## Rocky Mountain 1200 #### It's a bit of a long read Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Where to start..... Where did this all begin? The failed VanIsle 1200 in the heat of 2014? Deciding to skip PBP in 2015? Or just a desire to ride bikes fast and long? Irregardless of the reasons, when the option came to put down my money for the Rocky, I did, and it became my goal for the year. What was set to be a well-trained, well-prepared event soon went downhill though. I had ankle problems throughout the year (possibly starting with the 1000 last september but nothing had materialized over the winter), which lead to DNFs in road races and in brevets. As time passed, even with physio, riding the event became more and more uncertain, until the refund deadline passed and it was decided that, "You'll probably be fine." So, trepidation was my companion for the preceding days. ![Photographer Extraordinaire does a visual inspection for fancy bikes :)](check.jpg) Mike Hagen and I arrived at the bike check on the Sunday of the event, picking up our packets, attaching this and that and getting ready for the start at 5am the next morning. It was bloody hot in Kamloops though. Glad for the early start. ### Day 1 #### In which we depart Fast forward 14 hours and I'm scrambling at the start, last-minute as usual. Hurridly dropping off bags into the pile, stuffing the wrong light here, swapping hats there, and frantically rubbing on sunscreen while my mind tries to process Gary Baker's pre-ride announcements, of which I think I had forgotten all but one by the first hill. My usual chattyness was reduced to a few unintelligible mumbles to Luis at the start, and some bemused jokes to Michael T. about our lateness as I basically ran over to the group, shoelaces untied for the announcements. ![Smiles in the fast group](1-zoom.jpg "left") But, somehow I was ready to go when the, "Riders good luck!" was said, and quickly sprinted up to the first group on the road. Although my plan was 85 hours, I figured I might as well get a good tow for the first section of the ride. Immediately we hit the highway at a fair click and settled into a paceline on the flats. Pretty soon, the yellow velomobile of Kevin Champagne *zoomed* past us, flashing into the distance... Only, at the next corner was a climb, and we passed and caught him almost immediately :-) However, blazing uphill was not something I really desired doing, so I slowed down and let the speed crew head away. A brief chat with Ken Bonner and hi to others some others was followed by a slight increase in grade and I found myself meeting the superb tandem duo of Jonathan and Emma Dixon (the first of many [San Frandonneurs](http://sfrandonneurs.org/) I was to meet). After a few minutes however, the bizarre rubbing noise of their Gates belt drive on the rear 'fender' bit meant they pulled over to diagnose and I continued on alone... ish. I rode and chatted with Bill Maurer for the next while, amazed at his desire to ride a 1200 in sandals for footwear!! At the top of the hill was Mike Hagen, waiting for me and my slow climbing saying he didn't want to ride another darned 1000km+ brevet by himself. I assured him that I had no intentions of taking on this ride at anything near my normal speed and that he was better off going to catch up with the fast guys and simply leaving me to my chill pace! Shortly after we were all starting to spread out with everyone settling into their pace or rather. Toshi Munekata came up and by at quite the rip, then Luis Bernhardt came flying past me before settling on Bill's pace for a bit, while I simply rolled along, taking in the scenery and knowing that trashing my ankles in the first 100kms would be pretty silly! ;P However, eventually the Terrific Tandem Team towing tens of tentatively tailriding participants caught up to me, and I decided to plop into the line, chatting with Dan Simpson for a bit as I did. And *wow* was it a tow! We flew passed Ken, who having moved from his classic trekking Garmin over to an Edge 1000, looked to be plotting his route in the middle of the road, and caught up to Bill and Luis before continuing to fly along. ![What a train!](2-train.jpg) Of course, tandems go a great speed uphill (read: not stupid fast), but **really** blaze the downhills, and these two are well-trained to really roll, so there were quite a few hills I found myself tucked, pedalling and still getting gapped. To make matters worse/more hilarious, as we rotated or went up hills, smaller riders would go in front of me, or other riders who were not quite so smooth around rumble strips (looking at you Bo!) and then gaps would appear and it was quite the effort to chase the TTT down. I'm sure Michael T. can verify this, as I recall a few occasions in my mirror seeing him having to do the same chase. ![Zoom zoom now with just the fast folk](3-ttt.jpg "left") Eventually we reached the first control with the Bob Goodison orange trailer of joy and a few other smiling faces. In an effort to stave off time losses I was prepared to fill and go - lo and behold, the first group had been there for a short