First the wine report and the really fun part of going to the Okanagan. My wife, Jan, and I spent the previous day visiting several wineries in Similkameen Valley and purchasing far too much wine. (Orofino and Seven Stones are favourites). We had stayed at the Manning Park Lodge on Friday night and I rode from there to Sunday Summit along Highway 3 just to breathe the clear mountain air.
The Fondo was well organized as Penticton has a lot of experience organizing these type of events and the whole town pitches in and comes out to cheer. We started right at 7 and John Joyce and I positioned ourselves in the 25km/hr. grouping.
It was about 15 degrees with no wind at the start and after an initial 100 metre climb up to the Naramata Bench to sort everyone out a bit we swooped back through Penticton and then headed North to Summerland at a very fast pace. John and I separated at this point and I did not see him again. I hung on to a paceline for dear life and at times when I dared look down we were clocking between 37 to 40 km/hr which is freakishly above my norms. I was to pay for this later.
At Summerland there is a steep 150 metre climb similar to heading up from Marine Drive to the Upper Levels. Again it seem like the whole town had turned out to cheer us on. From there we headed South and back through Penticton and the East side of the Valley. At the 50 km mark I came up on Gerry Goodleff and shortly afterwards Bob Allan came up alongside me before stepping out. They both completed the Mediofondo (92km.) and Bob was, as expected, first in category with a time of 3:37 and Gerry was 3 in category with a 3:18 time.
From then on things settled down a bit and my strategy was to catch rides wherever I could and either get behind a really big guy or a very attractive woman (one for better wind protection the other for motivation). At this point it wasn’t too hot yet and we had a favourable tail wind developing and it was either flat or rolling terrain as we got to Okanagan Falls. I had skipped the first and third aid stations but from this point in it was full stop at each station to reload on water and sport drink and to get a pitcher of cold water over the head. My last minute addition of a red kerchief under my helmet really worked out well for both sun shade and cooling.
Once we turned the corner at Burrowing Owl near Osoyoos and headed North we picked up a headwind and the day became much tougher. At 115 km we got to the Fairview Golf Course and after a hydration break headed up the first of several sharp climbs. This is where the heat really made itself felt. There were quite a few cyclist in the first aid station with their heads between their legs and recovering and quite a few more sitting at the side of the road or walking their bikes up. Having a compact cassette was a real lifesaver on these sharp pitches. The next 25 km. was quite difficult for me but I kept spinning and slowly worked my way up each hill. I was actually OK on the climbing it’s just that I had very little left in the tank to take advantage of the downhill sections. I kept passing another rider going uphill and he would go right past me again on the downhill sections. I believe it was about 37 degrees and no breeze at this point and as those who rode it last year know it is very rough pavement.
At this point I became so heat stressed I could not eat. Not even a banana. So I kept drinking Gatorade, and water and dragged my ass over the last hill at the observatory and then struggled through the down the last twenty km. to the finish line. I think it’s called bonking and perhaps I headed out too fast in the beginning. But eventually Penticton came into view and I crossed the finish. I then dragged my bike under a tree, drank some chocolate milk and basically collapsed/fell asleep for about 45 minutes until my leg went into spasm. However after that I started to feel a bit better, but for the record I could not drink my one free beer or eat the chicken ciabatti.
There was another woman in VeloVet kit at the finish line but I was too exhausted to talk to her and I did not recognize her.
I clocked in at 6:30 for a 24.8 average pace (6:09 with a 26:1 pace on the Cyclemetre). John had a more leisurely ride and clocked in at 8:14 for a 19.5 pace. Jan did a ride on the KVR with family, had lunch at the Hillside winery restaurant, and purchased more great white wine at La Frenz and Terra Vista.
Life is good! Bill Markvoort Fondo Survivor Bib 2424