Newsletter - 2014 Archive

BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo

BC Randonneurs
Cycling Club
BC Randonneurs logo BC Randonneurs logo


VanIsle 1200 - Bob's Story
Ride dates: July 14-18, 2014
by Bob Goodison

I'm back at home, somewhat rested, and thinking about what a weird week it's been. I rode my seventh 1200, almost being taken out by a series of rookie mistakes. I finished a Paris Brest and the VanIsle 1200 within a one week period. I thought the Ultimate Island Explorer was a 2000 km ride organized by Ken Bonner, when actually it was me. To top it off, I owe my finish on said VanIsle 1200 to a rider who was not even there. Maybe I should back up a bit.

I celebrated my 51st birthday the day before driving to Victoria for the VanIsle 1200. On Saturday, My daughter Rose had arranged for a Paris Brest pastry from Patisserie Daniel on Cook street for a birthday cake. If you ever get the chance to try one of these do not miss the opportunity. I went into the ride a bit over confident, having had a personal record on the 2010 version, and having had little trouble with the heat on the recent Cascade 1200. I had added a few bonus kms, but I was pretty confident I knew how to avoid those mistakes.

When we rolled out at 3:00 am, as it often happens on these rides, everyone takes of at an unsustainable speed. I got caught up in it, and by the time we reached the second control at Graham's house my average speed was well over 28 kmh. I had written down my arrival times from the 2010 ride for all the major controls, and by the time I got to Cheryl and Nigel at the Qualicum Beach control, I had estimated my arrival time to Campbell River to be about 1/2 hour faster. I had been leap frogging with a few riders- Eric Larson, Mike Sturgill and some others, but their pace was a little too fast for me to hang on, so I was more or less riding by myself. I was sweating way more than I realized, and dehydration was sneaking up on me. By the time I hit Courtenay, my brain had dehydrated and shrunk to the size of a walnut. I looked at the wrong line of the route sheet, turned left instead of right (my confidence increased by remembering that we turned left here in 2010), and headed off 11 km in the wrong direction. After about 8 km I started to question whether I was on the right road, but could not find any signs or anyone to ask. Finally I found someone, confirmed I was off course and turned around. Even once back on the route I was still questioning it as I could see no other riders. Finally at the Comox information control I saw Jaime and Michael, who were just rolling out when I rolled in. I tried to catch them, could see them a few hundred metres in the distance, but could not narrow the gap. That should have been a warning sign. Eventually they stopped and I passed them, then we met up at a store where I had stopped for ice cream and cold drinks. I was ready to leave before they were, said "see you at the next control" and rode off.

Things were fairly uneventful until Campbell River. I rode up and down every street in that town looking for the control, adding another 7 km before phoning Susan (who was volunteering at the control) in frustration. She handed the phone to Stephen, who talked me in. A cold beer, some fruit, and a bit of a sit down revived me and I left with Jaime and Michael. I managed to stay with them to the outskirts of town before a gap opened up. Why couldn't I hang onto them? Had Jaime gotten that much stronger since the Cascade? Then we started to climb towards Gold River and it was obvious I was in trouble. They disappeared quickly in the distance while I stopped every couple of km to regroup. Any time the road rose at more than about 3%, it was granny gear time at 6-7 kmh. When Stephen came by in his car on the way to Gold River I was wobbling around the road so much I thought he might pull me from the course. About this time I needed to sit in the shade and have a long discussion with myself about the pros and cons of abandoning.

1- About 20 km back to Campbell River, all downhill, vs 70 km to Gold River with lots more climbing.
2- Cold beer in fridge at the motel.
3- Would be fun to help volunteer at the control.

Cons 1:
1 - Well, there really weren't any, except that I kept thinking about Ron Himschoot and his Eating an Elephant story [Go], which I always refer new randonneurs to in an attempt to help them prepare. If I quit now, what kind of message was that sending? I had all kinds of time still in the bank and the temperature would start to go down soon. I had a short chat with Gary as he went by, and made my decision. Continuing gently in the granny gear, I slowly munched an apple and drank some instant coconut water I had mixed. When the sugar from that hit, I felt a bit better. I stopped near Strathcona Lodge and mixed up some perpetuem, and by the time I got to Buttle Narrows I thought it might be possible to finish this. I was still only about three hours slower than 2010 to this point. I felt pretty good by the time I got to Gold River, and after a sit down meal , with some excellent watermelon and a cup of tea, I felt even better. Night had now fallen, and I put on my arm warmers and vest for the ride back to Campbell River. The mix of climbing and descents, combined with hot and cold air pockets meant constant clothing adjustments, but I found I could regulate my temperature perfecly by simply pushing the arm warmers up or down. This section was just beautiful, with stars out and bright moonlight shining on Upper Campbell Lake.