time before and ended up following the rapidly leaving wheels of me and TTT. The next section was fun but fast. In talks that evening with Luis we both had been staring at our powermeters watching the watts during those sections. On the flats we would hold a nice steady pace, hard but not unreasonable. But every, little, hill **_boom_** 400+W. So it was only a short time before I decided to pull over, throw on a jacket for the spitting rain, plug in some headphones to drown the traffic noise and carry on, as in a few kms the route returned to 97A highway. The 97A was actually quite a nice section - not too busy, some interesting points and a decent shoulder. In Sicamous it seemed pretty much everyone stopped at the shell to grab water and snacks before heading out on the highway. There I met Bo who agreed that racing and self-destruction were probably not the best way to enjoy the scenery anyway. Daylight riding, sleep, snacks and 85 hours were our common goal. He was simply riding slower at the moment to stay with Peter of the less-than-ideal stomach. And thus began the Highway of eternal traffic, eternal noise, small shoulders and fun times. (Also, what the heck is [the Enchanted Forest](http://www.enchantedforestbc.com/)). Having driven the route to Revelstoke in a skiing vacation a few months earlier, it was interesting to acquaint myself with the road in a far more intimate fashion. ![A chance break in traffic](4-hwy.jpg) I passed the Japanese/Taiwanese riding pair just outside of the city it seemed as they had stopped for an early food break - something that turned out to be a wise choice. Arriving in the city area mostly unscathed (apart from a run in with a vicious Mercedes Sprinter van on the bridge into town ;) ), I looked around at the places to stop and found the Subway had an obscene line, and the Tim Hortons still bad. So being the cheap-o I am, I snuck into the family washroom to fill my bottles, rub on some sunscreen and refresh the chammy cream before accosting a random individual to sign my card and carry on. Little did I know that this would be the only Tim Hortons I would stop in! On a BC brevet! Crazzzyyyyyy. Next up: the long slow draw-out climb to Rogers Pass. The first real climb of the day, and the point where my planned times really started to differ from my riding time. Apparently I didn't account at all for the hills of this ride ;) It was hot. It went uphill. I probably should've taken more photos :P When I was about midway up the climb the cramps started to hit. I had started the ride dehydrated and made every possible effort to drink. Every stop I made had empty bottles filled, half a bottle drunk, and refreshed again, leaving with 1L of water and 750mls of gatorade. Still not enough. The cramps were _bad_. I had to stop several times and just hold myself up with my bike to prevent myself from falling over as my quads just spasmed away. Having had some pretty amazing cramps in races, this was a new level of ouch for me. But after several 10 minute rest/slave-to-pain stops, I eventually saw a BC rando sign at a point I believed to be a bit premature. Turns out it was, but it was the life-saving pair of Carol and Stephen Hinde. Deciding that riders would run out of water before the summit (as I did, despite having stopped at a random campground), they brought water jugs over to the roadside and gatorade. YES! So after some assurances that it's, "A short climb up the hill" and "rolling hills beyond that," I carried on. Well, it really wasn't that far to the top, and after some slight confusion on the actual location of the control (past the top and down the hill) I found people just camped out there for some reason :P But really it was nice to be able to wolf down some food, meet some of the interior randonneurs, then head down for the descent. ![The dreaded tunnels](5-tunnels.jpg) So there were 5 tunnels to descend through, and although they were mostly lit and I managed to avoid riding through in too much traffic, the last couple were dark and full of sandy pits in the shoulder - a bit scary. But then I was through and yeah. Sure. 'rolling' until the finish. More like another mini climb. But it wasn't as bad, and my cramps were more bearable by that point, so I was able to roll in the final bit feeling sore but glad to be done. A lukewarm shower, followed by some food and chats with Luis and Campbell the Scotsman left me ready for bed and a moderately early start the next morning. ---- ### Day 2 #### In which we decide to climb hills ![What a view!](6-pano.jpg) Up early for the first light leaving, wolf down some fritata, say hi to some more San Frandonneurs, and we're off up the hill! Well, really I'm playing hare, riding fast, stopping to take a photo, then riding some more. As we get on to the climb I pass the spinning recumbents (Roland Bevan I'll see constantly until the finish of the event though :P) and eventually settle for my own pace behind Jan Erik Jensen proudly flying the Swedish flag and Vinny (Vincent Muoneke), singing away to "ward off the bears". ![The Golden climb](7-climb.jpg) We go up, and up, and up, and