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Doing my January Permanent on Jan. 30 was pushing the time line, but there were more issues than usual for the delayed ride. Weather, weather, travel, old cycling/ car encounter injuries flaring up, etc, etc.
This route has been under development for many months as I have explored ways to minimize elevation gain with the Glover Rd. overpass closed; explore new areas and still make Ft.Langley my lunch stop about 1/2 way through the ride. Much of the route does cover familiar territory: Vedder Mt. Road to Yarrow, work south and west toward Huntington then over the new railway overpass and roundabout on Vye at the Sumas Hwy. Use the YXX terminal as my first control, it is so civilized.... warm cafe, clean washrooms. From there onto Zero Ave. all the way to 216 Ave. I always wave to the US Border Patrol Officers parking on their side of the border. They usually wave back, perhaps to break their boredom.....😉. The route heads north up 200 St. which is usually quiet, at least to about 40 Ave. where it goes from 2 to 4 lanes. I usually like the double lanes as it gives cars more room to give me a wide berth. For some reason this has proven not to be the case along this section. 200 St. has a nice descent towards downtown Langley, but that commercial area is no place for a cyclist. To avoid it, I go east on 53Ave. then north on the 203St. overpass that crosses the rail line and the Langley Hwy #10 bypass. 203 St. then angles into 204 St and over to 208 St.
When I last rode 208th it was under construction and was NOT bike friendly. I rode up the newly laid asphalt that was still closed to traffic; it was wonderful except for the foul mouthed construction worker telling me to ride up the designated lane that was narrow (no shoulder). I foolishly assumed the work would be finished, NO it wasn't! The new lanes were still closed and full of heavy vehicles. I had little choice but to ride the designated bike path/sidewalks on the west side of the roadway. What a f****** horror show that turned out to be. It was intermittent, in places not much more than a dirt path. Out of desperation I spirited across the two open lanes through a gravel ditch, jumped the new curbing onto the new paved area, and dodged equipment until I reached a section of the new open 6 lane section of 208th. Up to 72 Ave. From 72 Ave to approx. 75 Ave things got even worse. I could have been assertive and taken the lane, but as it is uphill and there was steady stream of gravel trucks I rode up the most decrepit, narrow asphalt sidewalk I think I've ever ridden. Some of the pedestrians I passed said, "We feel for you!". The sidewalk was covered in mud as construction vehicles were everywhere as this is a land assemble area for more apartment buildings. From there I headed towards the new 216 St./Hwy #1 overpass with its wide protected cycle path from 80th Ave all the way to 96 Ave....Wonderful!
Ft. Langley is always so inviting, but crowded, midday so I noted my time, eat my sandwich and moved on using 240St. to head up and over the headland to 264 St. and on to the 5km crossing of Matqui Prairie. Here I got my first sense of what the easterly winds might have in store for me. The headwind scrubbed about 3kph off my normal cruising speed, not too bad. On Gladys Ave. the two homeless camps seem to be smaller than in the past and then it was onto the SUMAS Prairie which at times I consider the Fraser Valley equivalent of the Panama Darien Gap. Under average headwind conditions I can ride from Whatcom Rd/Hwy# 1 intersection to the Yellow Barn on # 3 Rd in just under 1/2 hr, this time I was the better part of a FULL HOUR! My wife met me for coffee there (the Starbucks) and commented 'I looked like death worked over', and I felt like it. Thankful the remaining 57km to the finish is along mostly wind sheltered roads and the final 25km from Rosedale to Cultus Lake has the prevailing wind at my back.
This was one of my slower 200s (12:23) with more than its fair share of construction frustration and weather 'character building'. Once the construction work along 208 St is complete I think this is a route I'd enjoy riding sometime again. In the meantime I think I'll give it a pass.