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Year-Round Cycling
by Eric Fergusson

There are many ways people engage in long distance cycling. Most of these involve events like brevets, long distance races, 24 hour time trials. Sometimes cyclists try to go fast between two places often in search of a record: San Francisco-Los Angeles, Land's End-John O'Groats, Vancouver-Halifax. Here in BC we witnessed, through John Hathaway, a unique form of distance cycling - "extreme touring". Ken Bonner's big distance 2006 provides the opportunity to take a closer look at another form of organized distance cycling - year-round distance accumulation.

Many of you will already be familiar with the two ways, the two systems, for participating in this sort of cycling. Both the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association's (UMCA) Year-rounder Challenge and the Canadian Kilometer Achiever Program (C-KAP) offer ways for cyclists to focus their riding, and give some meaning, or at least some measurement, to their efforts. Both systems encourage participation and fitness, and they have both done the valuable service of creating a community of like-minded cyclists.

Although the two systems are similar in some ways, the rules of engagement are different. The UMCA Year-rounder Challenge recognizes only distances larger than an imperial century, which they peculiarly define as between 90 and 149 miles. The C-KAP system recognizes all distance logged by C-KAP members. This is why when people participate in both programs in the same year, it is likely that that their C-KAP distance will be greater than their UMCA distance - nobody confines their cycling to rides over 90 miles... well, maybe there's one person. Both systems rely on the honesty of participants though the UMCA does require some verification - a brevet card for randonneur distances for example, or receipts from stores or restaurants every 25-35 miles for personal centuries. There is no speed component to the C-KAP, but for UMCA distance there is a minimum speed of 8.33 mph (that's 13.3 km/hr). Each system recognizes several levels of distance achievement. The UMCA's year starts and ends at the winter solstice (Dec 21), while C-KAP uses the normal calendar year.

At a certain point both UMCA and C-KAP systems become a venue for a form of distance cycling achievement comparable to other extreme forms of ultra cycling. I thought it might be interesting to rummage through the UMCA and C-KAP archives and compile lists highlighting some of the extraordinary practitioners of this sort of riding. In the first chart below, the official UMCA figures are the mile figures on the right - for ease of comparison I have converted to kilometers in the left column.

UMCA Year-Rounder Challenge: All-time Single-year Distance List, 1999-2006
(All entries over 25,000 km, only rides 90 miles or more count, conversion figure: 1 mile = 1.6093 km)

50,602  Ken Bonner      2006 (31,444 miles)
41,917  Luc Viau        2002 (26,047 miles)
36,974  Larry Schwartz  2002 (22,980 miles)
32,200~ John Lee Ellis  1991 (20,000+miles)*(note below)
29,764  Ken Bonner      2005 (18,495 miles)
29,747  Larry Schwartz  2001 (18,485 miles)
26,423  Luc Viau        2001 (16,419 miles)

Missing from the above list are year-rounder perennials Crista Borras, Chuck Wood, John Lee Ellis, Woody Graham, Keith Krombel and others who have never reached these distances, but have year after year registered distances at or approaching the 10,000 miles (16,000 km) mark. (Larry Schwartz above is the same person as Lawrence Schartz below.)

C-KAP: All-time Single-year Distance List, 1975-2006
(All entries over 25,000 km)

50,934  Ken Bonner             2006  Victoria  BC
42,020  Lawrence Schwartz*     2002  Wylie     Texas
35,113  Lawrence Schwartz*     2001  Wylie     Texas
35,026  Valerie Copeland     F 1999  Grimsby   Ont
34,878  Frank "Woody" Graham   2000  Columbia  SC
33,130  Stanislaw Skonieczny   1998  Toronto   Ont
32,223  Valerie Copeland     F 1998  Grimsby   Ont
32,117  Henry Berkenbos        2006  Richmond  BC
31,419  Valerie Copeland     F 2002  Grimsby   Ont
31,162  Ken Bonner             2005  Victoria  BC
30,419  Frank "Woody" Graham   2005  Columbia  SC
30,162  Valerie Copeland     F 2001  Grimsby   Ont
29,572  Henry Berkenbos        2002  Richmond  BC
29,403  Henry Berkenbos        2005  Richmond  BC
28,970  Stanislaw Skonieczny   2000  Toronto   Ont
28,860  Stanislaw Skonieczny   2001  Toronto   Ont
28,658  Frank "Woody" Graham   2004  Columbia  SC
28,646  Henry Berkenbos        2004  Richmond  BC
28,110  Phil Van Alstyne       1983  Lowville  Ont
27,534  Frank "Woody" Graham** 2003  Columbia  SC
27,266  Frank "Woody" Graham** 1995  Columbia  SC
27,031  Henry Berkenbos        2003  Richmond  BC
26,920  Stanislaw Skonieczny   1993  Toronto   Ont
26,920  Stanislaw Skonieczny   1994  Toronto   Ont
26,620  Stanislaw Skonieczny   1995  Toronto   Ont
25,490  Stanislaw Skonieczny   1999  Toronto   Ont
25,302  Valerie Copeland     F 1997  Grimsby   Ont
25,180  Stanislaw Skonieczny   1992  Toronto   Ont

* Lawrence Schwartz: Deceased May 4th, 2003, Age - 42. Struck by a school bus from behind. (link to UMCA's Larry Schwartz bio)

** Full name: Frank "Woody" A. Graham III (SC = South Carolina)

The Web Sites Obviously this is just a snapshot of the activities of UMCA and C-KAP, and interested cyclists will want to take a closer look at their web sites: 

The C-KAP site is a wonderful, eccentrically organized entity, with interesting material in unexpected places. It's well worth taking your time and exploring every nook and cranny. The UMCA website is the best source on the internet for information about every aspect of hard core distance cycling. The year-rounder sub-section of that site could use some harmonization of the yearly results presentation, and some organizational tinkering to improve navigation, but you'll actually have no trouble finding what you want with a little clicking around. (Am I the only person puzzled that the site is .com instead of .org... even RAAM is .org.)

Hats off to John Lee Ellis who organizes the UMCA Year-rounder Challenge, and to James Wilson, the C-KAP coordinator.

One more tidbit of information. Here is an article looking at the annual distance maniacs in a different time, in a different place, and on a different scale. I don't know anything else about these records, and have been unable to easily find anything about them or the riders, including whether or how the records were verified. Still, interesting material. Thanks to Barry Lycett and Ken Bonner for sending this one along:

Walter Greaves: The most unpopular record breaker of all?


January 31, 2007

Additional (Feb 15):

* I had thought that UMCA's Year-rounder Challenge began in 1999 - the year we see the first riders' totals list on the web site. According to program organizer John Lee Ellis: "The program started around 1983, I think. (In other words, it is almost as old as the UMCA.) I definitely remember standings from 1984." There are likely other entries pre-1999 on the UMCA list above, but this information is not readily available. One thing John Lee is certain about is his own entry - he was the first person to break the 20,000 mile barrier (1991). His record was then broken the following year.

And also: C-KAP coordinator James Wilson has provided another interesting list - the list of riders who have logged 100,000 km or more... some of them, a lot more:
Bruce Timmermans 100,000 Km Club Members