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Gordon Bay Park Control, 146 km
Photo: Lee Ringham

Manning a Control - Cowichan 200
April 11, 2009
by Lee Ringham

For the second consecutive year, my wife and I ran the Gordon Bay control during the Cowichan 200 brevet. The Gordon Bay provincial park can be somewhat inhospitable on a dull, dreary and blustery spring day - this year was no exception. The weather was overcast for most of the day, light rain fell intermittently and a stiff, cold breeze blew. As reported in my pre-ride report, the only `facilities`were an outhouse, with no loo paper!

This April 11 was not a glorious day. We arrived, set up our shelter, put our old table out, optimistically opened our two seater lounge chair and placed the water, Gator-Aid and cookies out for the anticipated arrivees. Then we rather ingenious retreated from the elements into our van to listen to the last Canucks game of the regular season. I stepped out every few minutes to stretch my legs and watch for riders.

Running a control definitely gives you a different perspective on a brevet. Some riders, like Jeff who was the first to arrive, are a study in efficiency. They hand over their card, refill their bottles, grab a cookie or two, offer a quiet thank you and leave. In about as much time as it took to read this paragraph. Wow - it`s impressive!

Others arrive, like our American participants Peg and Lesli, looking like they just rode around the block, not after 150 kms. These two were astride absolutely gorgeous bikes and were obviously experienced randonneurs. They fluidly hopped off their bikes, spent a few minutes chatting with us and just as effortlessly rode away again, looking like they were going back around the block. In contrast, more than a few riders stopped and stiffly dismounted, groaning with discomfort. Ah - a few folks with not so many miles in their legs. These riders needed a few more words of encouragement and pep talk and I tried to take their baggie clad cards, to stamp and rewrap them before giving them back. As a control volunteer you want to make their ride a little less stressful, if possible.

Some riders are obvious characters - like Luke, who handed over his control card just before lighting up a cigarette. I watched in amazement as he appeared to chain smoke 2, 3, 4, 5, cigarettes, while his partner Devon rolled her eyes in exasperation. ``I could never do these rides without a smoke break`` he declared, before riding away - on a fixie!! ``O M G`` exclaimed my wife, ``How does he do that`` Another character was Manfred, who strolled over, sat in the lounge chair with a wide and heartfelt grin stating ``Oh, that`s nice``. He proceeded to razz Alard about the number of cookies left, commented on how speed of the front runners may indicate that they were missing all the fun and then asked after our tandem. A man after my own heart!

The dreary day was figuratively and literally swept away by these riders, and all the others; so much so that when the last few came through the sun was shining and the temperature had warmed up slightly. It was a day made better by the appreciation and comradery of the riders for each other and for us. We asked after their ride, how was the weather, what did they think of the route, how there were ``only`` 50 kms left - but they were mostly downhill (more than a few of them doubted that particular observation!) Although I did not ride with them, I still felt like a participant through their observation, comments and how they generall made me feel like I was included in the event.

What really sealed the deal for me - nearly all of them thanked us for volunteering, for providing refreshments, for staying out ``just to wait for us``. Are you kidding me - I would not have it any other way.

Go to: Lee's photos from the Gordon Bay Park control


April 24, 2009

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