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2000 Km Brevet In 2000
(a.k.a. 2K-Y2K)

Réal G. Préfontaine

 

On June 24, 2000 at 06:00 an International group of Randonneurs, gathered for a memorable photograph, the start of a 2000 km brevet in year 2000. From Audax Ecosse (member of Audax UK), George Berwick; from Seattle Randonneurs, Ron Himshoot and Dave Johnson; and from the BC Randonneurs, John Bates, Manfred Kuchenmuller, Michel Richard, and Réal Prefontaine. Noboru Yonemitsu and Dick Nicholls regrettably had to cancel out at the last minute. The former for work related reasons and the latter for health reason.

The ride was organized in 7 stages, with an pre-identified stop every night (Control Point) and a group start in the morning. The 7 stages totaled 2010 km and had to be completed in 166.5 hours. Mac Cooper drove the Support Vehicle.

Stage 1 (June 24): Abbotsford to Kamloops (308 km)

The group rode together to Hope in intermittent showers that lasted to the toll booth. The climb to the Coquihalla toll booth quickly separated the "climbers" from the "flatlanders". By agreement a regrouping was planned at the Dairy Queen in Merritt. On our way to the Quilchena Control, I lost concentration for one second, clip Michel's rear wheel and took a fall. Luckily only road rash resulted which were quickly bandage with the help of Manfred and we were on our way through the picturesque and quiet Nicola Valley. One last climb and we arrived in Kamloops at 22:30 hours where our support driver had checked us in at the Hostel International. A wise action as reception was closed and doors are locked at 22:00 hours.

John Bates, due to prior committments had to differ his start to June 25 in Kamloops. (He would complete the last stage on July 1 in Kamloops). Noboru Yonemitsu although not participating in the ride accompanied the group to Quilchena. Stage 2 (June 25): Kamloops to Valemont (325 km)

Start at 06:00 followed by breakfast at Denny's before taking to the road. John Bates had joined the group. Quickly he and Michel Richard took the lead and left a dust trail for the remainder of the group to follow. This stage proved uneventful on a bright sunny and hot day. We arrive in Valemont at 00:15 with all establishments closed. We spent some time looking for our hotel until a local person re-directed us to the north end of town. Mac was patiently waiting for us at the roadside to flag us in. After a quick Pizza dinner we hit the sack for a 05:00 wake up call. The accommodation proved excellent as we had a lodge to ourselves.

Stage 3 (June 26): Valemont to Prince George (301 km)

On the road by 06:00 we had to go through road construction for some 20 km (to Tête Jaune) before leaving highway 5 for highway 16, still the Yellow Head, but the Prince Rupert section. From McBride to Purden Lake the rolling hills were really rolling with multiple climbs and decent. Yes, some of us saw bears, others only bear dropping, several moose and other wild life were also spotted. At every causal stops, mosquitoes were out in force. The last persons to arrive in Prince George, Manfred and I, came in at 01:42. Nobo had warned us about the last 1 km climb before getting to our Bed & Breakfast lodging.

Stage 4 (June 27): Prince George to Sob Lake Road (71 km)

Sob Lake, where is that you say? When the route sheet was prepared, different Road Maps were used to evaluate distances between control points. Different maps gave different distances. To arrive at the required distance for the turn around point of 1005 km we had asked Mac to record every riders bicycle odometer reading at each Control Point on the way out and average them out. The average reading at our overnight stop in Prince George, indicated we had to complete 71 km for a total of 1005 km. This distance was reached at the intersection of Highway 16 West and Sob Lake Road. We left for this stage after 07:00 as we were returning to Prince George and the same accommodation for the evening. This was a particularly hot day and also a critical day for me. In spite of lightening my on bicycle load, due to recent and recurrent problems, I could not keep up with the group and decided to abandon.

Stage 5 (June 28): Prince George to Blue River (390 km)

This was a 390 km stage. In retrospect not a distance you would want to cover on your fifth day of riding. The 04:00 start went well as the weather was clear and winds favorable. However the skies quickly overcast and by early afternoon the riders were submitted to multiple downpours and showers interspersed by periods of sunshine. Leaving McBride, John and Michel started with a 40 km tailwind and tried to out run the storm. They didn't. Luckily the ride from Valemont to Blue River (89 km) had more downhill than climbs. The last rider checked in 02:30. Considering that everyone was up at 03:00 the day before it was a long day. A noteworthy incident on this stage occurred on arriving at the Motel when Manfred ran over a policeman, a "sleeping policeman" that is !!!!!!!!!

