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In front: John Carrol, Deirdre and Harold Bridge. At back: Barb Lepsoe and Randy Clelland.
They're cycling from England to Paris in 1987. Deirdre thinks they were still in Enland here
on their way to the Ferry. 1987 was Deirdre's 1st of 10 PBPs.
Photo: Ron Johnson (possibly)


The Croy Questionaire...
Mike Talks With Deirdre Arscott
Interview Date: February 29, 2024
Interviewer: Mike Croy

Greetings and salutations Randonneuring community and welcome to the first edition of what will hopefully be an going new semi-regular newsletter feature, interviewing members of the BC Randonneurs. I have not come up with a good title yet for this yet, but I'm working on it. If anyone out there has any good suggestions, I'm open! For the first edition I had the distinct pleasure of talking with the very gracious and experienced Deirdre Arscott. Here follows our discussion.
- Mike

Mike: Who are we talking with?
Deirdre Arscott

Mike: How did you become involved in Randonneuring?
Deirdre: Someone told me about the 100 km Populaire. It was pouring rain on the morning of the ride so I went back to bed but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I got up and rode to the start. No time for breakfast even. When I finished, the organizers told me about the upcoming 200 km event. I didn’t want to admit it but I knew I was hooked.

Mike: As a woman in Randonneuring do you have any words of wisdom for other women interested in the sport or cycling in general?
Deirdre: Well, there aren’t many women out there. At first I was intimidated by the men. For new women I’d say just get out there and try it. Don’t worry about whether you are fast or slow, just have fun.

Mike: What's the hardest or toughest brevet you've ridden?
Deirdre: The ones with adverse weather conditions are the hardest.

Mike: Has Randonneuring changed since you first became involved?
Deirdre: It’s becoming harder and harder to find good roads to ride on. The amount of traffic has increased tremendously. Also road conditions seem to be getting worse. Road shoulders are often not maintained or are filled with debris.
The sport itself hasn’t changed much, except for the expectations. When I started there was a lot of pressure to finish. Now people are encouraged to do their best and if they don’t finish, to try again another time.
We have GPS devices now which make navigation easier.
[See the question below about how has equipment changed.]

Mike: What's some of your funniest memories from a brevet?
Deirdre: It was on PBP. I stopped in the dark to have a pee in a farmer’s field. I held onto the fence with both hands to steady myself. The fact that it was not barb wire should have been a BIG clue... the electrical pulse went through and every muscle in my body tensed up... the peeing stopped...

Mike: Who inspires you or is a role model, past or present?
Deirdre: A French woman, Nicole Chabirand, always inspired me. She worked, had kids and still managed to do 8 PBPs and with unbelievably fast times.
Also, I love watching Mark Thomas doing 1200+km rides all around the world. He makes it all look so easy!

Mike: Having completed 10 PBP's what attribute can you tell people is most important for completing such a lifetime achievement?
Deirdre: You have to love doing it. PBP is a special event. I love all the support from the people of Normandy and Brittany.

Mike: Outside of Randonneuring what do you like to do to cross train?
Deirdre: In the winter, x-country skiing. In the summer I hike up the BCMC trail or the Grouse Grind. I think that it is really important to have good all-around fitness which includes core and upper body strength, flexibility and mobility. I do a fitness class (with weights) two or three times a week.

Mike: Do you have a favorite PBP experience of all of them?
Deirdre: There are special moments from all of them! Usually the special moments are the interactions with people – my riding companions, the people on the side of the road, the volunteers. I’ll always be grateful to and have fond memories my riding companions. Riding PBP with my brother was special.

Mike: You're also a very accomplished brevet organizer, do you have a particularly memorable ride you organized and why?
Deirdre: None standout but it is always fun to see riders finish, especially the new ones.

Mike: When out on the road, where's your favorite place to stop to eat and what do you like to order?
Deirdre: I like the old fashioned diners where they can feed you in a hurry but at the same time you can sit and relax. You don’t have to stand up to place your order. You sit, your server takes the order then you can fill your bottles and take care of things while they prepare for food. When the food arrives, you are sitting (recovering) while you eat. I like sloppy food on rando rides. Moister food is easier to eat. I like soup followed by pie and ice cream.

Mike: What have you enjoyed most overall about Randonneuring?
Deirdre: The camaraderie and the lifelong friendships.

Mike: Are there any places left you'd still like to go and ride?
Deirdre: So many! I’d love to do some 1200s in other countries but I’m getting too slow. I should think about doing some shorter brevets elsewhere. I’d also like to do a brevet in each of the Canadian provinces that run brevets.

Mike: What do you like to do outside of Randonneuring? (Other hobbies/past times)
Deirdre: I like to knit, walk, eat.

Mike: How has cycling equipment changed over the years you've been riding?
Deirdre: Bicycles seem more reliable now but they are more complicated to maintain. The wider tires give a more comfortable ride. The lights have improved enormously. The disc brakes work well. We have GPS devices now. When I started we didn’t even have simple bicycle computers so we couldn’t even measure distance.

Mike: Have you sustained any significant injuries from cycling?
Deirdre: Yes, a car, coming in the other direction, crossed the centre line right in front of me. I hit it. I broke the head of my right humerus, my left scaphoid bone (wrist), left knee cap, and fingers in both hands. I don’t think that you ever get 100% back.

Mike: What's something you always bring with you on a ride? Or something you can't live without?
Deirdre: Food! I always have food on my bike, often pierogis.

Mike: Which of all the 1200 km brevets you've ridden is your favorite route and why?
Deirdre: Besides PBP, I actually have only ridden two other 1200s, the Rocky Mountain and the Cascade 1200. All of three of them are beautiful. I’ve done quite a number of 1000s. I like the rides without much city riding and where you feel like you have gone somewhere and been on an adventure.

Mike: What keeps you going or has kept you motivated during particularly difficult events?
Deirdre: ???? Doesn’t every randonneur ask themselves that often? Usually, even if it is difficult, there is still an element of fun or challenge that is rewarding.

Mike: Do you have a particular favorite distance to ride? 200, 300, 400 or 600 km in a series?
Deirdre: Once I’m fit I like the 200 km events. The important words are “once I’m fit”! That’s when they feel relatively easy and I’m home in the evening to participate in activities with my family and friends.
I also like the 1000 km events. Three days of riding and you feel like you have really gone somewhere. You don’t worry about the stress or mundane things of everyday life. You just concentrate on enjoying the scenery as you get to the next control.

Mike: What's the worst place you've ever "slept" at during a brevet?
Deirdre: I like to book a hotel at a suitable distance so that I have a comfortable place to sleep but I have had some memorable sleep stops, between the rows of corn in a field, on a bench inside a bus stop, post offices in Washington State. The City Center motel in Marysville was pretty bad. One of the other riders described as the worst motel this side of Tijuana.

Mike: What's the biggest impact Randonneuring has had on your life?
Deirdre: Besides making friends, it motivates me to stay fit.

Thank you so kindly to Deirdre for her willingness to participate in this interview and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together with Deirdre! Stay tuned for more stories to come!
- Mike Croy

From Deirdre: "Taken near Bellingham by Colin Fingler on a pre-ride for the Wee Wamble. That cat wanted
to join the club! He waltzed right up and hopped onto my tights where he inspected the route sheet and then
moved onto my rack pack and settled in - waiting for a ride I think. Eventually he got off. A very confident cat."
Photo: Colin Fingler


Go to: Deirdre in the Database (Member 138)


March 29, 2024