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The 11th Hour... 72 hours before
Ride Date: November 11, 2014
by Étienne Hossack

Gallery Here. (Dropbox)

The 11th hour this year was really quite a lovely ride, and although we had a long section on the SFPR, the weather and the road not being in abysmal conditions made it rather nice. It was my first ride over 50kms since the Gran Fondo, since I had been essentially completely off the bike on my travels abroad, so I was expecting a world of hurt. Thankfully not so!

Ron and I set out for the pre-ride, meeting at 7AM at the Bean Around the World on Lonsdale Quay. Ron of course had his bike fall off the back of Janet's car last week and vanish in the time it took to circle around, so was bike-less at this time. So he would be riding Tracy's Specialized Roubaix for the 200. He showed up with only his helmet and saddle the brave soul, riding the position and saddle of Tracy for the entire 200. That's seriously brave. "Sore Butt" at the end of the day.

Ron showed up a couple of minutes past 7, so we adjusted our start time to the same 7:15AM and were ready to set off! Except for one, small hitch, and that was Tracy's bike having SPD pedals, yes, but SPD-SL road pedals. Oops. So with some scrambling, myself intending to give Ron my SPD pedals and then catch up when Janet was able to come with SPD pedals, we discovered that one of his pedals would require a pedal wrench to remove (ALWAYS use grease people!). So we weren't able to get properly on our way until 7:45, and had some fun blasting along Marine Drive.

The weather turned out to be very nice: partially overcast, but a bit of sun, and not much wind. Way less wind than those riders on the 11th.

For the first while we really rode at a rather rapid pace, and the conversations with Ron were very breathless, until I probed him and he confessed he was riding, "fast for your sake." I'm pretty sure that's a recipe for disaster on a brevet, so I slowed him down to a more comfortable pace, and we were able to ride and converse until we hit the Sea-to-Sky. Ron is, of course, planning the replacement bike of his. It's going to be epic. Or at least very nice.

We flew down the Sea-to-Sky towards Lions Bay, enjoying the change in pace & scenery, and mounted the weird steepness that is all the roads in Lions Bay and arrived at the Café/General Store. We nibbled on food, checked our control cut-offs (a good few minutes to spare), and then headed off towards Iona.

The return had the uphill of course, but really wasn't so bad. It was mid-morning and we passed quite a few cyclists on Marine, notably David L. who must've not thought we were cool enough to have gone riding with :P Then over the bridge, into the Park and along Beach Ave in some delightful sunshine. When we reached the park section past Point Grey Rd, we had to go über slow to dodge pedestrians - that can be a nice section with 35mm+ tires, but really isn't too exciting on 25mm or below...

Climbing up Spanish Banks was a lovely test of fitness, and I also managed to descend and score a Rainy Day fender flap that somebody had lost before Ron and I had to turn off for some food. Hunger drains you. We had a coffee, soup and sandwich break at Great Dane coffee, which was thankfully quite quiet on the Saturday morn. I resisted food, never wanting to fully eat on a 200 - and of course ended up low on energy later anyway...

So we finished, returned to Marine Dr, and continued on towards Iona. We had fun on Marine as Ron drafted and we rode along at 40-47km/h on the lovely gradual but flat descent. Then of course the usual dodge pot-holes and gravel for the section from Camosun to Angus, but it is always nice in nice weather.

Crossing the Arthur Liang bridge, I tempted fate and ignored the sudden bike lane, as well as the straight-through option (traffic was nuts), and instead lead us over on the exit towards Russ Baker, and then double back on Miller/Templeton for a much less busy route. I stand by that being the safest way, especially in a group. There's lots of construction going on with the route underneath that area anyway, so it's hard to predict when the bike lane will go through or not.

Out to Iona was a bit of a headwind as usual, but we reached there in good time. I even managed to secure a second reflective Rainy Day mud flap! Score! At the washrooms I chatted briefly with an ex-Escape Velocity member who I vaguely knew, and then - lo-and-behold, along came Mr. Molten himself, Jaques B. (I've awarded him this nickname because the wheels on his Moulton's make his cadence always look like the ground is molten lava and he's pedalling to escape...).
So after a couple photos and a wonderful visit to the loo, we decided to head off, only at this point separately. We were simply drifting towards different paces, and I also didn't want to spend too much time riding in the dark, so we set off on the second 100kms at on our own.

