|Newsletter - 2001 Archive|
To popularize our sport or not? This is one of the questions that Eric is raising in his article on time limits. This is not a new question for our club - near the end of its first decade, the club officials were struggling with the question of growth - do we want to put all our time and effort into trying to attract more people to the club? Or do we want to put our resources to work in other ways. The decision then, and now, was not to try and replicate the services of other clubs, but to maintain a focus. And that focus, the development of long distance, timed events, is governed by a host of rules developed internationally.
Here in BC, we have not taken the elist approach they have in France. We have opened our doors somewaht by providing shorter distance ride and relaxing time limits on these rides to encourage people to sample the sport. And we get a good turn out for those events. And some of the people who ride the shorter rides, end up doing longer ones - great! But why do they do the longer rides - because there is a challenge involved - not only of going that distance, but also, of doing so within a time limit. That is the motivation. That is the core of our sport.
As an organizer of the Rocky Mountain 1200, I believe that opening up the time limit on this event would kill it. There would be no prestige in doing the event if it didn't conform to the international standard (despite our gorgeous scenery), and to the general public who are overwhelmed by the thought of doing that kind of distance - the difference between having almost 4 days to complete and having 5 days to do the event is immaterial.
If you have ever spent any time trying to promote the idea of doing randonnees, then you will know that what catches the imagination of those who eventually become involved in the club is the challenge of being able to do something which seems impossible at first thought. It certainly isn't the prestige (who knows?), or the rewards (a pin?).
Our club is very special. We have lots of dedicated volunteers and many of those volunteers get out and help because they know what it feels like the first time you break through what you thought was a physical limit. They want to assist others to do that. I also think that is one of the reasons that we have been searching for harder and harder routes - we are constantly trying to push the limits.
On the other end of the scale - it is true that there is no upper time limit at Paris-Brest-Paris. But, to the best of my knowledge, the only event where the fast time limit is an issue for us in BC is the Flatlander. And maybe all that means is that we have the first control too soon. If 5 people are inconvenienced by this, by all means, let's move the first control so that they will not be cooling their heels for 5 or 6 minutes waiting for the control to open.
I understand that Tim Pollock is not available to run the Flatlander this year - maybe we have some volunteers to take over that role and change the route to accommodate those fast riders on this flat course! But let's not let this issue get out of proportion.