By Peter H
A group of seven: Chester, Maurice, Peter H (myself), Leslie, Peter T, Jason and Chris, started out on what was forecast as a sunny and windy day. Bill had ridden the route a few days before and gave us an ‘all clear’ in terms of the road conditions and sent us off.
We had two people who had never ridden a 200 km brevet before, Peter T and Chris. We wanted to make sure everybody would finish and rode together in good camaraderie and conservative pace. Chris appeared to be the least experienced rider since he only had ridden up to 70 km rides before. I checked in various times with him to make sure he would not ride too hard. He kept up well with the group.
The first leg up to Crossfield we had a light crosswind from the West and moved with an average speed of about 25 km/h. We took a ten minute break before we continued. Going south the crosswind picked up to about 35 to 40 km/h. The road East towards Beiseker was pure fun; an overall gentle downhill with 40 km/h tailwind made for a fast 30 km.
After the control in Beiseker, Hwy 9 leads south with some short west turns. This piece was somewhat tough; still, we rode as a group. The next east turn made for another fun stretch with an easy 40 km/h ride. Turning south up the hill to Strathmore then we felt the strong wind on our right shoulders that had been helping us.
We had an extended break at the A&W to refuel.
After this the fun was over and the fight for survival started. On the downhill the wind was so strong, it appeared like a sand storm, dirt clouds and gusts made it hard to stay on the road. Estimated gusts up to 80 km/h.
The rest of the ride was a battle into an average 60km/h headwind, with some gusts that slowed us down to pedestrian speed in the granny gear. I rode with Les and Chris and tried to block the wind for them, but when it is that strong the draft is very short. Chris’ eyes had been affected by the sand and dust, he couldn’t see well and he decided to stop only 9 km before the end. I rode very fast from there to get the car and pick him up.
It appears the Strathmore ride is always a hard ride; high winds, snow, hail or just cold temperatures make it an early year challenge.
Thanks to all for the great team spirit