A tale of two Fleche Teams: Randonneurs Ontario Fleche 2023

This ride report is co-narrated by Fred Chagnon and JungAh Hong, two randonneurs representing each of the participating teams in the 2023 Randonneurs Ontario Fleche Event. In this event, two teams departed on the evening of Friday May 19th, and rode for 24 hours until the evening of Saturday May 20th. 

Though coming from opposite directions, the two teams would aim to meet at the predetermined destination of Belleville, Ontario. 

=-=-=-=-=- The Teams –=-=-=-=-=

Fred, Marc, Brenda, Tim, Dave, Rob

Team: Les Quintuplets de Belleville (Huron)

Members: Fred Chagnon, Dave Cole, Marc Deshaies (SAG), Tim O’Callahan, Brenda Wiechers-Maxwell, Rob Thibert

Starting Point: London, Ontario

FREDLes Quintuplets de Belleville was a Huron Chapter team jointly spear-headed by Tim O’Callahan and Brenda Wiechers-Maxwell. It was mostly a reprise of their 2022 team Dropping Ants, but with a few notable changes. Dave Cole was a shoe-in to return to the team, but Darcy Haggith and John Kieffer were both unavailable this year leaving two spots open. I’d learned that I had a place as early as last year while helping Tim and Brenda with their 2022 route. I casually said that I’d be honored to run SAG for them the following year, figuring that would be a great way to see what the Fleche was all about. Brenda’s reply was as clear as it was immediate: “You can’t SAG for us next year. You’re going to be riding with us, silly.” 

Marc Deshaies was the fifth rider. However, after suffering stomach cramps that caused him to DNF on the Wind-Del Velodrome 200km brevet in late April, Marc had his appendix removed and was unable to ride for the time being. The final spot was then filled by Robert Thibert. Marc did stay on as our SAG operator. So the Huron team in truth consisted of six club members; five riders and one running support. 

Peter, JungAh, Guy

Team: Les Mangeurs de Fleche (Ottawa)

Members: Peter Grant, JungAh Hong, Guy Quesnel

Starting Point: Ottawa, Ontario

JUNGAH: We were happy to hear that the Fleche was being hosted in Belleville, since this destination provides for great riding options from the Ottawa region. Ottawa is a comparatively small chapter when compared to Huron and Toronto but even still we tried to build two teams of at least three riders to participate in this event. Peter Grant, Guy Quesnel and I formed Les Mangeurs de FlecheVytas Januaskas and Nick Uloth were also putting together a second team, but in the end these two had to each re-double their efforts on qualifying for Paris-Brest-Paris and were unable to balance this against the requirement to run this 360+km course here. And so, we wound up with a single team in the end.

=-=-=-=-=- The Routes -=-=-=-=-=

=-=-=-=-=- The Rides -=-=-=-=-=

FRED: Our route was set to leave from Boler Mountain, an inner-city ski/mountain bike resort right next to my home in London. We chose London because the team’s goal was to make it 500kms to Belleville. So our planned route was a straight shot east through the Greater Toronto Area, and then a quick tour of Prince Edward County before arriving at the mark in Belleville. 

I fired up my Garmin, then sent the posted the LiveTrack link to the #general channel in Slack (the club’s communication and collaboration hub), so that others could dot-watch us. 

We set off right on schedule at 18:00, the five riders taking a pedestrian path into the ski resort parking lot, and Marc pulling the trailer out of the neighbourhood bound for our first control in Woodstock 60 clicks away. As if on cue, a light drizzle also formed as we meandered through the residential neighbourhood of west London. Our ride began on London’s Thames Valley Parkway multi-use path which follows the river across the entire city, saving us from traffic stops and any climbing. I’d been worried about people traffic slowing us down here but that little bit of mist seemed like enough to ward off all the casual walkers. We maintained a decent pace together, arriving at an in-town Tim Horton’s in just over an hour. This seemed pretty quick to be our 60km control, and when we saw no sign of our SAG wagon we realized we were only in Ingersol, with still 25km to go to Woodstock. Somewhere between the two towns Rob started spontaneously singing. I, of course joined in. I hadn’t spent much time on the road with him, having only met him briefly on a 200 a year prior, but this was the moment I knew why Brenda and Tim brought him in. Rolling karaoke is a great way to eat up the miles, and I appreciated the culture fit.  

It was shortly after 20:00 when Marc called me, having noticed we were getting close. He gave me some cues on where he managed to station the SAG and I put in an order at the Tim Horton’s on everyone’s behalf so we could keep the control as quick as possible. 60kms down in 2:20 – not a bad pace at all to start. 

* * *

JUNGAH: Our scheduled depart was set for 20:00 Friday night. Our team had considered delaying the start until Saturday morning, but since it looked like it was going to rain no matter what we figured there was no point in waiting and decided to keep our start time close to that of the other team. Guy, Peter and I all live within a ten minute drive from each other so we agreed to meet for dinner at a nearby restaurant and make that our start point. Vytas and his wife Colleen also joined us for dinner and give us a good send-off and the two were also planning to meet us at our arrival point in Belleville. 

We set off on schedule at 8PM. The ride out of Ottawa was dry, and the headwind we thought we’d have to fight through the farmland was quieting down. We still had some daylight ahead of us, but I knew that, come nightfall, my struggle would be staying awake on the bike. Guy and Peter both have a lot of night riding experience so I wasn’t too worried about them but even through all my own experience, I personally have a lot of trouble staying awake when it gets dark. 

By nightfall we were pulling into Winchester, the site of our first control. We’d been riding for 67kms, and the control was a Circle K. But although being advertised as 24 hours, it was closed. (These closed 24 hour stops would become a recurring these on this ride). Our next control was just over 30kms away, and it was just an ATM, so we knew we had to find another spot here in Winchester. Honestly, all I cared about was to stop talking and keep moving because the mosquitos were eating me alive! Peter, who knew the route best, said there was service in the form of a Tim Horton’s or gas station off-route to the west, we deviated from our set course slightly and went there instead. 

* * *

FRED: We only had 35kms to cover between Woodstock and our next control in Paris. These short hops were a course design choice made to accommodate the fact that we had full support. Best to have access to the Uhaul at many shorter intervals than having to go for hours between supported stops. The Paris control was a 24hr Pioneer gas station. Marc had received permission to park under the canopy that sheltered the pumps from the rain, as the station wasn’t seeing much traffic at 10PM. 

Soaked as we were, it was noted at this point that I was the only one in the team not wearing any rain gear. “Well..I’m not going to get any wetter than I am right now, am I?” was all I could think to say. (Not sure my team appreciated me tempting the heavens like this). 

It was on the way to the ironically-named town of Waterdown that I bore witness to a phenomenon I’d never seen before: frogs on the road! And I don’t mean seeing a frog every once in awhile — I mean we were actively watching the glow of our headlights, actively dodging frogs we would see a few times a minute! At one point, what I thought was a large boulder in the shoulder, was confirmed by Tim to have been an oversized bullfrog! (Honestly if it wasn’t for the fact that it was pouring rain I might have gone back for a look). 

Marc called as we were pulling in close to the control. He mentioned he’d parked the trailer under the overhang of a Fortino’s grocery store, and while the Tim Horton’s was closed, the McDonald’s drive-through was open. I worked my way around the pack taking orders that he could make on our behalf. Team work makes the dream work! 

We pulled into the Fortino’s plaza in Waterdown and leaned our bikes up against the building under the overhang. Once again it seemed like everyone but me took their turn entering the Uhaul and exiting having done a complete costume change. “Fred – are you sure you don’t want something dry? I’m sure we have something that will fit!” Breda offered. 

“I’m good. Cycling is my favourite water sport!” was all I could think to reply. 

Marc came over with an armload of McDonald’s food, so I pulled over a small shopping cart to act as a makeshift table. While I was proud of this impromptu use of available props, I was somewhat less proud of the photo-op it created. To complete my descent into social disgrace I went to find a private place to pee before we made way for Mississauga. It was 1:30 when we departed. I drew the conclusion that the rain was having a drastic effect on our stop time, but it still looked as though we could make it through the Greater Toronto Area before morning traffic. 

* * *

JUNGAH: For the most part our ride through the dark farmlands south of Ottawa was quiet. We pulled into the town of Finch, at midnight, all we had was an ATM, and since we didn’t need it for shelter, there was nothing to do but move on.  

By 3AM we’d arrived at Iroquois, now well into my ‘dangerous-falling-asleep’ hours. So while it was nice to finally be in a place where something was open,  I still really needed to just keep moving, otherwise I was going to fall asleep at the store and waste a bunch of time. 

I don’t think I was the only one getting tired either — Peter seemed to be taking a long time deciding on what to get to eat so I think he was fading as well. My indecision was more because I couldn’t find anything warm to eat. I wanted something like that rolling hot-dog you see at every other Circle K! At this point even if that hot-dog had visible mold on it I would have still taken it because it was getting cold outside. But not only was there no hot-dog, there was nothing hot prepared at all.  

I asked the clerk if they had anything warm prepared and he said all they had was coffee. Caffeine and me don’t agree though so that was out. (I asked, and they didn’t have decaf). I did notice that they had a microwave though — so I paid for a frozen burrito and an orange juice, and I threw the burrito in the microwave for five minutes to heat it up. 

While I was eating the home-cooked warm burrito at the back of the store, Peter, who still hadn’t decided what to eat, came up to me and asked where I got it and how I warmed it up. So I told him, and sure enough he went and did the exact same thing. Given all the time we spent looking for food and individually heating it up we were probably at that Circle K for half an hour, maybe more. But I guess this is what you do for warm food at 3AM in the middle of nowhere. 

* * *

FRED: I don’t remember what song Brenda and I were signing at the top of our lungs, but as we all steered left down a country road the chorus was interrupted with an unwelcome pop and a hiss. “Someone flatted! Stopping!” I yelled. (It could have been me — with all the rain I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I was getting soaked with tire sealant anyway). 

