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This was going to be the year that Ken Bonner would run out of ways to astonish us, or so I thought. Well, I guess I couldn't have been more wrong. Réal Préfontaine's single year event-distance record from 1999 of 7561 km was replaced by Ken's new record: 12,594 km. And he wasn't dawdling either - his times were as fast as ever. There was even a novelty stunt to surpass his Edge to Edge/600 (bike/run/bike) thing from last year. Like last year, Ken's new exploit began with a question: "I wunderif...?" But interestingly this time it was Stephen Hinde asking the Question... Stephen wondered if Ken could ride back to back 1000 and 1200 brevets. (Ken was thinking it couldn't be done.) Ken rode his 1000 km from Abbotsford to Boise in 52:35, got a ride from Stephen to the start in Boulder Colorado, and then rode the Colorado Last Chance 1200 in 59:05. Ken celebrated his 60th birthday this year by pushing his lifetime event distance total further into the stratosphere. His lifetime counter is now at 68,723 km after 15 years of randonneur cycling. He's still going strong. Once again this year, the most popular question around the Gatorade cooler was: "So like, someone's taking genetic samples of this guy for cloning, right?" [more on Ken's 2002 season in Note 1].
Ken's big year has perhaps had the effect of dwarfing some other big distance seasons for club members. An impressive seven riders were over the 5000 km mark this year, which is a club record (it was six in 2000). Among the seven were Henry Berkenbos (7300 km), and Michel Richard, whose 8265 was also over the previous record. Interestingly, neither Michel nor Henry were actively pursuing Iron Butt honours this year. Michel's personal goal was the same as it was two years ago: to ride 10,000 km in event distance in one season. In 2000 Michel fell short of his goal because, well, he fell - broken arm & ribs. This time 'round all he broke was a shifter cable (330 kms into the Switchback 1000) but it was enough to end his ride. Henry Berkenbos was similarly aiming at a target quite different than the Iron Butt award. He was hoping to log a personal calendar year riding total of 28,000 km (which would be his biggest season ever) and his event distance total of 7300 km was to be just one part of this larger goal. When I saw Henry in September he was not optimistic about reaching the mark - there was a long way to go, and he was dreading all the rain riding he'd have to do. But Henry picked the right year to aim high... with that run of good weather we had this fall, Henry not only met his goal, but marched right past it. In the end he rode 29,572 km.
Also in the 5000 km club was last year's winner, John Bates, and tandem partner Danelle Laidlaw. Last season Danelle missed out on co-claiming Iron Butt honours because she missed riding one event with John - this year they rode every event together but would have had to double John's winning distance from last year to catch Ken Bonner. Seattle speedster Ken Carter is also on the list with 5908 km which includes a complete in-BC brevet series... the super-sized version - not just 200, 300, 400, & 600, but also a 1000 and the RM1200. Another SIR heavy hitter this year, Mark Thomas, was not on the list - he did 2200 km up here and 7100 overall, but is not on the Iron Butt list because he didn't meet the four brevet (200 - 600 at least) minimum requirement for out of province riders.
There were some notable firsts this year. Congratulations to our 8 new super randonneurs: Bob Bailey, Susan Barr (yes really, first time), Mike Eder, Jim Giles [note 2], Ali Holt, Darren Inouye, Benjamin Lewis, and Don Munro. It was a big year in general for super randonneurs - 39 in total. Many of you may be surprised to learn that although this is the biggest super rando figure in recent years it is not the biggest ever - in 1991 (the PBP centenary year) there were 43.
Other firsts this year include 9 riders who did their first ultras. Susan if-at-first-you-don't-succeed Allen finally got a cool temperature weekend for her (successful) second attempt at the Island End to End route. Another first-time ultra rider to complete this route was our Victoria area populaire impresario Mike Poplawski. Wayne Harrington did a new variant on the Okanagan loop 1000 on his way to a 4879 km season. Roger Holt and rookie superstar Ali Holt [note 4], along with last year's super rookie Ken Wright, jumped straight to the Rocky Mt 1200. Another rider to do this was Peace Region organizer Wim Kok who wrote about his experiences in Veni, Vidi, Vici: My First RM 1200 ! [link] - it's recommended reading. Barb Henniger also complete her first ultra at the RM 1200 avenging her PBP99 DNF. And finally, Peter Liekkio, one of the five SIR (Seattle) riders to do the Island route, completed his first ultra.