up. Finally we level out a bit and are in the quite cool (David Ross informed me that it was 8º out) valley with Field in it. A short flat, fun time passing Roy Neifer, David and Mark, we then head up to the first pass, Kicking Horse. A slow climb for me, that with some bothering knees forced me to stop a couple times before I was able to pop some Tylenol and keep up the climbing. ![The valley](8-pano.jpg) Of course the Great Divide is beautiful and majestic, and soonafter we're flying down a brief descent towards Lake Louise. Being alone at this point, it was simply me turning the pedals, tucking and spinning to get to the control. Passing a flatted, but positive rider, as I neared the turnoff, Luis slowed and followed me for directions - it was indeed a bit confusing to bypass the turnoff to Jasper, instead head past into town, and then later detour off. Indeed when I later rode on, I passed somebody who had done just that, and had to turn around and go back to Lake Louise! In town, we exited the highway, crossed the
Bad Cattleguard/Texas gate WALK your bike across
where I think Makiyo? crashed soon before :( and then a left and we were at the control!
The place was amazing!!! **Amazing** pierogies, volunteers in animal hats, enthusiasm from the Bob Marsh/Stephen Hinde photographers and pretty much every face there. I stuffed down some fruit, watched Luis take off, chatted with David & Mark in brief while staring at food, and then did the usual sunscreen + chammy cream, before taking off on the road once again (amidst some cheers from Campbell's... family?). Now it was time for the famous Icefields Parkway, and our first road that wasn't going to be full of truck traffic. Hurrah! Scooting around the line of traffic to get past the ranger gate I took off at a steady tempo into the park. The weather was nice, the temperature good, and soon I passed a couple of riders and was making good progress towards Bow summit. I caught up to Luis, rode with him for a short while before leaving him to carry on upward, figuring I'd see him again. Sure enough, we were both stopping soon to take photos and admire the gorgeous scenery. ![Forever butts](9-luis.jpg "left") From there it was only a short push and we were at the Bow summit, slightly under construction, "Not another fucking summit with no sign" exclaimed Luis as he soon flew by. I sunscreened up again before heading down what was quite a fun and steep descent! Amusingly, a few cars passed me, but soon would gather up maybe 500m in front of me in a large line. As I tucked an caught back up to them quickly, I realised that everyone was hanging behind Luis who had taken the road and was going down at a rather reasonable 70km/h. But impatient as I am, I rode the shoulder and whizzed by, of course only to be caught on the next flat stretch. We rode the last section to the Saskatchewan River crossing together, and after a short but steep kicker, Luis turned left into some random pit stop, while I continued a few hundred metres further to the hubub of activity that was the Café/Store/Pub/Restaurant. Outside there Raphael Gernez and Gilles Bouchard were enjoying some ice cream and snacks, so I thought to myself I might as well do the same! In I went to grab the usual gatorade and salty chips, as well as some ice cream of course :D In front of me in the (very short thankfully line) I seem to recall Bo buying more water than I could imagine would fit on a person, much to the amusement of the cashiers. So, as I arrived Stephen and Carol had left, so as I ate did the Californian Frenchmen, so I figured I ought to head out soon. A very patient wife of Michael Russell? was waiting at the stop, informing travellers about this and that, so I bade her farewell and continued on the way, towards the dreaded Sunwapta pass. *"You've done the hard part, Sunwapta is easy"* from Stephen rang in my head. Looking at the map, **14.5km**. Nope. I don't believe a word he says anymore. But that road. Holy cow that road. *Ka-thunk*. *Ka-thunk*. *Ka-thunk*. On the way up to Kamloops, Mike Hagen was recounting his pre-children randonneuring days - the roads he'd ridden, the adventures he and Anna (Bonga) had had. Quite interesting. But the one 1000 he had done with Stephen and Carol involved the parkway and he had said, "It was pretty awful, there were all the cracks due to water lines freezing into ice and my arms and legs got very tired." My response, "Well, I'm sure they've repaved it since then." **Nope**. I'm pretty sure it's the same freaking pavement today as the 90s. Ow. Ow. Ow. What was there was a shoulder that had probably never been repaved, and a roadway that had some cracks sealed and some sections with layers of pavement that looked stacked on top of each other. Oh brother. This though, was awful on the achilles. A factor for Cheryl Lynch in her DNF in 2000!, and certainly reminiscent of an off-road descent in the Gran Fondo Leavenworth I had done just a couple months prior. This, coupled with the loneliness was my first consideration of a DNF on the brevet. The Super Sprinter of Stephen and Carol came close with cameras and