It turned out to be Brenda’s front tire. While Tim, Brenda and Rob examined the tire for puncture evidence, Dave and I put the tube under a light to diagnose the damage. We saw a slice through the tube, but no matching slice that would have indicated a pinch flat. Rob confirmed the tire itself contained no puncture debris. So, assuming it was a pinch flat, a new tube was installed, and pumped up, and we set off. 

The ensuing roads ahead were a series of rolling hills that mostly descended, so we were quick to pick up speed here. I kelp checking behind me, seeing neither Tim nor Brenda’s headlight, but with the rolling hills it was hard to tell if they simply hadn’t quite crested the last one. FInally, after about 5kms, We came to a stop sign and Tim came over the final roller yelling “FLAT!”. Brenda’s new tube hadn’t lasted a minute, and Tim had to chase us down to ensure we stayed together. As we climbed back up through the rollers I felt a huge pang of guilt leaving a teammate alone by the side of the road, in the rain, in the middle of the night, and apologized to them both. 

Brenda’s issue turned out to be frayed rim tape that was cutting into her tube. Ever the boy scout, Dave had some electrical tape wrapped around the handle of a tool. We used this tape inside the rim to smooth out the frayed areas, repumped the tire, said a prayer to the bike gods, and were on our way again. 

We didn’t check-in to Mississauga until after 4AM. I conceded to Tim that 500kms was looking like a bit of a stretch goal at this point, but Tim confirmed that we could still be credited with a completed Fleche by knocking up to 20% of our distance off the route. 400kms in 14 remaining hours? I knew this team could do that on a nice day. We’d need some cooperation from Mother Nature though. 

* * *

JUNGAH: In the wee hours of the morning we started watching the radar and the sky much more closely. We’d had a lot of wind through the night, but so far no rain. Our plan was to have a quick bite in Brockville and to have a proper full breakfast at a legit diner in Athens. On top of this was to be dry at breakfast. If we could beat the rain to Athens, we could enjoy a comfortable meal and then prepare ourselves for the wet ride ahead. 

With this in mind we picked up the pace and pulled into Brockville at 5:30AM. I remember saying to Guy that we might be a bit early, since the breakfast diner in Athens doesn’t open until for another couple of hours, and now we were only 30kms away. We were going to have to kill some time somewhere, or find another place to eat further along the route. But we resolved to figure that detail out later.  

The problem right now was that our 24 hour McDonald’s control was….you guessed it….closed!  Guy even rode through the drive-thru, but it was completely dark. Thankfully though, there was a SubWay open a block away, so we pulled in there.  

Once inside, I sat down on one of their bench tables, removed my riding vest, and closed my eyes. When I opened them again, I checked my watch. It was 7am — a full 90 minutes had passed! Both Peter and Guy were sitting opposite each other, each sitting upright leaned up against the wall fast asleep. It was now fully morning and the place was full of customers lined up ordering food. Slightly embarrassed, I roused the other two, and the three of us pulled ourselves together and got back on the bikes. 

“I guess we’re going to have nice breakfast in Athens after all” Guy said to me. 

* * *

FRED: The sun was up by the time we were riding through Toronto proper, and the morning traffic was flowing. Riding through the big city in the waking hours was certainly never our intention, but here we were. The presence of traffic meant that we were stopping a lot more, and when we were moving, the wet conditions ensured we were very moderately paced to stay safe. Realizing we were now through Mississauga, I asked Dave how hard it was to ride so close to his home without bailing. He confirmed that he’d be lying if he said the thought didn’t cross his mind. 

Marc called me as we were riding over the Prince Edward viaduct on Bloor St. that passes over the Don Valley. 

“I don’t know where Vaune’s house is, and I can’t bring the trailer into this neighborhood, so I need to park it a few blocks away.” he said. 

“No problem. The address in marked on the POI on the route” I confirmed, and let him know we were almost there. 

Vaune Davis is a legendary randonneuse from the Toronto chapter that, upon hearing about our route passing through Toronto, kindly offered to open her home up as a control stop. She waved us down from her back deck we parked our bikes in her yard, and went inside. The place smelled like a wonderful mix of waffles, spaghetti, and warmth. But given the state of us, Vaune shifted immediately from gracious hostess to war zone rescue medic. 

“Quick, come in, take anything you need off! Don’t worry about the floor!” she said, ushering me inside. 

“Hi, I’m Fred” I said, stalling in the entryway. 

“We don’t need to do this right now…here, come in, take this wet stuff off!” Vaune replied in haste. I guess I really appreciated her focus. 

Vaune had a lovely home which we wasted no time turning into an absolute disaster area. I was still standing in the foyer unsure of where to put my wet gear when I saw Tim walking around shirtless, and Rob had nothing on but a towel. Vaune was ushering around, with towels on her feet, mopping up everywhere we went. Then Marc finally showed up. Apparently the address I’d written down was off by a digit, and Marc had roused one of Vaune’s neighbours before finding the correct home. Marc was wearing civilized clothing and had remained dry all night, so surely he was not as scary looking as I might have been if I’d made the same mistake. 

Vaune had prepared pasta for us, which we all ate ravenously. I remember her commenting about the fact that she couldn’t remember the last time she had so many half-naked people in her kitchen — I was glad to see she was taking some enjoyment out of the fact that we were laying waste to her home. 

Once I had eaten, I stretched out on the couch and caught up on digital life. I checked the club slack app, and saw a few members who were following Guy’s SPOT tracker had noticed they’d been stopped in Brockville for quite some time, and were wondering if everything was okay. This prompted me to shoot a text over to JungAh to see where they were and how they were doing. She confirmed here that they’d spent some time in Brockville, and were now enjoying a nice breakfast. Also that while they’d battled wind through the night, their adventures with the rain were only just starting. 

I also had an email from another Toronto randonneur, Paul Young. He said he’d settled in at a Starbucks further up our route on the eastern edge of Scarborough and was expecting us to come by soon and was hoping to wave us on. He noticed our tracker had stopped for awhile and wanted to know if everything was okay. I responded to him, thanking him for his interest, but said we’d taken refuge at a control and were probably going to maximize our two-hour stop limit here while we dried off and warmed up. Randonneuring people are awesome. 

After that, taking the lead from my teammates, I may, or may not have slept for a few minutes. 

By about 8:30 we needed to get moving as we were coming up to the end of our 2 hour stop limit. Our clothes had been dried in Vaune’s dryer, our shoes had been sitting on various registers, our bellies were full, and our spirits were lifted. 

I was the first to head outside, back into the rain, and mount my bicycle. As I was opening up the back deck to head out into the street I saw a brightly coloured riding jacket on the other side of the gate. Paul Young had used my Garmin LiveTrack to pinpoint our location, and was coming for a visit. We chatted while the others got themselves together, then Paul wished us well as we left Vaune’s, eastbound into more rain. (Sorry about the mess Vaune!!)

* * *

JUNGAH: We made it to Athens just after 8AM just as the diner opened, and were just sitting down at a table before the skies opened up. Perfect timing! Apparently Guy and Peter had eaten at the SubWay while I slept like a corpse beside them so they weren’t as hungry as I was. I ordered a platter with some name like “The Hungry Man” and my teammates just watched me devour the whole thing. Apparently I was pretty impressive. It was here that I also got a text from Fred on the Huron team. He said were just getting ready to leave after a long stop drying off in Toronto. I let him know the rain had just started where we were. 

I left Athens very happy. I had my first big meal of the day, and we were even able to head out without our rain gear on because the rain had let up. However within thirty minutes, it started pouring again. Peter and Guy stopped to put on their rain gear — they both had really fancy rain pants and everything. At first I was still in a bit of denial — I just kept hoping the rain would stop, so I kept moving. I would ride back and forth while the two were changing just to keep my core temperature up. Eventually though, when it became obvious that the rain wouldn’t stop, I too  put my jacket on so I would keep warm, if not dry. We still had pretty bad headwind, and combined with the rain, it was beating me up pretty hard. 

Our route passed between Lower Beverley Lake and Charleston lake, and we started to see a lot more climbing. To this point a lot of what we’d seen was just flat farm land, but now I was starting to hit the nice hills, and I was having a lot of fun. Just as we turned onto Burnt Hills Rd though Guy decided it was time to have a flat tire. We all stopped, but the mosquitos just swarmed me. So while Peter and Guy worked on repairing the flat, I rode back and forth up and down the hills. I probably added an extra five to ten kilometers to my ride before the two were ready to go again.

We pulled into Battersea just after noon, the control being a small corner store.  I was actually still full from my big breakfast so I didn’t need much at this stop. 

Checking in on our pace, we had about seven and-a-half hours to cover the remaining hundred kilometers to Belleville, which, even with the rain and wind, was looking pretty fast. So we rode on thinking we’d take a longer stop at our next control in Camden East. 

* * *

FRED: The ride out of the GTA was a grind. We rode through Scarborough along Kingston Rd, which was full of potholes and parked cars, and the Toronto city buses offered absolutely no passing buffer when passing a string of brightly coloured cyclists. We endured Lawrence Ave. and eventually Bloor St. through Oshawa, which was akin to pedaling on the side of a 400 series highway. There wasn’t much talking between our team during this stretch since the noise of the vehicles splashing through puddles of their own was so loud we wouldn’t hear each other anyway. 

Still with the goal of making 400kms in mind, we made for a quick control stop in Pickering, but we were only ten minutes on the road before I admitted to Dave that I didn’t feel mentally ready to take on another leg without rest at that last stop. 

Between Oshawa, through Bowmanville, to Coburg we had some interesting terrain choices. We finally left the loud busy highway in favour of Oshawa’s waterfront bike path. However any relief the group thought they’d get was dashed away by the realization that the river had breached it’s banks and was now washing all sorts of debris into the pathway — sometimes covering it entirely in murky water. 

