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My November/December Permanents
2x Permanent Brevet #90 "How Flat is the Valley"
Ride Dates: November 29 & December 5, 2020
by Gary Baker

It looked as if my multi-year Permanent streak was about to end. I took a nasty tumble while hiking in early Nov. And as is said in sport lingo I “sustained an upper body injury”. I did nothing through the month until I thought with the last few days of Nov. remaining' what the heck' and decided to try a test ride around our very quiet neighbourhood. It went well. It might be a bit of a 'Heal Mary' going from a short car free spin close to home to doing a 200km ride across what was surely to be a windy Sumas Prairie ( and it WAS) but nothing ventured.......

I ride cold. It was a cold start, with the threat of rain; par for the course. I had the typical easterly tail wind heading west. Riding through Yarrow a Bobcat bolted across the road Infront of me, first one I’ve seen in a long time. As I passed a hobby farm at O Ave. and 252 St. the resident once again had dozens of inflatable Christmas figures and props strategically positioned throughout his field. From my ‘extrema’ turnaround point at 176 St and 8th Ave. it is a 30ish Km hop over the Langley ‘hump’ to Fort Langley. As I was coasting down the final gentle descent into town I could see a rider coming, up, towards me at a good clip. He had to be riding an e-bike and as he got closer I could see that he was. I could also see that he was a big guy, with a ‘pot’ belly and a very distinguished white beard. He looked like.... you can guess. He must have sensed what I was thinking. As we passed he said, “HO,HO,HO”, likely an unemployeed department store Santa. Once in the commercial area the sidewalks were packed with folks lined up to get into the stores and eateries. In normal times I would have really enjoyed the crowds, but these are not normal times. I checked the time and departed ASAP. I think this was the shortest stop I’ve ever had in FL.

The next leg of route is the longest between controls on this route; F.L. to the Yellow Barn, over the 264th St hump , across Matsqui Prairie and then across the notorious, often windy Sumas Prairie. The winds were ^&(^$) BAD!!!!! All I wanted to do was get to the Yellow Barn, an oasis so to speak, but something was amiss. The ‘OPEN’ sign was off. Sh..t! Well at least I could shelter behind the building, change into some dry gear ( That balance between staying warm and sweating continues to escape me.), and eat my last sandwich. Salvation..... it was open, the skeleton staff had forgotten to turn the sign on.

I find that once I cross the Keith-Wilson Bridge into Chilliwack the wind is less bothersome. The presence of more trees and structures likely has something to do with it. I find the 40km through Chilliwack to Rosedale calming ( inspite of the traffic), probably because it’s my home turf. I usually enjoy an ice cream bar and Coke there to give me a sugar high for the return ride back into Chilliwack. Darn, it’s never been closed on a Sunday evening before, it was.

Was I sore when I got home. Doing nothing for a month then going on a 200km ride was not the smartest thing to do, but I saved my P-12 streak. Mission accomplished. Over a beer my wife told me the weather looked very promising for the upcoming week and interjected, “You don’t have any intention of doing your Dec. Permanent that soon do you?” Oh, that ‘upper body’ injury was only a minor irritant.
Ride I would!

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The morning of Dec. 5th in Cultus Lake the temperature was at O C and the parked cars were covered in frost. No matter, out I went. Experience has taught me that the street we live on is perpetually wet and on cold mornings is often a sheet of ice. It was! Even walking on it is treacherous so I carefully walked with the bike to the top of the street. Once out of the Lake I immediately had that welcome push of the easterly outflow winds ( which I would loath later). The sun crested the local mountains as I started west across the Sumas Prairies casting a long shadow of me and the bike across the fields beside me.

This route goes through South Langley not far from where Barry Chase lives. He had told me he might be around and asked to join me on the leg to Fort Langley and back towards Aldergrove. The plan was for me to call him when I reached Zero Ave. and 264 St. , which I did. We’d meet at 8th Ave. and 200 St. While stopped to make the call it seemed a suitable place and time to address a bladder issue. As I was returning to the road I heard a female voice, “ Are you OK?”. Where did she come from? Pleasantries exchanged she commented I had a nice bike that looked rigged for touring. I told her I enjoyed touring and she said, so did she. She asked where I had ridden and was impressed, not as impressed I was to be when she told me of her adventures. She had been trekking in Mongolia the ‘Stans’ and saw all these ‘bike packer’. She realized that cycling and trekking would give her the mobility to go further and to see so much more, so she went out a bought , in her words, a crappy bike in a local market. With her new found mobility she headed off riding ( solo) all the way to Istanbul. She told me she now owns a tank of a bike, a Surly. I had to ask how old she was...30! She had no problems on the ride at all. She asked me how old I was. We both chuckled at what the other was doing at our respective age. What a delightful encounter.

Off I went, to meet up with Barry. When we got to the Extrema Control I stopped for a bladder break again. Barry headed out ahead of me, and in my haste to catch him I didn’t close my rack box fully. Just as I reached the roadway I heard a voice, “ Is this yours?’. I stopped looked back and there was a ‘lost and found angel’ approaching me with what looked like a wallet, my wallet that had fallen out of my rack box. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!

Fort Langley was super crowded, but we found a small quiet ( The Little Donkey) café. FYI: the portions are huge and it’s licenced.

Off we go up 240th, Ave and onward to 64 Ave. At the intersection of 64 Ave the route turn onto 264 St and immediately crosses an overpass over the BC Hydro Rail lines. Now what....the road is closed. We could see that something big (literally, and physically) was happening just past the overpass. At first the flag person said we could not go around the heavy equipment but he relented and we picked our way past the biggest heavy duty recovery tow truck I’ve ever seen. This rig and a slightly smaller unit were in the process of recovering a loaded dump truck and trailer that had slipped off the road and rolled down an embankment into a garden area. What a mess. The property owners and neighbourboods were gathered in the yard watching the efforts of righting the truck and trail, likely the most excitement anyone had experienced in 8 months.

Barry and I parted company about 1km later, he continued south on 264 heading back towards Langley, I turned east towards and down onto Matsqui Prairie. Just as I'm about to turn on to the Mission Hwy I see a rider approaching. He says, “Is that you, Gary?” as I say, Jeff!”. It was Jeff Mudrakoff out also riding a Dec. Permanent. Talk about old time week. Jeff and I have had some wonderful riding adventures together. We went to ride the PAP 1200 in 2010 and the Korea 1200 in2012. While we were chatting, a vehicle pulls up and stops beside us. It was Sigge Palme and his wife, they were out for a drive. She told me that was the three times they had seen me riding today. They had tooted and waved at me earlier on the ride. I had no clue as to who it was, but they seemed friendly, that was good!

From there the ride across the Sumas Prairie was its usual miserable experience, ( last week it was a battle, this time it was just a fight) The Yellow Barn was open and the ride from there to Rosedale was a repeat from the week before, diminished winds and mostly tranquil. I got the usual push from Rosedale back to Chilliwack. What I haven’t mentioned this route is a new, approved, version of the P # 90 ( How Flat is the Valley) route. It’s not quite as flat as it now starts and finishes at the Plaza in Cultus Lake. The ride starts and finishes with the climb out of and back into the Lake, which I had to do anyway when I did the 5km ride to and from the start/finish control of the original route.

Stay safe out there!



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December 8, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

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