April is a hectic month here. It’s tax season, which is never fun. But it’s also the start of the randoneuring season in BC.
Randoneuring is long distance cycling. Events are organized, and riders follow a prescribed route, stopping at controls along the way to prove that they have completed the ride. Distances start at 200km and go up from there. The most well-known event happens once every four years – Paris Brest Paris – a 1200km ride that has to be completed in less than 90 hours.
Patrick has been doing these events since we lived in San Diego. To begin with, I just said he was crazy, and left him to it. But at some point, it sounded like he was having a lot of FUN, and being one who hates to miss out on some fun, I agreed to do a 200km ride with him on the tandem. When he said he wanted to do PBP, I said “Yeah Right!” assuming THAT would never happen. Well it did! Four years ago, we rode all the qualifying events and completed PBP on the tandem. It was a heck of an adventure. But this isn’t the story of what happened four years ago. This is the story of what happened as we drove the route for the 200km ride we now volunteer to organize every year in the Cowichan Valley.
The day, a Saturday, started off clear. Blue skies, sunshine. As we drove over the Malahat on our way to the start, we both lamented not having our bikes with us. Why had we decided to drive the route rather than ride it? Surely we could have wheeled our way round, despite our lack of riding fitness? But it was too late now.
We drove along the back country roads, Patrick driving and me reading the route sheet, checking the names of all the roads, looking for potholes, new roundabouts, anything different than last year. By the second control, at Glenora, at the 100km mark, we were getting pretty hungry. And since this was the control we were planning to man for the event, we wanted to go inside and introduce ourselves to the people running the store. Half an hour later we emerged, tummies full of the best omelet ever. Patrick later admitted she’d added cream to it and cooked it in butter. No wonder I was licking my lips!
We kept going, out to Lake Cowichan, where we hit a huge bump as we crossed the bridge over the river in town (made a note on the route sheet to warn the riders of that!), carried on out to Gordon Bay Park – lots of potholes there as usual – then headed back down the hill. Halfway down, the sky suddenly darkened, and before we knew it, it was sleeting. And then on the way back over the Malahat, snow!
Ha ha, we thought. Glad we’re in the car and not on our bikes now!
Luckily for the riders, the weather the following Saturday was not so bleak!