disparagingly informed me that the road was like this, "pretty much the entire way to Jasper." Ugh. But at least it was probably better in a bit. So, after a couple 2km sections of me walking out of frustration and pain, I reached the bottom of the fated Sunwapta pass climb. ![A friendly face to follow](10-dan.jpg) _**Holy Bejeezes**_ that was a climb. Headwind to the first corner, wide loop, tailwind to push you up from 5km/h to 6km/h up the hill! Gee thanks! At the top of the headwind section I stopped to put on more sunscreen (yes, that was the only reason I stopped I swear ;) ) and Dan caught up to me, *"Finally, someone to ride with"* I thought. So we pushed on and up the climb. And up. And up. And up. And up. Probably one of the hardest climbs I've ever done. Definitely had to stop and grab a painkiller in the middle. At the semi-false top, we passed Chih Ying and Nobuko? who were stopping to admire the first glaciers in view. But 2 more kms to the summit! And of course, nothing on the summit to note it was actually the top. But having been painfully counting the metres, I knew. ![The Columbia Icefield](11-glaciers.jpg "left") time for a sweet descent! And it was sweet. I briefly considered stopping at the Icefields Centre - which I later learnt Gilles and Raphael had done - but despite figuring that we wouldn't have to pull a Luis-in-the-seventies and ride up the steepest road in Canada anymore (original cycling badass apparently!), I opted to ride with someone. Except Dan is more of a solo pavement pounder it seems, and he blazed on down the hill, and up the sharp crest to the next walkway/lookout, and screamin' down the next descent. Actually that next one was great, but not knowing what was around the bend, I always tend to be a bit cautious in case something comes up or out from the side. But we were spat out onto a nice flat section with some strong winds, and I could see Dan not 500m up ahead on the road, and the distance marker closing in on the Beauty Creek control, so I followed the hammer pace in stride, and rather quickly we were pulling off on the roadside, chomping on snacks and lentil soup with the Goodison's at their trailer of joy. Luis took off minutes after I arrived, while Dan and I chilled with Paul? Then, after a bathroom stop in a very nice outhouse to satisfy the very shaken-up stomach, it was on for the last ~fuck~ 87kms to Jasper. "It's all downhill" somebody had told Dan. You know, it kindof was a lot of downhill. I did feel like despite the winds I made a fairly good pace. Rolling hills, not too hot, not too much traffic, but terrible roads still - come on Federal Gov. get your game together! I managed to get stung right in the finger by a wasp? a couple hours outside of Jasper and had to deal with the unpleasant swelling and throbbing all the way into town though, that sucked. Despite that an some other minor dry/bloody nose setbacks, by the time evening was setting a magical and unforgettable view of Jasper presented itself. A cloud cover had come in the area such that rays of golden orange sunlight shone over the city in a diagonal series of rays, contained between the border of a few clouds. Orange tipped mountains surrounded the roadside and a beautiful pinkish glow was all over the horizon. Far too poetic for the camera to capture ;) - though Mark took a nice photo. I eventually caught Luis putting on a jacket on the roadside, and slowing, got a "see you in Jasper", so I carried on. Of course, minutes later, Dan came screaming by with Luis in tow, so I joined the train for the final few kms into the city. My knees were being quite unhappy at this point, but for 20 minutes of pain, the speed was worth it. We kicked the final hill in the butt, screamed past some random biker, zoomed between an RV-load of young folk and their discordant friend across the highway, trudging along in a neoprene suit with a spray skirt, and arrived in town just as the Rocky Mountaineer was. Cool! Just before the control I bid Luis and Dan adieu and headed into the gas station to try and find ice for the ankles + knee + sting. But in a thick accent I was told that no gas stations do (why not?) and that I should try something in town. Riding and Googling, I discovered that there was a grocery store in town open until - check the watch, yes! open now - oh darn, watch is on PDT not MDT. Guess it's head to the control and hope by some miracle they have ice. WOW! An excited bunch of islanders and the tandem twins (our Lower Mainland John & Malou that is), and a smiling bunch of local volunteers to greet us, and some delicious food! So the three of us wolfed down some food, rifle through our bags and prepped for bed. It was hard not to smile and be social at the music playing, the decorations and quotes around, the confused faces of Vinny trying to remember where his phone was, or anybody's number, or the quiet face of Dave Meridith taking it all in. To shower, this control required a 'shuttle' of sorts to the local community centre, so Dan and I opted for the journey while Luis went straight to bed (ew :P). They were warmer showers, and it's always