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Tsawwassen Tsawwassen Tsawwassen 600
Lower Mainland Summer 600 km
Ride Date: August 20, 2022
by Andrew Hartline

On the morning of August 20th, 2022, six randos converged on Ron Stewart's house in Tsawwassen for the T3 600. Blinkys were mounted, vests adjusted, brief organizer's remarks were heard and we were off.

I had noticed that the course was pretty flat and open, and decided I wanted to try for a PR. For me this meant getting under 23 hours, my time on 2021''s BAPABAP 600. I also noticed a club record for solo 600 of 22:45 (Mike Hagen's); and a club record for 600s period of 22:15 (by Ted Milner and Keith Fraser). So that had me thinking. However, in order to get a fast time on a 600, legs, wind, trains, mechanicals, and a lot of other things have to go well. I dIdn't want to worry too much about making any particular time. So I worked out the average speeds I would need to match each of these times. I wrote all these average speeds on my stem, because I knew there was no way I could keep them straight through an entire 600.

Heading out from Tsawwassen, I had nine Boost Plus in my Nordavinden's front bag, which seems like a lot, but I wanted to minimize stops and figured this would last until Hope. To offset some of that weight, I only had a single bottle of water; but I also knew there was a controle at Abbotsford where I would already have to stop, and planned to fill up there.

I chatted with Andrew Rapier on the way out of Tsawwassen, but we had already worked out over email that I wanted to go faster than he did. So I settled into the aerobars and said goodbye as I wound my way up the SFPR. The morning was overcast and there wasn't much wind or traffic. This section went fast and was just about as nice as the SFPR gets, except for a little traffic and construction around the lights.

After the left hander off the SFPR arrived, I bumped across the rough RRXes heading through Port Kells into Fort Langley, holding my bag closed with one hand while thanking the gods there was no train. In FtL, I scribbled an answer to the info controle (I really appreciated the clear description of what to look for, by the way) and hied my way up into the quiet and pastoral hills above FtL, where a rooster was actually going cock a doodle doo. After a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in the months heading up to this ride, I was super relaxed and making good time without a lot of effort... absolute rando heaven.

In the FtL hills I climbed up past the old light rail generating station on 256th. I just love that place and hope light rail comes back to the Valley someday! From there I got through the light industrial areas near Gloucester Way, nice and quiet on a Saturday morning; and headed back down towards Abbotsford along still more farm roads. On the way down, there was a bit of traffic around a vintage car show. Thankfully it was composed entirely of cool old cars driven without urgency. In Abbotsford I needed nothing, so twiddled down to Zero Avenue, and right back up again towards Gary Bakers' controle, where I filled up both bottles in preparation for a hotter part of the day.

Fortunately the heat held off for a few hours more. Cloudy conditions persisted through the lefts and rights of farm roads up to Chilliwack (praise God, no train at the Rosedale crossing!), out along Camp River Road, and across the Agassiz Bridge. No need for a stop in Agassiz, just another quick scribble of my Sharpie while rolling past the info controle, and then up Highway 7 towards Hope.

The sun really came out in the flood-ravaged hills above Agassiz. So I headed into the rest area on the other side, not for water but to get my white sun sleeves and neck tube wet. Aaaah, much better! Cooled off, I spun up the road to Hope, enjoying what had become a rip roaring tailwind and still not having to work hard to go fast. My average speed was a ways past 30 km/hr by the time I got into Hope, but this wasn't going to continue as I needed to turn back into the same breeze. I filled bottles, soaked my clothes in more cold water to the amusement and bemusement of passers-by at Memorial Park, then popped into the Pharmasave a block off route to ask whether they had Boost. They did! The day's first resupply, and I was happy not to have to eat gas station food for the next 150 km.

