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2009 Season Review

What are all these people smiling about? Let me tell ya about it...

A little unexpectedly 2009 turned out to be a very big distance year for BC Randonneurs. I hadn't realized, until I put the figure in the historical stats summary chart, that it was our biggest total distance year ever. Club total: 247,883 km nudging out 2007 by 600 km. It really shouldn't have been such a big year. No PBP, no Rocky, and two years away from the next PBP. Typically this is a modest distance year in our four year randonneur cycle. So why?

Part of it was the big distance events that our riders did elsewhere: Gold Rush, Granite Anvil, LEL and others. Many riders had their personal biggest distance seasons, including six of the ten top riders on the Iron Butt list (Barry, Nigel, Jeff, Bob, Keith and Gary). A special word about Ontario Randonneurs heavy hitter Henk Bouhuyzen. Henk was a bona fide BC Randonneur in 2009, and eligible for the Iron Butt Award because he rode a 2-3-4-600 km series here at Eau de Hell week in April. He went on to finish a record five 1200s! His big total (10,040 km) is not all included in our club totals (only the 1500 km in BC), but he made a big mark in the world of randonneur cycling in BC and elsewhere.

Iron Butt Award:
With a total like that you would think that Henk might have challenged Ken Bonner for the Iron Butt award for most distance. Nope, in fact Henk was
third on the list. The big news, which everyone already knows, is that Ken didn't win it either. Ken has topped the list every year since 2001. Ken's many-time flèche team mate Barry Chase grabbed top butt honours with an impressive total of 11,215 km which included two 1200s and five (yes FIVE) 1000s . Barry had never ridden a 1000 before 2009. Guess he was making up for lost time. And it's a record. No BC rider has ridden more than three 1000s in a season, though Ken has done this a number of times.

Barry and I were musing that he (Barry) might also be considered the winner of the new "All But" award (there's no real award). The full name of this non-award is the "All But Ken" award. But alas no. The award is now rebranded the "All But Barry" award, and it goes to Ken.

Iron Buttress:
Once more Deirdre Arscott claims the Iron Buttress honours (again, no real award) for the highest distance total (3569 km) by a woman. Ali Holt was next woman on the list just 100 km back. This is the 12th time Deirdre has had the highest women's distance total, and the third time in the last four years.

Rookies:
There were an incredible 12 first time super randonneurs this year. Congratulations to Shyam Chandran, Steven Clark, Chris Cullum, Rick den Braber, Ryan Golbeck, Hanif Ladha, Darren Maclachlan, Jordan Mattieu, Malcolm McAuley, Andy Reimer, Erik Snucins and Trevor Taylor.

What an interesting year it was for everyone's favourite non-award award. The coveted "Rookie of the Year" award, for the most event distance by a first time super randonneur, goes to Rick den Braber with nice round 4000 km. But it was only by a sliver. Ryan Golbeck was just 100 km back at 3900 km. Ryan completed a 1000 as part of his distance mix. Both riders have completed their winter permanents, so it looks like they plan to be around in 2010. Honourable mentions to Darren MacLachlan at 2900 km and Malcolm McAuley at 2400. Deep field!

Island Ultras:
Ken Bonner organized another set of big challenges over on the Island in 2009. The season kicked off with his third Eau de Hell week. There were
eight finishers for this 4 brevet 1500 km series: Ken Bonner, Henk Bouhuyzen, Eric Fergusson, Graham Fishlock, Jeff Mudrakoff, Keith Nichol, Keith Patterson and Nigel Press. Three riders - Ken, Eric and Jeff - have finished all three EdH weeks. In June four riders completed Ken's Ultimate Island Explorer 2000 km. Yutaka Moriwaki from Japan and Keith Nichol completed the ride for the second time, along with Eric Fergusson and Ken himself.

Among many highlights on the saner distance brevets on the Island was the opening of the new road connecting Cowichan Lake to Port Renfrew. Island rides coordinator Ray Parker was quick to incorporate the new road into his Tsunami 300 km in June. There was some bad news too though. A crash with a pickup in July knocked Ray out of both riding and organizing. Ray has done an inspired job of overseeing the Island rides for the past four seasons. He's still on the sick list, and everyone is wishing him bonne courage as he works on his recovery in Victoria.

Big news in the Peace Region this year: participation doubled. New comer Erik Snucins became the second Peace Region rider to complete a Super Randonneur series. Peace ride coordinator Wim Kok earns his fifth SR medal.

In the interior, rides co-ordinator Richard Blair guided his tight crew through their spring series. And look at those results... some incredibly fast times. Must be something in the water.

Super Randonneurs & Randonneur 5000 (the Audax Club Parisien awards):
49 Super Randonneur medals were earned in BC in 2009. It's easily the highest number for a non-PBP year (53 SRs in both 2003 and 2007). There were two more Randonneur 5000 medals this year also (Barry Chase and Tracy Barill), bringing our total up to 16 for the four year cycle.