Stage 6 (June 29): Blue River to Merritt (325 km)

After breakfast at the Husky Restaurant the day augured well. The weather was cool due to light fog. Winds were not significant. Within two hours the sun had burned away the fog. Mac and I, in the support vehicle had proceeded to the interim control point of Clearwater. John and Michel, having had a good night rest (over 6 hours), were well on their way before tragedy struck. Some fifty km before Clearwater, Michel caught John's rear wheel and crashed. He sustained severe injury to his right elbow and right rib cage. After ten minutes of rest he was able to get back on his bicycle and continue to Clearwater at a slow pace followed by John. At Clearwater I examined Michel and concluded he likely had broken rib(s) and serious injury to right elbow. Abandoning the ride at this point was raised. However after bandaging the road rash of his elbow and shoulder, Michel decided to continue the ride and re-evaluate his situation as he went along. By the time he was ready to leave the Clearwater interim control, George and Manfred had arrived and the three left together. Ron and Dave were soon to follow. It was decided that the support vehicle would make more frequent stops to ensure Michel was able to continue. The road did not present major climbs at this point. Unfortunately a head wind picked-up some 20 km North of Kamloops, the next interim control. Michel again evaluated his situation and after a rest and food intake decided to tackle the climb out of Kamloops. After seeing Ron and Dave leave the Kamloops interim control, Mac and I had a quick dinner and took to the road. Michel in spite of his injury was on the descent towards Nichola Valley by the time we caught up. The head winds were gusting to over 30 km per hour. Michel decided to continue contrary to medical advice. It was agreed that I would drive Mac to Merritt, arrange to obtain the hotel keys for the riders and I would return to check on the riders progress, especially Michel.

Manfred and George were progressing well against the head wind, Michel one hour behind them had to take numerous rest stops. At this point Ron and Dave were one and half hour behind Michel. They had taken a longer dinner break in Kamloops. Due to pain and strong head winds, Michel consider abandoning. When I rejoined him, the winds had relented somewhat and he decided to try for the Quilchena Control. At this point Michel set himself short distance objective with re-evaluation at the end of each objective. With a minimum of analgesics but loads of courage, determination and inner strength that came from "God knows where" he reached the Merritt Control at 01:28 AM, one hour behind Manfred and George and one and one-half hour before Ron and Dave. It was a long day and one that will not be forgotten.

Stage 6 (June 30): Merritt to Abbotsford (219km)

Breakfast was called for 06:00 AM with the departure to follow with an understanding of a regrouping in Hope were other Randonneurs would be waiting for the final leg of the journey to Abbotsford. John readily took the lead, followed by Manfred, George, Ron, Dave and Michel. The Cold Water River Road proved difficult for Michel. Although not a long climb the rolling hill and rough section were painful and challenging. By the time the Coquihalla was reached the group had separated. To ensure that Michel would not be left to himself the support vehicle kept behind him. Needless to say the climb to the Toll Booth against a headwind required more determination. The descent to Hope was easier than anticipated. Michel arrived at approximately 16:15. Karen Smith and Dick Nicholls were waiting with Manfred, George, Ron and Dave. John, who would not finish his ride today had left with Danelle and Rainy and Joe for Abbotsford. After a rest of one hour for Michel he left with the group who would ride together to the finish in Abbotsford. Mac and I continued to the Final Control in Abbotsford.

On June 23rd , day before departure, I had mentioned to the Manager of Save-on-Food at Abbotsford Village Plaza about our 2000 km ride and anticipated finish at the Village between 16:00 and 18:00 hours. He volunteered to have a snack ready for the participants and accompanying riders. (This was a quick and last minute arrangement and details were not outlined). On arriving in Abbotsford at approximately 06:30 PM, I checked with the clerk at the Service Counter who was not aware of the arrangements. Regrettably I did not ask for the on-site Manager and the issue of a reception at Save-on-Food was not pursued. The next day I met with Fred, an Assistant Manager at Save-on-Food, who informed me that arrangements were in place and he and his staff waited until 22:00 hours. The group arrived at the Final Control, Abbotsford Village Plaza, at 21:45 hours. As the organizer of the ride, I apologized to the Manager and his Staff at Save-on-Food for the unfortunate misunderstanding.

In Summary, six of the seven starters finished. The Stage Ride approach proved feasible for long distance rides and demonstrated that less support staff is required for the controls. Will other multi-days ride be organized? I would expect so, but a 2000 km in Y2K, that is unique.

P.S. As most of you may have heard by now, Michel Richard injuries were more serious than both he and I had foreseen. He required major surgical intervention to his right elbow. At the time of writing this report he is recuperating well and he plans to participate in the Flatlander in September. I venture to say you will see him on his bicycle well before then.


McNasty

Also check out this account of the ride by McNasty (George Berwick):

The B.C. 2000 in A.D. 2000
A Scots Randonneur braves the bears and cyclists of Western Canada

Language warning: Sensitive readers may experience some disorientation. Close your eyes until the feeling passes, and then refer to the Scots/English Glossary at the bottom of the page.

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