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Sidney Lento
Vancouver Island Summer 300
Ride Date: August 15, 2021
by Murray Tough

Too often I head out on a long brevet thinking only of the finish line. Not this time. This time, I was really looking forward to the adventure. The course started in Sidney and followed the Lochside Trail. Sunrise lit the morning fog. A pig, that always seems to be sleeping, was eagerly gobbling apples. I saw the same pig later; it was awake and covered in a fresh coat of thick, shiny, wet, mud!

From the Lochside Trail, the course continued on the Galloping Goose Trail all the way to the end at Leechtown. It was kind of like being a tourist in your own town; we have this outstanding bike trail that traverses everything from farmland to ocean front, quiet suburbs to heavy industry, lonely forest to the bustling city centre. As a local, I use the trails as a means of getting somewhere. The thing is there is nothing at the end of the Goose, which means I never have cause to ride to the end. So instead of being about the destination, this ride was all about the journey. I had forgotten what a wonderfully beautiful ride it is. The grades are so gentle that you don’t notice the climbing until you check your speed on the way down and realize that you are flying. Yes, there were sections where I had to compete with pedestrians and dogs but there were long sections of just me, “Chekov” (my bike) and the trail.

   

   

Out and back on the Galloping Goose and Lochside might get you 180km. Today’s ride needed 300km. This created the opportunity to explore more of the area’s best trails and cycling routes. One control was at a viewpoint on Ten Mile Point that I had visited many times. On this ride, I learned that it was the most easterly point on Vancouver Island.

   

There was a loop around the airport on The Fight Path. To make up for the ease of the rail grade trails, the route designer threw in some steep climbs south of the airport. There was a trip through Langford, View Royal, Esquimalt and Vic West on the E&N Trail—including a new section of the E&N that I had not yet ridden.

Have you ever wondered if the suicide rate amongst ice cream truck drivers is high? I was enjoying a quiet ride through Oak Bay when one started following me for what seemed like an eternity. As the music repeated itself for the one hundredth time, I was trying to decide if I should run into the ocean or just ask the ice cream truck driver to run me over. That delightful ear worm stayed with me for hours!

The course included Victoria’s newest bike lanes on Humboldt and Vancouver. There was a loop around the waterfront on Dallas Road, past Fisherman’s Wharf, the Legislature and the Empress Hotel. At the Fisherman’s Wharf control, I studied the route card to make sure I knew where I was going next. The big thing I needed to remember was to turn left after the Johnson Street Bridge, onto the foot bridge and the path to the Delta Hotel. Needless to say, when I got to that point, I turned right, and followed Harbour Road because that is what I always do. It would have been okay if I had corrected the problem right away. Instead, I ignored the beeping from my GPS and rode about 800m in the wrong direction before finally realizing what I had done.

As I pedalled up Interurban Road for the last time, I realized that I had fallen behind the pace. My goal had been to finish the brevet in under 15 hours. The goal was still attainable but I was going to have to pick up the pace. I had two hours left. So for the next 30 minutes, I pushed hard up Interurban and West Saanich Road to the crest by the observatory. Following the crest, I was able to gain speed and make up my lost ground. At the end of the 30 minutes, I was back on track but I would need to get 2 or 3 minutes ahead of the pace so that I had time to stop at the control and a buffer for the starts and stops and traffic lights in Sidney. So I pushed hard for another 30 minutes. Everything was looking good until I made another wrong turn at the airport. With the backtrack, I added an extra 1.7 km to my route. I didn’t even bother to look at my time. I just pedalled as hard as I could to get to the next control.

At the last control, there was a footpath down to the beach. From what I could see, there might have been a nice sunset picture at the end of the path. It didn’t matter, I knew that I could make my 15-hour goal if I didn’t dawdle. So I skipped the sunset, skipped having a snack, answered the control question and got back onto the course.

From the last control to the finish was only about 13 km. From here it was just a mind game. Pedal hard, it’s only 13 km. Pedal hard, you can rest when you’re done. Pedal hard, it’s only for half an hour. I did get a glimpse of the sunset through a gap in the trees on Lands End Road—it wasn’t remarkable. And before I knew it, I was at the finish. 9 minutes to spare.



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August 19, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

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