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Ryder Hatzic Hill 300
by Keith Fraser

Twas an overcast and cool morn as 40 or more Randos gathered at 4th and Boundary for the start of this year's Lower Mainland 300. In the registration lineup was approached by Gary Baker who asked if I'd found my missing helmet. In the pre-dawn gloom, was a case of mistaken identity - he meant Peter Stary, whose helmet went missing after he completed the LM 200 two weeks earlier. Chatted briefly with Cheryl Lynch, who advised me that her beau and my Fleche team-mate, Nigel Press, was unable to ride the event due to a leg injury (pulled groin) but that he would be okay for next week's Fleche. After some brief route instructions from organizer Chris Cullum, we were off, shortly after 6 a.m. North along Boundary, we turned up Union Street in Burnaby, a long steady climb. It was to be a day of climbing, climbing and…more climbing (eventually registered nearly 9,500 ft of elevation gain on my Garmin). Wanted to set a good tempo to warm myself up as I'd felt a bit of a chill at the start. Was hoping to be joined by others but no such luck - at least, at first. Looking back at several points on the climb up North Burnaby, I noticed several riders not far back. After the initial climb, was good to descend at speed along the Barnet Highway. Turning up Ioco Road in Port Moody, I noticed a large group not far back. One rider eventually did bridge up to me at the top of the climb up Sunnyside Road, before the Buntzen Lake information control. We stood around trying to figure out which parking lot was the info control and by then another dozen or so riders had arrived. Then it was back up Sunnyside, and more climbing before the descent down into Port Coquitlam. One rider whose name I didn't get joined me as we turned down what we thought was the correct bike path to Pitt River. Was the wrong bike path. As I turned my bike around on the gravel path, I lost balance and slowly keeled over, to the ground. No great harm done however and I brushed myself off and got back on the bike and found the correct gravel path to the Pitt River Bridge.

Joined my riding friend as we rode along Dewdney Trunk Road, riding eastbound. I stopped to answer the call of nature at one point and let him go ahead. Eventually I caught back up with him as we climbed up out of Stave Lake Dam. Was to be the last time I saw him or any other riders for that matter. Not done intentionally. Always prefer company on these long rides to solo efforts. It had rained not long ago as I descended to Stave Lake Road, the wet pavement forcing me to take caution on the descent. After climbing up to the McConnell Creek information control, enjoyed the long descent down to Highway 7 and east to Mission. Crossed the Mission Bridge and then up over Sumas Mountain to the third information control. Descending to North Parallel Road, there was a strong tailwind riding eastward and I made good progress into Chilliwack. But it had clouded over and started to rain lightly as I began the long climb up to the Ryder Lake control, the only staffed control. Had a fresh-baked muffin and several cookies before hopping back on the steed only to be greeted by more climbing up Extrom Road before the descent to Promontory Road. Again, roads were wet from rain so a cautious descent. Turning left onto Vedder Road, I glimpsed a rider heading west on Promontory who might have been veteran Rando Alex Pope. Continued west along Yarrow Central Road, the skies starting to open up and the sun eventually coming out. But now there was a headwind - not a super strong one but enough to present a challenge moving westward towards Fort Langley. Every available hill in Abbotsford seemed to have been recruited for this year's event but I took them all at a steady tempo and made progress westbound. Stopped at a gas station on Glover Road for my Fort Langley control, not far from the turn westbound onto 96th Avenue. Crossed the Golden Ears Bridge and then back over the Pitt River Bridge along Hwy 7. Under the bridge and then eastbound along the Traboulay Poco Trail (gravel path). Nice to be able to stay off Hwy 7 along this stretch. Back onto Hwy 7 however and seemed to hit every traffic red light on the 12 km or so stretch into the finish, at the Knight and Day restaurant at Lougheed and Boundary. Arrived before the organizers and got my control card signed by a waitress and ordered up a chocolate shake and the butter chicken entree. Before long Keith Nichol and another rider who had done the pre-ride arrived. Was told that there were already six reported DNFs. Then Nigel arrived on his bike to await the arrival of Cheryl. All in all a good long ride. Good prep for the Fleche ride next weekend!

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April 27, 2014