Go to: Rocky Mt 1200 Stories

Rocky Mountain 1200


My RM1200km Adventure critters included free!!!!!!! (2004)
by Larry Brenize

Since this was my Rookie year as a rando rider I didn't quite know what to expect on this 1200km ride. I had to do the qualifying this year and ran into a small snag on my 1st 400km attempt with the Potomac Pedalers as the ride that day had monsoon type of weather, bone chilly temperatures and my body finally gave out at 158 miles into the ride when my stomach could no longer hold any food down. This made me scramble and now I did a 400km ride with the Boston Brevet series on June 12 followed with a 600km ride the following weekend with the Berkshire Brevet call the Catskill 600km ride. This ride was very hilly and prepared me very well for the RM1200km ride. I did have about 4,000 miles in before this ride and my totals for all of last year was only 2,500 so I felt somewhat confident there.

I had already purchased my plane ticket in advance of the qualifiers along with my motel room reservation so I was very relieved once I had my qualifiers in. Last second preparations before the ride which is sometimes more enjoyable than the ride itself had me scrambling also. I had expected to get a Schmidt hub before the ride but just ran out of time to get this done.

Arriving at the Kamloops airport I was greeted with the smell of sulfur which could only mean a paper producing industry was not too far away. The motel Hospitality Inn promised a room with a view and I wasn't disappointed there as I could see about 20-25 miles up the valley towards the way I think we headed out on our bikes. The bike was assembled only to find out I couldn't get my rear brakes working. A quick stop to a downtown shop fixed that problem along with a new water bottle cage that was purchased so problems wouldn't arise during the ride. Coming back from the shop the skies opened up on me and I was drenched and I was having enough trouble finding my way back to the motel as I had decided to ride down there with my street clothes on and a pair of sandals not too smart of a move.

The bike check-in went fairly well except that I noticed everyone else had their helmets with them and I happened to let mine back at the motel. I assured them (Doug Latorell) that I wouldn't even think of starting the ride without a helmet and he said he would have his eye out for me that night.

A pre ride dinner with 2 other bicycling magazine forum members Bernie Barge was one with his family and another Patricia Von Niessen, with her friends was great and now it was time to try and get a little sleep before the ride. Being hyped up not too much sleep was realized. I really apprecaited the fact that Bernie Barge picked me up at my motel and drove me to the start line and let me ride with him at the start of the race and more or less took me under his wing as he was a very experienced rando rider. The 10 PM start was approaching and I decided if the lead pack went out in the 20-25 mph range and I felt comfortable with that I would stick with the lead pack. Starting temperatures were 54 deg. F, the lead pack went out in the range I expected and 1 rider lead the pack out I'm pretty sure for at least 4-6 miles before he decided to let someone take their turn pulling. I stayed with the lead pack for about 45 minutes when I knew the pace was just too fast for me. I arrived at the 1st control Clearwater at 2:30 AM with Bernie and a few other riders and wasn't feeling that bad. My average speed was 17.8 mph going into that control. I remember trying to get some tea in me to warm me up but it was too hot and I had a great turkey sandwich along with all the other goodies they had there.

During the night the temperatures really dropped and coupled with the fact that this was the 1st ride that I was riding thru the night I was falling asleep on the bike some. I remember rolling over the rumble strips once which woke me up and I remembered to stay off the back wheel of the rider Bernie Barge I was riding around so if I crashed I wouldn't take him down with me. 122 miles into this ride we saw a beaver and since I was still partially asleep I told my riding partner that it was a otter and he thought I was losing it but I didn't know that at the time and he just rode away from me. Right before daylight the temperatures dropped to 44 deg. F and I was shivering, I got lucky that the rider I was with loaned me his extra jacket and that help me get through the night or the early morning ride. Daylight came early for me 4:30 AM and I was anxiously awaiting the morning sun to warm me up. Being so new to this long distance riding I knew there would be ups and downs on these rides and true to form for me the 130 mile point till the 2nd Control at Blue River was like a death march to me. I stopped at the Messiter Summit before this control to take a picture at the summit sign and found out one quick lesson in Canada, watch where you are walking as there was toilet paper strewed everywhere from outside facilities usage.

I arrived at Blue River at 7:30 AM in the morning and my average had dropped to 15.8 mph. I did love the Gatorade that they provided on this ride as that is something I love to drink on all my rides. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome on this ride was to try and do the mental math to convert my miles to the kilometers and something that really hurt me as the ride progressed.

