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Kok completes 1,200-km ride
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- Most people can't imagine riding their bike to Charlie Lake, but Fort St. John cyclist Wim Kok chose to take in 1,200 kilometres of day and night cycling through the evergreen forests and mountain national parks of British Columbia and Alberta. As part of the B.C. Randonneurs Cycling Club, Kok took just under four days to embark on the Rocky Mountain 1,200 ride held July 24- 28, enduring the scenic but incredibly taxing route from Kamloops to Jasper, Alta., and back. "Some people like to climb Mount Everest," said the 54-year-old vivacious cyclist. "It's a goal that you want to achieve, and it's part of a lifestyle." On alternate years, the B.C. Randonneurs host the ultra-marathon length brevet, which started in 1996. The event attracts cyclists in search of a challenging ride in one of Canada's most spectacular settings. This year, 78 riders (nine women and 69 men), including 29 Canadians, 27 Americans, and others from Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Austria and Denmark participated.
This was Kok's first time, and he finished in 87 hours and two minutes (87:02). But Kok said this ride is not a race by any means. "If you approach this with a racing attitude, you probably won't make it," he said. "You have to pace yourself ... it's the final hill that matters." Kok, a geography instructor at Northern Lights College, said having the opportunity to ride through some of the country's most picturesque and naturally magnificent landscapes, was a poetic experience. "When you drive a car, it's visual," he said. "When you cycle, you hear and smell ... like hayfields or trucks that would pass with logs and you know they're spruce." From Kamloops the route climbed gradually through rolling hills, following the North Thompson River through Clearwater and Blue River. After Tete Jaune Cache, riders turned east and entered the severe climbs of the Rocky Mountains. Kok said some of the climbs were about 30 km to the summit, and they could easily steal your steam.
"The toughest part was when we didn't make it to Vernon, and so we slept in Salmon Arm for two and a half hours, then we got going after eating," said Kok, a member of the Blizzard Bicycle Club. "The first thing we had was a couple of steep hills, and I thought this is incredible ... I can't do this." But even if Kok had a few moments of misery during the long trip, he said he was prepared for it. In order to complete the ultra- marathon, a rider has to first complete a 200, 300, 400, and 600-km race. Kok said last year he did a series of 200's, a 300 and 400. This year he prepared with more than 1,000 km's of riding. "I think I'm in pretty decent shape," said the vibrantly healthy cyclist. "I was elated ....it was great." Austria's Othmar Altmann broke a men's course record in the ultra- marathon by completing the race in 52:02, while Canada's Nancy Pauw broke the women's record in 65:32.