I’m out of town for a couple weeks working so I wanted to score some much needed training on my bike before I went away. Unfortunately the forecast was for rain all week. Aaron and I picked one night and decided to just see what happened. I figured a bit of night riding would be smart to confirm that our lighting was working adequately. We met at a coffeeshop in town with the plan to see how the weather was looking. I had downloaded a 100km route of the internet that looked good, but I am no glutton for punishment so I won’t set off on a long night training ride in the pouring rain.
When the appointed hour came things were looking dry and clear – nice! Not being foolish enough to count on that holding we decided to ride the south part of the route and if things got gnarly we’d be close to home so we could bail. My Garmin Etrex Vista Cx wouldn’t follow the route I had downloaded because it had too many waypoints! So I had to quickly hack off the last 23 turns to get the GPS to load the route. I had the whole route backed up so when we reached the end of the current shortened route I could hack off the top bit of the route and get the GPS to work the rest of the way. I’ve been trying to hang on to this unit and make it work for at least this year, but this kind of lameness isn’t helping its cause!
It was just getting dark as we rolled away from the java stop with a working GPS and headed down to the ocean. The road along the coast is a nice way to circumnavigate Victoria. It’s winding and scenic with neat houses along the way. There are so many cyclists in town that drivers are courteous and aren’t shocked to see a bike on the road. The coastal roads were quiet in any case and I had fun getting to know my Boulder Bicycle All Road a bit better. After 21kms or so we reached the official start of the route and the weather was still holding – sweet! After a short snack break we headed north along the coast. Victoria is located on the 30km long Saanich peninsula which is surrounded by water nearly 360 degrees. Which allowed a lot of the route to be near the coast in view of the water. In the dark it was peaceful riding and it seems like the views would be lovely during the day.
We reached Sidney in good spirits and decided to stop for a snack. That snack consisted of turkey soup and toast washed down with a pint of beer! Going back out on the road was tough as it had cooled down and we were a bit damp from our efforts. I had a double layer of wool on my legs and torso plus a wind vest on top of the wool as well a neck warmer and ear warmer under my helmet. The weather was still nice so we got out butts moving to warm up and rounded the north part of the peninsula where the ferry terminal to Vancouver is and started our return south. I love hitting the halfway point on a ride and knowing every pedal stroke from now on was talking us back home.
The route down the west coast on the peninsula was really nice. Very winding with more climbing, but nothing outrageous. Traffic was light and the rain held off for quite a while, but sadly not long enough for us to get home.
With about 20-25kms left a moderate steady rain started. *sigh* I pulled on my rain jacket, but skipped the Rain Legs, rain gloves and shoe covers figuring it was warm enough for my wool to get me home. Slightly tragically I goofed looking at the GPS and we rode a few bonus KMs in the rain up a steep hill. Luckily I didn’t totally zone out and follow the pink line back to Sidney! Retracing your path after an unnecessary excursion always seems twice as long as it did to ride that leg in the first place…the rain didn’t help…=-(
Not much to say about the last 90mins of the ride in the rain. It was wet. I wished I was home, but it was warm enough that the suffering was not awful. I will never be one of these folks that enjoys rain riding. I was very happy to peel off at my house and throw my bike into the garage before eating some chocolate, having a hot shower and passing out!
104kms covered in 4:45hrs on the bike with an 1hr off the bike at 22kph avg. Nothing revolutionary, but given the fact this was all night riding with a good chunk of rain at the end and neither of us have been out for a 100K in months – I’ll take it.
Although I could have done without the rain it allowed me to put my gear through a more challenging test on this ride. The 100kms my legs needed was priority #1, but it was great to get a chance to try out how my gear worked at night in the rain and when it was dry and cool.
- bike worked great overall, fast and climbed well
- lighting was great when dry and adequate when wet, not having to think about batteries was nice
- Superflash taillight [sealed with electrical tape] didn’t mind the rain
- fenders w/ mudflaps kept road spray off me so I only had to deal with the clean rain that was falling
- I only used the middle ring the whole ride and didn’t get as far as the 32T cog so I may need to simplify my gearing at some point
- bike was comfy no hand, foot or saddle issues
- cotton front bag was easy to use at night and stayed dry inside during rain
- 42mm tires are fast and smooth as expected which allowed me to relax even when I rode over a bump or some gravel I didn’t see until the last second
- GPS can only handle 50 waypoints in a route [lame!] so I’ll need to break out a longer ride into several legs
- GPS worked well to navigate us with turns indicated early enough and it was nice riding along in the dark without looking at maps or cue sheets
- my DIY GPS waterproofing repair seems to be working
- I couldn’t read my bike computer or the cue sheet as I didn’t have a small light and I need it attached to the helmet in any case…I’ll track one down before the next night ride
- my REI Vertia rain jacket performed well keeping me dry and warm with no more sweat build up than when I was riding with just a windvest earlier
- wool tights and leg warmers did okay when wet at 8 deg C, but next time I’ll take the time to put my Rain Legs, MEC rain gloves and shoe covers on
Thanks to Aaron for coming along on this ride. I’m enjoying having company on my rando prep and since we are well matched in terms of speed and personality I think we’ll do well on upcoming brevets. I can’t imagine going back to the solo TT vibe that characterized by rando training/rides back in Alberta…not to mention I have to say the scenery and roads on Vancouver Island are top notch.