Newsletter - 2005 Archive

(or BC Randonneurs History - Main)

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Where The B.C. Randonneurs Come From
The Origin Of The Species - Randonneurs That Is
by Harold Bridge
(Written 1997, Revised 2005-November)

        As a member of AUDAX UK I receive every quarter their magazine; "ARRIVEE" as well as the annual calendar. The 1997 version contained, amongst other things, a comprehensive history of "Audax United Kingdom". As all the early history is applicable here in BC I thought it worth copying in our own Newsletter, especially for the benefit of newer members. I give credit to their Editor, Sheila Simpson, & the other "AUKS" responsible for compiling this history. Other non-francophones should know that "Audax" comes from the same source as "Audacious".

        The idea of Audax was first formulated in Italy in 1897. One had to swim, run, walk or cycle a set distance in 14 hours, approximately sunup to sundown. For cyclists the required distance was set at 200kms.

        In 1904 the managing director of the French magazine "Auto", Henri Desrange
(aka Father of the Tour de France) visited Italy & was impressed by what he saw of this scheme. He laid out some regulations that formed the cyclists into groups under the leadership of a captain. The group was to stay together for the entire ride, Today this form of riding is known as "Euraudax". Also that year those riders who were awarded the formed the Audax Club Parisien (ACP) and organized events throughout France for the magazine Auto.

        In 1920 ACP upset Desrange by assisting in an event sponsored by a rival newspaper and he withdrew ACP's right to organize Audax events. To avoid infringing the Audax method of riding & to enable them to carry on with their planned events in 1921 ACP created the Brevets de Randonneur (i.e. certificate for long distance cyclists)

        The Brevets de Randonneur differ from Audax riding in that cyclists don't have to ride in a group and keep to a set time table. Each individual can, within certain limits, go at their own pace - "allure libre" - and stop at will for refreshment. To prevent racing (and to spur the slower riders on) a series of time checks are established at controls with minimum and maximum time limits.

        It is these regulations that have been adopted by Audax UK (and of course by BC Randonneurs) and the name Audax comes from ACP, not the style of event.
AUK is responsible for the Brevets de Randonneurs in UK, as are BCRCC in BC, but neither are responsible for Euraudax events.

        In 1966 Barry Parslow (a Founder Member of Audax UK about 10 years later) rode his tricycle in the 6th edition of the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris thus becoming the first tricyclist and probably the first Anglophone to do so.
        (From this point on British Columbia has its own randonneur history & so we switch to a local perspective.)

        In 1979 the Doyen of BC Randonneurs, Gerry Pareja, gathered around him three others of like mind; the late John Hathaway, Dan McGuire and Wayne Phillips, and set about organizing a series of randonnées, one of each distance, 200, 300, 400, 600 & 1,000 kms that would qualify the quartet for that year's edition of the quadennenial "Paris-Brest-Paris". All four completed the event thereby started a new aspect of cycling in B.C.

        Gerry was inspired to plan the 1979 season by John Hathaway's completion of the Audax version of Paris-Brest in 1976. John did this during his 50,000 miles in 100 weeks round the world map (and earned a space in the Guinness Book of Records).

        Every year since 1979 at least one series up to & including the 600 km event has been organized in BC with the 1,000 km being usual in more recent years. At every "PBP" since 1979 - in 1983, 1987, 1991(the Centennary year), 1995, 1999 and 2003 - a squad of B.C. riders has gone to France to tackle this ultimate randonnée.

        In 1983, immediately after that year's PBP, a meeting of representatives from six nations formed "Randonneurs Mondiaux" (World Randonneurs) with Canada being represented by our own Dan McGuire & John Hathaway. Our involvement in this organization continued in the years to follow. From 1991 to 1995 Gerry Pareja was RM Vice President, and from 1999 to 2003 another BC Randonneur, Réal Préfontaine, became the RM President.

        In 1996, through the effort of Ted Milner, we had our own 1200 km event -
"The Rocky Mountain 1200". Starting in Kamloops the route spun a clockwise loop by going north on Hwy 5, east on Hwy 16 to Jasper, and then south on the legendary
"Ice Fields Parkway" to Lake Louise. In the inaugural event the route then went east toward Banff before heading west on Hwy #1 back to Kamloops. Twelve riders started, 7 finished and one completed a 1,000. The others succumbed to a crash, sickness & mechanical problems.

        The Rocky Mountain 1200 began as an annual event (1996, 1997, 1998) becoming a bi-annual event for 2000, 2002 and 2004, and will now be held every four years in the year following PBP. The next RM 1200 will be in July 2008.


November 3, 2005