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Raid on Royston (VI Summer 300 km) - An Invitation
Ride date: July 5, 2014
by Mike Croy

Brynne, Steven, myself and the rest of the island randonneurs would like to invite you to the upcoming summer 300 brevet aptly named "Raid on Royston" Last weekend a small group of us got out and checked out the route and can attest to the route being in great condition and the cue sheet that is posted is almost 100% accurate with the exception of some very minor wording changes.

We decided to start the ride at 7 am this year rather then the 6 am we did last year which should allow people an hour extra of sleep before starting the brevet, the brevet begins in Nanaimo at the newly renovated Tim Horton's at Chase River. There is ample parking in the plaza for all riders and it won’t be a problem to leave your cars there all day while you are out riding.

The route is what I would personally describe as an easy island 300, which is to say that it is flat for Vancouver island, if you are looking for your first 300 to do this would be a great choice to tackle or if you are interested in putting down an incredibly fast time this route is also for you, it would also be a great taper event for those planning on doing the upcoming Van Isle 1200.

The first section of the route is a quick jog down to Duncan where riders will be greeted by team Croy at the first control which will be the McDonalds near Beverly road, riders will then follow the main highway all the way north again on the main highway. Back in Nanaimo you will bypass downtown altogether using the Nanaimo bypass which see's riders miss all the annoying riding through the main part of town which can be a source of frustration both with the amount of lights, traffic and odd road name changes. There are no services along this section until riders pass through Nanoose bay, on the pre-ride we opted to stop in Parskville for some much needed coffee and yummy food at the serious coffee just as you enter town. Though this is not an official control it was at the correct distance for the pre-riders to need some caffeine and food on our ride.

At this point in when entering Parksville riders leave the main highway and with it the busy stretch of road full of loud trucks and RV's and follow the more quite and far more pleasant coastal highway towards the next control in Qualicum beach. The staff at the Shell Gas station including Warren are great and were very welcoming to us when we arrived both on the jaunt north and south. They know the drill of what to do with control cards without even having to be asked, I highly recommend staying a minute or two and enjoying the gourmet gas station treats they have to offer while enjoying the sights the beach has to offer.

From Qualicum beach you will continue north along some rolling hills and follow the old coastal highway through the many little seaside villages that many families vacation at including Qualicum bay, Fanny Bay and Union bay. When you arrive at the next control in Royston you will understand why we have called this brevet the "Raid on Royston". The Clerk who works at the Esso will be very happy to sigh your control cards but the control is poorly supplied as it looks like it has already been "raided" by other hungry randonneurs before your arrival. The Esso was way better stocked then it was last year when we rode this ride as it was shockingly barren but we all purchased some juice or pop and decided to high tail it back to Union bay for a bit more of a sit down meal. Graham Fishlock suggested we rename this route the "Union bay U-turn" That’s not to say there is nothing at the control to eat or drink but you will have to be a more industrious in your selection and for super fast riders there is a super good coffee shop two doors up but they close at 3 pm and where closed when we arrived for sure to much disappointment by the pre-riders.

We truly enjoyed our time in Union bay as they have a huge area next to the market full of pick nick tables and a great selection of foods to choose from including cold beers( which we were tempted by!) After union bay riders are on a very straight forward shot back down to Qulicum beach and the near famous beach front shell gas station which you are visiting for the second time again. For future reference this Shell also has a 24 hour laundry mat attached to which can be a life saver when riding through the night if you need to lay down and have some sleep.

After Qualicum beach riders have a pretty easy and familiar return to Nanaimo and the finish back at the Chase River Tim Horton's. Overall I strongly suggest this ride as one to participate in as a counter point to Graham Fishlock's beautiful and scenic "coast inspiration" as the ride will provide you with some very nice scenery but you will be subjected to noisy highways for at least a portion of this ride. The one upside of starting this ride an hour later then last year we discovered was as we rode into Nanaimo to the finish I found that the traffic was far lighter then it had been last year which was far more pleasant. Most riders should without a problem be able to finish this brevet in daylight as it was just getting dusky as we finished.

Hopefully you will consider riding this brevet and we look forward to seeing you at the start in Nanaimo on July 5th, we will be there for 6 am registration and to welcome riders as they get there. Oh and if you ride tandem this route is super tandem friendly and rando pony is accepting registrations.

Cheers, and safe riding.

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June 25, 2014