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Graham at Versailles, while in France for PBP 2007.
Photo: Rob Welsh

 

The Croy Questionaire...
Mike Talks With Graham Fishlock
Interview Date: May 12, 2024
Interviewer: Mike Croy

Welcome back to another newsletter edition of the "Croy Questionnaire" this time around, I had the pleasure of asking Graham Fishlock some questions about cycling, his life, Randonneuring etc, hopefully you enjoy reading our interview as much as I enjoyed putting it together and what follows is our discussion.
- Mike

Mike: Who are we talking with?
Graham Fishlock
(Member 1257, Start Year 2006)

Mike: How did you get involved in Randonneuring?
Graham: I got into randonneuring more as happenstance than planning. I was preparing in the spring of 2006 for a 8 000 km cycle tour across Canada. I googled long distance rides and that is when I came across the very informative BC Randonneur web site. I noticed a 100 km Populaire scheduled for a start in Nanaimo----near our home. In this event, I met Ray Parker and Steve Lonergan who kindly rode with me and encouraged me to ride an upcoming 200 brevet. That spring I rode several 200’s and a 300 km brevet with Steve. I was hooked. Steve remains a friend and motivator to this day.

Mike: When out on the road, where is your favourite place to stop and eat?
Graham: When out on the road, I don’t have a favourite place to eat. Tim Hortons often becomes a go-to for convenience especially late at night. I like to bring my own nutrition as much as possible. Sushi remains a favourite food to purchase.

Mike: What's the weirdest or funniest thing that’s happened to you on a brevet?
Graham: One of the funniest things to happen on a brevet was during a particularly difficult 400 that I was riding with you, Mike. It was near midnight and obviously very dark when we turned onto Cameron Taggart Road very near the finish. You were just ahead of me, and a young fellow jumped out of the bush asking for help. He lost his car keys on the edge of the forest and then I noticed the shy face of a young women. Apparently his keys fell out of his pocket during a brief tryst with his girlfriend. Unfortunately I couldn’t help as my light was powered by a Schmidt generator hub and obviously there is no light unless the bike is moving.

Mike: Outside of Randonneuring what do you like to do?
Graham: Outside of Randonneuring, I most enjoy cycle touring, hiking, skiing and kayaking. Reading and woodworking take up most of my indoor time.


Long distance hiking in the high Sierras of California
Photo: Ellen Stepniewski

Mike: What's something you always bring with you on a ride or something you can't live without?
Graham: On a brevet, I cannot live without a laminated route sheet which has now been replaced with my Wahoo and Garmin GPKS devices. Also, a rain jacket and some food I consider essential.

Mike: Where's the worst place you’ve slept on a brevet?
Graham: Generally, I am very careful where I sleep. But during PBP 2015, I was with Jim and Philip and my back was giving me problems not to mention the lack of sleep. We stretched out on the side of a quiet country road (with many others) and napped. I remember with a laugh that many of our arms and legs were protruding onto the road. The worst sleeping place I witnessed was during the Granite Anvil 1200. Rob Welsh and I had to rouse the control volunteer who was sleeping in the outhouse!

Mike: How has Randonneuring impacted your life?
Graham: Randonneuring has had a large impact on my life. The most pleasurable impact has been the friends I made in various countries and locally. It also introduced me to another facet of cycling that has brought a significant level of new knowledge and skill.

Mike: You’ve done lots of brevets on Vancouver island, where's your favorite area to ride on the island?
Graham: I have numerous favourite places to ride on the island. Close to home, I never tire of cycling the roads of Yellow Point. I can ride various shorter. routes of 30 to 50 km with very limited traffic. Longer rides see me riding to Port Renfrew regularly. I love crossing the spine of Vancouver Island and descending to the ocean on the West Coast. I also ride regularly to Cumberland from home----along the beautiful coastline and either camp or stay at the Riding Fool Hostel----a hostel dedicated to cyclists. For a change, I also enjoy cycling jaunts to Victoria and Saanich. I do feel fortunate to be a cyclist on Vancouver Island but increased auto and truck traffic has made many routes less desirable. Fortunately, there are still quiet roads to be enjoyed.

Mike: Do you have a favourite 1200 km brevet?
Graham: It is hard to pick a favourite 1200 km brevet. It could be my first PBP in 2007, or finishing the pre-ride of the Van Isle 1200 with Jim and Phillip but it has to be the Rocky Mountain 1200 in 2008. I rode the whole event with a good friend from Minnesota. We had the usual obstacles to overcome but succeeded in completing the 1200 in 70 hours----our goal from the start. I still remember the enthusiasm of all the volunteers at each control. There really was beauty everywhere on the well-organized 1200----from the people along the way to the incredible landscapes the route passed through. It was an amazing experience.

Mike: What's the toughest or hardest brevet you’ve ridden?
Graham: The toughest brevet I have ridden has to be my first 300, “The Hills are Alive.” I was so ill prepared but Ray Parker and Steve Lonergan did not leave me and kept me going. The patience of fellow riders can be incredible and much appreciated.

Mike: Do you have any advice for new people looking to get into Randonneuring?
Graham: My advice to new people looking into randonneuring is try and link up with an experienced rider for your first brevets. Definitely a Populaire is a good start and a possible place to meet up with a fellow rider that would be a good companion for an initial brevet. Of course, with enthusiasm, this is not necessary but it sure does help. It worked for me.