I arrived into the 3rd control at 12:51 and the temperature was now 84 deg. F and my average had dropped to 15.0 mph. This being my 1st year of riding I have noticed that I have had acid build up in my stomach when riding over 150 miles in a day and sometimes I feel fine on rides and then other times it just happens so fast. I wasn't feeling too hot in this control and took lots of time in here and really had to force the soup down and drank lots of Gatorade and other drinks. I think my real problem was I wasn't eating enough food out on the bike and it was catching up to me. Leaving the control I was 2-3 miles outside the control when I lost my lunch 3 times and was really having trouble with the dry heaves. I was really glad to be by myself now as this was embarrassing and I looked at my cue sheet and noticed I had 105 km's to ride yet or roughly 62 miles plus and I had really no food in my bag to help me out. I knew I had to get up and press on and during the ride in I saw the Terry Fox Lookout and from my running days remember the struggles he had and the trans continental things he had down so that picked my spirits up some. I remember getting into Jasper and my finish sheet says I arrived there at 8:27 PM and that must be right.

I remember leaving Jasper in the early AM around 4:30 or 5 AM as it was still a little dark. Crossing the 1st red light from Jasper I saw a dark object crossing the road in front of me and it was a cow elk and her baby whish just walked across the road in front of me to my left. I hooked up with a Japanese rider here whose name was Toshihisa. We had great fun riding together and it's amazing how cycling can be such a common ground. I made an almost fatal mistake here in this point of the ride. I came across another rider at Sunwapta Falls Lodge & Restaurant and he said there was no food for another 50 or 60 miles. I approached this ride as I literally rode it by the seat of my pants. I looked at no profile sheets of any of the days rides and really only wanted to know how much distance there was between the controls as far as mileages go so I knew how much to eat. I really didn't even want to know where the climbs where and figured what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me. The fact as someone else has already said when you are on the road you're on the road didn't hurt me any either. We stopped here for a Breakfast buffet and after coming out of there I then realized I really had to move to get to the Beauty Creek control in time. I ended up doing a 45-55 minute time trial averaging 20-25 mph and it really took something out of me. We did get a chance to see 4-5 sheep on top of the one pass and it was great to continue seeing wildlife.

Arriving at the Beauty Creek control and seeing all that food that they were cooking up for breakfast definitely had me upset a little but it was all my fault for not looking at the control services a little more carefully. I stayed at this control for 1 1/2 hours way too long and the mosquitoes were really pesky in this control. I rode on and wasn't overly impressed with the ice fields but probably would have like it more had I had a chance to go down and walk on them. I do remember the temperatures dropping drastically on my computer though as we climbed through this area as it registered 52 deg. F at 12 noon. At the top of the ice fields I was pretty much cooked from the climb and the heat and I flagged down an RV and was much amazed as the 2nd RV stop filled both my water bottles up with ice and water gave me a banana and gave me an extra frozen water bottle that was used later on in the day. I also saw 5 goats on top of the pass at the ice fields and I really enjoyed seeing the wildlife again. I belong to a couple of bicycling websites and one Canadian rider told me if I had a chance and the time to go to the Peyto Lake overlook that was about .6 km. off the road or course. I did do this and it had a very steep climb that I walked portions of and wasn't worried as in my mind it wasn't part of the ride. The overlook was so beautiful and was well worth the 1/2 hour of time I lost doing this tourist sighting and would recommend any future riders of this ride of taking the time to go see it if time is no problem on your ride.

I arrived into Lake Louise and my speedometer had 419 miles on it. I remember it being hot and after some food and more Gatorade I knew it was time to press on to Storm Mountain.

