One of the requirements for doing the Bike Escort job for the Vancouver Marathon is that you do the full course ride - usually the Sunday prior to the actual Marathon and today was the day - we had to be at the Plaza of Nations start point at 6:45 aiming for a 7:00 AM leave - we were
a little late getting under way but with sunny but cool skies to start few were complaining - however I noticed one particular person wasn't there - seems that the Bulletproof Courier and his alarm clock had a conflict - anyways he was able to join us by the Cambie Bridge - having a radio he was able to find out where we were.
With a large number of riders - about 30 - keeping together with all the traffic lights etc is always a chore but those stops are usually too short for any photos - we do however have a few places where we stop for instructions from the "boss" Brian or with special guest and race director Jordon.
A brief description of our route and stops follows.
We leave Pacific Blvd and do a loop through the Downtown East side and then head up Columbia/Quebec to 2nd Ave and followed it west until Pine where we loop back to 4th and Burrard - we use the Esso station as a pit and regroup stop - we are trying to maintain an 18Kph pace as that is the pace that the faster runners will average.
I then take the lead as I have ridden this part of the route in previous years until we get to our Raymur street stop.
From there the our riding route parrells Cordova Street and then Hastings and into Stanley Park and Lumbermen's Arch.
That is where the first two photos are taken - it is one of the first places that I have time to get the camera out - there is an Earth Day race taking place in the Park so the area was extra busy.
After leaving Lumbermen's Arch we continue along Stanley Park Drive until we get to Pipeline Rd and follow it through to Lost Lagoon - the actual race route uses Lagoon Drive but we would have to ride the wrong way today so we do our usual re-route and follow the bike path to our second stop at parking lot near Cepperly Meadows and picnic area.
Our fearless Captain - Brian is giving us some more instructions. He does a lot of coaching because he doesn't really want any cases of LBS* ( answered below) on race day.
Jordon in the middle listens and then gives us some updates on road conditions especially Park Drive coming down from Prospect Point - in my words not his - A bloody mess and a disgrace to the City - if they don't get the rebuild of the road finished in the next week - it is not like the Marathon is a new event - this route has been used for a few years and there was no civic strike to delay construction.
After leaving this stop we head over the Burrard Bridge and the turn around point just past Jericho Beach Park but before we get there we have to stop for our annual "Brian wants to take a group photo that we never get to see because he nevers sends it out" stop at one of the small roadside viewpoints along Point Grey Road.
By now I am riding as the end sweep - ensuring that no one misses a turn etc.
Right on schedule at around 11AM we have finished the 42 KM ride and headed for our traditional no-host brunch at Ricky's on Beatty St - we are joined by our friend and new mother Ahna with baby and hubby in tow as well as the technical director for the Race - Frank S.
While the service is slow - they never seem to understand that when a group makes a reservation for 30 people that they should have some extra staff to help out.
I ordered the same as last year which was a toasted turkey melt sandwich with fries and pop.
Brian had some prizes donated - like bike helmets, tune-up specials etc. As usual I won nothing.
There were some more instructions but the biggest surprise came when it is announced that Frank had picked up the tab for our meal - Thanks Frank - the race organizers consider use to be one of the most vital parts of the Marathon so it was nice to get the extra recognition.
*** LBS - is a favorite saying of Brian's and means Liquid Bowel Syndrome.
As I am typing up the post the following morning I aren't even that sore - the new hybird bike is a real god send and goes in for a tuneup later today.
We have two more rides this week and then the big day next Sunday and an even earlier start - more details throughout the week.