So I rode out through Hope, again thanking God for empty RRX as I bounced across the tracks. From here began a tougher part of the day. My tailwind had become a headwind up Highway 1. Fortunately, the headwind had some mitigation, unfortunately from truck traffic creating the usual vacuum. The route headed off Highway 1 and onto Laidlaw Road for what was probably supposed to be some peace and quiet. This is definitely a nice road, but today it was super busy because of the GD TMX pipeline construction project, with lots of truck activity and dust. Ah well, the trucks made some more draft to cut my headwind and helped me get through quicker. By now it was truly hot, up past 30, and would be for many hours. Without blowing my target power too much, I managed to still make good time back through Chilliwack. In the heat of the Chilliwack asphalt, I pulled off to a gas station for Starbucks cold coffee and Gatorade. There my GPS peeped; I assumed it was because I was a bit off route and ignored it. In fact it was telling me to turn left on Vedder; which I figured out after only a couple of bonus kilometers west along Watson. This bummed me out, but I was cheered up on the tailwind-assisted way back when i heard a little kid say to his mother "look how fast that man is going". Caffeinated and back on track, I spun up-wind along Eldritch to Abbotsford with energy.

In Abbotsford it was quite hot, so I filled up again at a park washroom I had scoped out on Google Maps and headed up towards the Fraser Highway. Here was what I had predicted would be the hardest part of the ride: sprawl, traffic, lots of lights, heat maxed out for the day, and growing fatigue. In Surrey I fortuitously happened upon more park washrooms to refill water without waiting in a gas station line, and eventually I found myself at another info controle, a gas station on the edge of Delta. Nothing needed here either! So I descended to Burns Road and spun back to Ron's.

At Ron's I met his friendly Corgi, Boom; texted my kids; and filled up with nine more Boosts. During this welcome break my average speed dropped by a couple kilometers per hour, still OK though.

Heading out of Tsawwassen I rode past a pizza place and violently wanted some. In the heat I had felt less hungry, while still needing as many calories as ever. Now I suddenly realized that things had come due.

Instead of stopping to rest and eat like a normal human being, I kept riding and drank lots of Boosts over the next hundred or so kilometers, like a debased rando. I did get my equilibrium back! The Boosting lasted up 64th, through River Road, up into the urban traffic and lights of Whalley, down through Birdland to the beautiful Port Mann, and out to Pitt Meadows where I enjoyed a lovely sunset and got ready to ride into the night.

To save watts, I had brought my battery powered Lumotec Cyo, and turned it on it plus some Lezyne blinkies in lieu of using the dynamo system. Seven or so watts, not that marginal! Out here I also ate the day's only caffeine pill, a 100 mg Wake-Ups. It was actually too much for me, because I had been on a steady drip of caffeinated Nuun all day and was well topped up already. No matter, I held it together and managed to come down again #thatsrando. While getting back down to level, I made it to the little industrial park outside Albion (thank God again, no train) out along Highway 7 to Mission. There the Mission Speedway was in full swing. Roaring engines echoed all the way across the Mission Bridge into Abbotsford. It sounded surreal; I recognized that I was getting tired.

I had pre-rode the Abbotsford section some weeks earlier, having noted that I had no idea what those roads looked like and also that I would be riding them in the dark and with lots of IQ lost. However, the route changed a bit in the intervening weeks. Gary got rid of some of the weirder turns. but I still didn't know the new section, and my Wahoo picked this exact spot to die! "Reloading route ... 1% ... 1% ... 1%". So I was back to cuesheet nav, the pages of which i had been neglecting to turn after it had got dark. In my haste and due to shattered IQ, i tore off too many pages and stuffed the page I actually needed into the side pocket of my bag, along with many other irrelevant discarded pages. No matter! I got off the road; and tiny Amazon flashlight in hand, managed to sort out which page was needed, locate the next turn, and figure out where I was with my phone + Google Maps. This was only the day's second worst nav fail, and it only cost a few minutes. I'm happy I sorted through it without losing any more of my mind. The rest of the ride was on more familiar roads, and my GPS eventually found its way back to 100 percent and resumed giving me directions. But this reinforced my belief that you can't rely too much on GPS. Pre-riding, Google Maps, accumulated route and area knowledge, and old fashioned Don't Panic are valuable things if you're trying to go fast and don't want to get lost.

