Thursday, 5 January 2012

Rocky Mountain 1200

" He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man "
.... Dr. Johnson

And so it has been written, and committed. I shall attend the 5th Inaugural running of the Rocky Mountain 1200, a 1200 kilometer non-stop Ultra Randonee bicycle race event, running July 22nd through 26th.

Having once formally performed the role 'Director of Randonneuring' for two complete bike seasons I was given a great introduction to a part of cycling that precedes even the Tour de France. Two local Rando 'Gods', Bill Donner, and Larry Lemmesurier respectively, each had brief inconsolable laughs when I told them I was interested in joining up for their unique style Endurance challenges. At the time Bill had recently been awarded 'Most logged Miles' in North America for officially completing Rando events at over 26,000 miles in total. And Larry, no chump himself, would do such crazy things like seeing how far he could drive in one weekend to train himself for Endurance cycling. On one weekend, truthful story, Larry drove from Ft. McMurray to New Mexico and back, non-stop, and was back at work Monday morning.
How could I compare ?... simply I just never did... back then.

And so those experiences and the friendships made with those strange fellows, ignited something in me. My nubile passion for long distance bike touring was only the beginning. At a young age growing up in Northern BC how would I have known Ultra racing was actually a sport ? ... of course I was barely five years old when the first running of the Race Across America was christened, and I was simply into more fun childhood things like Atari and Lego, rather than outrunning fatigue in the middle of the night on a dark and isolated Canadian highway.

Since those early days of my first 200km Brevet on a mountain bike with slick tires in 1996, I've developed my knowledge, fitness and attitude towards competing in these most 'rotund' of cycling races. Texas Time Trials, Race Across the West, 24 HOURS Solo... Devils Gap ride with Stappy.. etc etc.

The RM 1200 features an exciting route of which I have yet to travel 100%, so there will be the allure of the unknown destination. Yet I've logged nearly 75% of the current course in times of rain, snow and darkness. But also under the relentless gleaming sunshine, exposing the roadside waterfalls as something heavenly and sacred... the water crashing nearby as a cool mist creates droplets on your sun baked arms while you roll past quietly. All the while hundreds of motorists whizz on by in their sedentary mode of travel.

To introduce the route actually gives me goosebumps. Starting In Kamloops, and riding North East on the HWY 5 towards Clearwater, then Blue River and on to Valemount, then Jasper. From Jasper then heading south into the Icefields Parkway, Columbia Icefield then Lake Louise. Then West along the Trans Canada to Golden, over Rogers Pass, to Revelstoke and Sicamous. Then South to Armstrong, back North again to Salmon Arm, and then to the Finish in Kamloops... totaling some twelve hundred kilometers of beauty BC cycling.

The current course record stands at a little over 50 hours, albeit in somewhat controversy as there are voices who say this record was obtained 'unofficially' with Non-permitted race support. The former Records are near 55 to 60 hours respectively, averaging 24 kilometers per hour, not including breaks.

You see, that's what makes Randonneuring so cool, its not like a typical Ultra Race where riders are required to have night time vehicle 'follow support', a hand off of fresh bottles and food, spare clothes and soothing words of encouragement and inspiration, Rando is Un-Supported.
Yes, there are Time Stations and 'Time Checks' that double as 'aid stations', and random race officials out and about on the course to ensure some rules are followed. But really, since there's no prizes other than a cold beer at the end, why would you cheat ?

It's about finishing.

And judging by the fact that Pre Registration sold out at 125 riders throughout December alone, from nearly 20 different countries, with a growing waiting list... Yes believe it or not, Rando is popular ! and people want to do this event badly.

... Now since I'm not a 'technically' qualified Ultra Randonnuer, who has completed a Series of Brevets such as the 200, 300, 400, and 600km events.. ( before I can officially race a 1200 ) I will be committing my weekends this coming Spring and Summer to pursuing my formal Brevet Cards, instead of racing ABA exclusively.
This means joining a Randonnuering bike club, and for this I've chosen the Alberta Randonneurs
( hopefully they let me join )

Since the RM 1200 only happens once every four years, I'd better get training !

1 comment:

BikingBakke said...

Dali they'll let you in for sure - who else walks the walk like you do?!