I got into Campbell River at 2:23 am (now about 3 hours behind 2010), had my cold beer, soup and a shower and went to bed. Up again at 6:30, food coffee and back on the road. It was pleasantly cool to Sayward Junction, where I stopped for a snack at the information control/store and chatted for a while with recumbent rider Tim from California. The staffed control at Woss was wonderful, and I was shocked to hear that only about a dozen riders had been through. Some more watermelon, an excellent chicken wrap and full bottles and I was on my way again. Dave King and Tim caught me in this section. Dave said he was sleeping in Sayward, and would like some company for the ride, and remembering how sleepy I had been in this section in 2010 I thought that was a great idea. Only problem, I couldn't keep up with him on the descents. Or the flats. Or the climbs. I got dropped. John and Malou caught me and I enjoyed drafting for a while until they too dropped me. The headwind I recalled from 2010 continued to plague me all the way to Port Hardy, but at least after the turnaround it was calm, and I could smell the barn (or was it my jersey?). I hadn't expected the Port McNiel control to be staffed, so I was thrilled to see Graham. A bit of time to visit, have a sandwich from the store, and a few other snacks and I was ready to continue. As I was rolling out, Dave and Tim rolled in. I said ``you`ll catch up with me soon``, and off I went. It was obvious that my plan for two sleeps in Campbell River was a mistake, although it had worked in 2010. At Woss there was an info control at the highway with the option to go to the staffed control if you chose to, but it was down a big hill. I was getting really sleepy, so after some deliberation, I settled for an `` `Arold Nap`` at the highway. Then I remembered the caffiene tablets in my handlebar bag. It turns out they work.

I made good time to Sayward, but by now the temperature had dropped to 12 degrees C and I was cold. I put on all the warm clothes I had been cursing myself for carrying and continued, with the temp bottoming out at 9 degrees before the descent to Campbell River. The temperature rose during the descent and by the time I got there I was a sweaty puddle in a waterproof jacket that I refused to take the time to remove. When I got to the control it was 7:13 am and the sun was well up. Once again I thought of Ron, coming into the control at Ephrata on the Cascade after the sun was up, and most riders had already slept, having been delayed by an off route exploration and drew strength from him. I was again shocked- I was the second rider to reach that point. I had to make another choice- go to bed, or ride on while it was still cool and take advantage of a tailwind. After a shower, breakfast and clean clothes I felt like a new man. Who needs sleep? My still obviously shrunken brain told me I could still top my 2010 time if I averaged 25 kmh to the finish. I left Campbell River, averaging about 28 kmh for the next 75 km. Then, the knees and right hip started to scream, and I felt very weak and sleepy. It hit so fast I did not see it coming. I stopped in Oyster Bay for an ice cream cone, and felt better, for a few minutes. Soon I saw another rider in my mirror, and Ken rode up alongside. We chatted for a while, and then he continued on. We met again briefly at the control in Qualicum beach, but staying with him was not an option at this point. Who needs sleep? Apparently me. I found a rest area in Nanoose Bay, and lay down in the shade for a little nap.

After my nap I felt better, and things went well until Nanaimo. I won't go into detail about this- "What happens in Nanaimo stays in Nanaimo", and I don't wish to offend with the language my little hissy fit required. Suffice to say that by the time I was back on route I had added another 17 very hilly km, and resolved never to ride on Vancouver Island again (a decision I had reversed by the time I finished). At this point I also was reminded how blessed we are in the Interior- It takes a long weekend to achieve this level of traffic volume and noise. One more stop at the control at Timmy's in Duncan, and it was an uneventful ride over the Malahat to finish the last bit of the ride on the Galloping Goose. Paranoia resulted in many stops to double check the route sheet, but I got in without further incident. Total bonus kms about 47.

Thank you to Steve and his excellent crew of volunteers for a job well done. Thank you to Susan, Stephen, and especially Ron for helping me to finish. I can't say every moment was fun, and if asked if I would do it again at certain points I would have said NO, but now the answer is yes. All of my problems were of my own making. Just another great few days spent with my adopted family of Randonneurs.


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


July 20, 2014