Eau de Hell - Stories & Articles

BC Randonneurs Cycling Club



Henk Bouhuyzen & Cheryl Lynch on the 200
Photo: Bob Koen

"Eau de Hell" Week III
April 11-17, 2009
by Ken Bonner, Series Organizer

Eau de Hell...

- Perfume of Spring flowers
- Droplets of Spring showers
- Mantra of Eau de Hell cyclists

In the tradition of previous EdH weeks, the weather was a significant factor in testing the resolve of randonneur cyclists who made a commitment to ride during the previous week of balmy sunshine.

The traditional seasonal opener, Tour of the Cowichan Valley 200k, enticed 39 participants to challenge the 7000 feet of accumulated climbing under skies that did not produce the forecasted rain showers. Most folks enjoyed the opportunity to tour the rural setting of the Cowichan Valley through scenic farmlands, forest and seaside and lakeshore venues.

Eleven intrepid souls showed up for the Alive Are the Hills 300k the following day. This time the weather gods fulfilled their promise of Spring showers. Riders say the deluge that continued for most of the ride after the 7:00 a.m. start was 'challenging' and strong winds created a rather chilly and soggy experience. Normally, 12,500 feet of accumulated climbing during a 300k brevet would be a source of much complaining. Eau de Hell!! However, on this particular occasion, the hill-climbing was welcomed as a way to generate body heat!

After a day of rest and recuperation, fifteen forlorn souls showed up to challenge the 12,000 feet of accumulated climbing on the newly revised Lost, But Not Forgotten 400k. On this day, the riders experienced blessedly sunny skies. The riders assembled under an awesome display of full cherry blossoms. Life was good as the early head-wind changed to a tail-wind as the riders cycled along the scenic bays of the Strait of Georgia. Little did they realize that it would be during the last 100k that they would discover the reason for the title of this brevet. This year, volunteer, Dave Macmurchie was a bright light in an otherwise frigid and dark night on a route which traversed the lonely and hellish country roads of the south Cowichan Valley. Dave's cheeriness (along with hot coffee/chocolate) boosted the waning spirits of the cyclists as they were beset by dark hobgoblins of the underworld.

Another day of rest, and then nine determined and ride-toughened cyclists lined up to challenge the accumulated 16000 feet of climbing Ride for Gold 600k across Vancouver Island to the town of Gold River and back again to Chemainus. This is the 'make it or break it' brevet for those who are cycling to earn the coveted 2009 Eau de Hell pin. Despite the weather forecast of potential snow flurries during this brevet, the riders left under a bright sky with a strong tail-wind for the first 200k. Life could not be better! However, the devil toyed with the weather and for the next 400k, riders experienced heavy rain, hail, fog and glimpses of blue sky and sun (the latter always appeared in the distance over the Strait of Georgia, but not on the brevet route). The good news is that there was no snow and the sun was shining bright and warm at the finish; and, newbie, young up-start Hellion, Nigel Press set a new course record of 24h 57m ! This is a fast time for any randonneur, but it is even more impressive when one considers that Nigel had completed the 200k, 300k, and 400k brevets during the previous 5 days, rides a traditional rando-bike that he fabricated himself and rides in a up-right position. (There is a suspicion that his bike is 'possessed' by demons, as his chromed bike glistened in the sun at the finish, while other Hellions' bikes were encrusted with layers of crud!

This year there were eight riders who completed all four brevets to become 2009 Hellions. Five of the Hellions were 1st-timers and three became 'Three H-rated Hellions' (completed 3 Eau de Hell full series of brevets).

Rewards for the EdH Hellions:

- All eight Hellions received a 36.9 gram size of BodyGlide
- The rider with the least accumulated time over the four brevets received a bottle of the devil's Quebec-brewed Maudite - Nigel Press
- The rider with the most accumulated time over the four brevets received a bottle of the devil's Quebec-brewed Maudite - Graham Fishlock (Graham booked a room at the Strathcona Lodge and enjoyed a good night's sleep in a bed snuggled under a fluffy duvet and rose to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast, while gazing out at brilliant sunshine over Upper Campbell Lake. It has been rumoured that Graham is of the opinion that 'Hell' is not such a bad place!)
- Two 'Three H-rated Hellions' each received a bottle of Casillera del Diablo (loosely translated, means Cave of the Devil) - Eric Fergusson and Jeff Mudrakoff

Thank-you to:

Dancing Bean Café in Chemainus for opening early for the 200k brevet
Utopia Bakery in Chemainus for permitting registration on their premises
BodyGlide for the free product
All the Petro-Can service stations that signed control cards
7-11 in Sidney & north Nanaimo (signing control cards)
Tim Hortons at Royal Oak and south Nanaimo (signing control cards)
Save-On Gas on highway to Port Alberni (signing control cards)
Courtyard Patio Bistro in Qualicum Beach (signing control cards)
Mohawk Service Station in North Campbell River (sympathy and control cards)
Gold River Chalet Motel for welcoming dripping wet and cold cyclists
All the volunteers listed in the results (could not do it without you!)
Support from the Executive of the BC Randonneurs Cycling Club, in particular, Cheryl Lynch for processing all the results and tracking membership; Karen Smith for providing the brevet pins in a timely fashion; and finally, Three H-Rated Hellion and webmaster, Eric Fergusson for all his work with pre and post EdH related information.

And finally, many thanks to all the riders who participated in one or more of the Eau de Hell week brevets. See you again next year!

Editor's note: With characteristic modesty, ride organizer Ken Bonner neglects to mention above that he is also a three time Eau de Hell Week finisher, and overlooks the fact that he actually had the lowest accumulated time for the four events. Eric F.


April 19, 2009

Other Articles / Reports:

Manning a Control - Cowichan 200 by Lee Ringham
DNF: The Ultimate Shame & Disgrace by Dave Cambon