Pacific Rim 600 brevet: A slight reprise

by Raymond Parker on May 30, 2009

in Cycling, Randonneuring

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Tofino Waterfront

Following the debut of the Northward Ho! route to Port Hardy last year, in 2009 the Vancouver Island Spring 600 kilometre randonnée returned to the West Coast, and the Pacific Rim route—with a twist.

To encourage attendance from Vancouver and the Mainland, I had decided to pull an old Stephen Hinde composition from the archive and update it accordingly. Nanaimo, rather than Parksville (30 kilometres north) hosted the start and day two would journey south and inland to Cowichan Lake, rather than north to Campbell River.

I situated the start/finish at Tim Horton’s on Comox Street, just a 20 minute ride from the Departure Bay ferry terminal and directly opposite a handy Howard Johnson Hotel.

The eventual turnout, while shallow in number, was deep in experience, with six-time Paris-Brest-Paris ancienne Deirdre Arscott, Peter Stary, Lindsay Martin, Graham Fishlock and “Iron Butt” Ken Bonner rounding out the field.

Ken freely admitted he was not sure he was completely recovered from his pre-ride of the “Ultimate Island Explorer,” completed just 6 days before. Evidently, this 2,000 km/18,000 metre brute of a route had taken a bit out of our tireless randonneur. Still, he couldn’t pass up a chance to ride the same roads he’d so recently traversed on the UIE.

The volunteer-to-rider-ratio was 1-to-1, as Amanda Jones, Lee Ringham, Stephen and Carol Hinde and myself saw the fivesome off under clear skies, at 06:00 on Saturday morning. There was just the small matter of the wind, which was flapping a nearby group of flags in the wrong direction.

After breakfast, Amanda and I piled into the Hindemobile and headed north, then west, onto highway #4.

We met again at Port Alberni—Control #1—assisting Deirdre with a persistent puncture in her appropriately-named “Detonator” tyre! The fault turned out to be cloth rim tape that had peeled back from the valve hole, leaving the rim to cut into the tube. Electricians tape (applied to rim) to the rescue!

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Deirdre returns from Tofino

We followed and photographed the riders’ labours over Sutton Pass. They were still able to smile for the cameras. Between rando action shoots and roadside flora photos, we leapfrogged our way to Tofino, stopping around noon to chat with Graham Fishlock, at the T-junction of the Ucluelet/Tofino, Pacific Rim Highway. We pulled alongside Ken, just short of Tofino, in the midst of a chilly tongue of mist, licking in off the open Pacific. Still, neither frigid fog nor beckoning beaches distracted Bonner from the task at hand. Soon we witnessed his brief turnaround, accomplished in a matter of minutes, at 4th Street in Tofino.

Graham pulled in next, followed shortly by Peter, Deirdre and Lindsay, who enjoyed a rather more leisurely sojourn, savouring some real food.

As we continued our drive, we stopped to check on Graham at the crest of Alberni Summit. It wasn’t until we reached North Nanaimo, 60 kilometres on, that we passed Ken, at 11:30 pm. Exhausted by our busy day of sitting in a car, we were ready to greet our hotel beds.

Knowing that Ken at least would be through the next control—Cowichan Lake—when everything is closed in that sleepy town, I’d prepared an information control requiring a skill-testing question based on local signage. As I’d assumed, while others slept, Ken cleared that control in the wee hours and, after another jog south to the penultimate control in Mill Bay, pulled back into Nanaimo by 9:34, for an overall time of 27 hours 34 minutes.

Graham, meanwhile, had caught an hours sleep in his van and so pulled in next, at 31 hours 48 minutes

The Tenacious Trio, who had started out again at 6 am, fought the continuing northwest wind (the cost of clear skies) back into town at 5:43, for an elapsed time of 35hrs 43 minutes.

This variation on the Pacific Rim brevet—deemed somewhat more difficult compared to the Cambell River version—was enjoyed no less by this small group of dedicated BC Randonneurs, all of whom have ridden the original route.

What’s a randonnée? | Official Results

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