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Photos: Bob Goodison
Monashee From Revy
Southern Interior Spring 600
Ride Dates: June 1-2
by Bob Goodison

I've always loved the Monashee 600, which we have run several times in the Interior over the years, but it had some problems. Too long to run as a 400, it was necessary to add distance to make it a 600, which in the past we always did by going out to Kamloops on Highway1 and retuning to Vernon (where we had started) on Highway 97. A couple of years ago I had the idea to reverse the direction and start from Revelstoke, getting the ferries done early, and going up the gentler side of the Monashee Pass. This year I got the chance to try it. Unfortunately, due to current low numbers of Interior Randonneurs, and the Lower Mainland 600 being on the same day, I wound up being the only rider.

I had offered a choice of two start times- 05:00 or 05:30. The idea was for riders to estimate how long the 50 km to the first ferry would take them and choose which sailing to aim for. I opted for the 05:30 start to catch the 08:00 sailing and was glad I had. I could have started earlier, and pushed harder to catch the 07:00, but I did not want to burn that many matches so early in the ride. I wound up waiting 25 minutes before we sailed. The forecast was for rain, but it was mercifully dry until just before I got off the ferry. Just a light intermittent drizzle until Nakusp, and all the climbing kept me warm. The Fauquier ferry was another story - it rained, then it rained harder. I recalled that the last time I rode that section it had hailed, so I guess this was better. I stopped while I was waiting for the ferry - another 20 minutes of forced rest.

Up and over the hill on the other side, and I made the turn towards Edgewood. I had wanted to use as many rural roads as possible to make up the extra distance, and if I had never been there before, so much the better. A quiet, smooth and fairly level road leads through farmland to a tiny community with a wonderful General Store. And I mean general - if this store does not have it you probably will survive without it. I answered my control question, got a slice of pizza and was on my way towards the Monashee. Oh, it's raining again. Back on with the rain gear. It soon stopped and I was way too hot. Rain gear off. Gentle grades for most of the climb up the pass until near the top, but then the barometric altimeter on my gps went nuts. Working hard to climb in a low gear, I looked at my elevation - which showed I was losing elevation rather rapidly. My legs told another story. I should have interpreted this as a change in the weather, but it didn't click just yet. Fortunately I got the rain gear back on just in time. Getting thoroughly soaked at +5C would not have been the best, especially with the big descent off the pass. It stopped before Cherryville, and the climb up towards Lumby was easier than I remembered. Rain gear off again.

I rolled into Vernon at about 8:30 PM and had a nice sit down with an enormous burrito, which revived and fueled me for the next leg to Salmon Arm. Rain starts. Rain gear on. Rain stops. Too hot. Rain gear off. I found it hard to believe that with the countless times I have ridden Salmon River Road, this was the first time I had ridden it in the dark. It was so much fun! Even though I knew exactly where it was, was looking for it, and had even noted on the route sheet that it was hard to see, I still managed to ride right past Harbell Road, but only by about 100m. Finally into Salmon Arm. It really bothered me to book a motel only 40 km from my house, but you do what you gotta do. It took a while to get them to let me in to my room (so much for "24 hr desk", but by just after midnight I was showered and asleep.

I got rolling again at about 06:00. Lots of clouds around, but the sun was shining. I had been way too hot in the motel, so didn't put on enough clothes, which i remedied after the first kilometer. Good thing, because it dropped back down to +5C on Deep Creek Road. Despite the instant oatmeal and crappy in-room coffee, I was really looking forward to my second breakfast (and a couple of extra breakfast sandwiches for the road) at the A&W in Armstrong, 48 km away. More rural detours (a couple of which will be altered as they add unnecessarily steep hills led me out towards Mabel Lake. On the return I stopped at the Ashton Creek store for refreshments. I love these independent rural stores - the spinach and feta strudel I had was sooo good. I should have bought all they had. Soon after I turned onto another new road. Sorry everyone, you have missed your chance to ride Brash-Allen Road on a brevet. I will not be using it again.

At Grindrod the route hits Highway 97A towards Sicamous. The shoulder, where it exists, is in horrible condition and I had a headwind. Unfortunately, at present there is no alternative. Soon? there will be a rail trail up the other side of Mara Lake. I believe construction has started. Fortunately traffic was light and one could take the lane and move onto the rough shoulder when necessary, although there were a couple of times I stopped to wait for a gap in traffic to go around bike-swallowing potholes. Turning onto Highway 1 for the last leg, the headwind was still with me and I was fading. An ice cream at the Malakwa Supermarket (another great store!) perked me back up. This section has (mostly) excellent shoulders but the traffic noise is tiresome. There are several narrow bridges where one must be very careful, waiting for a gap in traffic and sprinting across. Just before Griffin Lake it started to spit rain again. I put the rain gear on and nearly instantly regretted it, but left it on much longer than I should have. I had taken my more waterproof jacket instead of my slightly more breathable Mac-in-a-Sac, so I was wetter inside than out. Off it came one more time. It felt good to get off the highway onto Big Eddy Road. They have fixed the bad railroad crossings since last time I rode it, but the pavement is in bad shape. Can't have everything. I still prefer it to the highway. Across the Big Eddy bridge, and DONE!! By the time I was loaded up to go home the it was pouring again.

Bottom line- I loved the route, despite the necessary highway from Grindrod to Revelstoke. The scenery is spectacular, and all the other roads are quiet and peaceful. The little community stores are so friendly and fun. Hopefully we will soon have a rail trail up the other side of Mara. As it is, I would not advise riding through on this one because of the condition of the Highway 97 shoulder. The bulk of the climbing is in the first half, so with the new rule for intermediate control closing times, it might make sense for slower riders to overnight in Vernon (320-288). This would allow them to ride all (or almost all) of the ride in daylight. It's too beautiful to not see it.


Go to: Event Page (Database)
Go to: Southern Interior Spring Series Results (Website)
Go to: Event Photos (Google Images - 4 images)


June 4, 2024