LM 600 Princeton
by Colin Fingler
Twenty-two riders (including 3 pre-riders) started and finished the challenging LM600 Princeton route.
The Abbotsford start made for a quicker-than-usual run to Hope, and with Karen Smith and Michel Richard out to 'cow-bell' the riders across the Chilliwack River, the early pace was quick. However, a few flats and the Othello Road rollers soon served to stretch out the riders before the climb up the Coquihalla.
Tailwinds and cool temperatures certainly helped with the climb and more than a few riders were spurred on by thoughts of tasty samosas from the concession truck at Britton Creek - only to discover the promised truck was absent! I did however manage to get to the control just ahead of the front few and did my best to make my offerings of red licorice, Dad's cookies and S&V chips look & sound appealing. My stove was missing a part so, I tried heating some soup cans on the van exhaust system - didn't work very at all. No matter – cold soup was good enough for Deirdre.
A chilly 7 degrees at the summit soon gave way to sunny skies and warmer temps on the descent to Merritt. The turn southwards toward Princeton now meant headwinds, and combined with the big climb right out of Merritt was perhaps the toughest stretch of the entire route for many.
Arrival at the Princeton Control (Evergreen Motel on Hwy 3) was a classic BC Rando experience. Volunteers Bob & Patti Marsh understand this control business like no one else and their offerings of salads, sandwiches, wraps, fruit, and the much-loved potato soup fortified the cyclists for their out & back leg to Stemwinder along the Old Hedley Road. With full bellies combined with a full moon, most riders made a quick turn-around for Princeton and a few hours of shut- eye. Bob & Patti managed the wake-up calls and, with a bit of 'hot- bunking', everyone who needed a spot to sleep got one.
I finished up at Stemwinder before 2:00 am, and headed back to Princeton to find things well in hand, so I grabbed about 3 hours of sleep in the back of my van. When I woke about 5:30, all the riders had left, the rooms were all cleaned out, the drop bags stacked in a neat pile. It was as if the elves had been there. Bob handed me the completed control sheets and wished me well as he & Patti headed home for some well-earned sleep. I had a shower, grabbed a coffee and checked in with Jaime Guzman who was ready in Abbotsford at the finish control for Keith Fraser who arrived just after 7:30 am.
As I headed out on Highway 3, I caught up to most of the randos around Sunday Summit - after 34 km of some substantial climbing out of Princeton. I got to Manning Park Lodge just before 9:00 am, concerned that the store might be delayed opening. It did open on time, but other than coffee and stale muffins, offerings were pretty slim plus the restaurant was closed. So, I fired up my new stove (replaced in Merritt) and offered a hot soup service, which proved to be quite popular.
Carrying along Hwy3 westward, most of riders were able to spy the resident bears along the flats west of Allison Pass. Then came a blast of headwinds for some and for all, the big descent from the Hope Slide. Next up was the side trip to Harrison for the info control and then Woodside (an initiation of sorts for our newest randonneurs) and most had sunshine for the rest of the way into Mission and Abbotsford.
I got back to the finish around 1 pm to meet John Oswald and a very droopy-eyed Eric Fergusson, suffering from a severe case of helmet hair. We packed him off to sleep in the back of the van and were soon visited by Gary Baker – just off the plane from Seoul, who regaled us with tales of his & Jeff’s Korean 1200 adventure. Now the guessing game began as to the next arrivals. John hopped on his bike and reverse rode the route, texting us that Peter Stary and then soon after the Nichol brothers were just passing through Mission. The welcoming committee was soon expanded by Karen & Michel. Gary left and returned later with Sheryl. As each rider came in this route organizer briefed a small sigh of relief and especially enjoyed the ritual of the handshake & pin award.
Shortly after 8pm all riders were in. Things got quite noisy at the Tim Horton’s.
As a first-time ride organizer, I found the process of designing a remote route quite challenging. Balancing sufficient challenge, interest, safety, services and timing for all paces of riders made for an intriguing conundrum, but after many iterations, digging through the archives and much helpful advice, the route materialized. I really wanted to feature the Merritt to Princeton section, which I had never ridden myself (until the pre-ride) and, in spite of the headwinds, I believe most of the riders, will look back on this portion with some fondness. Key to making this particular route work is a well-supported Princeton control. Thanks to the volunteers – my parents, John Oswald, Jaime Guzman and Bob & Patti Marsh, plus LM Route Coordinators Keith Nichol & Gary Baker for their support.
All in all, a memorable randonneur experience for all – including organizer & volunteers!
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June 5, 2012