 hours) and we were on our way in search of breakfast. It was Sunday morning so service was slow and we spent a full hour on breakfast, it was 0930 before we were on the road again. It was a beautiful day and we rode towards Omak enjoying the ride, we stopped at a gas station before making the right turn onto Columbia River Road which would take us all the way to the Grand Coulee Dam. Lots of climbing on this leg of the journey, it was hot but it could have been worse as there was a bit of a cool breeze. We arrived in Grand Coulee Dam around 1630; Eric Ferguson who had started at 1000 Saturday and ridden through the night without a sleep break passed us and continued on toward Dam # 2. Gary and I met up with Bob, Manfred and Rick who were just leaving after their meal in Grand Coulee Dam. The evening leg of the journey consisted of a climb to around 3800 feet along which you ride for some time before descending down towards Bridgeport and the Chief Joseph Dam. Gary and I stopped in a convenience store where we enjoyed pizza, burritos and enchiladas; I later discovered that Bridgeport’s population is 76% Mexican! We rode through town looking in at the various Mexican businesses and made and made our way the next control, the Chevron in Pateros which we needed to reach before midnight. We arrived around 2330 and departed shortly thereafter on the third leg of our journey. It seemed each day would consist of three 6-7 hour legs. The Mazama via Hwy 153 and Hwy 20 was pleasant; it was very quiet through the night though both Gary and I were feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. Cycling through the dark in an unpopulated area is kind of sensory depriving I don’t really anything until we rode through Twisp which had an all night service station where Gary pulled in. I kept going and rode by myself through Winthrop another 20 some odd kms to ride to Mazama but it took just about 2 hours as there was slight grade to climb. I arrived at the Mazama Country Inn about 0545. Sigi Palme was just leaving after having slept on the floor of the recreation centre. I went inside to find my room but there were nothing but empty envelopes on a tray in the entryway. I knocked on the den Barber’s door hoping they could help me find my room key but to no avail. As I walked back to the office Gary arrived, I explained to him I couldn’t find our room key, knowing the control was closing at 0750 we each took a couch and slept for an hour before we were awoken by the clattering of dishes which signaled the arrival of our continental breakfast. Not much sleep and even less of a clue of the riding (climbing) ahead of us. It was 94 kms to the next services in Newhalem, Gary then informed me that there was lots of tough climbing ahead even more than Allison Pass. I started out with the group of five: Bob, Manfred, Rick, Gary and I but it wasn’t long before I was dropped. The climbing seemed to go on forever I reached 4200 ft and thought of Allison Pass, it couldn’t be that much further to the top of this summit! Seated climbing for long periods of time is hard on your lower back and butt, breaking it up with some standing helps but after a while I was so tired I had to intersperse riding with walking which gave me quite a bit of relief. It was getting colder the higher I got despite being a sunny day, finally after about 3 hours I reached the summit of Washington Pass at 5400 ft. I put on my jacket for the descent but it was short lived as there was still a small climb to Rainy Pass. Finally the descent began in earnest, it took a long time to reach Newhalem in some sections while in the aero bars I felt the closest I ever been to falling asleep on a bike. There were powerful headwinds a as well a one point I felt like I was almost being blown of my bike by a powerful side gust. I stopped for a bathroom break and having finished I turned around to see Eric Fergusson coming towards me. Eric suffered a catastrophic hub failure while riding through Winthrop but fortunately had a nice sleep and had is wheel expertly fixed shortly thereafter! I followed Eric down the road and into Newhalem where we met up with Bob, Manfred, Rick and Gary who where just leaving. During this difficult day of riding I had been thinking of abandoning my ride because I had not slept much ate much and had run out of water the 94 kms to Newhalem had taken me 7 hours and I was feeling quite disillusioned about riding another 180kms. Eric pointed out that I had lots of time and Manfred said that the tough riding was over and the rest was easy fortunately I took his advice and carried on west on Hwy 20. After having had something to eat and drink in Newhalem I was feeling much better and the ride to the next control at Sedro Wooley was very pleasant! The rest of the ride was uneventful, north on the Chuckanut Drive through Fairhaven, some nighttime navigation through Ferndale with a bit of unexpected climbing but I actually felt somewhat revived as I rolled up to the border crossing and then made my way to the finish at the Cozy Beach B&B where Sigi was waiting for me, I was happy to finish!



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July 1, 2011