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With the high level of enthusiasm and participation in most of the regularly scheduled brevets in the Lower Mainland, in the Interior, and on the Island this past season, many of you will be surprised to learn that the club's total distance figure was down in 2005 from the 2004 total. As is often the case in this sport we have to look to the four year ultra events cycle for the explanation - 2005 was a non-Paris Brest Paris and non-Rocky Mt. 1200 year. The 187,655 km club total is down 8,000 kms from 2004, but up 36,000 km from the last non-PBP/RM1200 year, 2001. One interesting club stat that may not be unrelated to this, is that more 1000 km brevets (21) were completed in BC in 2005 than ever before. Maybe with no big-deal 1200s to temp us, we saw 1000s as the next best thing. (Curiously, there were also a near record number of 300 km brevets in 2005... no explanation jumps to mind.)
If you were willing to travel a little, there was a generous menu of international ultra brevets to choose from in 2005, and there were BC Randonneurs at most of them. London Edinburgh London, held every four years, saw four BC riders on course in 2005: Dave Kirsop, Keith and Ross Nichol, and Wim Kok. Another event held only every fourth year is the Davis Bike Club's Gold Rush Randonnée in northern California. Congratulations to Keith Fraser who repeated as first finisher (he was first finisher in 2001), an honour Keith shared this time with 3 other riders in a course record time of 58:26. The next rider in was Ken Bonner in 63:36. I'm sure everyone has already heard that Ken rode all four 1200 km brevets in the US in 2005. A few other BC Randonneurs joined him at a few of them. Ken was the only BC Randonneur at Boston Montreal Boston, but was joined by Ron Himschoot at Colorado Last Chance, and by 2004's super rookie Scott Gater at the inaugural Cascade 1200 hosted by SIR in Washington State.
39 riders earned Super Randonneur medals in 2005 for doing a full series - 200, 300, 400, 600 km brevets - and, as always, there were some new faces on the list. Congratulations to the 8 first-time Super Randonneurs: Melissa Friesen, Bob Koen, Paul Kusch, Brad Maguire, Pat Martel, Laura Penner, Ron Penner and Jeff Schlingloff. Take special note of that last name. Jeff's 5500 km event distance total placed him second on the 2005 Hathaway (iron-butt) list, and is the most distance ever by a first-time SR, edging out Dan Wood's 1993 total of 5400 km. And it wasn't just about the distance with Jeff - he also registered some of the year's fastest times... strong cyclist, fabulous climber. Watch out for the elevation-infused north-shore 200 km, which he is organizing for June 24, 2006.
Special mention also to Melissa Friesen, who endured my mild provocations a year ago for almost, but not quite, reaching Super Randonneur status in a year when no women were on the rookie SR list. You will notice that this year there are two women on the rookie list. Congratulations to Melissa and also to Laura Penner.
Special congratulations to Doug Latornell and Ross Nichol for earning their Brevet Randonneur 5000 awards. The club can now boast 18 members who have received this prized distance cycling distinction since PBP 2003.
The Lower Mainland brevets were noteworthy for a couple of reasons in 2005. For starters the spring rides - there are eight - from the March 19 social through the June 1000, received some of the most serious rain we've seen for years. Only the spring 300 had minimal rains. The Pacific Populaire and the April 16 200 km were particularly miserable.
The other thing striking on the Mainland was the number of new routes and new roads. Deirdre and Bob found some fresh ways through Whatcom county on the spring 300; Doug, Susan and Sharon actually found some new destinations within the Fraser Valley watershed on the spring 400 "tour des lacs" (though lacs were a bit scarce); John and Danelle took us up spectacular Mt. Baker for the first time since season one (1979) on the summer 400; Stephen found an abundance of new roads between familiar controls on the summer 600; and Barry Chase had a new highway built between Squamish and Whistler for the summer 300. Thanks Barry!
A surprise hit this year was Roger and Ali's Canada Day Populaire. Popular also was the Half Moon summer 100/200 on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. For the first time, roads were found to flesh out a full 200 km brevet route, in addition to a 100 km route which drew impressive local ridership.
The Vancouver Island brevet series was noteworthy in 2005 for one reason in particular. It was Stephen Hinde's final year as Vancouver Island ride coordinator, a position he's held since 1987. Stephen has nurtured and grown interest in randonneur cycling on the Island, designed many beautiful (if challenging) routes, and has made Island brevets a favorite destination for riders on the lower mainland and elsewhere. Thanks, Stephen and Carol, for your many efforts.