Just past Bowmanville we had another bit where the trail should have run through a field on some hardpack, but the rain had turned it completely to ankle deep mud and we had to hike our bikes about 500m through the field just to get back on tarmac. 

It was along this hike-a-bike where I probably admitted to myself that even 400kms was not going to be achievable in a 24hr period. 

* * *

JUNGAH: The afternoon was a quiet ride. There wasn’t much left to talk about amongst the team. The three of us just rode through the rain and endured. Just before three in the afternoon arrived at Camden East – a small hamlet to the north-east of Napanee, and at 315kms it was the site of our final control before arriving in Belleville. 

We walked into the corner store in Camden East, and every step we took resulted in a big puddle. I went straight to the washroom to wash off the road debris from my face, and to dry off as much as I could. 

Feeling a little more human I went back out into the store area and found Guy and Peter at the back of the store, sitting shamelessly in puddles of their own making, and eating slices of pizza. The store was narrow, and customers were literally stepping over the two randonneurs, and their puddles, to make their way around the store.  

By the time I settled myself, I didn’t really notice Guy had disappeared, but he suddenly re-emerged from the stairwell he’d been hiding in, fully dressed in dry clothing. 

“You just changed? What’s up there?” I asked him. 

“Just a storage room.” he replied. 

“Do you think I could sleep there?” I asked, knowing we had at least an hour to kill here. 

Guy shrugged. “Sure. I don’t see why not?”. 

I went upstairs into the closet area, which was big enough to have a lay down, and settled myself to sleep.

* * *

FRED: Soaking wet, cold, and all tired — the six of us sat around a Tim Horton’s table next to a fireplace and discussed our options. 

“It’s 4 o’clock, and we’re at 340kms” Tim said. “At this point, I just want to know what everyone wants to do.”

“Honestly, I’m ready to stop.” I admitted. I took no shame in being the first to say it. There was a long silence, so I continued. “But here’s the thing: Ottawa’s now battling through the same rain we’ve had all night. Their route is about 370kms. We aren’t far from that ourselves. We can’t beat them at this point, but we can still meet that distance. And I think that’s a good way to finish this ride with my pride in tact.”

If anyone hated me for suggesting we continue, they were kind enough not to tell me. But I think most liked the idea of bringing the ride right to the 11th hour — after all — we couldn’t get any more wet than we already were, right? 

We gave Marc instructions on where to park the truck, roughly 30kms from our control, and we set out. Because of our delay, we really only had just over an hour before our 6PM cutoff, so the five of us just hammered our pace, averaging well over 30kph. I had lost Tim, Brenda, and Rob in the fog ahead of me, and could only make out Dave’s headlight behind me, but by the time my Garmin read 6PM, the three in front had stopped. We called Marc — he was about 1 kilometer up the road. So we ended our ride recordings, gave each other high-fives for making 370kms, and rode out to our trailer. 

It may have started pouring heavier when we were loaded into the truck, or maybe I just noticed it more. Or maybe, now that I was done, I was just empathetic to my Ottawa compatriots who still had two hours left in their own ride. 

* * *

JUNGAH: It continued to rain all the way into Belleville. The route ended up on some really nice park paths that followed the river. This was such a nice way to end the ride, and it was here that I really appreciated the effort that Peter put into mapping and pre-scouting this route. 

We arrived at the destination Tim Horton’s on Dundas street around 7PM, right on target. Vytas and Colleen were there to meet us. Vytas confirmed he hadn’t seen any sign of the Huron team, so we weren’t sure at this point what happened to them — but we knew we’d be meeting them for dinner at the Belleville Boathouse in an hour, so we assumed they were at their hotel getting dried off.

=-=-=-=-=- Ride Conclusion –=-=-=-=-=

In the end The Mangeurs de Fleche form Ottawa will take the award for this year’s Fleche, having completed their 370km course in the 24 hour time period. The Quintuplets de Belleville team from Huron, being unable to complete their audacious 500km target, had to cede this victory.

However the competition of the event was long forgotten by the time the two teams met for dinner. The sun had come out right on schedule that evening, just as the Ottawa team pulled into their stop. It wouldn’t leave for the remainder of the week, providing the province of Ontario with a sunny and warm May long-weekend. 

The teams dined together at the Belleville Boathouse, sharing each their own stories from the road. They met again for breakfast the next day prior to heading home in respectively different directions. 

A wet, soggy Fleche, but certainly one to remember.

Radonneurs Ontario Fleche: May 2023
Left to right: Tim, Peter, Vytas, Guy, Marc, JungAh, Dave, Brenda, Fred, Rob
Notice how nice it is outside!

The Great Canada Bicycle Tour 600km brevet ride report by Martin Cooper

The Great Canada Bicycle Tour 600km 


On May 6-7 I participated in an amazing 600 km bicycle tour of southern Ontario first undertaken by the Chicago Bicycle Club in 1883. Of course, their ride pre-dated the invention of the inflatable tire and was done on heavy steel penny-farthing bicycles.  While they spent more than one-week touring Ontario, we had to complete the same route in under 40 hours, including time spent stopping for food and sleep.  In addition, the Chicago wheelmen were fully supported, while our ride was self-supported except for the overnight. The route began in Windsor and ended in Burlington.  

Not only was this the 140th anniversary of the Chicago club’s Great Canada Bicycle Tour it is also the 40th anniversary of Randonneurs Ontario, a long-distance cycling club affiliated with Audax Club Parisien (ACP), which organizes the oldest continuous cycling event in the world: Paris Brest Paris (PBP). PBP was first done in 1893 and is now held every four years. This year happens to be a PBP year and many Randonneurs Ontario members are doing the necessary rides to qualify for PBP, which will be held in mid-August. To qualify you need to successfully complete a series of 200, 300, 400 and 600 km brevets before the end of June. A ride of this distance so early in the season is challenging for most of the participants. I had already done a 200 km brevet in mid-April and at the end of April a very challenging Creemore Classic 400km brevet that started in Port Elgin, where we had multiple climbs of the Niagara escarpment in the Collingwood area and -6C temperatures on the way back to Port Elgin. We finished in just under 25 hours, including a 45-minute sleep stop in the vestibule of a low-rise apartment in Chatsworth. We rolled into Port Elgin as the sun rose, the surrounding farmland was cloaked in heavy hoar frost which reminded me that Port Elgin was located north, at the base of the Bruce Peninsula.   

Route Design 

The GCBT 600 route was carefully conceived of and designed by John Cumming, a club member who lives in Ilderton. Here is a link to his detailed report.  John used the original detailed accounts of the Chicago wheelmen’s epic and audacious tour and the 1878 Illustrated Historical County Atlases that we are all familiar with, charted out a route that matched as closely as possible the original route. This involved the Counties of Essex, Elgin, Middlesex, Huron, Perth, Oxford, Waterloo, Brant, Wentworth, and Halton! John’s father founded Mika Press and was responsible for the reproduction of most of the county atlases in the 1960s. Of course, wherever possible quiet roads running parallel to busy thoroughfares were chosen for our route. The controls where we have our brevet cards signed to verify passage, wherever possible were the locations the original tour visited, ate, and slept. For example, our overnight in Goderich was in the historic Bedford Hotel, while the control in London was the Griggs Hotel, which still operates as a restaurant. In addition, our route toured around the historic districts of each city we cycled through including Windsor, St. Thomas, London, Goderich, Stratford, Paris, Brantford, and Hamilton.  Our RideWithGPS generated route also included various notations and quotes from the 1883 ride report. Of particular note are the references to each city’s suitability and potential for good cycling. 

The Ride 

At 5:00 AM on May 6, 26 cyclists started the GCBT 600 at Great Western Park on the Windsor waterfront facing the skyline of Detroit and travelled through the historic Walkerville district, which was home to a number of large distilleries, heading southwest through the farmland of Essex County to the north shore of Lake Erie.  Typically, favourable southwest winds provide a nice tailwind on most of the route but to our chagrin the wind was blowing from the east and southeast for the next two days which meant headwinds and crosswinds for most of the ride. This proved to be especially challenging for the first 200 km following the flat and exposed north shore of Lake Erie to St. Thomas. To mitigate the effects of the crosswind I rode for a while with a group of about a dozen riders who were in an echelon formation.  I found after several hours that they were going too fast for my liking and anyway I prefer riding on my own and at my own erratic pace even if it meant being buffeted by the wind.  As I passed the statue of Jumbo the elephant in St. Thomas, I was relieved to know that the next 175 km northwest to the overnight in Goderich would provide some relief from the wind. At the St. Thomas control I joined up with another rider, John Kieffer who had also decided to ride at his own pace. Arriving in London around 6:00 PM we decided not to stop for dinner but to push on, grabbing some food in Lucan, where we passed by St. Patrick’s cemetery where the Donnelly’s are buried just as the sun was setting and feeling relieved that it wasn’t yet dark. Five members of the Donnelly family were murdered in 1880, three years before the first GCBT. We arrived in Goderich just after midnight after cycling for almost 20 hours over 375 km. The Bedford Hotel is in Courthouse Square in the interesting and unique historic core of Goderich. The Bedford was there in 1883 and probably had not been upgraded since but we were welcomed by club volunteers, John Cumming, Carey Chappelle, Jim Morris and Con Melady who directed us to a large room on the main floor that held our bikes and drop bags and then to the third floor where there was hot food and cold beer. I made my way to my room, took a well-deserved shower, and then slept the sleep of the dead for three hours.

