Newsletter - 2009 Archive

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Celebrating Canada Day
by Harold Bridge

There are many ways the Country's birthday can be celebrated that don't involve getting drunk. For cyclists it usually means going for a bike ride and on July 1st there is less excuse not to.

This year, 2009, saw the 10th anniversary of; "THE CANADA DAY RANDONNEE".
(If you look on the reverse side of a box of "Trail Mix" bars, you will see "Melange du Randonneur").

The idea came about in 1999 as a result of a Port Coquitlam cyclist planning a 132 km bike ride from home in order to celebrate Canada's 132nd birthday. His route brought him home via Fort Langley and the Albion Ferry. He saw the party atmosphere in what was British Columbia's first capital and thought there was potential for an event to celebrate Canada's birthday. Historic Fort Langley seemed a natural event terminus for the ride. The club committee agreed, and the event was planned for 2000.

2000-July-01 saw 71 entrants start the inaugural 133km Canada Day Randonnee. Every year since, the ride has grown in numbers as well as in distance. Year after year the organisers have been scurrying around to produce more control cards & route sheets as well as supply more food & drink.

In 2008 they planned for 150 & got 185 riders instead! This year they planned on 200 entries & got 298, including 9 event day volunteers!

With good reason, Langley Township doesn't want a massed start & there is a start window of one hour from 08:00 to 09:00. It makes sense for the slower riders to make full use of the day & get away right on 08:00. With a significant hill in the first few kms the riders get spread out very quickly so they are riding peacefully in one & twos for several kilometres.

Over the hills around Mount Lehman, through historic Clayburn Village onto the challenging Sumas Mountain & its exhilarating descent to the first control (44.5kms) at Kilgaard's Sumas First Nations' Facility. There, the volunteers were stamping control cards and providing energy in the form of fruit, food & water. From there it was mainly a flat ride on relatively quiet back roads to the second control at Chilliwack's Twin Rinks (72.7kms).

From that point on much of the ride was into a stiff south westerly wind. Vedder Mountain deflects the wind so one has a fast ride through Yarrow. But across Sumas Prairie to control #3 at Birchwood Dairy (98.5kms) there was an unremitting head wind to deal with. The Dairy was doing a frantic business with its famous ice cream. People were spread across the grass while enjoying the ice cream as well as the shade of the trees.

The ride west along Huntingdon Road was challenging and exposed the problem of starting with too much ambition & produced the greatest number of abandons. But, 279 riders finished with a time range of 4 hours 37min to 9 hours 38 minutes. Next year's ride will be 143kms!


July 2, 2009