nice to get clean. Then back to bed with the same plan of 6hrs of sleep. It was a bit of a wander to the alternate sleep hall with its thin mats, bright hallway lights and loud snores, but sleep soon overcame me and the long, hard climb-heavy day was finally over. ### Day 3 #### In which Étienne makes a friend A slow morning. Great breakfast though, and a welcome start to the day with salt and eggs and more, I head out slightly later than planned. The bike is slow to pack up, items are dropped off and I think I'm one of the last on the road. Progress is slow and painful. The road is nicer, but my body has reset and things are sore. I catch up to Rolland B. but it's not great. Pop a Tylenol and see how it goes. Eventually I'm passed by a fella in aerobars going along at a reasonable clip, so I think, *"Hey this could be fun"* and head to catch on. Meeting Dave Meridith, an ultra racer who seems to have done everything at some point, RAAM before I was even born and have lived and cycled in half the US. Okay maybe only a few states, but a real *OG* as they say. ![Beautiful day](12-dave_lake.jpg) He tolerates me staring at his butt in exchange for listening to his bad jokes (okay they were a nice change from my own thoughts) and we pass some beautiful lakes before pulling into the Mount Robson visitor centre for some snacks and water. There Bob Marsh is explaining to some nearbys what on earth we're doing, I'm throwing on sunscreen and downing Gilles's leftover chips, Michael T is acquiring food and Raphael is taking in the view. Pretty soon R & G are gone, Gilles with a roll of TP strapped to his helmet to help with the onset of [Shermer's neck](http://www.active.com/cycling/articles/shermer-s-neck-cycling-s-most-bizarre-injury) (later changed to tubes and a broom handle - not the most enviable injury) and my buddy Dave is blasting on a head on the bars. Dammit, gotta catch up. I shoot by and find him again on the climb as he's rocking about in the most bizarre way, fully tucked on the aerobars to avoid rubbing the worst of his saddle sores. I have some small pains, but nothing like his. He assures me he's completed RAAM without any sores before, so it's all in the setup - just not this time. ![Mount Robson makes a nice backdrop](13-dave_robson.jpg "left") It's actually quite a nice stretch next into Valemount. The road follows the river, crosses it, isn't too busy, and with adds in the mandatory 2016 element, gravel-gravel-gravel-gravel! (Read this in a turkey voice and you'll understand my sentiment on this new fad, although I admittedly do love riding on it). Then it's straight. Wow is it straight, you can see for kms, up until the hill ahead blocks it out. We reach the top... and it's more straight. Wow. After a maybe 1º bend, we see street lights in the distance and there it is, Valemount!! A left, through town, across the tracks, up the path, across the street and helllllooooo control. `See you in Valemount` signed Dave King in his temperature/clothing advice email he sent me. And it's Dave M. and Dave K. that have gotten me this far this day. How exciting. The dynamic duo of his kids sign me in (and recognition from his son Jonah of my club jersey - he's in the youth program brings a smile out on us both) and I sit down to some yummy food. I finally get a good chance to chat with Roland Wheeler of the Vancouver bunch, and the kind control staff bring me a veggie sandwich to complement my already delicious soup and crackers. Yum!!! More sunscreen, a chat with Dave K., and Dave M. and I are off again into the blistering hot sun. And wow, was it blistering hot. Garmin reading 38 ignoring tarmac radiation. And the road was *so* freaking **straight**. Like you could see for miles, and it would just keep going, and going and going. Finally it took a turn and started curving along the river, but of course higher up and no shade, none whatsoever. Traffic was certainly more bearable, and Dave and I started exchanging humour probably fit for an 8th grader (past profession), and riding side by side whenever we could to stave off boredom. Those roads were actually quite pretty. We had a quick sunscreen stop and observed some t-shirt and short wearing touring cyclists, fully loading just ambling along. I hope they had enough water. And then I noticed Dave had a freaking long-sleeve undershirt on under his jersey! I was roasting and he merely replied, "I like the heat I guess." Weird. Eventually we neared Blue River and transitioned onto some new asphalt which was **hot hot hot**. Even the painfully strong headwind could do nothing to quell the heat, and while we rode with David R. and Mark for a bit, eventually my drive to get to the control was a bit, well controlling, and I pushed on ahead with Dave. (Why are there so many Davids??? We have this running joke at work that if you don't know someone's name it's probably David - I felt the same here...). And then *boom*, there was the Petro-Can on the right, left we went and into one of the most welcome controls I've ever been in to. Well, apart from the flight of stairs up to the hall which everyone was limping