After a breakfast of hot oats, I headed out on my own in the dark at 5:30 AM, knowing that the forecast for the second day was headwinds all the way to the finish with the added news that there was an 80% chance of rain for the rest of the day and temperatures ranging from 6 to 10 degrees C. Shortly after, cycling along the Maitland River I witnessed a spectacular sun rise consisting of brilliant scarlet and deep indigo, reminding the sailor in me that it forecasted a day of hostile weather. About two hours later while pushing against a brutal headwind I saw a flash of lightning and an instant crack of thunder, which always makes me seek cover but remember, perhaps wrongly, that I am safe being of compact stature and riding on a carbon bike shod with rubber.  Soon after the rain started, I rolled into a tree covered ditch and put on all my rain gear. It continued to rain heavily until I arrived in Stratford at 465 km and just before 11:00 AM. The control restaurant featuring an all-day breakfast was lined up with tourists and locals.  I searched around for an alternative as 6 or 7 other randonneurs also arrived looking for a place to eat and get warm. I left Stratford and headed into the wind to the next control at Brantford some 90 km away. The weather began to clear as I cycled through Tavistock and then Paris where the route crossed the Grand River. I arrived at the Branford control just before 5:00 PM.  The control was a Tim Hortons and there were at least a dozen riders who were, in Bob Segar’s words: “strung out from the road”.  We were all in various states of hunger, nausea, physical pain, exhaustion, and determination to get this thing done.  With 50 km to the finish no one wanted to linger too long. I joined up again with John Kieffer and we cycled on, actually enjoying the rolling hills and scenic views of the Jerseyville Road. Just as were getting into Hamilton we noticed that the wind had finally died down. We enjoyed the long but chilly descent down the escarpment to the lake and a great tour of Hamilton’s working-class north end where my grandfather lived when he first came to Canada in 1913. We were getting a little concerned as we entered the final hour before the 40-hour cut off, that we could get held up by traffic, mechanical problems or getting lost. Despite some navigational mistakes we rolled into the final control at Aldershot Station with 31 minutes to spare. Although there are no easy 600’s, this one was the most challenging I have ever done but also the most remarkable.  

The Great Canada Bicycle Tour 600km brevet ride report by Michael Charland

How not to Ride a Brevet – A Long-winded Tale


The Great Canadian Bicycle Ride Tour (GCBT) is a 600km bike ride in honour of the 140th anniversary of the original ride done done in 1883. For a great in-depth article see: https://blog.randonneursontario.ca/?p=1361. It was held on May 6th and 7th of 2023.

The Day Before… 

I chose to ride from home to Burlington which was about 100km. Long term plans here are get use to riding consecutive long-distance rides. Ride went super smooth as I took it really, really easy. I road through Joe Sames Leisure Park which was really nice. I arrived at around 11:30AM after a quick stop getting food in Waterdown. Bike drop off was super smooth and the guys were super nice and I felt my bike was in excellent hands. I then walked around the VIA station looking for a bathroom to get changed and where to wait for the train. After that I found the other Randonneurs and we talked until the train arrived. Minor scare we heard last call for the train and the train hadn’t even arrived yet. Thankfully the train showed up slightly after that. The train ride went smooth, there was about a 30min delay in the middle of nowhere as we waited for another train to go the other way. We arrived in Windsor just after 5PM and all the bikes were setup out front. I found the group of guys I was sharing the Airbnb and we slow rolled over to it. It was on Riverside drive near the start of the ride. After that I wandered around Windsor and ate an awesome dinner at Nooch. Then back to the Airbnb to get off my feet and try to get to sleep. Slept like crap as cars are always driving on Riverside. Some racing in the middle of the night. It was really nice of the host to provide ear plugs, but at the same time a little worrisome.

The Day Of… 

I woke around 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. So, I read on my tablet for a bit. I pushed my “I’ve read for at least 5min every day” to 1219 and then went for a short 10 min run to push that consecutive day streak to 495. It was nice and warm and quiet outside. Then tried to eat a couple of figs, bug my stomach felt like shit as I don’t normally eat at 4:10AM. I started to get ready and judging by my run and checking the weather forecast thought I could wear bib shorts, undershirt, jersey, and arm warmers. But when I was going to leave, I quickly realized it was much colder than I thought. Also, I remembered that it’s always colder in the countryside. So, I quickly changed into my bib pants and finotherm. I was last out of the house, locked it up, and rolled to the bag drop off. Which was absolutely fantastic. I wouldn’t have to ride with my pannier. The start was little down the trail and I was one of the first 10 people there. I got my brevet card, tried to talk to some people. I suck at starting conversations. Eventually a bunch more people showed up and we all pushed off just after 5AM. Nice and slowly on the trail for maybe 400m. When we got to the road the fast group started pushing the pace and I decided to go with them. This was a lot of fun rolling through the intersections working our way out of town. I eventually got dropped as I didn’t want to go too hard, too early, so I spun at my own pace as we left town. Eventually on some dark ass street a large group caught up to me and I talked to Brenda for a while which was super nice. We then missed a turn, went back then nearly went on the wrong road again, and finally found the correct road which ended in a bit of gravel, then teeny tiny bridge, which I snapped a picture of people crossing. After we crossed the bridge, nearly everyone, except John and I made the light. I was hoping to catch up to the group but then got stopped at the next light and was going to roll through but there were some cars coming so made quick stop, unfortunately I didn’t clearly communicate this to John and brushed by me. we were both fine. The light ended up turning really quickly and cars didn’t make it through. Then John and I road together for a while. A group of three of the guys I stayed with at the Airbnb caught up to us and we all rolled together. John did some great pulls and we rolled smoothly until we nearly missed a corner and I another rider accidentally slowly ran into me. We both fell to the group. He ended up being fine, but bent his hanger. Him and his friends fixed the hanger. I was really cool seeing them work as a team. I slightly bruised my hip and knee. Bike was fine. This all happened less than a km before the first check point.

First Check Point

John and I eventually got going again and rolled into the Tim Hortons first check point. We signed each other cards. By luck the big in front of us was just about to leave and I really wanted to ride with them. So left early. I had barely drank on ate anything and felt good. There was one guy in front of me and I was going to slow roll and let the group catch up, but I missed the first major and road maybe 0.5km the wrong way before realizing I was off track. I got back on course, then proceeeded to go off course again. Finally I found the correct road. I then road for a long while without seeing a sole. I eventually got to detour and couldn’t ride my bike through it. So I pushed my bike for a bit then rode the smooth sections. I stopped in Wheatley to refill and remembered stopping there last year during the Erie Oh 300. I got to the second control and the AirBnb guys showed up just after I got there. Somewhere between the checkpoints I lost my brevet card. I don’t know what happened to it. I think I put it with my cell phone and pulled out my once and maybe the card was attached and flew off. 

Second Check Point 

Thinking I was DQed because of the loss of my cards, I was already planning ways to get out of finishing. But the AirBnb guys said as long as I signed their card and took pictures with them it would be all good. But we had to stick together the rest of the day or at least meet up at checkpoints. I was low on liquids and had found the Blenheim Variety store to get refilled. After buying some Gatorade and real fruit gummies, my Garmin decided that it was time to fuck the directions and head straight to Goderich. I reloaded the route in which I had split before hand into two days and it did the same stupid thing. I saved my ride and reloaded the route, same problem. So now, not having directions I resorted to opening up the RideWithGPS app on my phone and it wouldn’t load it. I kept getting some bull shit error message like “Route could not be found” even though I had favourited it beforehand. Eventually after about 5 tries it downloaded and I went to start a ride, but you have to be a premium user to download the route and do turn by turn directions. I don’t have a phone mount on my bike so I signed up for premium. Luckily there was a free save day trial period. I finally got rolling again. The turn by turn directions worked great to get out Blenheim. “Turn left in 50 meters onto …“, and a couple of minutes later “In 73km turn right”. Not thinking much about it I rode into the headwind, trying to think of strategies to break down riding 73km at roughly 20km per hour. Stupid headwind. So I slowly chugged along, further thinking of ways to quit. I stopped a bunch of times, some times I just got off my bike and walked it along the side of the road. My ass was sore as my new bike (<100 km) wasn’t magically fitting me. I eventually caught up to the AirBnb guys and was feeling ok, but really fucking hating the headwind. I stupidly had a time I wanted to be in St Thomas by and was now hours behind that. Also RideWithGPS had ate through 25% of my battery in less then an hour. So I turned it off. I didn’t need directions for another 45km. But now what the fuck was I going to do. I stupidly packed my phone charge cable in my pannier, because I never have phone battery life issues. But today, podcasts had also ate my 23% of my battery, so I was under 50% and now even half way through the ride. Eventually Nick and Vytas came rolling by as I was not giving a fuck sitting on the side of the road and I rolled with them for a while. Super nice guys. The AirBnb guys caught us and we all rolled together until Wallacetown. Nick and Vytas kept going, the AirBnb guys made a quick stop, and I couldn’t give a fuck and stayed for a while. Then I rode to St Thomas, the wind had shifted so I started rolling a little better. I passed the AirBnb resting under a tree. It looked so nice, I was tempted to stop with them. But I wanted to get to St Thomas. I was trying to problem solve for a charge cable. I know there’s a Wal-Mart in St Thomas, but it’s on the other side of town. 

Third Check Point 

Eventually I got to St Thomas. Sat in the Tim Hortons and gave up. I phoned my wife, who phoned her parents who live by and they came and got me. I didn’t want to ride into the night, and stupidly thinking I still had a 100 miles to and judging my current speed I wouldn’t get to Goderich to well after midnight. I’ve only ever rode once over midnight and that’s when I started at 11AM and a fantastic ride. Not today. I texted Chappie that I was DNFing. We arranged when I could pick my bag up the next. The in-laws let me borrow one of their vehicles and I drove my sorry ass home. As I was leaving Vytas said “You could ride with us” and I had already quit by then, but am so thankful to those nice words. I ended up riding 219km in 9:55 of riding and 11:52 elapsed. 

Lessons Learned 

Problem: My Garmin route will fail at some time, what the fuck am I going to do about it? 

