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2004 Season Review
There is an expectation for ride participation to drop off in the year following Paris Brest Paris and that is what happened in BC in 2004. But it didn't drop that much this time around - our club distance total was 195,558 km which is actually slightly higher than the 2002 figure, making 2004 the second biggest year in club history. And by the way, this doesn't include all those Rocky Mountain 1200 finishes by riders from outside BC. (If we include this group, 2004 was by far our biggest year ever - 263,758 km.)
There is another expectation that has emerged in recent years... that Ken Bonner's personal distance total will be a factor in making those distance cash registers go "KACHING". Here too, expectations were realized, but then exceeded. Ken's total of 14,337 km breaks his own club distance record from 2002. The total has earned Ken his third consecutive John Hathaway Trophy (a.k.a. the iron butt award), and not a competitor in sight--he tripled the total of the next rider on the list. Here's how it happened... Ken completed all three North American 1200s, 2 x 1000, 4 x 600, Alberta Hell Week, and a lot of loose change. But the highlight has to be Ken's extraordinary performance at our own Rocky Mountain 1200. He flew around the course in 52:20, arriving back in Kamloops fresh as a daisy, and all smiles (see photo!) His time was just 18 minutes off Austrian Otmar Altmann's course record from 2002, and six hours faster than the next 2004 finisher. And for those of you keeping track, Ken's marathon count is now at 152--he ran only 5 in 2004, but had some good performances including a 3:29:18 in Seattle which was good enough for first (of 31) in his age category. He's now 62.
It seems we can always count on fireworks from Ken, but one thing we can never predict is who will be on the roster of rando rookies, and what they will show us. Like the previous year, you don't have to go very far down the iron butt list to find the 2004 rookie of the year - the first-time Super Randonneur who does the most event distance. Scott Gater did the super-sized brevet series (through 1000 km), and then nipped off to Australia for his first 1200, "GSR" the Great Southern Randonnée. A bad weather DNF on the summer LM600 prevented him from registering the second highest rookie total ever (Dan Wood in 1993 rode 5400 km) but there's still room to be dazzled by Scott's event distance total of 4600 km.
Also like 2003, the rookie field was deep. On the iron butt list, there were THREE rookies in the top ten, including Jim Fiddler who was over 4000 km and Lindsay Martin who was just a sliver under. In all there were 9 first-time Super Randonneurs. The six others were Gary Baker, Graham Clark, Graham Willoughby, David Lach, Alan Liles and Bud MacRae. Chapeau! But wait... there's something's missing here, isn't there? Right, no chicks! And this is one of the things that usually sets us apart in the world of randonneur cycling. I was tempted to sneak Jaye Haworth on to the list, but ringer imports don't count. There were two legitimate candidates in 2004: Margaret Elliot, who completed the challenging "Toil to the Toll" 400 but didn't attempt a 600 km, and Melissa Friesen, who suffered two bad weather DNF 600s. You can do it M & M, you were so close. (No pressure though.)
2004 saw the introduction of a new club award - one that was probably long overdue. The "Roger Street Award" will be given annually to a club member for "outstanding contribution to BC Randonneurs." The trophy was generously donated by Ali and Roger Holt and named in honour of our great friend Roger Street who died while riding his bike in February of 2003. It was an idea suggested several years ago by Ken Bonner at the Flèche Pacifique, and he had one particular person in mind at the time: Harold Bridge. Harold had done a wonderful job of organizing the Flèche that year, and had done so much else for the club for so many years. It perhaps wasn't too much of a surprise that the first recipient of the Roger Street Award was indeed Harold Bridge. After bagging his prize, Harold hopped on his steel steed and rolled out of Dodge... As other local randonneurs have done before, Harold embarked on a cross Canada odyssey (though most don't wait until they're 76 years old.) It was an Island to Island route (Victoria to St. John's): 81 days, 4594 miles (7350 km), 1 flat (Harold says: "Flat tyres? I don't believe in 'em."), and 10-15 pounds mysteriously missing.
In addition to Harold, a few others had something to say with their bikes off the club calendar in '04. In July, Craig Premack battled 38° Okanagan heat in his bronze medal performance at the Canadian road race championships in the 40-49 age category.
It won't be a shock to learn that Scott Gater wins the gold bidon for traveling the farthest (South Australia) to ride an event in 2004, but surprisingly Bill Kitchen traveled only slightly less distance to ride his over-seas brevet. Bill found himself in Europe in June and had a great time riding the "Sicily No Stop Tre" 1000 km randonnée. (He would like you to start calling him by his new Sicilian name: "Guillermo ".) In March Stephen Hinde and Doug Latornell completed the challenging Mt. Fuji 200 km course which makes its way around Japan's most famous landmark. Omedetou Stephen sensei, Doug sensei.
A few riders-from-away did some big distance in BC last season. David Strong, Ron Himschoot, Dave Johnson, Michael Sturgess, and Chris Copeland all made the honorary iron butt list for riding lots of event kms in BC (without having ridden a Super Rando series in BC - riding a series would have put them on the actual contenders list.) Dave Strong did only two brevets up here last summer, but they totalled 2200 km. He was a little busy elsewhere to drop by more often - his combined US and Canadian brevet distance total was 7700 km.
All this, and I haven't mentioned what most would consider the highlight of the year: the Rocky Mountain 1200. There were 94 starters from 8 countries, 75 finishers, 78 volunteers, favourable weather, and good spirits all around the course. On the rider's side, there was an 80% completion rate. You know about Ken Bonner's remarkable ride already, but there was a fast time on the yang side this time around also - local girl Susan Barr lowered the woman's record by 3 ½ hours (to 71:09), riding in this her first ultra. It almost goes without saying that the volunteers were fantastic... But I think we should say it loudly and frequently: YOU GUYS WERE FANTASTIC ! And this goes double for the ride organizers Susan Allen, Doug Latornell and Sharon Street whose planning and attention to detail made this sixth Rocky Mountain 1200 an unqualified organizational triumph. How ever will we match this?
Well that about wraps up '04. Hats off to outgoing club President Michel Richard for steering this big ship through waters both rough and calm, and "hail" to incoming President Lyle Beaulac who is already doing a superior job of keeping the leaks plugged.
Looking ahead to '05, there are a number of interesting additions to the schedule. The "Halfmoaner" Populaire will be merged with the Lower Mainland Summer 200 to give us the first ever brevet on the Sunshine Coast (July 9) - don't miss this scenic roller. We were sad to have to say good bye to Gord Cook this year who moved away... well kind of. We are pleased to announce the return of the Nelson brevets weekend (September 3-6) which this time around will be expanded to include 200, 300, 400, 600, & 1000 km options. The series is being organized by... Gord Cook... who I guess didn't move far enough away. In Penticton Tina Hoeben is adding a 300 km brevet to the 200 offered in 2004 - I think I spot a pattern.
And finally, a piece of good news for iron butt trophy aspiries. Ken Bonner has let it slip that he won't be riding as much brevet distance this coming season. Don't raise your hopes too much mind. He went on to say that in addition to tallying non brevet UMCA distance, he would be attempting all four scheduled 1200s in the US. (But that's only 4800 km.) Looks like there's a window of opportunity here. And Ken's trophy case (room? wing?) is getting a little crowded. Let's help him make some space. RANDOS... FLEX YOUR ENGINES!