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Seymour 200 - The Training Ride
On Saturday morning the three of us, Deirdre, Manfred, and I, met at the Ross St. and 43rd Avenue for the start of the See More than the Seymour Dam 200. The rain was falling lightly and was forecast to become heavier. Manfred optimistically speculated the rain wouldn’t last long, “It will be sunny in no-time.” As if to underscore his conviction, Manfred wore his full-on MEC rain jacket and I wore a 15 year old Showers-will-Pass-through-it jacket (good for carrying a cell phone and wallet). Deirdre was fashionably attired in mid-summer riding garb. She said, “After the 600 and 400, I’m feeling a bit sluggish today.” “Great,” I joked, “we will have a slug-fest.”
At 7:02 a. m., after some quick pit stops, we headed out. The city was beautifully quiet. Our tires swooshed along the wet pavement while chickadees chirped in the background. Over the First Narrows and into the North Shore. Heading east along the Dollarton is deceptive on a weekend morning. There is virtually no traffic and bike lanes seem superfluous.
The bulk of the climbing, I had heard, was in the first 50 kilometres of the ride. However, there only were a few small bumps by the time we reached our first control at Myrtle Park (32K). Soggy, we smudged answers and times on our control cards. It was wet and would become wetter!
When we left the control pedalling felt effortless. A minute later we turned right onto Seymour Parkway. Pedalling didn’t feel effortless. This hill was steep! Eventually, we reached the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve car free trail. In spite of the rain, the ride up Seymour was beautiful: lush green forests, gentle curves covered in pine needles, and the company of good friends. We set a steady pace. About two thirds of the way up a younger rider approached on our left and asked a question. I couldn’t understand him. Water had entered my hearing aid. I only heard a crackling sound. Although I thought he was just a young riding enthusiast, it turned out he was a new Randonneur. He was joined by friends. We chatted briefly and they slid by towards the top of climb. My legs complained about the ride. It seemed like a lot of effort to get up this hill.
We reached the second control at the Seymour Dam Gatehouse. The younger Randonneurs gave us a hearty welcome. We chatted and joked. It’s great to see some new faces in the club. We need more young riders to help pull down the average age of the club’s membership.
We left the control and headed down the mountain. The joys of gravity! My front brake was a little noisier than usual, but I attributed this to wet roads. We headed towards UBC. Climbing the Lion’s Gate Bridge was very hard. Deirdre and Manfred sailed ahead. During the climb up Spanish Banks hill, Deirdre and Manfred sailed ahead once again.
Was I having a bad day, or was I having a bad day? My legs had become progressively weaker as the kilometres dropped behind us. I was having difficulty maintaining pace on the flats, forget about the twice over the Alex Fraser Bridge. Possibly I was just low on food. A few times I wondered if my bike was having issues; however, I had done a pre-ride tuneup and all was well. I worried if I might be getting ill.
The kilometres dragged on and on. I felt badly for holding my friends back, but welcomed their support. The last 5 kilometres were the most difficult, nothing but climbing. My butt was a mass of lead and my quads felt like someone had poured molten lava down the front of my bib shorts. Torture! Would this ride ever end? Finally, after an eternity, it was over. What a relief! I’m getting too old for this. I ought to have thrown my bike off the Lion’s Gate and grabbed a cab home.
We chatted for a while and discussed the Island 400 which Manfred and I were riding in a couple of weeks. Given my condition, I wondered if checkers wasn’t a better activity. Time to head home. I pushed my bike the few feet to my car. A squeaking noise emitted from the front wheel. The bike seemed a little stiff. I picked up the bike and gave the front wheel a spin. The wheel did not spin. The wheel stopped turning as soon as I released it. I tried spinning it again. The wheel did not spin. I uttered profanities as reality sank in. My front brake had been dragging me down, not poor conditioning. I hadn’t taken the definition of slug to a new level. My shattered ego reinflated with grandiose pride. Wow, what a great training ride!
Driving home I wondered when the brake had begun to malfunction. Was it early in the ride, or was it only towards the end of the ride? Depending on the outcome of the Island 400, I’ll either keep riding or take up checkers.
The Island 400 was a wonderful adventure, complete with memorable experiences. At the half-way point, we stopped at the Black Creek store for refreshments. While paying for ice cream, the cashier, a mature woman sporting an oxygen tube dangling from her nose, asked about our ride. We mumbled something about a 400K ride. “Wow!” she exclaimed, “Do you mind if I ask you how old you are?” “Seventy-three and eighty,” we replied. “That’s amazing,” she said. While tapping the oxygen tube affixed to her nose, she added “I couldn’t do that.” We nodded sympathetically.
A few minutes later, while sitting outside eating our ice cream, the cashier shuffled by, oxygen tank bouncing behind her. She stopped at a table, dropped into a chair, pulled out a cigarette and lit up! She is probably a great checkers player.
See you on another brevet.
September 9, 2021