Solution: Split the route into per checkpoint, and make sure they are available in RideWithGPS. My guess is that there were to many points and it got fucked up someway. Less points hopefully will make this less likely to happen. Worst case here I pay for RideWithGPS and do turn by turn. 

Problem: Phone Battery Dying / Draining quicker than anticipated. 

Solution: I Had a fucking charge block but couldn’t charge my phone so always pack a charge cable. I’m also going to purchase a battery case that I could charge my phone and still listen to music / get directions and charge the battery case. 

Problem: Losing my Brevet Card 

Solution: I’ve done this twice now after a check point I get the card signed then put it my jersey pocket. I need to find a secure location ot put it. I think beside my charge block in the top tube bag would be the best place for it. 

Problem: Indoor Brevets != Outdoor Brevets 

Solution: Well duh. But there are things I can do to make them more similar. Indoor brevets are ultra convenient and I can help my family out when needed. When I rode the 400km, I make my son, and daughter breakfast and lunch, and helped out with dinner. I need to ride for more similar distances / times that outdoor brevets would have. For example the checkpoints where 70km apart, I should ride for that distance. And only have the food / drinks needed for that period. Also you know, ride outside. 

Problem: How much to eat? 

Solution: I should be eating roughly 60 grams of carbs per hour. I need to keep better track of what I’m eating on training rides to know better how much to eat. 

Problem: Worry about not getting to certain places at the pace I thought I could maintain? 

Solution: Plan on times based off of cut off times. So if I’m not ahead I’m not finishing. Also add an average speed field to my Garmin based off of elapsed time, not riding time. I just need to keep that number above 15km/h. 

Problem: Not having experienced afternoon / night rides 

Solution: Work a normal day, then go for a 100+ride. 

Problem: Not having my gear dialed in for the longer rides. 

Solution: I heard this advice before, but ignored it, gear up for a shorter ride with what you would need for a longer ride. I’ve done a bunch of 200’s with bare minimum on my light road bike so my time ended up being really fast. I even stretched this to a 400km. But for me this doesn’t scale. I don’t feel comfortable riding a 600km ultra light, so I’ll end up going much slower. 

Problem: My lips got chapped to hell 

Solution: Bring lip balm 

Problem: Not feeling like I can put out any power. 

Solution: Not racing an ultra the week before didn’t help as I get this feeling like I can’t / refuse to push. I’ve updated my training calendar to block out two weeks before and after events. I understand the recovery for running vs riding is different, but this will hopefully help me not over commit / set myself up for failure in the future. Also working on longer tempo intervals outside would be helpful. 

Problem: Hot feet 

Solution: New shoes? Meta tarsal pads? I’ve put 10k on my current shoes and still get hot feet on my road bike and touring bike. Not sure what to do here. 

Problem: Fucking tired 

Solution: Rest more, realize I have more time left. I gave up roughly 12 hours in, there was still 28 hours to go. I couldn’t have stayed in St Thomas for an hour or longer then continued on. I think if I do more rando rides the experiences will help with dealing with this. Also I was thinking about doing something like a ride as far as you can in a 24 hour period or align it cut off times. So I could spent a weekend riding as far as I could for 40 hours. 

Problem: Still going? 

Solution: This is a weird one as I had paid for my VIA ticket, and hotel rooms so I was quite committed, but I didn’t ended up doing the 200km outside it ended up snowing and be shit as cold, next one because of family commitments then the weather was absolutely shit the next weekend, and finally the last chance was too close (3 days) to my Ultra for me to ride. Yes I did ride two 200’s, one 300, and one 400 virtually, but as noted before these aren’t the same. 

Next Up? 

Unsure, might ride the 300km Simcoe Lake Loop on the 28th.

Kemble Rock 200km ride report by Carey Chappelle

Huron Chapter’s Kemble Rock 200km Brevet!

The Kemble Rock 200 held this past Wednesday had 5 Ontario Randonneurs Signed Up! Only 4 Showed Up Ready to Go! Rob Shedden didn’t show up, so he gets credit as the SMARTEST RANDONNEUR of all! 

John Kieffer took this pic of the other 3 Starters, Chris Cossonnet, Carey Chappelle and John Cumming

I had received a few emails prior to the ride wrt the Weather Forecast. Having seen Sunshine in the morning with 31km winds from the SW changing midday to 52km winds from the NW and a Wind Gust of 72 km / hr and SNOW that would last through the evening, I let everyone know the first 150 km or so would be to our advantage!

John Cummings was not concerned about the weather, here is the photo of his home for a few days  … the Orange Tent! At Night the Temp went down to -5 deg C!

So off we went! As we approached Shallow Lake, clouds took over! Fortunately we were able to get a pic of the Boys in the Flinstone’s Car!

Johnny C, Chris C and John K!

Heading to the First Control in Wiarton, the SNOW started coming down.

The SNOW started getting heavy as we headed towards North Keppel Heights

 North Keppel Heights!

Arriving in Wiarton with almost 2 hrs in the bank, we decided to get our Control Cards Signed, treat ourselves, then head out. Scenery along Georgian Bay was Gorgeous, the Wind had picked up, Snow was Steady and it was a little Cooler.  I knew we were headed toward the Kemble Mountain Drop and mentioned to everyone to make sure their brakes worked and that we should keep our downhill slower due to the possibility of ICE!  John Kieffer loved the Scenery from the top of Kemble Mountain! Everyone made it down safely and we continued heading towards the next Control in Owen Sound.  The SECOND SMARTEST RANDONNEUR, Chris Cossonnet quietly called his wife and asked her to come pick him up at the next Control … things were getting a little bit DANGEROUS! Everyone lost use of their rear derailleurs and front derailleurs, which were both frozen with ICE! Everyone made sure their brakes worked! Somehow my chainring wouldn’t connect and as I got close to the Control in Owen Sound I thought I may have to DNF. Once at the Control, we had our lunch and I asked Chris and his wife Vickie to hang around for a few minutes. John Cumming mentioned that he poured  Coffee on his rear cassette on his way into Owen Sound and his gearing worked. I asked for 3 XL Cups of HOT Water from Tim Hortons, poured them on my chain, front and rear derailleurs then did a test ride in the parking lot … YAHOO everything worked PERFECT! Chris and Vickie wished us well and headed home.

Notice the ICE!

John Cumming, John Kieffer and myself left the Control in Owen Sound together and planned on staying together for the rest of the Brevet. Safety First. Over time Johnny C slipped off the back, John K and myself stayed together and the two of us arrived at the last Control in Chesley. John K had forgotten to tie his Cycling Boot on his right foot, snow had gotten in, melted then turned to ICE. He had extra socks so took the time to put a dry one on after we had our Control Cards Signed. Wondering where Johnny C was, we looked at the time we had left to finish this Brevet, we knew how TUFF this section was going to be with the 50 – 71 km/hr HEADWINDS and decided to head out.

Chesley to Paisley was ~ 16km, the WIND was INCREDIBLY STRONG!. I wish I could have taken a picture of John K on a 45 deg angle pedalling into it! On route the THIRD SMARTEST RANDONNEUR John Cumming messaged me, letting me know his Sister-in-law was picking him up in Chesley and he was going to pass on the last 40km!

It took John and myself just over an hour to get to Paisley. John’s foot was now numb and he had to find a place to warm up. So we agreed to spend 10 mins in the Bonfire on Queen to improve things. Staff were quite interested in what we were up to, provided us with water and wished us well.

John took this photo and wrote: “Paisley Pizza, before Darkness and the Real Hell Begins!”

Just so you know, we didn’t have Pizza! Wish we could have. So, leaving Paisley, we climbed the Escarpment, warming up as we headed towards the Finish. This section … I don’t remember seeing more than 2 automobiles … the SNOW covered the road in many spots and so did ICE! It was tough for both of us staying in a straight line! We both were back to Single Speeds and had to get off and walk a few hills. Back on the bike, I went A** Over Tea Kettle in the middle of the road! It was Dark but I could see John just ahead of me walking again. Stood up and almost fell again! Walked a section until I was comfortable attempting to get back on the bike. Pedalling together, we were all over the road, thankfully we had mirrors and we saw next to no traffic. Our behaviour from here to the Finish suggested we were suffering Hypothermia. Arriving at Tim Horton’s, the FINISH we had our Control Cards Signed and headed over to the Queen’s for a Pint and something to eat. I forgot that my wife was getting us PIZZA for supper. I decided for some reason to bring my bike into the restaurant and left it by the bar. Enjoying a PINT, a Manager comes over and starts mopping up the floor … then asked who thought they could bring their bike into the restaurant and let the snow melt all over the floor … I put my hand up and she tore a well deserved strip off me and cut the two of us off. I Thank John for paying the Bill! We headed back to my place and I convinced John to spend the night. My loving Wife had Pizza and 1664’s  for both of us! The two of us took off our cycling shoes, nothing more( trying to stay warm) and sat down for dinner. After seeing me eat a little, Donna suggested I take a Shower, Change and that I’d feel more like eating. Off I went … Showered then Hit the Hay! 

John Kieffer and myself agree that this is the TOUGHEST 200 we have ever done!

PS: This Gorgeous Kemble Rock Went from HEAVEN TO HELL!

