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Cache Creek 600
Ride dates: May 31-June 1, 2014
by Keith Fraser

In the wake of this past weekend's Cache Creek 600, all thoughts must turn to Craig Premack, a longtime club member who had the misfortune of being caught in the crosshairs of a crazed gunman south of Spences Bridge. No doubt everyone has heard by now, but Craig was heading south to the finish, just a few kilometres past the checkpoint at Spences shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday when a man opened fire, hitting him once in the arm. According to one press report, Craig had the wherewithal to staunch the bleeding with a makeshift tourniquet (using one of his leg warmers I believe) until paramedics (called to the scene after several other of our riders following not long afterward came upon Craig at the roadside) could arrive. Craig was taken to hospital where last reports had him in stable condition, with reconstructive surgery planned for his arm. Hope you make a speedy recovery Craig and hope to see you out there on the roads again soon! And hoping anyone with information about the gunman, who apparently sped from the scene in a pickup truck, contacts Lytton RCMP so that they can apprehend him asap.

The ride itself began innocently enough at 7 a.m. Saturday. A beautiful sunny morning greeted the 40 or so club members who gathered outside the Tim Hortons restaurant at the Meadowtown mall, beside the Golden Ears bridge. The ride got away promptly and there was a large group of us who rolled through the quiet neighborhoods east of the bridge at a steady tempo, until we got to the Haney Bypass where we could open up and let fly. John and Malou on the mixed tandem started things off by setting a good pace in front, going east along Highway 7. We were a paceline of about a dozen or so until Whonnock, when a short rise in the road split things up. Arriving at the Sea Bird Island gas station, there were still five or six of us together. Coming out of the checkpoint, Ryan Golbeck, Andrew Hartline, Ed Person and I joined forces riding a nice tailwind on the flat stretch out towards Hope. On the hill outside Hope, Ryan set a good tempo on the climb and I settled in behind him. After we reached the top of the hill, Ed rejoined us following the descent and continued to ride with us for a time.

The three of us stopped briefly for water at Yale before continuing on up the Fraser Canyon. On one of the climbs, Ed dropped back to his own tempo. Ryan and I arrived at the Canyon Alpine Motel, just north of Boston Bar (179.7 kms.) as the heat began to be felt in the early afternoon. Ride organizer Nigel Press and volunteer Darren MacLachlan had a nice spread of food on the picnic table outside the motel room they had booked for the checkpoint. Carrying on, Ryan and I encountered variable winds but nothing strong enough to make a big impact on our progress north through the canyon. The cascading waters of the Fraser River proved a magnificent sight as we rode along. Ryan's rear tire blew off the rim about 15 kilometres south of Spences Bridge but fortunately no damage was done to the rim and we had the flat repaired quickly and were on our way again. We arrived at Spences Bridge, where volunteer Carole Bernhardt had just recently set up, with another large spread of food and drink outside the motel room booked for the checkpoint going south. We encountered a red-eyed, dishevelled young man outside the motel who was making a nuisance of himself and ( we later learned) resulted in police being called to the scene. From Spences Bridge north I had a rough patch, close to cramping in the legs, before Ryan and I arrived at the checkpoint at Cache Creek. Some food and drink at the Chevron checkpoint revived me somewhat and the strong tailwind going south revived me even more. We first encountered Craig going north just outside Cache Creek, head down on his aerobars and looking strong. Not far behind him was Luis followed a ways back by two more riders, Andrew and Peter. Not long after seeing Luis, Ryan had his second flat, this time a large nail driving through the rear tire. Ryan had brought along a spare tire and decided to change both tire and tube. On our way again, we saw a procession of more club members as we headed south, back to Spences. Slightly longer stop at Spences this time, to put on some clothes for the night riding ahead.

As we were about to leave Spences, Etienne and Tobin had arrived, delayed earlier by a broken seat post on Tobin's bike. Barb Pope was contacted and took the time out of her day to drive up to meet them on the route, with a replacement (and proper sized) seat post! Talk about the rando spirit!

Leaving Spences, Ryan and I continued to have a good tailwind, plus a few showers to cool us down a bit. After passing Lytton, the winds shifted again and we encountered a headwind but again not too strong. Now we were into the night riding. The showers behind us, the skies were still cloudy and threatened more rain but none materialized before we arrived back at the Canyon Alpine, shortly after 11 p.m. Lengthiest stay at a checkpoint as we each had a bowl of hot soup provided by Nigel and Darren and tucked into the bowls of food on the table inside the motel room. Ahead of us was a stretch of night riding, about 93 kms., to the next control at Sea Bird gas station (not open at that time of night, so it was an "information" checkpoint). Ryan was feeling a bit drowsy on this stretch. We stopped at Yale and topped up our water bottles at a water pump beside the gas station (not open either at this hour). Short stop at Sea Bird, after getting in there about 3:30 a.m. I believe. Saw first light as we approached Woodside mountain and after reaching the top, we stopped again to fill our bottles at the mountain spring.

Then it was back on the bikes and on the home stretch. Kept up a steady tempo through Mission and as we turned off Haney Bypass onto Callaghan Avenue for the final few kilometres, Ryan noted that we were close to breaking 24 hours. Arrived at the finish, staff by volunteer Dave King, at 6:58 a.m., two minutes inside 24! What a squeaker! Ryan's first time under 24. My eighth Cache Creek 600, fourth time on this course under 24, with times ranging from 22:19 (2003) to 26:07 (2007)

Gave Ryan a lift to his place and then headed home myself. After a hot shower, something to eat and several hours sleep, I woke to several phone messages from my editors at The Province, curious to know whether I knew anything about a shooting incident involving a cyclist on a long-distance bike ride south of Spences Bridge. Alarmed, I called the city desk and was quickly informed of the few details then available. A sobering end to an otherwise great weekend of cycling.

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June 2, 2014