And speaking of the Rocky Mt. 1200. Wow! Wasn't it great? Organizer Danelle Laidlaw and Ride Directors Roger and Sharon Street led a fabulous volunteer effort - 60 persons, 11 full-service controls, serving 78 riders from 7 countries. As Susan pointed out in her November editorial, this event is something we can all take great pride in. As for the ride itself, despite some dodgy weather on day 2, there was only a 13% attrition rate resulting in 68 finishers. Some guy named Othmar from Austria shaved 3:34 (hr/min) off Ken Bonner's 2000 record - Othmar's new mark is 52:02. And for the first time there was significant female ridership - 9 women, which is 11% of the field... they all finished.
The club distance total for 2002 is 194,032 kms, which is a club record [note 5]. In fact virtually every distance and participation record was broken this season. The few exceptions all come from 1991 [note 6]. There are a number of on-going, or records-in-progress sorts of records which reached new marks this year. Super-rando man Peter Stary extended his run of consecutive super rando series to 16. With another successful Rocky 12, Manfred Kuchenmuller is now one of only two riders to have completed the event all five times. And this year Manfred became only the second BC Randonneur to pass the 50,000 km event distance mark (50,818). The milestone was reached without Manfred even achieving super rando status this year - something about a fallen tree across the road while night-riding the LM summer 600... Only Ken Bonner remains higher up the club's total lifetime event distance chart: as mentioned above, Ken is now weighing in at 68,723 km.
Gary Fraser rode his first brevet this year since he left to become a lawyer after the 1994 season. Among his fast times that year was his remarkable 12:39 (hr/min) 400 km riding with Keith and Ted in May '94 - the ride famously recounted in Gary's "Team Time Trialing with the Terminator Twins" [link] - more recommended reading. Gary's entertaining and amusing stories and articles are something that people had missed, and so it was a great treat to see his contribution to the May/June newsletter: Top Ten Reasons I Returned to Randonneur Cycling [note 7].
Last but not least, and perhaps most impressive of all, Harold Bridge, at 75 years, became the oldest club member ever to have completed a super randonneur series (200-600 km). The question has been raised as to whether he might be the oldest rider anywhere to have earned a super rando pin. Jack Eason and Frank Mumford from the UK are apparently other candidates... Unfortunately age information is not actively tracked... If Harold doesn't have the age record he's at least in a very select group. And on top of everything, Harold actually had a PB time this year - his Flatlander 200 was 8:40. Harold is saying it's his last SR... But with PBP zero-3 beckoning to us all, who knows? What do you think 'arold... once more into the breach?
Don Hollingshead: photos 4, 5,
6, 8, & 11
Note 1: More on Ken Bonner... Ken was riding his bike to work in March, and had the misfortune to slip on an icy road. He landed on his hip - an injury that kept him away from running for three months. Just as he was getting back to gentle jogging, he had his Rocky 1200 crash (cracked rib). So with one thing and another Ken's running plans were abbreviated this year. He did get back to running just in time for Victoria (October 13), and he ran one other fall marathon. Ken has actually run all 23 'Royal Victoria Marathons'. His lifetime marathon count is now at 137.
So how was Ken going to fill all those hours he had set aside for running? 12,594 km of event distance cycling later, I guess we know the answer. The total includes an astonishing 6 ultras (3 x 1000, and 3 x 1200) plus 4 fast 600s, and the rest in loose change. When I first saw the database report it dawned on me that in this one season, Ken had done only one less ultra event than I have done in my entire 10 years of randonneur cycling - and with his usual inventory of fast times. He had the two fastest 1000s in BC this year. (In his third 1000, the fall SIR event, Ken had "16 hours of sleep and 13 hours of rain". His time of 63:54 is a 'PW' - personal worst.) He was the fourth finisher at BMB (58:10) this year, and first finisher at the Colorado Last Chance 1200 (59:05) - though there were only 8 finishers in the latter. As alluded to above, his Rocky Mt. 1200 was not without incident - after a bad fall he persisted and managed to finish in 57:22, just 1:46 off his course record from 2000 - good enough to be fourth finisher.