“As we remember it…” a conversation by Howard Rogers and Phil Mallette

Howard: My early recollection was that Jim Griffin and I went out for a meal to get ourselves stuffed up with lots of pasta and to get to the start pretty early. He returned to the hotel to prepare the bicycles at around about 11p.m. suppose, only to be told we couldn’t go into the courtyard where our bicycles were kept to get them ready. After 20 mtnutes of arguing we were contemplating all sorts of dastardly deeds to the poor bastard behind the desk. He didn’t seem to understand that it was exceedingly important for us to get our two bicycles and to get to the start of the event. He didn’t believe that we were really leaving the hotel at that hour. He didn’t believe that we were going to pay our bill. This man was the most suspicious man you’ve ever met in your life. The end result was that I was considering clambering over the desk and punching him, or at least holding him while Jim went and got the bikes. I was also considering punching the fire alarm and waking the entire hotel, including the slumbering patron, the person this twit feared most. He finally succumbed to the temptation to actually allow us to have our bicycles. A wise move, possibly just saving his life which, I think he realized, was in jeopardy. After having spent some time preparing the bikes and having a fitful rest, we were confronted at leaving time, with a torrential dowmpour. This naturally necessitated getting into the rain gear and heading to Reuil Malmaison for the 4am start. What better prospect than a cold and soggy 1200km ride!

Phil: I got to Reuil Malmaison on Saturday morning to see what the place was like so I wouldn’t get lost since I was riding from a hotel in Paris. My lights didn’t work. and I was checking everything over while I was there and just seeing who else was hanging around. It started to rain like hell, and this older gentleman from across the street came over and started a conversation and asked me if I wanted to fix ay bike in his garage. As it turned out he was Randonneur himself and a former racer, and I put my bike up on his rack and fixed the light which wasn’t grounded properly. Then he shoved me all of his racing memorabilia. He had been an amateur racer and had black and white pictures from the old cycling magazines. He showed se some pictures of him winning races, and as a randonneur, the badges from the rides he’d done. I saw him too the day we left. He was hanging out of his window upstairs and he gave me a big wave when we took off. For the dinner on the Saturday, there was a 2 1/2 hour line up. We got in to eat about 9:30 and the dinner menu was the beginning of the main menu of the next 4 days – slices of pork, green beans, roast beef, yogurt and bread. We weren’t getting that soup yet. Nothing exciting happened at the bike check. I showed him my complete life-time supply of light bulbs! I thought the start was incredible – the number of people, the motorcyclists and all the confusion and all those little red tall lights bouncing away down the road.

Howard: Disappearing into the night, snaking away, desperately trying to avoid contact with the nobblers around us.

Phil: And the flat tires! It seemed everyone had flat tres! Ian told us afterwards it had been pine needles.

Howard: But I didn’t meet any pine needles for the entire 1264 kms. (Note -1264kms – courtesy of a very accurate Avocet computer.) And carrying all those spares! I mean I carried enough gear to outfit about 3 bicycles. I actually used one tail light bulb in the entire event which goes to prove that if I hadn’t carried all the rest of the bloody gear, I’d have had all kinds of problems! But for me, the ride through the night was uneventful apart from somebody cascading past my ear, legs and head doing cartwheels through the air. He’d obviously hit a curbstone or something but it wasn’t anybody we knew so there wasn’t any real panic to jump off to make sure he was OK or see if there was anything we could do. I think he was French in which case…No comment. I was later of course to realize, much as I love France, that the French cyclos themselves appear to be terribly lazy. There was absolutely nobody, French or otherwise, that I could see, who was the slightest bit interested in getting on the front, let alone getting their tongues on their tires and their eyeballs out and you know, getting stuck in.

Phil: Well those guys just tucked In behind us and shook their heads when we asked if they wanted to take a turn.

Howard: They became known as baggage. Ken, I belleve, coined the rather apt
definition. Any baggage in tow? Yes. OK. Drop’em on the next hill. I think probably the whole ride consisted of us dropping Frenchmen on hills. Where were the French women when we needed them? That night was indeed a spectacle – following the line of red tall lights and passing the numerous repairers of poorly prepared equipment.

Phil: I wiped out. There was an American cyclist who was staying in the same hotel Victor was at and he skidded on the arrows painted in the middle of the road with that thick rubber paint. I saw him go down and I knew I was going to hit him so I just tried to aim my bicycle where it would do the least damage to my own bike; so I rode over his legs and went down in a pile. Fortunately there was was nobody directly behind us. He got up and grabbed his head and started “Oh man, Oh man” and I looked behind us and I could see the headlights of a 1,000 bicycles coming down at us and I said “Get off the fucking road!”; and we got the bikes off the road and everyone went zipping by. Victor came back to check it out. The guy I rode over was shaken up and I was mad as hell. I checked my bike over, my handle bars were twisted around but everything else seemed to be alright. But when I went down, my feet in the toe clips had twisted the cleat around so that I was riding pigeon toed for a while until I could forcefully twist it around and straighten it out. Anyway that was the only thing that happened until breakfast.

Howard: Ah yea. The breakfast I’d not intended to have at David’s stopping point. Did you stop there? All I can remember is flailing along…somewhat erratically, because of the conditions. Not being able to see very well, staying well out in the middle of the road, in fact impeding traffic. I was asked a couple of times by the gendarme to move over but I felt that it was a lot safer being hit by a car than it was cascading over 14 cyclists who’d gone down. In fact, apart from the one poor guy going past me in the air, I only heard the clatter of falling bikes or saw people repairing tires at the roadside.

Phil: I was surprised we didn’t all pile into everyone. We’d all been warned of the ride out of the forest where the road narrows, but there was nothing going on there.

Howard: Well this was also a new experience from the point of view that I had no Idea if everyone was going to be able to stay together. My brother in law, whom I had never ridden with before, by some miracle, did manage to ride at almost exactly the same speed as Jim and myself. Various others, which included the guy from BC, whom we had met at the airport, came and went. We’d meet and have great conversations, then lose each other and meet again later. This went on all morning. Then after the wind picked up and the rain started again, I seem to recall, we plowed into Belleme which was the worst bloody disaster as far as I was concerned. Like a turkey I was thinking to myself, “Well these guys are going to be organized, we’ll get the card signed, we’ll go and stand in the line, we’ll get fed and off we go.” Fat Chance. An hour and a half standing in the driving rain and wind, and I was beginning to wonder what the hell I was doing on this thing and thinking to myself this cannot be serious. These guys have done this before, they can’t expect us to stand around like this at every checkpoint, it will take us three weeks to do this bloody event. Not to mention death from either malnutrition or pneumonia!

Phil: And after the two and a half hour line up of the opening meal on Sunday, I thought “oh shit there is a line up for this barbecue, you even get your omelette barbecued.” This line up was only forty five minutes. I’d been warned. Ian and Judy Watt warned me not to eat at this place even before l’d checked in at the control.

Howard: I wish someone had warned me in the same way. The time loss at Belleme made a significant difference to the way the event was to go.

Phil: I didn’t pay any attention to it

Howard: I saw people nipping off into town to look for something to eat. But me, being slightly retarded and reticent to leave the course or whatever, I thought no no no no, this is going to be fine. I ended up with virtually no food. What I did get was cold, and disgusting. So hungry, fairly dejected and soaking wet, got to the next control which was Villaines la Juhel. Ah, my favorite spot in the world although I didn’t realise that until I visited it on the way back. I can’t inagine what time that was.

Phil: I left Belleme with David Adam, John Alexander and Phil VanAlstyne.

Howard: Was Villaines the big barn? It was, wasn’t it?

Phil: Yes.

Howard: And the food suddenly took a turn for the better which was very misleading because you thought Belleme was an accident that shouldn’t have happened and that everything was going to be like Villanes la Juhel. Then came Fougeres which again was abominable. Ken decided he had a strange stomach and stood in the line up that was 15 or 20 minutes long and suddenly said to me, “Keep a place for me, I think I’m going to throw up.” I kept looking at Ken and wondering if he’s going to do this In the line or whether he’s going to leave the area. Finally he disappeared much to my relief. Then we moved into the restaurant area where I had, I think I had, 15 rice puddings, because there was nothing else on the menu that I could eat.
I remember thinking at that stage, that maybe this was a trip through hell rather than a ride through the French countryside. I didn’t realise how perceptive my feelings were. I was beginning to wonder if everything was going to be as sad as the Belleme/Fougeres experiences. Of course I hadn’t brightened up at this stage and said to myself, don’t eat at these bloody controls, buy food elsewhere and carry it. We left there late afternoon. This was becoming some event…What next!?

Phil: We arrived at Tintineac at 2 in the morning.

Howard: Pit-ineac perhaps would be better! The food was marginally worse than at Belleme which was very difficult to do.

Phil: It was the absolute worst. There was even a sandwich lineup!

Howard: This is where we didn’t eat. This is where things started to get exciting. We’d all (Ken, Phil, Jim, and myself) had a fair old trot into Tintineac and we decided this was going to be a sleeping point. That was when we found out concrete wasn’t that comfortable, but then what the hell, it was better than nothing. I had to go back to my bicycle at one stage to get something and I found a 50 franc note floating around on the grass. Nobody was at hand that might have dropped it, so I quickly pocketed it and actually it came in very handy for breakfast the next morning. We left after a 2 1/2 hour sleep which vas probably a four hour stop by the time we’d finished piddling around trying to find somewhere to sleep. Incidentally, though bloody noisy, those silver foil space blankets actually keep you warm – one of the nicer revelations of this pioneering event!

Phil: That was the place where everyone was sleeping under the cafeteria tables and in the stairways. They were everywhere. One of the staff in the cafeteria whispered in my ear and showed me this dark stairwell and there wasn’t anybody in it and I went to try and find you guys. I could only find Jim who thought it was time to go when I woke him up. When we woke up the place was packed. I think Howard Chan vas there, and every stair had somebody sleeping on it. At the far end of the cafeteria there were all these French cyclists sitting there smoking and drinking beer and wine and having a wonderful time and under the tables everybody was trying to sleep. With the lights glaring, it was like a Dominion store at rush hour.

Howard: Mind you, I’ve never seen anyone sleeping at a Dominion store on stone cold floor, but I actually did manage to do it for two and a half hours. I got up and wandered about and remember thinking to myself, Ah, it’s been a while since I cleaned my teeth. So I walked downstairs and went into the bathroom. Well I decided I wasn’t going to clean my teeth for the rest of the ride! This was my first realization that the bathrooms were not all they were cracked up to be. Didn’t I read somewhere that there were adequate facilities for one’s ablutions?

