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The 2021 randonneuring season was, and continues to be, a very difficult season due to forest fires and extreme weather heat waves which disrupted schedules and required course rerouting, often several times. The record-breaking heat dome event at the end of June and beginning of July was particularly concerning. The Island 300 held at that time had several DNFs and riders suffering from heat exhaustion, and raised the question of whether the event should have been canceled.
That question triggered a lot of discussion among the BC Randonneur directors and the general membership. The consensus that emerged is that we need to be hesitant to cancel events. The primary reason for this is that dealing with extreme conditions and unforeseen events is part of the challenge of randonneuring, and we are loath to cancel those possibilities. While most of us hope for and enjoy an uneventful ride, often the most memorable events and, ultimately, the rides that provide the greatest sense of achievement, are the ones which challenge the rider, and where, well, stuff happens.
That said, there is no question that everyone involved, including event organizers, regional route coordinators, volunteers, and the riders themselves, have a responsibility to assess the conditions that may be encountered, and to consider the capabilities and needs of all riders that may attempt the route. Volunteers usually pre-ride a route to ensure there are no surprises due to construction, road damage, or closures. Event organizers can, and do, update registered riders regarding weather, fire, or smoke, something that is happening more often given climate change and increasingly more extreme weather events. Riders need to be cognizant of conditions and not be blase about their own level of experience and ability. It is strongly recommended that riders buddy up if extreme conditions are expected. Keep an eye on each other. Don't forget that event organizers are more than willing to head out and offer assistance to riders if called upon to do so. Don't hesitate to call for help. Don't try to be a hero -- there are better places for that.
[Mike is the 2021 BC Randonneurs club President.]
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September 3, 2021