I got up to a good click on the Iona return, passing Ron and Jaques before heading eastward, over to Richmond, and onto that nasty section of Westminster. Just too much cars, and not enough space or driving school experience... But kindof one of the only options if we wanted a 200km ride exactly. So I pushed myself along it begrudgingly, settling into a nice tempo pace until the exit towards the Alex Fraser. The climb over the bridge was very welcome without frost or ice, and was also much more pleasant than chasing down a group of rapid randonneurs who had left me (a navigation error) on the spring 400.

The haul along the SFPR as I mentioned was not too bad. I was only noticing my speeds were suffering at this point, as my tank is clearly not what it was earlier in the year, and I was consistently just below 30km/h, and really rather tired. I think I'll eventually attribute this to being quite famished - not having eaten anything but energy bars & banana bread since 5-something that morning.

Ron/Gary's new exit-route from the SFPR is really much nicer than grinding up the hill to 176th. You do miss the lovely bit of bike routes along the highway-side, but it's also quite nice to be on empty roads for once. Certainly something I'd recommend looking at if you're route-planning in that area.

Then in was winding up the bridge and over to Pitt Meadows. I had vaguely recalled Tracy mentioning that there was a Subway in that area (new since I lived/grew up in the area) and boy-oh-boy was I excited to find it! Eagerly guzzling my drink and consuming a footlong & 6" veggie sub along with two cookies, I was fueled and ready for the finish.

It was the usual ride along the highway, over the Pitt River Bridge, and snaking up through Port Moody & St.John's street. I explored a couple of alternate routes off the main road, but really there isn't enough of a traffic/time savings to justify moving one's route, so I left it. Then it was over the Barnett Hwy - once again less painful than expected, probably due to the food - and off towards the Iron Worker's Bridge. A little freaky in the dark I must say, especially with the construction and constricted space. I'm very glad I met nobody crossing the bridge, and carried a powerful small light.

Utilizing the wonderful crosswalks of North Vancouver, and being thoroughly befuddled by all the construction, I returned to the 3rd Ave hill, and took Tracy's initially prescribed turn-off onto the bike route. Of course it was pitch-black, a mix of gravel, leaves and pavement, some pedestrians and unfamiliar. Not the greatest of times. It is seriously much safer to just suck up the 3rd ave hill climb, and then turn left on Lonsdale...
But I was almost back, so I sped along, returned to Bean Around the World and got my card signed. Seeing my Garmin almost dead, I knew I had to race back home as fast as possible, and sprinted off towards the bridge and home (downtown). The Garmin eventually died on the causeway, so I had to use my phone for the last bit. But haha! Strava ride success!

Not sure when my next ride will be this winter, but pre-riding the 200 definitely reaffirmed my love of randonneuring.


On the ride day itself, turnout, although not as good as last year, was still splendid! And a couple new folk is always nice to see. Particularly Wayne who has lofty randonneur goals next season we have to hold him to. The riders set off, and with no stragglers showing up, I returned home to cook up a bunch of gyoza (dumplings).
Jenny and I set off to the secret control by the bridge, and found Gary waiting there in his truck. After a lovely chat (mostly Gary talking, less so us), Jenny and I set up the table and the food for the control. Gary is of course recovering from his surgery now that he was due to go for at 6am the next morning. Wish him a speedy recovery.

It was a very chilly, spot, but the sun was nice, and Tracy came by to grab some stuff, along with dropping off some chairs for Jenny and I (although he forgot to bring them the first time around!). Riders didn't come through until past 1, when the first trio of Nigel, Keith and Craig, followed by John rolled in. At that point Gary decided to head off, as he had already eaten one of the muffins and some macaroons, and was in danger of eating more, leaving Jenny and I to strike man the table ourselves.

All in all it was a cold day, but we were warmly dressed, and it was fun seeing all the chilly, but wind-swept faces of the riders roll through. Sadly the dumplings and hot water weren't very warm by the time Andy and Jeff came through, so the coffee I made for them wasn't exactly up to par. Next time... Also, where in the world was Luis Bernhardt?


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November 18, 2014