I decided to be bold and plan a serious Mother’s Day weekend training run. I live in Nanaimo and my Mom in Sidney. Getting to her place via the Mill Bay Ferry is a 100 km jaunt so there on Saturday and back on Monday with a ride on Sunday should net me 250 km easy.
I conscripted Hans to come along on day 1 and we set off at 8 am. I followed my preferred route through town that takes us to Cedar Road which bypasses the airport and eventually hits the Island Highway near Ladysmith. We decided to turn at Haslam Road which we’d never been on and which, I assured Hans, is an alternate path that just returns to Cedar Road a little further along… Except that it doesn’t and we ended up at the North end of the airport with the sole option of turning onto the Island Highway in the direction of Nanaimo. Oops!
Lesson One: Never trust a Parky to remember directions without a map or something printed or written down — especially if he’s never actually taken the road in question. Carrying an old fashioned paper map isn’t such a bad idea either.
Luckily backtracking cost us only about 4 km. On to Ladysmith!
We took First Ave into town to bypass part of the Island Highway and at the top of the big hill stopped at the bakery and had a couple of scones. We lost track of time chatting to a couple who had bike-toured much of BC decades ago.
At this point we had a choice to make. Continue on the Island Highway or take the back roads, meaning Chemainus Road aka Highway 1A which bypasses the busier highway until just past the Chemainus River. We chose the Island Highway so that we would be able to make up a bit of the time lost at the Bakery.
About 10 km past Ladysmith we are climbing a long even grade. Hans was following and, not being one to draft, his position behind me as seen in my mirror varies. So, when his green jacket disappeared in my mirror I didn’t worry — when I reached the top of the grade I would stop to check (when cycling alone I rarely stop mid-climb). What I saw was Hans stopped at the edge of the road so I walked back down the shoulder. His rear tire was flat and he was having trouble finding the leak. After an hour of trying to get the tire re-inflated we called in the cavalry to get a ride to Duncan. I learned a lot of lessons from this incident:
Lesson 2: Make sure that anyone in the riding group can get the group to stop. There are lots of options: noisemakers (Hans suggested an easily accessible FOX-whistle), intercom systems and walkie talkie systems are some that come to mind.
Lesson 3: Carry a spare inner tube and tools to deploy it. Consider a more expensive puncture resistant tire with kevlar or the like.
Lesson 4: Stick together. The thought that I should continue on to Duncan and then Mill Bay came up but once you start spreading out into small groups safety suffers and it becomes difficult to keep track of everyone.
Lesson 5: Riding alone is different that riding in a group. Once Hans had disappeared I should have stopped immediately, even if on the steepest part of the climb, since I ended up having to return back down the slope anyways.
Lesson 6: Have an emergency backup plan. Hans had pre-arranged with Corrine to come to our rescue if necessary.
After our rescue by Hans’ partner, Corrine, I eventually got driven to Duncan and then to Mill Bay. I rode the 5 km to the ferry where I got picked by my partner, Jeanette. We arrived at the final destination in Sidney though not quite in the way we had planned.
The second day, Mother’s Day, quickly revealed only one important lesson:
Lesson 7: Mother’s Day is for Moms. All planned rides ended up canceled. So, after a great breakfast at Frankie’s downtown we parted ways and with dire weather in the forecast for the next day I returned home to Nanaimo.
Weekend actual riding distance: 51 km. A little short of the 250 km that I had hoped for. There’s probably an 8th lesson in there somewhere…