Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Markus: Kelowna to Merritt

We interrupt this knitting blog for a quick trip into the world of a crazy cyclist. Comments in italics belong to me - wife of said crazy cyclist.

ETA: All photographs courtesy of Jacek Kaim (official R2S photographer) except for the last one which is from Gladys' camera.

How did it go? It’s an easy question to ask, but there are so many ways to answer when “it” is a 23 hour day that started in Kelowna and ended in Delta and you spent most of the day on your bicycle. And this year, there’s a new way to answer, how it went compared to last year…

I got up before my alarm went off. It was about 2:08am, I was in a room in the basement of a church which on most other days functions as a day care for small children, but currently served as a dorm for myself and about 5 others. I turned off the alarm, gathered my toiletries in the dark and headed off to see which of the washrooms was available. When I returned, it was still not the 2:30am I had set my alarm for, but the lights were on and everyone was up and preparing for the day.

After breakfast, I brought my overnight bag upstairs and handed it off at the trailer. Then I went back down and brought up my day bag, the one which would be available at each rest stop which I had stocked with all the things I might need during the day. Then I went back to get all the items I was going to wear or carry to start the day and my bicycle. Its really strange to see a church with bicycles lining every possible wall. This is when I discovered that the two gloves I had set aside were in fact both right hand gloves. So out to the trailer and inquire of the volunteers as to whether I can get to my bag. Fortunately it was at the front only under a couple of bags, since they were attempting to pack the bags in the order they would be put out. Each rider has a number, your bag is tagged with your number, and at each rest stop the bags are set out in numerical order. While Tony took pictures and ribbed me about being “that guy” I was able to quickly locate the ziplock containing my gloves, and pull out a left.

After the mayor said some kind words and rang the bell, we were off. At 3:30am, we were leaving half an hour earlier than last year, and with a police escort right at the start, we headed straight for the highway, as compared to the previous year when we turned onto the highway shortly before the bridge over the lake. I was looking back for a nice sunrise, but it was a bit early, and the clouds were not cooperating. A quick spin, and we were already at the first break. Refill a bottle, a couple of things to eat, an “emergency” banana for my back pocket and I was ready to go on.

The road to the next break, takes us a little further south along the lake, then we turn inland to the west. There is a gentle rise, then the road makes a dip across a small valley, and we start up the hill to the Pennask summit.

The dirt road right behind the riders is a runaway lane for trucks going down the hill.

The next break is a chain up area about half way to the summit. I was wearing the same as last year, jersey, vest, and arm warmers, but had decided over the last hour and a bit that wasn’t quite enough. So in my 10 minutes, I managed to strip all the way down, add a wool base layer, put everything back on top, fill my bottle, and eat a couple of things. One of my busier stops.

Markus is in the neon vest on the left pushing the rider in the middle.

The next stop is just past top of the climb. I didn’t remember the road as well as I thought, so I was thinking, around this corner a bit of a straight stretch, and we’re there. And we weren’t. And the next half hour became a series of here? No. There? No. Shut up and spin. Are we there yet? Just spin, you’ll get there. So much of getting through the day, is keeping your head straight, and this was one of the times it got away from me.

The stop at the summit is extremely short, essentially just water and gear. The pullout is too small to accommodate the whole encampment. I added a jacket, and tights. From here to the next break, its rolling terrain at altitude. The jacket is definitely zipped up for the downhills, and things start to unzip as we go up the hills. At the next stop, I don’t add any more clothes, but neither do I take any off. As always, get a couple things to eat, fill the water bottles. Still haven’t needed to use the washroom. Some people say if you don’t need the washroom at every stop, you’re not drinking enough!

Caught drinking and cycling!!!

The next stop is Merritt, our lunch break, even if its only 10am. More rolling terrain between here and there, but the last few km, our following vehicles block both lanes and we have the whole road for our descent to the Information Center. I’m reminded by a ride captain on the way down to keep right if I’m going slow. Perhaps he didn’t see me pass him a ways back… perhaps he doesn’t realize he has the whole lane to my left. Water under the bridge. I move to the right, finish my rest, and when I’m ready to pump down the hill again, move left again and practice my tuck. Two lanes, good pavement, dry roads, an absolute blast. At the information center a police officer and his motorbike have the intersection closed, he’s waving us in, and a cheering crowd!

Markus is busy shovelling food into his face.

1 comment:

PurlingPirate said...

Way to go Markus, you are quite impressive!!

And an emergency banana in the back pocket is good advice to everyone.