From there I spun through the dark east on Eldritch, and past the Yellow Barn (still closed). Now I was low on calories, and I had actually got through most of the Boost stash fighting off the bonk that had started in Tsawwassen. Therefore I headed to the Chevron on the other side of the road and resigned myself to awful gas station food. I was surprised to find that this Chevron now carries... Boost. Well by now I somewhat hated Boost but still appreciated how it provides a few hundred calories in an extremely easy to knock back form. So, bought six more, filled my bottles for the last time that ride, and headed out into the night.

Now I was riding through the Valley dank and dark, on an out and back to Yarrow and Pioneer Park. I was getting more tired and almost 500 kilometers in, but still managing to put out decent power through the lefts and rights of Chilliwack farm roads. My GPS stopped charging due to a bad USB cable, so I had to turn off the screen, but I could still monitor power using Wahoo's colorful LEDs on top. My year of focusing on big "zone 2" fat burning kilometers + small intense intervals, along with this ride's pacing strategy of zone 2 all day long, had worked. I was still in the same power ballpark I had been in the morning, in spite of that difficult section across the Fraser Highway and my resulting near bonk. If there was no mechanicals and no trains, I was on track to finish under 21 hours. After the turnaround in Yarrow I spun up Vye hill (more accurately, the easier and prettier Farmers Road route, thanks Ron!) and twiddled west on Zero and through Campbell Valley, where I did not get lost nor suffer any mechanicals. By the time I hit the info controle at Campbell Valley store (nothing needed here) the end was in sight! Back in White Rock/ South Surrey my headlight batteries were dead, so I switched to the generator. I had been looking forward to getting up the King George Highway in the dead of night, reasoning that the lights would be better. I still managed to catch quite a few of them, but that was fine; I managed to make good progress.

Finally I made it to the quiet of Colebrook Road. That's practically Tsawwassen and I was almost back. Just the Mud Bay RRX to deal with. The day's absolute last level crossing. And oh no! It seemed that a huge container-laden train just away from the port was coming through! I stayed cool and counted cars while organizing the remains of my bag. Fifty-nine, Sixty, sixty-one. Was it slowing down? Yes. OK, now it was stopping. It stopped. Ding ding ding. Finally I got across the tracks and back on my way. The wait had bled off some time, but I was still on pace to finish under 21 hours, and still thanking God for the almost empty RRXes that the day had brought. I zipped through the final kilometers, first along the Mud Bay dike, then up onto the Ladner Trunk Road. Left in Ladner, right in Tsawwassen, one more left, then gas it though the night air, up the hill back towards Ron's. It was only 3 AM, barely through the transition from clubbers' to ravers' hours. I had finised the 600 over two hours faster than my previous PR and managed to completely skip the hours of the night where I would have gone completely bonkers. Happiness and relief washed through me as I got into Ron's, took a shower and settled in for a nap.

I just had a great time planning out and executing this ride, and was happy that weather, wind, mechanicals and trains all worked out too. On the subject of mechanicals, tidying up my bike days later I found that my seat tube was gooped up with Orange Seal. My 32 mil Conti GP 5000 had punctured but I didn't even know it. A tubeless success story! I'm also happy to report that my Molten Speed hot melt chain wax went the distance without getting squeaky.

Many thanks to Ron for setting up this ride, and to Gary and Craig for volunteering!


[Editor's note: Andrews ride is a genuine club record for a 600 km, and took a significant bite out of the existing record. Click the "Fastest Brevets" link below for all club records.]


Go to: Event Page (Database)
Go to: LM Summer Series Results
Go to: Fastest Brevets (Database)


December 24, 2022