As always we were happy to see participation from our amigos from Washington State. There were riders up for the Flèche Pacifique of course (and they keep winning the trophies), but also many were on hand for the mainland spring 300. Brian List, Peter McKay and Amy Piper joined us for the Peace Arch - Saint Helen's summer 1000, a route which spent 200 meters in BC and the rest of the time on roads running through their own back yards.
What is there left to say about Ken Bonner - hero, legend, sensation, etc., etc... In 2005 Ken found yet another way to amaze us, and the rest of the ultra cycling world. His new thing this season was to ride "over 100 centuries" (100 miles each), and to complete all four US 1200 km brevets. He achieved both of these goals, but that's only the beginning of this story. Although he was 63 during the 2005 season, age still doesn't seem to be affecting his speed: he was the first finisher at the Cascade 1200 in 74:21; GRR 63:36 (5th finisher); BMB 59:38 (5th finisher); and at CLC he was again the first finisher in a remarkable 54:46, smashing his own course record from 2002 by over five hours. (Notice how the times kept getting faster over the season.) What is commonly being said now about Ken is that he is one of the rare riders to be able to ride 1200 km brevets in fewer hours than his age. ("It gets easier as you get older, Eric" was Ken's remark.) But fast as he is, Ken never seems like he's in a rush - he always seems to have time to chat with other riders, and hear their road stories. What a guy. As for those centuries, he ended up riding 125 of them - that's more than one every third day, and it was enough to place him distantly atop the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association's year-rounder list. He also managed to ride enough local brevets in addition to his four US 1200s to easily win the Hathaway ("iron butt") award for the fourth straight year (total = 10,171 km). To cap the year off Ken became the first BC rider to reach 100,000 km in life-time randonneur event distance. His "all-in" total for 2005 is an astonishing 31,161 km. Many of you will know that he also runs marathons in his spare time - he ran 4 more this year bringing his life-time count up to 156. (He was 1st of 15 (3:35:29) in 60-64 age group at the Yakima River Canyon Marathon; and 4th of 70 (3:40:59) at Vancouver.) And to all this you can add one more distinction... Ken was selected as BC Randonneur's poet laureate - chosen at random from five worthy candidates, but eligible because of his brilliant one word entry "b'IKE!" Ken Bonner... very long cycling distances, very short poetry.
I'd like to mention a few other club members who did unusual or noteworthy things this past season that aren't accounted for in their annual brevet totals. In his 78th season (of life) Harold Bridge rode Land's End - John O'Groats (Britain end to end). This follows his Canada end to end from a year earlier. Data base manager extraordinaire, Cheryl Lynch, was off doing triathlons again this year, and had an exceptional result - she finished third (Bronze Medal !) in her age category at the long course triathlon world championships in Denmark in August. Congratulations Cheryl. We're still waiting for the 2005 totals to be calculated for the Canadian Kilometre Achievement Program's (C-KAP's) awards, but 2004 saw both the individual male (Henry Berkenbos - 28,646 km) trophy, and the team (13 riders - 158,474 km) trophy in the hands of BC Randonneurs. 2005 looks similarly promising. Wim Kok made a valuable contribution to club this year that didn't involve him getting on his bike all. Wim scoured archives looking for newspaper/press coverage on randonneur cycling in western Canada over the past 35 years, and came up with an impressive selection. This collection of articles is now posted on the web site in the "odds and ends" section (oddly located, I know - one day I'll get around to that club history section). And finally I have to say a word about myself - Eric Fergusson. I was thrilled to be awarded the Roger Street Award in 2005 for "outstanding contribution to the club", and I feel doubly honored to be recognized with an award with the big guy's name on it. Many many thanks for this wonderful distinction.
So with another season behind us, we offer warm thanks to our out-going President Lyle Beaulac for pacing us around this cool track, and thanks also to the many enthusiastic organizers and volunteers whose efforts miraculously make this thing work year after year. Bonne chance to our incoming infinitely-talented president Danelle Laidlaw who is the first repeat club president we've had (she was first pres in 2001).
As for 2006, there's plenty to look forward to. Nowhere is this more true than on the Island. An expanded VI schedule will be overseen by Raymond Parker who has the daunting task of taking over as VI ride coordinator from Stephen Hinde. And here's your highlight - in early July all eyes will be on Victoria, and points up-island, for the inaugural "VanIsle 1200" being organized by, guess who, Ken Bonner. Can't wait!