I was riding by myself and loved the flat smooth roads at the beginning of this ride going into Storm Mountain. It was getting dark quickly and I wanted to get to this control before dark set in. I made it to this control after some difficulty navigating and was glad to see the riders on the return route as I knew I was still on track. Arriving back out to the Lake Louise area I was looking for a sign as to whether I should go on to Golden for the night or stay at Lake Louise for the night and I came across the German rider Jeurgen who was trying to find his way onto the road to Golden. He had Team US Postal tights on which I kidded him some about the rest of the ride and we started out for Golden. I rode ahead and was now riding by myself in the dark again for the 2nd night. I made it through the construction zone which was very dangerous and climbed the mountain 2 different times. The cue sheet said cross the bridge and turn on to 10th Avenue. Here's where my tiredness along with my not knowing where I was kilometer wise really started hurting me. After coming off the mountain for the 2nd time I was pretty defeated and remember seeing in the info pack about not sleeping along the road because the critters would get you. I said "critters come get me I'm ready" as I was just that discouraged. Along came the 2 Bulgarian riders and Lazar wouldn't give up and just keep riding and got me into the control at Golden. This mistake cost me dearly as I arrived there at 03:19 AM in the morning and now I lost some much needed sleep. I now had 507 miles on my speedometer.

With all the climbing going out of Golden the control in Revelstoke seemed a lot longer than it really was. This was the scariest part of the ride for me as the 1st climb up the mountain was on Sat. morning at peak tourist traveling time and there only thought is how fast can I get to the next tourist spot. There was no berm on the 2-3 mile climb and I could feel the mirrors close to me a few times and probably was more cautious than most as I got clipped by a mirror this spring on a night ride by a van going by at 55 mph plus who just nailed me in my left elbow. The tunnels which I had feared were no problems at all and Rogers Pass was great. While climbing the snow sheds I ran across Patricia and her riding companion. It was nice to ride around other riders especially someone you already know as Patricia was one of the other Bicycling forum members that I had meet at the pre ride dinner. We parted company after Rogers Pass as I spend some time up there eating my great meal and relaxing. I had a spaghetti dinner and took a 1/2 hour nap and talked to the tourist some. I think I may have cheated some on the ice tea as I was only suppose to have one refill and I think 5 glasses were consumed.

On to Revelstoke I remember getting into the control and everyone looked cooked from the heat. Jeurgen and I was riding along about 2-3 miles from the control when I came across a rider that had his bike almost out on the road. We got him up and followed him into the control and later I found out he had to withdraw which sadden me but I did feel good about the fact that we helped him into the control and is really what rando riding is all about helping fellow riders out. I asked for someone to go out and replace the water bottle that fell out of my Carradice bag that day and they came back with an el cheapo bottle and said they only had 3 or 4 bottles to chose from and this was the best they could do. So much for being a traditional riding and not wanting to use a Camelbak. The Turkey wraps were great and I remembering the bacon in them really hitting the spot. I left and knew I wanted to make up some time before it got dark. A female rider went with me and I was glad to have some company. I think her name was Peg. The temperatures dropped as we left the control as we riding along the side of the mountains in the shade and that was a welcome relief. I was riding from 20-25 mph along this stretch of the ride and really love to ride on flat stretched of roads that are smooth as I don't see that here in Pa. on my tar and chipped roads that have a crown on them and get a little crazy when I come across these types of roads. We did stop at a truck stop before we turned left on 97A going into Sicamous and I had a great turkey club sandwich along with 2 quarts of Gatorade that is like me taking in rocket fuel and really charged me up. I asked Peg to really look out for the turn off at the 97A highway and we didn't miss the turn off which was great although we do do the scenic tour of the downtown area for a 1/2 mile at this turn-off. Peg was having some difficulty with her Achilles heel and told me to ride on. I loved this area of the ride as it reminded me of the Cape Cod area with all the water and the flatness of the ride along with all the small towns and coastal areas. I wish I could have seen this area of the ride by daylight.

I arrived into the Enderby Drill Hall without too much trouble at 23:21 and remember that I wasn't too hungry for anything that they had at the control. I think I stayed at this control for about 1/2 hour and started out for Salmon Arm on my own. Disaster struck me again on this part of the ride. It took me 2 1/2 hours to ride this 12 miles. I couldn't find my bearings or directions out on the course with my mileages versus kilometers being off and to top everything off my lighting system went completely dead while out in the middle of the course. I fumbled around with a spot LED light around my neck and finally got my lights change after some very trying times. Pushing on I finally made it to the Salmon Arm control at 2:39 in the morning as 1 tired puppy. I ate as much food as I could and I really remember this control being really cold as they were getting ready to make ice and had the air conditioning on. I knew I had to get some sleep and was in no hurry the next morning to leave the control. After pancakes and other juices which included some much needed hot tea for my sore throat I left the control at 7:30 AM and wasn't really feeling that hot. Much to my surprise when I got out on the bike I was feeling great and was now riding in the 20-25 mph range again on the flats and was surprised as to how strong I felt on the last day of the ride. I came across a group of riders that had a flat and ask if they needed a hand and they said they sure could use some fingers and so I helped them change their flat. I remember the comment about it being an International tire changing event and remember again how cycling can crosses all boundaries. I also remember this rider thanking me at the banquet that night for fixing his flat for him. Riding on I came across another rider that look like he might be having some trouble and I told him he could jump on my back wheel and I would pull him into town. The heat was really picking up now and it felt like that blast of heat when you 1st open your oven and the heat that hits you in the face. That is what the heat felt like coming off the road and I was questioning myself if it was smart to have been riding so hard at the beginning of the ride today.