up to ;) And in usual fashion, just as I arrive Carol and Stephen snap a few photos and are off! ![A funny look at the control](14-control.jpg) I vividly remember this control for it's abundance of watermelon, delicious pasta, cold drinks and tired, tired, looking faces. Roy in particular had a smile but an overheated air to him as well. I inquired with Gary what was up next for water and stops, and it seemed there was nothing 'till Avola, and nothing to the end. So it was eat up and drink up while we could. So say goodbye to Sheryl, watch as Dave finally takes of that crazy undershirt, re-apply the face and ass cream, and we're all ready to jump back into the heat. The road was still quite nice, lots of space, a cleaner shoulder, and the rumble strips have finally gone from a painful shoulder-jarring serious of cutaways to a nice shallow series of lines that seems a good compromise. Probably comfortable enough with 42mm 650b tires for those who are actually running those. So it's up along the road and to the nicest summit of the trip, Messier. I stop as my knee is bothering me again to take a Tylenol, but of course, being slightly tired, I fumble with my misc. pill container and drop the pill on the ground. But not being one to waste, I stop, pick it up and swallow it and carry on. Moments later... oh. That wasn't a tylenol. Caffeine pill. Ooooopppps. A new experience for me, not all in a rush, but slowly over hours it releases. So we carry on, and roll into Avola, just in time for me to need water. What an odd gas stop. The clerk is swearing randomly in a distinctly racist manner about the previous Phillipino tourists splashing water everywhere, the store is half-filled with random things in the aisles, and he mumbles something to me about water not being safe, "...*mumble* boil *mumble*" so once I'm finished and Dave is paying I ask again, "Can we drink the water?" "I thought I f\*\*king told you there's a f\*\*king boil alert, god dammit" etc. etc. Weird. So I bought some water, downed a random carton of coconut water, and recycled the bottles in what I swear was the first recycling I'd seen at any stop all trip. We rolled out just as a bizarrely out of place BMW pulled up with a somewhat pudgy fella and his of course, hot blonde girlfriend smelling wonders better than our sweat-aroma wandered up - Dave and I not exactly wanting to stay around to here Mr. Charming Curse Clerk rant some more. The extra strength Tylenol I bought kicked in was the catalyst to depart. Memorable. Bizarre. Conquering the final few hills proved a little less exciting but satisfying. We passed Roy and I shouted a humourous quip at him, but I'm sure he only registered, "*mumble* bike *mumble*" and was probably a little tired, so I settled for a weak smile as we carried on. Earlier in the day Dave had talked about carrying on to Wells Gray to make the trip the next day a bit easier, but given my knee and how tired I was, I was pretty certain sleeping would be a good idea. At least if I could with this pill... The road surface was finally a bit better, and although it had been a steady downhill there is *always* without fail, a short hill into the final kms of town, then a little bit of a kick into the town itself, and Clearwater was no exception. Of course those kicks are probably minor, but at the end of a long day, they all feel bigger. ![Into the sunset!](15-dave_hill.jpg) Then all of a sudden - *bang* roundabout, *boom* rando sign, *bop*! Control! It was quite a neat one too. We rolled our bikes through the hockey entrance, and onto the empty rink to join the bikes there. Unpacking was delayed as the dynamic duo of Manfred and (oops I forget which kind female volunteer) in the kitchen served us some hot delicious baked potatoes, chili and fruit, and Dave and I could chat to the host of volunteers. Will seemed to be running around like a madman doing things for the entire time I was there, apart from I guess the brief collapse he had when I left the next morning. So Luis was still there limping about, and many of the others I had seen for the few days Jan Erik, Vinny, Roy and David and Mark. Not one to waste time though, I went to try what was possibly the greatest shower I've had in years. Hockey showers. Hot. Hard stream of water. Did I mention hot? Bob Marsh was there also showering after appearing here, appearing there, dozing in his truck, sorting photos and this and that control, so I think he was pretty glad to get clean too. Then it was change in to comfy clothes, prep for a start the next morning and decide on the latest possible time to leave. Looks like sunrise at 6, so 5:00 up? Nope 4:30, I'm slow. So scheduled a wakeup with the lovely volunteers (Ron Himshoot) and to bed I went with Roy bringing a gigantic inflatable mattress. Worked out in my favour too as he gave me the floor/gym mat from his spot so I was able to put mine and his together and actually fit on a pad without overhanging feet for once! But despite my earplugs, the cool quiet gym and my eyemask, I think the caffeine pill was taking its toll, and it took me a while to settle down. So I did some