Mike: Is there a favourite distance you enjoy riding? 200, 300, 400, 600 or longer?
Graham: As I get older, I am beginning to enjoy riding 200 km brevets the most but I also like 600’s. You get to go on a journey, hopefully an interesting route, and there is time for a sleep break.

Mike: You're now retired but what did you do previously for work?
Graham: I am now retired for almost 10 years now. My working career consisted of 3 phases. The longest was teaching, followed by owning and operating a very busy restaurant, and then after moving to Salt Spring Island where I developed a small woodworking business.

Mike: Are there any places you still want to go ride?
Graham: I have been lucky enough to cycle all over Europe, the U.S, England, Scotland but never have I cycled in Wales or Ireland. I hope to remedy that with a tour in Ireland next spring.

Mike: Have you sustained any serious injuries from cycling?
Graham: I have had only one cycling injury despite my many tours and brevets. It was on a 200 brevet in Victoria. I was riding with Nigel who was just ahead of me with only a km or two from the finish. I somehow went through the rear window of a VW station wagon. Incredibly the rear window was not safety glass so I was cut up badly in the face and knocked unconscious. I have absolutely no memory of anything 15 minutes before the crash. My first memory was being loaded into the ambulance. The one memory I still have is being filled with immense gratitude for the ambulance attendant, the doctor who stitched me up as well as Nigel who took care of my bike. Nigel came back over to the Island with Cheryl the following week and we rode a 200 km permanent. Obviously, the incident had a successful and happy conclusion.

Mike: What Keeps you motivated to continue on during particularly difficult events?
Graham: On particularly difficult events, 3 things keep me motivated: food, friends and finishing!

Mike: Who inspires you or is a role model for you, past or present?
Graham: Who inspires me is an easy question. In the randonneur world, it has to be Deirdre. Sure she has accomplished so many great things in randonneuring, but one small incident early in my randonneuring career left an indelible mark on me. It was a 400 brevet and I just had crested the Malahat heading north. I had a flat and was busy with its repair as all sorts of riders passed me on the downhill yelling out various forms of are you OK. Of course, the riders were long gone before I could respond. And then Deirdre comes along, stops and insists on helping or at least being sure I had everything I needed. This small act I never have forgotten and was a lesson to me. It certainly was a testament to the quality of Deirdre as a person which she continuously displays in her life.

Mike: Do you have any intriguing wildlife sightings or encounters from out on the road?
Graham: My most remembered wildlife experience was during the Ride to The Gold 600. It was just at twilight cycling through Strathcona Park. The lingering light was filled with a swirling mist and amidst this mist was a large herd of Elk. It was so beautiful and memorable.

Mike: What's the best piece of cycling equipment you've purchased?
Graham: The best piece of cycling equipment I have purchased has to be my GPS devices. I now have 2 which I mount on the bike I am riding. I was reluctant adoptee of the technology, but how it has changed my riding and ability to ride brevets and routes in foreign countries. They have also made it safer to ride as no longer do you have to fumble with a paper cue sheet or a map. Even searching out road signs is no longer necessary with a downloaded route. It also gives me confidence riding through large cities like Rome, Barcelona or Paris.

Mike: Can you tell people about the cycling tour you were just on?
Graham: I just finished up a cycle tour in Italy. Several years ago I cycled north from Sicily, through Italy and finishing in the Italian/Swiss Alps. However, I did not explore north western Italy so this time my tour started in Genoa before heading south through Portofino and the Cinque Terra. From there we cycled through Tuscany heading east into the Appenine mountains before dropping down to the Adriatic Coast. Italy is such a fantastic country to cycle----the food, the coffee, the history, the people, the landscapes and of course the many quiet country but hilly country roads.

Mike: What makes a good control in your opinion?
Graham: Enthusiastic volunteers make the best controls. Water and a little food is appreciated but cheerful, helpful volunteers create memories.

Mike: Do you have any particularly fond memories from volunteering?
Graham: I have a number of fond memories while volunteering. One that stands out was when Edie (my wife) and I prepared strawberry shortcake at a Populaire control at Russell Farms on the island. Years later, I still come across people that remember fondly of that control. The other memorable control I had was with Dave M in Port McNeil. We had the control set up at an intersection leading into town. It was a 1200 km event and riders were coming through during the day and night. It was an insight into a lovely community. We had the police visit several times, sitting with us and chatting and towns people offering to help. We were impressed with Port McNeil.

Mike: What do you do for cross training?
Graham: For cross training, I rely on and enjoy Zwift for winter days when days are too wet. Hiking of course has always been my favourite activity. And living on a small farm, there is always physical work to content with. I seem to spent a great deal of time either shoveling or chopping wood. Skiing is also one of my winter activities.

Mike: Thank you Graham for taking the time to answer some questions, as we wrap things up here, is there anything else you would like people to know?
Graham: Thinking about these questions while riding through the Italian countryside gave me a great opportunity to think about randonneuring and what it has offered me over the years. Besides the many delightful memories, I am left with a feeling of sincere gratitude for all the efforts of so many volunteers that keep BC Randonneurs operating and also the friends I have shared time with on the road.


West Coast Trail
Photo: Jim Runkel

 


Go to: Graham in the Database (Member 1257)

 

May 31, 2024