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Rob Welsh at PBP 1979
I had always thought - everyone has always thought - that our BC boys (Dan, Wayne, Gerry and John) were the first Canadians to participate in and finish Paris Brest Paris Randonneur back in 1979. In the process of putting together a 2015 Canadian PBP finishers list, I stumbled across a reference suggesting that a fifth Canadian rider, Rob Welsh, also finished in that year. Some of you will remember Rob from PBP 2007. He is a friend of Graham Fishlock's and we kind of adopted him. Here Rob is in the BC photo from that year bottom row, third from the right. We knew he was Canadian, living in Minnesota, but not about PBP 1979.
I was checking some facts in German rider Axel König's excellent 2015 PBP finishers database (link). For Rob's entry it claimed that that he had finished PBP '79. Here's my screen capture from the data base with a pop up window showing Rob's life-time PBP participation. It thought it was a mistake, and that there must be a second Rob Welsh. But doing the math I realized that he would have been the right age to have done it in 1979, and his 2015 and 1979 finishing times were almost identical. I wondered... I got in touch with Graham who confirmed that Rob was at PBP '79. I had to know more so I got Rob's contact information. Rob reflected on that 1979 ride over several messages and was gracious enough to allow me to share some of this with you.
By the way, the reason why we didn't know about Rob being at PBP 1979 was that PBP's official results for '79 list him as an American. Here's another image showing Rob's 1979 result. He did qualify in the US and went over with the Americans as a part of their pioneering foreign presence at that PBP. Rob still lives in the US where he is Regional Brevet Administrator for Minnesota Randonneurs.
Here's the updated "Canadian's at PBP" page with Rob featured as the second Canadian to finish PBP. Here's more in Robs own words:
Rob Welsh's Reflections on PBP 1979:
In 1979 my parents provided support out of the trunk of their car at some controls and I rode with a great mentor and friend, John Pixton, who was twice my age. All of them have passed on since then so I was pretty emotional when I rode into the finishing gates in 2015.
The year after PBP, John Pixton and I rode the 1980 inaugural Bicycle Across Missouri 540 mile brevet event. This was the first organized randonneur type event organized in the US (as far as I know). There were about 32 entrants, 1/2 of them completed the ride. The first rider in was Lon Haldeman. The last rider to finish, with minutes to spare, was Susan Notorangelo. Lon and Susan went on to set numerous RAAM records and formed PACTour, organizing supported bike tours across the US for the past 30+ years. For myself, I took a 27 year break from randonneuring to get married and raise kids, returning to randonneuring for PBP 2007. Since then it's been a lot of fun riding and organizing events in the US and Canada. This year Graham and I are planning on a 1000k event in Nova Scotia. PBP 2019 will be a topic of discussion.
Go to: Canadian's at PBP Results Archive
Go to: Axel König's 2015 PBP Results Database
January 25, 2017