Newsletter - 2014 Archive

BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo

BC Randonneurs
Cycling Club
BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo


Superb Volunteers and Surviving the Heat
Ride dates: July 14-18, 2014
by Jaime Guzman

This year's VanIsle was supposed to be my “easy 1200” to get my CanAm pin. I should’ve suspected something was amiss when they announced a heat wave was about to hit Vancouver Island and I got assigned the lucky number 13 at the bike check.

At the end, it was the superb volunteers that carry me through the ride and helped me survive the heat. Starting with our youngest volunteer dispensing the riders' bags of goodies, the bike racks made just for us by Graham at Chez Fishlock, a couple of Lower Mainland imports, the master-mind controller at Campbell River, the roving master photographer, the cheering chorus at Woss, and the gentleman facing up to the elements at Port McNeill in the wee hours of the morning. Wow! The “bunch” from Vancouver Island sure know how to “support” an “officially unsupported” ride! A big heart-felt thank you to all!

Chasing Randonneurs
It happens every ride. With all the adrenaline and excitement build up, everybody starts to ride faster than they should. And so my ride started chasing randonneurs: I chased the bunch until the start of the Malahat; I chased Jeff half-way up the climb; I chased Malou and John in their tandem in our way to Chez Fishlock; and I chased Mike all the way to Gold River. Thank you Mike for delivering me safely before dark into Gold River and into Port Hardy!

Of course chasing Randonneurs you can not keep up with is a dumb idea, but it has its benefits: it allows you to share the excitement at the start of the ride and helps you put some “time in the bank” that buys you flexibility during the ride.

Thanks to that extra time, I was able to take it easy leaving Port Hardy later in the ride and I had a great time honking my horn for incoming riders under a beautiful orange super moon all the way to Port McNeill.

Spending Time with Your Granny
If new randonneurs were asking my advice on how to survive the heat (They are not!), I would say "-Visit your granny often and consider staying overnight". If you don't have one (a granny gear that is), maybe it is time you man-up and buy yourself a nice baby blue, pink or purple (my daughter's favourite) steel bike with a "proper" triple crankset and long-range cassette. Of course, this is my opinion only. I know many excellent randonneurs who run a double crankset on a high-tech bike; they just don’t look as cool as old school.

Now, seriously, one of the best ways of keeping cool in a hot day is to “embrace the hills” and spin your way up, rather than “attack the hills” and grind your way up. This way, your heart speeds up and better dissipates the moderate amount of heat produced by your muscles. I don't know if this is true because I just dreamed it up, but it sounds very scientific!

The second thing to remember is that there is no rule that obligates you to ride in the middle of the heat. At the Cascade 1200 you had to, if you wanted a hot supper and a nice bed. But the VanIsle was an "unsupported" ride and you could do as you pleased. Having a good old Mexican siesta in the middle of the day and riding overnight was the best decision I ever made to survive the heat.

So, visit your granny gear often and consider riding overnight!

Avoiding the Malahat
Talking about the heat, one of my least pleasant experiences of riding the VanIsle in 2010 was climbing the Malahat in the heat of the day at the end of the ride. This time I was determined to avoid that, but my speed being what it is and because numbers rarely lie, the only way I could reach the Malahat in the morning was by sleeping in the middle of the day in Campbell River and riding overnight to get to the Malahat early enough. It worked! My temperature during the climb was perfect, and although saying that "climbing the Malahat was a piece of cake" would be a lie, it was much easier than in 2010.

But, there was a "very big but", I hit the morning traffic rush hour all the way from Ladysmith to Victoria and it was ugly, very ugly. I swear to god everybody was making at least 120 Km per hour in a 90 Km per hour highway! Sometimes you are dammed if you do, and you are dammed if you don't!

If the organizer of the next VanIsle is reading this: please avoid returning on the Malahat at all cost, maybe even consider starting the ride out of Campbell River or somewhere else. As a fellow randonneur said, it kind of sours your memories of the ride and may dissuade you from coming back.

Leaving Campbell River after my siesta, I mentioned to Gary I was riding overnight and he hooked me up with Brian and Willi who were doing the same. We started up after having a nice espresso at the Starbucks next door, but by the time we reached the other side of Campbell River I realized I had forgotten to fill up my water bottles. I said I would catch up with them after stopping for water at a gas station, but the gas station had gone out of business and there was a car crash on the road.

Then I thought to myself: "-Jaime, the final 300 Km of a Grande Randonnee is not the time to "chase randonneurs", it is the time to "respect your pace": pedal as hard as it feels comfortable, stretch when you need to, eat when you are hungry and sleep when you are sleepy". So I left them go and had a sublime ride under the sunset moon by the sea all the way to Qualicum Beach, where I met them again for a short nap at the venerable 24-hour Shell Laundromat. I don't know how Vancouver Island randonneurs would ever survive if that Laundromat goes out of business.

Randonneuring at its Best
After the ride, we had a nice brunch and there were lots of prices. None for the fastest rider and many for the Lanterne Rouge (the last rider), Mike, the other Mike, who completed the ride with 90 seconds to spare despite eight flats and a broken chain. That’s what randonneuring is about, completing the ride despite adversity.

To conclude the speeches, Andy presented Mike with the best price of all: a priceless photograph of himself when he was asleep on the ground by his bike, somewhere in Vancouver Island with his jersey half off to cool down.

Talk about surviving the heat! Very well done Mike!

That's all for now folks. A big closing thank you to VanIsle volunteers: You sure know how to host a hell of a ride, heat wave and all!

Stay well and remember: Enjoy the Ride. Never Quit.

Go to: Results
Go to: Photos
Go to: VanIsle 1200 Stories
Go to: VanIsle 1200 Home


July 20, 2014