stretches, some ankle exercises before eventually drifting off to a pseudo-deep sleep. At about 1:50am I woke up, needing a bathroom trip and wide awake, so I snuck out to the lobby and was able to see everything still going business as usual. Ken Bonner was heading out again, some folks were still arriving Dan Simpson was getting ready to head out to beat the heat, and Will and Bob Koen were dancing around making food. And maybe enjoying some sort of hilarious cocktails as Will offered my some fresh orange juice, but as I knew I had to get back to sleep, I refused, "I'll hold you to that in the morning," I said, as nothing beats fresh OJ in the morning for me. I also learned that Mike Hagen had done his power-through-the-night routine and had finished an hour earlier so was happy to hear he had at least done it in 3 days per plan (although I did not envy his ride home to his sister's place who lived up, up, up waaay at the top of Kamloops. When dropping him off that first night, I gave him a look of, 'are you sure about this?' but he seemed to think 7kms at 7+% were worth the savings after 1207kms so who am I to question!) Load-lightened and feeling better I trudged back into the gym and back to sleep for the few hours left. ### Day 4 #### In which things hurt like a b\*\*\*ch and it's hot Waking up was again easy, and my heart was still thumping. Crazy. Breakfast with the usual crew of Luis, Dave and others as several people head out quickly to the control up the road. I munch on eggs and oatmeal, and limp around trying to get things in order. Of course there's a chance I'll come back after the control and eat more food, but it's good to get down as much as possible. Despite varied plans, Dave and I end up leaving together again, along with Shai on his crazed fixed setup (Gates drive, but what was the equivalent of 50x18 because, "I don't want my legs to fall off on the downhills"!!! Can't imagine those passes on that high a gear...). Across the road and immediately we're going up a hill. Very much like Campbell River → Gold River on the island. Steep. Of course as Jeff Mudrakoff put it later, I had slept a bit too long and everything had reset. My knee. Apart from losing my appendix, I don't think I'd ever been in so much pain. So very quickly Dave had taken off from my, Luis vanished out of sight, Roland B. even zoomed by on his recumbent and I'm walking up the hill with Shai. Eventually even he hops back on his (beautiful Waterford) fixie and takes off, and I'm left to limp along on foot. Eventually I reach the top of the area and am able to rest a little bit, stopping to visit the Wells Gray park entrance sign, which, 9 years ago a crew of highschoolers and I had posed on before our first major trip into the wilderness together. *ALL* the nostalgia. ![Hello again](16-wells.jpg) Debated stopping at the campground and waiting for the Belgian waffles to become available but decided I'd carry on. I was pretty close to calling it quits with the pain I was in, but it was so far into the ride I figured, what the heck - keep riding and if it gets worse, throw in the towel, if it gets better - hey! You can finish! Slow progress. Advil replaces Tylenol. Stop for a rest, see the TTT one final time come zooming by, and many others, Roy, Luis, more San Frandonneurs. Eventually Dave passes me, having reached the control 30 minutes before I would. "You can do it. Don't quit now! You're so close!" Encouragement. *"We'll see"* I think. I'm not a quitter, but certainly more of a realist after this experience :P Finally I reach the control. The welcoming farmgrounds and smiling faces of the Goodison's and the trailer of joy are there. Stove running, snacks all around. Shai is a bundle of joy at this point, enjoying every hour of the ride. I think Ken Knutson is there, enjoying the food. But I'm starting to feel better and I remember breakfast. I remember the delicious looking blueberry pancakes I didn't get to try after in the chaos and business Bob forgot my food. I remember I can probably go back and still eat. Probably still get that orange juice. So I decide that's what I'm going to do. Wolf down a chocolate pudding and I'm out of there just after 7:30. Now the painkillers have kicked in. Now I'm powering. I zoom past Makiyo and ring bells at any randos I pass. I catch up to Raphael and Gilles on the climb, wish but keep going by, wishing "bon voyage!" on their return. Power, power, power. I can feel my legs. But the control closes at 9. I need to make it back earlier. 