Phil: They were just cracked up.

Howard: I was fairly appalled by the facilities generally, but then we are going into another whole political area about this whole event because we discovered of course the food was no good, the sleeping arrangements were fairly inadequate, the facilities were no good, I was beginning to wonder what they were trying to do to the people on their bicycles. Could it be chat there was an attempt to make it harder than need be I began to ask of myself?

Phil: I wondered about the sleeping arrangements. They weren’t particularly good at any stop although I don’t think it was really a high priority. If you wanted to sleep there was always some place to sleep but maybe they assumed it’s a randonneur ride and it’s up to your own wits. They’ll give you facilities but you’re going to be so tired anyway it doesn’t matter where you sleep and this is what happened. If I’d been sleeping in a normal cot with blankets on top of me, I might never have woken up! So be thankful that they were as bad as they were.

Howard: We left at about six, I believe. Certainly realizing that not having eaten everyone would start to flag rather, and thinking that we were making good time, which was a another farce, we came across a Breton creperie! Now this place was basically open to sell toast and croissant and coffee, so we sat down and actually talked the manager into opening the creperie, which wasn’t supposed to open for an hour or so, but they said under the circumstances… And we ordered the most expensive and highly packed crepe that the man could possibly create. It was magic. In fact it was so magic that we had another of everything, plus two pails of coffee (cafe au lait), and some tea. We also had a conversation or two. Ken knew an English guy at the place. The end result of this was that we felt pretty well. I think the best we’d felt for some time. The coffee was actually perfect, and the whole thing didn’t cost a great deal. We got on the bicycles only to discover after riding about 10 or 15 kms that we didn’t exactly have a lot of spare time to get to the next control. Now this factor was enhanced by the fact that the wind was against us and there wasn’t a flat bit of terrain to be seen. Consequently the miles we were trying to achieve in the time alloted was going to be rather difficult. So we started digging in a bit and we started passing group after group after group after group after group of people who managed to stay with us on the downhills, but couldn’t stay with us on the hills, let alone do a pull. Quite warming from our point of view. Chuff, chuff. As time went along ve realized that our strategy wasn’t working and a plan was devised to go into a pace line and spend 30 seconds or so on the front and drag the others, then whip to the back so no one got absolutely exhausted. We picked up a 65 year old French man and we dragged him for miles. He wouldn’t get on the front either! He told us how old he was, not obviously realising how old Jim and I are! Well the end result was that with approx. 5 ainutes to spare we came upon Carhaix, no? Wherever! Loudeac? We ended up coming into the town going like the very clappers, about the speed of the traffic. Then we came to a traffic signal which took an interminable time to change. There was a huge truck in front of us and nothing coming the other way, so we decided to overtake the truck, much to the driver’s chagrin and after a certain amount of kerfuffling, we went on in front of the truck. We then sprinted into the home stretch making a right turn up to the Loudeac Control, actually getting our card stamped with 5 minutes to go. Phew! That didn’t do my underwear any good at all, what with the noose of disqualification hanging over our heads – little did we know!

How I spent my summer vacation by Dan Bereskin

“Did you have a nice time in France?” my friend asked. “No!” I replied. How is it
possible to spend two weeks in France and not have a good time? I’ll tell you. Try the PBP!

I arrived at the hotel in Reuill-Malmaison on Saturday morning, to be greeted by a doe-eyed, coffee slurping manager who directed me to the most disagreeable room in the entire establishment. After assembling my bicycle, I decided to check out the stadium from which the ride was to commence, and discovered to my chagrin that it was at the top of an extremely steep hill. This was to be a small taste of what was to come. After a sleepless night listening to the sound of traffic whizzing by, I changed hotels where the accommodation was (a) closer to the starting line, and (b) the staff was very helpful and considerate. My pre-announced strategy for doing the PBP involved reaching certain towns by no later than 11:00 P.M. each night, and sleeping at pre-arranged hotels until 3 or 4:00 in the morning. To meet this schedule required maintaining an average speed of 21 km/hr, which I thought would be easy, if one avoided lengthy stops.

The start of the ride proceeded innocently enough, especially considering that the first few km were downhill, my best mode, in fact, I was feeling rather good and on some of the descents picked up quite a lot of speed, as I was to learn the next morning when I was able to read my bicycle computer which indicated I had hit a maximum speed of 70 km/hr during the night. According to the noted sage Mike Miller, the terrain between Paris and Tinteniac is essentially flat or slightly undulating. According to me, the terrain is anything but flat, and there seems to be a steady succession of hills, some of which are quite bit nastier than anything around Toronto. I found it very difficult to get motivated, and although I was making reasonably good time, having sucked the wheel of a tandem for the better part of the afternoon, my morale hit a real low when at about 6:00 P.M. I realized that I was not going to be able to put my head down on a pillow until I had travelled the equivalent of going between Toronto and Orillia. I was also beginning to feel that as a middle-aged gentleman, I had done enough exercise for the day. Nevertheless, I tried to persevere, and despite thinking all kinds of treasonous thoughts, I was pulled into Tinteniac by some kindly Toronto randonneurs who did not allow me to do what I really wanted to do which was to sleep in the ditch. The bed in Tinteniac was the greatest bed I have ever encountered in my life, but unfortunately I did not reach Tinteniac until 1:30 A.M. and it was 2:00 A.M. before I got into bed. At 4:30 A.M., Mike Buyers knocked on my door, saying “We’re leaving. If you want to come with us, be down here in two minutes!” Dear reader, this is not my idea of a holiday in France. Instead of croissants and coffee at breakfast, I was treated to a slug of the vile carbo-powder-water mixture which allegedly fueled some of the RAAM riders. I departed Tinteniac at about 5:00 A.M., and somewhat to my surprise there was a steady stream of riders (I thought I was probably last by now). I was a bit surprised to find walking somewhat difficult, which usually is the case when one’s knees do not bend properly. After an hour on the road, my knees began to ache. I knew that it is always darkest before the dawn, and that one’s spirits always are lifted with the sun, but both I and my knees did not wish to be there. We wanted to be back in Paris, where the food is wonderful, it is possible to drink wine to excess, and where one can sleep peaceably as long as one likes. I sat down on a park bench to contemplate the remaining 800 km ahead, when Satan, in the form of a bus driver, saw me and offered to take me to Rennes. A student of the geography of France, I was well aware that Rennes is on the rail line between Brest and Paris, and that high speed trains travel frequently. between those two localities, I found my brain directing me to continue the ordeal, but my legs, having mutinied, refused to take any instructions from the brain, began transporting my body and machine toward the bus. In seconds the bicycle was aboard the bus and I was sitting in a very comfortable seat, feeling guilty, but not sufficiently guilty to wish to continue. About 3 hours later, I was in Paris safely installed in a pleasant hotel on the Left Bank.

After about a day, my knees began to relent and I was able once again to walk normally, and on occasion, even to run to escape maniacal Parisian drivers. Although I was having a nice time the feelings of guilt intensified as the weather began to turn ugly. I thought of all of the Toronto Randonneurs slugging it out on the road. and especially in the icy, inky blackness of rural France at night. Fortunately, I discovered that a nice bottle of red wine and a full tummy tends to dispel all feelings of guilt!

No, I did not have a nice vacation in France, and no, I will never again contemplate a multi-day ordeal like the PBP. On the other hand, the next PBP will be its 100th anniversary…….

Letter to Paris – PBP 87 Newsletter

M. Lepertel’s requested our ‘memoires’ – this is what we sent:

“Allez, allez!” “Bon Courage!” “Allez bien les filles!” “Bon Courage!”

For myself and the other 25 members of the Toronto Randonneurs who took part in the celebration of the 1987 PBP, these cheering words of encouragement remain one of our warmest memories. To see so many people, day and night, smiling, waving, wishing one well and offering coffee all along the route, lightened our hearts and gave energy to progressively tiring bodies. This is the inspiration for our returning to France in 1991!

We enjoyed the ride! the company! the countryside! the route! the kindness of the many volunteers! the food (sometimes)! The lack of sleep and time to appreciate the countryside, the driving or drizzling rain, the headwinds that ranged from frolicsome breeze to heavy clout, the continually hilly countryside, the aches and pains, and the unremitting race against time, naturally were merely wee nagging leitmotivs – like ants at a picnic.

Some of our best memories: the buoyant anticipation as we waited in the light drizzle of Monday morning with hundreds of spirited cyclists from so many countries; stopping wearily in the middle of the night in the ghostly circle of the street lights to joke each other awake; steaming hot coffee gulped thankfully at friendly family roadside tables at 2:00 am; growing discouragement and doubt as we plodded nearer to Brest, and sudden lifting of spirits on starting back; clear cool star-filled night air as we climbed dreamily towards the red beacon of Roc Trevizel; hungrily slurping coffee in the medieval-like halls at Carhaix; sleeping deep in the straw-filled dorm at Villanes la Juhel to the accompaniment of a slumber sonata of snoring cyclists; our capacity to eat so such pasta, rice pudding and fromage blanc and our wonder at the abilities of French cyclists after a bottle of wine; the amazing comfort of sleeping between two pieces of cardboard; the perception that the soup resembled something out of a cement truck; the continual enjoyment of meeting new people and admiration of the capacities of the disabled; the really marvelous countryside! And of course – we were all “on vacation”!!

For myself, the ride passed in a strange mixture of an incredible immediacy of sharp memories of places and sensations – smells, sounds, sights, an overwhelming dictatorial chronology, but all floating hazily in a long meandering timeless time of alternating light and dark.

We all agree that the 1987 PBP was the best organized and most encouraging of events we have ridden. We thank M. Lepertel and his organizers and are already training for 1991!