I asked Ken to answer a few questions in preparation for writing this report, and he sent me back an e-mail response. I was going to summarize it and include parts of it here, but Ken's brief casual message really says it best: [go to: Ken's message] [jump up]
Note 2: Jim Giles is a SIR (Seattle) rider who rode a super rando series in BC. He was the guy on the spiffy recumbent with the red covering. I have no information on whether he is a first time Super Rando or not. (Probably not.) [jump up]
Note 3: This note [now superfluous] speculated on weather any of the SIR (Seattle) riders who rode the Island End to End 1000 km in June were first time ultra marathoners. Mark Thomas has subsiquently clearified that only Peter Liekkio was a first timer.
Note 4: Well no, Ali Holt is not exactly a rookie with 700 km in 2000, and 900 km in 2001. I'm defining a rookie as someone who, for the first time, makes it on to the Iron Butt contenders list - minimum 1500 km. By this definition Ali's jump to 3100 km is a significant leap into the fray: this is why she is my choice for rookie of the year. [jump up]
Note 5: This figure factors out the many non BC riders who rode the Rocky 12 - the 'all in' total was 257,632 km, which over 60,000 km more than the next closest year (2000 - also a Rocky year). [jump up]
Note 6:: These are interesting times for the club, but there have been other interesting moments as well. 1991 remains a fascinating statistical anomaly in the club's history. Although most of the participation records have fallen this year, a few still remain from 1991. There were 69 x 400km brevets in 1991 (2 more than in 2002), and 54 x 600km (the same as 2002.) As mentioned in the body of the text (above), there were more super randonneurs in 1991 (43) than in 2002 (39). A theory suggested to me earlier this year was that the difference between now and 1991 was that now fewer riders were doing much more distance. I instinctively agreed with this theory but it turns out that this is not so. Although some members are riding bigger distances now, there are also more members riding brevets now - there were 139 brevet riders in 1991, and 145 brevet riders in 2002.
So how do we explain the '91 blip? First and foremost is the fact that 1991 was the PBP centenary year, and that there was a drive to qualify for it. Not surprisingly, a significant proportion of the brevets in BC were ridden by riders from Washington State. No doubt these were riders looking towards PBP qualification at a time which preceded the existence of SIR (Seattle International Randonneurs), and brevets in the Seattle area. Another factor is a more general one concerning the people involved in the sport at the time... Several years ago at a spring social I asked Gerry Pereja (a founder of randonneur cycling in BC) for his thoughts on the large participation numbers and the huge turn out for the Pacific Populaire (over 700 finishers) in 1991. He said it was because of the tireless publicity and promotional efforts of a number of key members in the late 80s and early 90s... David Johnston and Marty Wanless were names that came up. [This is not the same Dave Johnson, from Stanwood, that has ridden with us in recent years.]
In 1992 the bubble had burst - the frenzy was over. The club brevet distance was halved that year and many of the people who rode PBP in '91 left the sport completely. Participation levels remained relatively low until the current renaissance that began to emerge in the late 90s. [jump up]
10. My 8 year suspension for testing positive after the 1994 400K finally came to an end.
9. I missed the warm, introspective conversations with Keith and Ted as we used to casually peddle the back roads of the Fraser Valley.
8. My new crew (mega-bucks lawyers Tony Crossman, Alistair Wade, Jerome Marburg, and Oleh Ilnycky - collectively the "Wheels of Justice") are paying me $1,300 per ride.
7. I need the UCI points.
6. Keith's promise that a new road has been constructed which by-passes Woodside Hill.
5. The new B.C. rando rule allowing those riders 45 years and older to use small electrical motors to supplement pedal power.
4. I'm able to eat bananas again.
3. Fond memories of the Marysville main drag on a Saturday night.
2. The prize money the glory the sponsorship opportunities.
and the number one reason I'm back in the saddle: I heard that Harold finally gave up toe-clips and I had to see this astonishing turn of events for myself. [jump up]