8:30? Is that possible? Will they have any pancake batter left? Will Will have willed my willing return for the juice? Push push push. I hit the descent and immediately a freakin' logging truck passes me, so I'm forced to slow and take the corners cautiously behind it. But amazingly, 2 hours up, 1 hour down. I roll into Clearwater at 8:30 or pretty close to it. "I'm back for pancakes!" I proclaim. "Are there any left?" "I think so" says Bob. "Yes!" says Manfred. "I can give you your orange juice!" says Will. "I came back just for it," I jest. "Do you have any chocolate ice cream?" "Let me check" "Ken might've demolished it" someone jokes. Turns out I was able to eat my dream breakfast of blueberry pancakes with chocolate ice cream and a delicious glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Did I mention the best part of this ride was the controls? I loved it! So helpful, so friendly, so fun! "So who's left?" ![Will said they were packed in about 30 minutes!](17-will.jpg "left") Practically everyone had gone, but Ryoichi was still asleep I think by the time I was putting on sunscreen and leaving at almost 8. Bob C.? (I think) is getting ready to head out, as is Bill. Also, where in the world is Ken Bonner? He apparently vanished in the night and hasn't finished yet. Probably at a hotel, but nobody knows. Oh Ken. Oh Ken. And they are starting to pack up the control. Time to head out. 125kms to go, *"gotta do this as fast as I can to beat the heat and get off my freakin' ass!"* The rest of the day was really a lot of that. Powering along at what I initially thought to be a great wattage, before realising that it was 100W less than my threshold from early in the year. Ah well - enjoyable nonetheless with the tailwind. Speeding out of Clearwater I zoomed right by the old highway, before realizing my mistake and doubling back. The old road looked hillier though :sob: But it is always nice to be off the highway. I think I passed some people there, can't quite recall. Somewhere I must've passed Raphael and Gilles, but I really am not quite sure. Mentally this whole section is easy for me, as I know it's mostly downhill into Little Fort and from there to Kamloops I had done last September so knew exactly what I was in store for. ![A view of the once fast, now old age Thompson](18-thompson.jpg) Most of the rest was uneventful, just hot. Lots of rolling hills, lots of pushing to keep the speed around 28-33kms/h. I stopped briefly in Little Fort for water, gatorade and to wolf some food, but wanted to push on. In Barriere I passed some folk I think. I dashed into the esso/subway for some more water (which actually turned out to be sparkling, so that was a nice bonus!) before downing a gel and some energy chews into the last section of the road. This section I knew to be challenging, with larger hills and lots of 'just around the corner' so I kept my game up and kept the pace on without looking often, if ever at kms to go (except those darn green distance signs!). It was pretty hot though, and the wind didn't do much to help. I was glad to be in simply lycra and have shorts with perforated chammy so I didn't stew in my own sweat. One last pass of a San Frandonneur near the finish and there it was: open highway for the last kick into town! Along the final few bends as fast as my tired legs would carry me, and there was the city in sight! So avoid the final cracked sections of the shoulder, dodge bits of tire, patches of sand, passed the first lights and suddenly I'm racing traffic over the red bridge, sprinting through town and... Finish! *80:23*, almost 5 hours faster than I had planned. Not bad. And that last section from Clearwater I had averaged 28.4km/h. Happy with myself and satisfied I collapsed with the other riders in a chair in the air-conditioned curling club. I got to congratulate Dave, who had come in some 11 minutes earlier, Roy was around, Jan Erik soonafter and really a giddish but tired bunch of riders, volunteers sheltering from the sun, drinking some beer and eating far too many chips. Actually I take that back, there's never too many chips. I finally got to admire the gorgeous tandem of Emma and Joth; an amazing creation from Magnesium with oversized tubing, milimetres of clearance here and there and the pretty aerobars w/ Di2 and a gates drive thrown in. And amazingly they packed it down into one (albeit larger than normal) case! I kept wondering where Bo was, but learned as he came into the finish that his car had been broken into and his suitcase stolen, so he had to DNF in Jasper to head back to see about acquiring a new passport - when you leave on Saturday and it's 3500 Krone (685CAD) to get a new one rush on Friday vs. ~300 Krone, and heck, you don't want to be stuck in the country, it's a decision you have to make. Of course they discovered that the passport wasn't actually stolen, but what can you do? `¯\_(ツ)_/¯` Overall: Busy. Rough Roads. Crazy views. Amazing controls. Sore legs. An interesting first 1200! Some interesting rough stats: * 18.5 hours climbing * 18 hours on the flats * 13 hours descending * 14,000 metres * 22,000 calories * 184,000 crank revolutions * 140bpm average (remember it goes down after the second day!) * Looks like I'm possibly the youngest finisher? And this year by 13 years! * Ow See the rest of the photos in [my gallery](gallery) See some real photos in the [BC Randonneurs gallery](http://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/rocky/rm_ga_16.html) [My full ride on Strava](https://www.strava.com/activities/657921404/) See the full results [here](http://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/rocky/rm_tr_ar_2016.html)


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