40,000 Medal:
2009 saw the inclusion of two more riders in the over 40,000 km club. Keith Nichol and Barry Chase became the 12th and 13th riders to earn their 40,000 km medal for lifetime event distance.

C-KAP / UMCA:
We learned in March 2009 that for the fifth consecutive season BC Randonneurs have earned the Canadian Kilometre Achievement program's top club honours for 2008 distance. 24 riders rode 239,520 km led by Henry Berkenbos at 30,812 km, with Ken Bonner close behind. Meanwhile, in the UMCA's individual distance quest Ken easily topped the 2009 list with 17,079 miles. It is Ken's fifth consecutive year at the top of this list.

Also...
2009 was Gary Baker's first year up to speed after a crash took him out in 2007. (He did a SR series in 2008.) Gary completed three out-of-province ultras on his way to a
personal highest event-distance annual total of 6066 km. Nigel Press became the first rider to complete all three Lower Mainland 1000s, and the first rider to do the novelty stunt of scrambling back for the mainland spring 200 after completing EdHell week on the Island less than 24 hours earlier. Nigel's event distance total was 9171 km, all of it in BC. A lot of ferry rides! Ken Bonner had is usually collection of fast time on 1200s: first finisher and course record at the inaugural Granite Anvil 1200 (63:39); co-third finisher at the Gold Rush Randonneur 1200 (62:40); and a zippy (86:00) at London Edinburgh London 1400. After numerous attempts Dave Gillanders completed an ultra distance brevet in 2009 - the South Okanagan, North Cascades 1000. Congratulations Dave! I've only made a passing mentioned of Jeff Mudrakoff who completed 3 marquee 1200s and a 1000 on his way to his biggest season ever, with 7500 km event distance. Bob Koen also had his biggest year with 6919 km including three ultra distance brevets. And finally, 2009 saw the return of Luis Bernhardt, who rode with the earliest randonneurs in BC in the early 1980s. Louis has had a distinguished track racing career and came back on his fixed gear bike to show us all how it's done.

Permanents:
The permanents program is currently chugging its way through its second winter. The first riders to earn their BC-12 pins (12 consecutive months of permanents or
scheduled brevets) happened in 2009. Congratulations to Ken Bonner, Barry Chase, Mike Croy, Eric Fergusson, Graham Fishlock and Bob Koen. Ken had the most distance with 4144 km. "Perma Butt." Note that permanents distance does not count towards our Iron Butt totals. So Ken's event distance total including permanents was over 15,000 km in 2009. One more thing about the permanents - there's been an explosion of new route designs. Check them out on the Permanents routes page.

Routes:
For the scheduled brevets ("BRMs" - Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux), there was a nice mix of new routes and old favourites in
the lower mainland in 2009. One stand out new route was Kevin Bruce's summer 200 which explored the road ends north of the Fraser. The best route name came from the interior however. Bob Goodison's 400 to Helmcken Falls: "Highway to Helmcken".

Chronicling 2009:
Riders had a lot to say about their 2009 rides. There was a dramatic increase of newsletter submissions: 110 of them. (73 in 2008). Why? All those permanent reports must have had something to do with it. There were lots and lots of photos too! And not just taken by our resident experts (Ray, Stephen, etc.) Many riders took many wonderful ride photos. In fact a fun way to review the year is to browse through the 2009 section of the photo gallery archive.

Club Service:
The 2008 Roger Street Award for exceptional club service was handed out at the 2009 spring social in early March. There was no surprise about who was going to be chosen this time around, and like the previous year there were two co-winners. Roger and Ali Holt had organized the 2008 Rocky Mountain 1200. They also organize the Canada Day Populaire which seems to expand exponentially every year. Roger has been lower mainland rides co-ordinator, and Ali has been secretary for many years, but this is only beginning of their extensive contributions to the behind the scenes of working of the club. The award is well deserved.

Hats off to our out-going 2009 President Tracy Barril. He had his hands full steering us through the our biggest season at the same time as nurturing the permanents program. He has been busy establishing the archive of permanents routes - 57 routes and counting, including some excellent routes of his own design. A very big thanks also to out-going executive members Karen Smith and 2007 club pres Gary Baker. Both left the executive to make room for new members. Karen who remains in charge of the our wonderful finishers pins program has been on the randonneur executive committee almost continuously since 1993.

With the 2010 season is fast approaching, here are a few things to watch for. Ken is holding his second VanIsle 1200 in July. Our new pres Alex Pope has this crazy idea to do a hell week series that includes a 1000: "Super Week". And finally, the Pacific Populaire is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010. It is also Danelle Laidlaw's 10th year organizing it. Reasons to keep smiling!

Eric Fergusson
February, 2010

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