There was times today very early that I pretty much knew that I had this ride in the bag and there were tears that came into my eyes thinking and dreaming about crossing the finish line. Yes I remember all those training rides when I was dreaming about the finish line clock and wondering if I could beat the 90 hour limit. I pretty much knew that I was going to kiss the ground at the finish line in kind of like a symbol that finishing a 1200km ride and that line being a Holy ground type of thing or the Holy Grail.

We reached the outskirts of town and I took a small detour at the 1st blue sign(common for me to get off track some) and then made it to the finish line at 11:52 with about 4 hours and something plus to spare. After crossing the finish line I looked at my computer and saw that I had 757 miles on from some of my back tracking on the course. I also remember chugging 4 sodas back to back to try and quench my thirst with a combo of ice tea, lemonade and cola in no particular order. Yes I knew exactly what I had accomplished as a Rookie rider and was so very overwhelmed. I'm thankful to the riders who helped me out getting into the controls and I'm thankful for the chance to help out some other riders.
A ride was sought out and one of the riders was gracious enough to take me back to my motel. One thing I remember for sure was I'm really fussy about packing my bike out. I put the all threads on the forks to keep the forks from getting destroyed and said if I can just get this bike in the box who cares how it is packed out. I was that tired and sleep deprived. I remember going down to the post ride dinner in a taxi that had no air conditioning and it was blazing hot in there. Not checking things out again much I went to the Curling Club 1st only to see the sign that the supper was at the Yacht Club. I really enjoy this meal and the chance to share and hear stories from the other cyclist. Having an early 6 AM flight out the next morning I was joined by 3 or 4 other cyclists and yes I stood out as I wore my RM1200km cycling jersey, kind of my bragging rights. To the cyclist from Minn. who had the spread sheet, I sure could use it on my BMB ride. So ended a great ride and adventure in Canada.
The RM1200km ride isn't something I will forget about anytime soon and was such an awesome experience. The aqua water from the glaciers is something I had never seen before. I saw elk, a beaver, a mink, Rocky Mountain sheep, 2 black bears, and goats. I only wish I could have seen a wolf, that would have been the highlight of my trip and maybe a reason to come back and try this ride again to have the chance to just see a wolf.

Some lessons learned for me on this ride was to eat some more food in between the controls. Not to stick anything foreign into your mouth. On my shorter rando rides I could stick my gloves or a banana peel into my mouth and have no problems on this ride it gave me the dry heaves very quickly. Maybe look at the route set-up a little closer. The fact that I really had not heard about too many bad experiences from rando riders about 1200km attempts had to be an advantage to me. The 1200km ride to me seems easier at times than a 600km ride and then at times with the length of time out on the bike you know you are going to have some hard times and you just have to get through them. I read as many write ups on 1200km rides as I could before I did this ride so if you are reading this report and wondering should I do this ride, my answer is go for it and enjoy the ride.

To my cycling friend Bernie Barge who I meet on this ride and have ridden around more since this ride and now have the pleasure of doing RAAM with in 2006 I can't thank you enough. You help get me started into the Long Distance randonneuring scene and every new rando rider should be so lucky to come across a rando rider as generous and caring as you are.


Thank you BC Randoneurrs for a job well done. You really knew how to take care of the riders and made our job as riders so much easier. I can't thank you enough for you efforts. Thank you also to the ride coordinators which just had a great course laid out. Hats off to everyone involved.

Larry Brenize

© Larry Brenize, 2004

This article is copied from Larry's own web pages. It appears here with the permission of the author. Here's the source: http://larryz.blogspot.com/2005/12/larrys-excellent-adventure-2004.html