Don’t pass me young lady …

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My weekend rides begin at the club. I leave my electrolyte powder in my locker, and pedal there to prepare my bottles for the ride. The club is on a bikeway, on a traffic calmed street, that runs north and south, so it is a good place to meet up for a ride regardless where we are headed.

Today’s ride was supposed to be a group ride to Horseshoe Bay and back, a 75 km trip on one of the most scenic, and iconic rides in the area on a smooth surfaced road cut into the side of the mountain on the north shore of English Bay.

Well, the boys were a “no show”. The weather was warm and sunny but apparently there were yard chores that took precedence. Hmmm … This is one ride I like help. It is hilly, steep in parts with relentless rollers. No matter. I headed out alone.

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10 km out I crossed the Lions Gate Bridge to the North Shore. There are separated bike lanes on both sides of the bridge but this is my least favourite part of the ride. It is high, windy and bumpy. Once over the bridge, the real fun begins. A winding, rolling road cutting through West Vancouver, home of the most expensive real estate in the country, to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, home of Troll’s, the best Fish & Chip restaurant I know.

This is one of my favourite rides. However, it’s not for the uninitiated. It requires consummate climbing and descending skills as the road meanders relentlessly along the shoreline. It is a favourite training route for local road cyclists.

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I stopped at Horseshoe bay to refuel, empty my bladder, and rest for 20 minutes before heading back. The climb back out of the Horseshoe Bay community is long and tiring, particularly when the blood is in the stomach digesting food instead of fuelling the legs for the climb. I wondered if I was going to make it home. By the time I summited this first climb, I was beginning to feel better. The legs were back.

Next, there was a lengthy descent, and then another long climb. As I started up the hill, I began thinking about the boys back home cutting grass instead of helping me up this grade. It is times like this that I like to be on someones wheel.

Mid-way up the climb, I heard a rider approaching from behind. 10 meters later I was overtaken by a young woman on a carbon bike, wearing the kit of one of the top amateur cycling clubs in the city.

This is what I needed. A wheel to follow. This woman was good. Fast, strong, and determined. I got on her wheel, working harder on the climbs than I ever have. She was strong on the way up but my extra weight helped on the way down. For 15 kilometres, we  traded bunches, me working feverishly to keep up on the climbs, and she hammering down the descents to keep pace.

It was the toughest 15 km I have ever ridden. I worked so hard that my lungs were burning. That doesn’t usually happen. As we approached the slower portion of the road, I pulled up beside her and said, “You are good. Thanks for the help. I enjoyed that.” We chatted a bit, and then parted ways, me back to the city over the bridge, and she farther east.

We didn’t get to talk much. We were working too hard, and then parted ways. Another chance encounter left by the roadside. The way she was riding, I suspect she is a  competitive road racer. You can tell by the way someone handles a bike, how and when they shift gears, and how they attack climbs and descents. This woman was an experienced racer.

I was pleased I could keep up, if for only 15 km. After all, she must have been half my age. I rode the hardest part of the road faster than I ever have.

This was a good ride 🙂

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16 thoughts on “Don’t pass me young lady …

  1. Thank you for the cycle down memory lane. I rode that route out if the city when catching the ferry to Nanaimo. I think you may have been much faster than me on my touring bike though! It was a fun, hilly route. I canjust vouch for the great fish & chips at Trolls too!

    • I wondered if you took this route. It’s a great ride, and, yes I was probably faster than you on your touring bike. Those hills would be a grunt on a loaded bike. Troll’s is my favourite. The restaurant is my turnaround point so I don’t indulde on a ride but often go back for a dinner.

      How are those new cranks coming along?

      • You got me wondering so just taken a look at my trip diary which, for once was surprisingly detailed. Looks like I started out from MEC on Broadway, rode through Stanley Park, over Liongate bridge (wonderful) and then along Marine Drive (don’t know if this is your road but it was quite lumpy?). I also know (quite sadly) it took me 1hr 50 mins total to reach the ferry terminal because at the exact moment the one I was hoping to catch left without me. On the bright side, that’s when I got to try those fish and chips! Forgive the above ramblings, but your post brought some nice memories. If you’re thinking of trying the Oregon/Washington coastline – get used to those rolling roads around the water!
        🙂
        Still waiting for undamaged cranks to arrive!

      • That’s interesting. I live close to MEC on Broadway. You rode the exact same route I did on Saturday, and I would say 1 hour and 50 minutes is an excellent time on a loaded bike. You must be a strong rider. If you read EpicGran’s comments above, I would say you would be one of those “chicks” she speaks of.

        I was on my carbon bike with the new compact crankset. They made a big difference on that road. In years past, that ride seemed more difficult. And, believe it or not, I thought of you along the way out wonder if you had the new cranks yet. 🙂

      • It’s amazing how galvanizing having to catch a ferry can be. Funnily enough a weighted bike gives a good bit of speed, especially downhill. I would much have preferred your roadie though (with or without the compact) – seems I’m destined to keep mine for a while longer, grrr. Sounds like yours is flying…apart from the occasional ‘chicking’ 😉
        MEC is one of the many things I miss about Canada! I was staying not far away, somewhere around East 21 I think.

      • I live on 22nd 🙂

        I frequent MEC regularly. Love the place. I don’t know if this is new but you can shop online at MEC now (www.mec.ca). Otherwise, if you see something you like and want, just let me know.

      • Haha, small world, looks like we were neighbours for a few days 🙂 Thanks for the MEC offer- I could buy the entire store. Think I may have visited one in nearly every city I stopped in on the way across Canada – usually for vital supplies. Please give my regards to Marine drive next time you pedal that way, you have a great city to cycle in!

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