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An “Early Summer” Ride and Trying a New Bike
Ride Date: April 30, 2016 - Hemlock Valley 300
by Jaime Guzman

Once in a while in the spring in Vancouver the skies open wide and you get gorgeous views of the mountains, the sea and the river. April 30th this year was like that, the perfect setting to try a new bike in a 300K brevet.

I have a good old friend of a randonneuring bike, a purple lugged steel Vitali with big fenders, big tires and a Carradice bag on the back; but from time to time I wonder what would happen if I actually rode a faster bike. After doing the Pacific Populaire in a Cramerotti racing bike, one with skinny tires, a smaller frame and no fenders, I decided to try it on for the Hemlock Valley 300. The funny thing is, both were made in Italy and imported by Giuseppe Cramerotti. You see, I have a weakness for Italian steel bikes.

As the point was to try it, I joined “Etienne’s group” to start with. It was seriously fast (for me) averaging about 35 Km/h, but I stayed on until reality sank in, about 50K into the ride. After that, I had a delicious solo ride thru Stave lake valley. Greenery all around, beautiful mountains and a few streams, what else can you ask for? I even got through before the bike race, as opposed to our ride, started.

After the control at the Farmers’ Institute I joined forces with Meyrick, who I had just met in “Etienne’s group”, for the blissful descent on Sylvester Rd and the not so blissful headwinds on Highway 7. Have you notice how often we hit headwinds, both ways, in Highway 7?

After stopping for a coffee refill, I joined a trio headed by Colin for the ascent to the wonderful picnic on top of the mountain, courtesy of Malou, John and Deirdre. Then it was the white knuckle descent down the mountain until joining with “Jeff and Rick’s group” for a pleasant steady pace throughout Chilliwack.

By the time we got to the Birchwood Diary I needed an ice cream badly, but this being the first real day of summer the lines were too long. Maybe it was a mistake, but I settled for gas station ice cream just before tackling the Whatcom climb. I re-grouped with Jeff and Rick at the top and we rode together to Fort Langley. The vote for beer and food was unanimous, so we settled nicely at the Fort Pub in the company of Malou and John (again). Beer was great but after waiting for food for half an hour I left with an empty stomach, just as my soup arrived (so I was told). Anyway, the plus side was that I got to play tag with Meyrick for the last 40K.

So, what do I think of my Cramerotti as a randonneuring bike? It is a trade-off. Yes, it is a more efficient bike and I can keep up with faster riders longer; but in its current form is not as comfortable. I had back pain until Monday, instead of my usual all-body ache the day after a brevet. It begs the question: Should I chase better times or enjoy better times? I think I will give it another try after I put on my usual saddle.

Randonneurs often argue over “the perfect randonneuring bike”. I doubt there is one, but I am sure there is at least one that will work for you. In fact, there were all sorts of bikes on the ride. All ridden by happy randonneurs, who exhausted and satisfied arrived at the Knight & Day after completing the Hemlock Valley 300 on a gorgeous early summer day.

Stay well and remember: Enjoy the ride. Never Quit.


Go to: Results
Go to: Hemlock Valley 300 Event Page

May 2, 2016