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Soggy Elephant
Lower Mainland Spring 200
Route: "Rambling Elephant"
Ride Date: April 8, 2023
by Murray Tough

The short summary: lovely course, awful weather.

Sorry, no pictures. My phone was safe and dry under my rain jacket. It never got warm or dry enough for me to consider unzipping it to take a picture.

This was my last Paris-Brest-Paris qualifier, so I was determined to get it done regardless of the weather. It started out windy and wet and ended the same way. In between was a lot of the same with the occasional break in the wet.

We meandered our way through Burnaby and New Westminster on mostly quiet streets. Somewhere along the way, we all congregated as a very long train rumbled across our path. Then it was across the Alex Fraser Bridge into Delta. The wind was at its worst through Delta. Arduous headwinds and buffeting crosswinds made keeping a tight paceline challenging.

Having a staffed control at Diefenbaker Park in Tsawwassen was a real treat. We were able to get food and refill our water bottles. The Rotary Club of Tsawwassen had an Easter event running so the park was full of people despite the blustery weather. Many curious park goers stopped by to see what we were all about. I don't think we signed up any new members! Surprisingly, riding long distances in foul weather doesn't have universal appeal.

The rain eased off a little, but the wind story continued around Boundary Bay. The crosswind was so strong that my tires were losing traction on the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail. Back on hard pavement, as we cycled around Boundary Bay Airport, felt much more secure. Occasionally there were trees to provide some shelter from the wind but, sadly, not nearly enough.

I missed the turn onto the new Nicomekl Connector and ended up riding through the construction zone on King George Boulevard. I got a flat tire for my troubles. Thankfully it was not raining much at the time. I nicked my first tube with a tire lever but was successful with my second. I didn't have a third and was not looking forward to trying to patch a tube in the wind and rain. Fortunately, I did not get any more flats.

It was my first time cycling through Crescent Beach and the White Rock waterfront. Both looked like great places for a summertime walk with a stop for ice cream. But probably not on a day like this! Today it was the kite surfers who were having fun - maybe even more fun than I was having on a bicycle.

The wind continued as I rode past the farms and stables along 8th Ave and down to the border at 0 Ave. There were lots of trees, which provided some relief. I was really looking forward to turning north on 232nd St. I would have a tail wind! At the control on 232nd St. there was a pen full of kids (no, not children) all running around, bouncing and jumping. It was hilarious to watch. I hadn't gone far when I hit the steepest hill on the course. Despite the hills, the ride north on went by very quickly. But, before I got to Fort Langley, it was raining again.

The ride around Derby Reach on Allard Crescent was delightful despite the rain. Imagine what it would be on a calm, dry day! In the distance, it looked like it was clearing, which gave me hope. The peace of Derby Reach was quickly followed by the Golden Ears bridge with all its traffic noise and the incessant rain. The course continued through Pitt Meadows, around farms and industry and across the Pitt River into Port Coquitlam. I had hoped for some tail winds as I rode through Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody but, that never seemed to materialize.

I wasn't looking forward to the ride around Burnaby Mountain on the Barnet Highway. I was expecting constant spray from speeding traffic. Fortunately, the traffic was quite light - I guess even motorists thought better of spending their day out in the rain - and the journey along the highway was not unpleasant. Nonetheless, it was a treat to leave the traffic behind for the ride on the Frances Union Bikeway. Now the finish was close.

Kathy was there to meet me at the finish line with dry clothes. I was cold, wet and filthy from all the road grime. I had spent a lot of my day thinking about how nice it would be to change into clean, dry clothes. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to stay for a beer and a chat. We needed to get to Tsawwassen in time for the last ferry to Victoria. It took me the entire drive, with the heat blasting, to get warm.

Paris-Brest-Paris, je suis prêt.


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April 10, 2023