A Rocky Ride
by Harold Bridge
The 7th edition of the Rocky Mountain 1200 took place from Wednesday
July 23rd through to Sunday 27th. Being a mid-week event during
the holiday period there can be difficulty in getting enough
help. With over a 100 riders from all over the world to be looked
after; 13 controls to staff and stock with food; riders
sleep requirements & keeping check on who wants waking when,
the demands on the approximately 75 volunteers can get quite
I of course volunteered and was given a seemingly sinecure of
a job. The 443.7 km control at Jasper would be the first sleep
stop for many. But the showers were at the Aquatic Centre, 700
metres from the control. I was to shuttle the riders (who were
that fussy) in my Ford Focus station wagon, er, estate car.
About 75% of the riders opted for the 90 hour schedule that started
from Kamloops on Wednesday 23rd @ 22:00. The rest, on the 84
hour schedule, started 6 hours later. All had to be finished
by Sunday 27th @ 16:00.
The Jasper control would be quite busy as at that point the later
starters would be getting in among the earlier starters. Although
I arrived a little before opening time, things were
well under way with 6 or so volunteers cooking & laying out
food ready for the onslaught. I kept account & added 27 kms
on the odometer while in Jasper.
By this point the lack of preparation of some was showing and
there were a few DNFs. One of note; Alex Pope, the BC Randonneurs
treasurer, had his family in support & Barb Pope was a bit
concerned about her husband. As well she should be. Alex is unique.
He is the only rider I know who mixes randonnees with medal winning
track racing. At the Provincial track champion-ships a few weeks
before, a rider crashed in front of him, Alex went AOT &
landed heavily. However, he got up, remounted & finished
the race in first place. But when I saw him a few days later
he was moving with difficulty and by the start of the 1200 he
was barely in good enough shape to start. But with a $500 entry
fee one doesnt DNS easily.
With our duties completed we were free
to go home & some did, after we had breakfast at a hotel.
The short way home was return by the way I came. But for me,
the Icefields Parkway beckoned. It is one of the Worlds
great scenic rides, or drives. Lake Louise is 234 kms south of
Jasper and the Parkway takes one over 2035 metre Sunwapta Pass,
111kms south of Jasper, and over 2065 metre Bow Summit a further
110 kms south of Jasper.
My concern was that I had been existing
on cat naps over the last 36 hours or so & was unsure if
I should be driving by myself. The problem was solved just after
I got on the Parkway. A young woman, who turned out to be Montreal
French speaking, was hitch hiking. We had fun with me trying
to understand her English & me trying to re-invent my limited
French. But I did notice as the road unfolded that her English
improved. I think her French was a defence system that she decided
she didnt need. Well, I am an Englishman at heart after
In 1980 I had left my camper at Banff & ridden through Lake
Louise & UP to Bow Summit. I then propped my bike against
a tree & hiked up the trail to the Peyto Lakes Lookout. I
had no camera! I suggested to the hitch hiker, Caroline, that
we detour at Bow Summit & do the climb up to the crowded
viewing platform. When we got there she gasped at the vista.
She was enroute to Banff & once we got to the Trans Canada
Highway I dropped her off & said adieu.
In most places one travels to & through
the signs are clear & easily seen. Lake Louise is part of
the Banff National Park system & as such is a Federal concern.
They dont want signs spoiling the scene, although the town
itself is no great beauty. The route information is in tiny font
that one has to stop to read. I usually have difficulty at Lake
Louise sorting out which way I need to go.
At the Lake Louise control one of the Japanese
riders was waiting for a ride. After a short stop at the control
I piled him and his bike int wagon & we were off
in the wrong direction!
An illegal U-turn on an empty road (except
for Tracy Barill heading to the Storm Mountain control) got us
back to Lake Louise & away to the west. Takashi Kato spoke
good English but the unfamiliar accent coupled with the wind
noise made conversation difficult. I thought I was taking him
all the way to Kamloops. But at Golden he insisted on getting
the bus (my driving?) & I left him at the Visitor Centre.
Too much in need of sleep I took a room at the nearest motel,
showered, drove Down Town & had a decent meal
in a busy restaurant. I was in bed about 20:30 & the next
thing I knew was 05:30 Sunday.
Despite a service by my regular mechanic before leaving home,
I had been having red line problems on the hills. But it was
not until Golden that I thought to buy a jug of coolant. Duh!
I sailed up Rogers Pass.
Gary Baker was just dashing off to the store for more supplies
as I parked at the Seniors Centre in Revelstoke. Without
asking Garys permission, I temporarily inserted myself
into the control team. But Jaques, Michael, et al looked like
they needed a break anyway. After all, Gary was out shopping
most of the time.
Mike Poplawski was riding his single banger BMW &, like me,
But poor German design means a special funnel is needed to get
the coolant in there.
My solution was to extract the internals of a ball point pen
& use the body held under the funnel. So my coolant was of
use there too.
At that point I thought I should get back to Kamloops without
wandering around the northern extremities of the Okanagon. I
didnt know if I could get all the way that night. I thought
about visiting a one time work mate in Salmon Arm. But past 22:00
he might well be abed &, anyway, could I have remembered
the way to his house? I made do with a Coffee & Danish @
The limitations that come with age showed up while driving the
Highway in the face of headlights. There are sections of the
Trans Canada that seriously need maintenance & widening.
The bits that are finished are good. Once past Monte Creek the
road is suburban & well lit & I was in the Curling Club
about 23:00. Danelle suggested I take a room at the University
for 2 nights for $60. No soap or toilet paper included! But I
The Activity Centre was packed with bright eyed Randonneurs &
tired looking helpers during the Wrap Up party. While
there I was instructed by Himschoot to be at the White Spot at
09:00 & at Merritt for lunch. But awake too soon I felt the
need to go early & entered the White Spot about 07:00.
Two riders, who I am sure were Eric Ahlvin
& David Rowe, Oregon Randonneurs, were already seated &
invited me to join them, (although they didnt look like
they were falling apart).
In conversation, my years give me lots
of history to talk about & the lecture earned me a free breakfast.
I asked the waitress that if she heard a 09:00 group asking where
Harold was, to tell them I had left. I was home for lunch having
put 1,986 kms on the wagon since Tuesday.