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Little time for sleeping
CALGARY, ALTA. -- The 285-kilometre ride from Jasper to Banff is a classic mountain tour that plenty of veteran cyclists find tough to complete in three days. Then there are those who like to make the journey in a single 20-hour marathon. They even tack on a 15-kilometre ride into Jasper before breakfast to increase the challenge and make the ride an even 300 kilometres. The Rocky Mountain Randonneurs are hard-core bicycle riders. Their idea of fun is to ride the 400-kilometre loop between Eishenhower Junction, Golden, and Radium in 27 hours or less.
And that's just a medium distance trip for the cyclists who regard the ultimate test as the 1,200-kilometre round trip from Paris to Brest. The time limit for that jaunt through the French countryside is 90 hours. It doesn't leave much time for sleeping. "It's a personal challenge just to see how far you can go and see how tough your mind is," said Ian Olthof, a University of Calgary computer student who joined the randonneurs last year. The farthest he'd ever ridden in a day was 120 kilometres but he was intrigued by the challenge of pushing himself further and he managed to complete the first 200-kilometre event he entered. He enjoys the fact that the events are not races. Aside from beating your personal best, the goal is simply to complete a given distance within a set time limit. Randonneur is French for long-distance walker. The shortest official randonne is 200 kilometres with a 14-hour time limit. "It's a chance to get out and see something scenic and see lots of it in a day," Olthof said. The 60-member club is considering a 50-kilometre populaire ride to introduce the sport to newcomers. Riders who feel up to the challenge can contact the club's vice- president Dan Paarsmarkt at 253-1526.