Newsletter - 2023 Archive

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John at PBP '99
(click image to start gallery)

John Bates Remembered
Born November 23, 1953
Died October 28, 2023
by Eric Fergusson
[Celebration of Life Highlights]

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to member 565, John Bates. His first brevet was in 1996 and he was very active as a rider from 1996 through 2007. His event distance total was 45,315 km, made up of 99 brevets and 10 Flèche Pacifiques. He was the club's "Iron Butt" award recipient in 2001 with 6917 km, and he earned his 40,000 km medal in 2004. He was a powerful rider - one of the fastest riders to ever wear a BC Randonneurs jersey. He did have a driven, competitive side, but also knew how to dial it down to fit the pace of other riders. He completed multiple ultra distance brevets (1000 km +) on single and on tandem, perhaps most notably the 2000 km "Y2K2K" in 2000. His last brevet was in August 2019.

John's involvement in the club went far beyond his riding. He was very active as an organizer and volunteer, including a three year tenure as Lower Mainland Brevet Coordinator 2000-2002. A BC Hydro surveyor in his working life, he had a technical mind which served him well as a route designer and brevet planner. He was always searching for new roads, and better ways through. He not only designed individual routes, he designed or chose routes that complemented the other routes on the Lower Mainland schedule.


The above photos are all from the BC Randonneurs web site. There is a wonderful gallery put up by Mark Owings with many photos of John taken by many people over many years. --> Gallery

Many will know the familiar sight of John on tandem with Danelle Laidlaw. John and Danelle started riding tandem together in the summer/fall of 2000, and they kept riding tandem on brevets more or less continuously through 2006. (Note: the database sometimes records them as riding singles on rides when they were actually on the tandem.) And of course John and Danelle were partners in life as well as on tandem.


John and I spent a lot of time together over his riding years, so I would like to offer a few of my own reflections.

In the late 1990s John, Peter Stary and I frequently found ourselves riding together in Lower Mainland spring brevets. It was great to be in those fast pacelines, but Peter and I often dreaded seeing John move to the front to take his pull. It could be punishing. Peter and I would quietly thank each other for taking the temperature down a little on our pulls.

On one Cache Creek 600 there was a car and trailer pulled off to the side. The driver was having some sort of problem with the coupling mechanism joining the vehicle with its trailer. John immediately jumped off his bike and helped the driver fix the problem, and then he helped wrestle the trailer back on to the back of the car, while Peter and I sat watching and waiting. I don't think John even thought about it. He just dove in because someone needed help. That was a big part of who he was - always helping, always fixing.

If you were ever in the maroon van with John and Danelle, you had better be ready for some detours. John was forever scouting not only new roads for LM brevet routes, but also roads and locations for Danelle's Tour BC routes. There were lots of discoveries, but sometimes there were roads that weren't going to work. One time we stopped west of Agassiz to check out a road John had found on a map. We soon found ourselves walking through tall grass in the middle of an overgrown field looking for a road that nature had reclaimed... just a resigned smile from John.

I will cherish my memories of this generous, low-key guy and amazing rider.



I had a few e mail exchanges with Danelle. She agreed to let me share some of it:

"A friend said to me - John always did like to go downhill fast and it was true - on skis, on bike, and eventually in life. He had a bad start to the year, but then had a pretty good summer, had Covid in Aug. and developed respiratory problems. In hospital they discovered several other cancers and it was actually lung cancer that did him in. He said ironically - my myeloma treatments worked so well, I lived long enough to develop other cancers. He was fighting to the end. I am lost without him.

... One story I like to tell is there was one year that the RM 1200 was a qualifier for RAAM. John and I rode on tandem and I qualified but because John was a little bit younger, and male, he did not. The organizer did agree to give John a qualification and we did toy with the idea of doing RAAM but never did."


Karen Smith checked in following one of her recent permanent rides on November 8. I asked her if I could include some of what she said in the newsletter. She agreed.

"That was a beautiful tribute to John that you wrote! You did a very nice job!
And I love all the photos from the Rando site that you put in!
I also loved the photos from the Google Photos link.

It was when I came home on my first control (68 km) of my Oct 29 Permanent, that I learned that John had passed away.
It was a shock, even though it was expected some time soon... It was hard to get back on the bike again but I dedicated the rest of that ride to John.
And I thought of John for the rest of my ride. How strong he was, how gentle he was, how reliable he was… his willingness to help, and fix things, his love of music...
He will be missed!"


You know, speaking of how John liked to fix things - and fix other people’s things. I had lent him my ice therapy machine with the knee pack for after his knee surgery.
John contacted me and said that it wasn’t working. But he didn’t just give it back to me. John fixed it!!!
Amazing! That was John!"


Additional: John Bates, Barry's Reflections (Barry Bogart)

Go to: Gallery - Mark Owings' (Google Photos)
Go to: Obituary (link to
Go to: Obituary (Archived - link to Word doc on this site)
Go to: Celebration of Life Highlights (PDF - on this site)
Go to: Celebration of Life - Youtube Links - 7 Videos (PDF - on this site)

November 8, 2023