Introduction – PBP 87 Newsletter

The 1987 Paris-Brest-Paris saw 26 members of the Toronto Randonneurs Long Distance Cycling Association starting out at 4:00 am, Monday August 24, 1987.

It was lightly drizzling but the roads gleamed in golden hues from the light of the street lamps. Spirits were lively. Thursday August 27 welcomed 24 of the Randonneurs at the final control by the 10:00 pm closing. Jubilance mingled with relief; celebration with fatigue.

Here are exerpts from some of the stories written by members of the Toronto Randonneurs. They recollect the many people, variety of events, vagaries of weather, doubts and strength – and insane humour.

A few of the photos people managed to snatch on their way are alto included. Although many had cameras, and seemingly took many pictures, none felt they had captured the sublime – and definitely not the ridiculous.

TWENTY YEARS OF RANDONNEURS MONDIAUX by Robert Lepertel – Part 2 Addendum

[translation:Gerry Pareja, Vancouver]

The broad outlines of the structure of les Randonneurs Mondiaux appear in the constitution; of course, it is about the brevets validated by Audax Club Parisien (200, 300, 400, 600 and 100km). The general assembly of les Randonneurs Mondiaux is scheduled every 4 years following Paris-Brest-Paris. There are elections for president, vice-president and renewal of the trasurer’s mandate. To be validated , events must appear in the ACP calendar (published every year at the end of December). As noted above, the first President is Robert Lepertel (then ACP president), John Nicholas is Vice President and Jacques Delava is Treasurer. 

The name les Randonneurs Mondiaux was adopted bt 7 votes to one for International Randonneurs. 

In 1987 because of dissention in England, we had two Audax United Kingdom representatives at the GA with John Nicholas (not Noel Simpson) holding the vote. This did not change the result, as J.C. Muzellec, who stood for election to prevent a split, was elected unanimously on the first ballot.Francesc Porta was chosen Vice President and Robert Lepertel replaced Jacques Delava as Treasurer. 

Several important developments took place between 1983 and 1987. J.C.Muzellec was instrumental in adding Denmark, Norway and Finland to the ranks of brevet organizers, being the official representative for the first two, with Paavo Nurminen of Finland, who had just completed PBP, joining the table but without a vote yet. 

Gerry Pareja asked us to allow the various Canadian provinces to correspond directly with ACP . We acceded to this request, but we quickly realized that we could not generalize it because it created a lot of additional work that we were not in a position to take on, e.g. verifying itineraries, (even given local road maps, is very complicated) and more mail. This is why we have not agreed to expand this further. 

First Ontario, the Prairie Randonneurs of Saskatchewan, Rocky Mountains of Alberta and Club Vélo Randonneurs of Montreal, Quebec joined over the years. This bought us new and long-lasting friendships, but as with anything else, it is good to know when to stop. 

The British Columbia Randonneurs Cycling Club, which started out with four members (G.Pareja, J.Hathaway, D.McGuire and Wayne Phillips, who was later disabled for life in a tragic crash with a vehicle), grew and quickly climbed up the ranks asone of the most active members. 

The United States, led by J.Konski, also grew strongly and quickly thanks to his efforts, later to be criticized mainly because he wanted to to everything alone. However at the start, he had a fair number of members of IR (International Randonneurs) and above all some twenty states that backed him. For us James was a long-time friend (’75 PBP), and he is the one that turned the USA on to the open-speed formula. 

Later, we witnessed the birth of RUSA;(Randonneurs USA) but more about this below. James Konski’s seminal work was to bear fruit, to be expected when the land is well plowed and seed well planted. 

John Nicholas bitterly resigned his post to a new AUK Committee which included Noel Simpson. AUK has grown steadily to reach the current level of about 3000 members. The leaders keep busy with event planning (with several offshoots of ACP events:e.g. fléches, hill climb brevets, and later an Arrow to York, modelled on the Fléche Vélocio with the same rules, following the example of various national Fléches (Australia, Canada, Nordiques, USA etc.). 

During his 4-year mandate, J.C.Muzellec got the Germans interested and encouraged the Belgians to get the Dutch to join up. Several years later, Germany sponsored Austria. 

To wrap up J.C.Muzellec’s term, Ireland joined the RM family. An important protocol was signedby J.C. Muzellec and ACP’s President J.C.Massé. ** 

In 1991, the General Assembly elected Francesc Porta (Catalonia/Spain) President, with Gerry Pareja (Canada) as Vice President. R.Lepertel stayed on as Treasurer. 

Francesc was not very active, in part due to his job, as a professor at the University of Barcelona, where the discovery of a mammoth was to keep him busier than first thought and family problems did not help a bit. Therefore, we had few or no outside contacts. Gerry Pareja also had work constraints. There was neither fax nor e-mail at that time, and long gaps between letters. Having received orders, I produced more than a thousand pins for the tenth anniversary of the RM after sending Francesc and Gerry brief notes. This generated a bit of cash flow; happily there were practically no expenses. 

In 1991 there was a double anniversary: 100 years of PBP and 70 years of ACP open-speed brevets.Both events yielded great results, with PBP surpassing 3,000 entries and we registered well over 25,000 brevets over the traditional distances, with 300 brevets of 100km (3rd best performance of all time). 

The Russians expressed an interest in joining the RM, with Valery Komotchkov of Velo Club Orion (Volgograd) becoming the contact person for Russia. They were to face enormous challenges in view of the country’s economic sutuation, but Valery’s guts and iron will carried them through the difficult phases. 

In 1995 the General Assembly was held at France Miniature near St Quentin en Yvelines. 

Three candidates ran fro the Presidency: Réal Prefontaine from Canada, James Konski from International Randonneurs USA and Jennifer Wise, representing the RM sanctioned Boston-Montreal-Boston. On the second ballot, Jennifer Wise received the majority of votes. Réal Prefontaine well versed on the issues, became Vice President, replacing Gerry Pareja who had chosen not to run. 

It was natural for the presidency to move to one of the nine founding countries. R.Lepertel kept the treasury, mainly for reasons of cost for the members, who receive just one invoice at year’s end for ACP brevets, medals, RM dues and charges which can be paid with a single cheque, thus resulting in lower costs for all concerned. 

This new team transformed the RM. Given the President’s energy, very frequent contact with the Vice President and the Treasurer, and taking the time to document points which might have remained obscure, benefitting those who may come later without knowing where it all started. We even held one three-way telephone conference for important issues. 

A special Randonneurs Mondiaux medal for 1200km brevets was created with Jennifer and Réal’s acquiescence. I took charge of dealing with the maker and got very good terms, including delivery to the USA 

We saw more development of brevets of 1200km and longer. Several new countries joined us (South Africa,Ukraine, Bulgaria and Costa Rica). In sum, a superb four-year term, bringing forward its momentum to 1999, when Réal Préfontaine took the position of President 

At the General Assembly of 1999, in addition to the President, Don Briggs of Australia was elected, also unanimously, to the position of Vice President, R. Lepertel remained Treasurer, as ever, for the same reasons given above. Unanimous approval was given to a motion to include the price of the RM medal in the entry fees for brevets of 1200 km or longer, but keeping the 10FF fee to cover verification and validation of each brevet, and relevant shipping costs. 

The General Assembly adopted relaxed time limits, by comparison with the 90 hours allowed for 1200 km brevets, for brevets of 1400 and 2000 km; this is natural. In fact, the overall average was lowered (12 km/h for 1400 and 2000 km events). 

Réal Préfontaine oversaw the birth of the 2000-km brevets to welcome the year 2000. While there were only three such events, their very existence is worth recalling; 44 randonneurs earned the brevet, including 2 women: Birgit Henriksen and Ulrike Frost. 

E-mail has shortened distances; nowadays more than 90% of RM’s contacts use e-mail. Collaboration amongst the President, Vice President and Treasurer is very close. On Don Briggs’ initiative, an RM jersey is in process. With the arrival of Japan, Brazil, New Zealand (reporting to Australia),Switzerland, Greece, and the expected but unsuccessful entry by Senegal, we now have all 6 continents at the table, and have passed the milestone of 25 member countries. 

The workload of Thierry Rivet responsible and for the ACP brevets organized by French clubs, and of Yannis Varouchas, responsible for the foreign clubs, will increase sharply in 2003, year of PBP (Editor’s note: Yannis passed away in January 2003 and Suzanne Lepertel took over his duties for 2003). 

In France the numbers of brevets organized in the years between PBP’s drops due to the number and range of events organized by the French clubs. In 2003 some 20,000 foreign brevets will be validated all of which will add up to a reasonable prediction of a total of some 35,000 brevets. 

To everyone at all levels who have given of themselves to further the cause of randonneur cycling, we give our very sincere thanks. 

If someone had told me, 20 years ago, that in 20 years we would be at this level, I would have given him a bemused and suspicious look. ACP’s international fame, the acceptance of its events and rules by randonneurs, now spread across more than 25 countries, fill us with happiness at the work we have done, and proud that we have been able to win others over to our cause. 

The work everyone has accomplished is worthy of our respect and our most sincere encouragement to continue on the path agreed upon and forged by all. 

Everyone, whether they were founders of the ACP, who participated in its growth or who are witnessing its current frailty, who had the wherewithal to create and develop the long distance randonnée, and all those who carry on with our concepts and our formula are worthy recipients of our big Thank You. 

Robert Lepertel, Treasurer, les Randonneurs MondiauxNovember, 2002 

**The protocol of agreement between J.C. Massé,president of ACP and J. C. Muzellec, President of les Randonnuers Mondiaux, had the intention of transferring control of brevets of 1200km and longer to the President of RM (the ACP was to limit itself to brevets up to 1000km, plus PBP). The objective of this exception was to push the development of brevets of 1200km and longer,by giving lesRM and their President an additional motivation to respond to requests (which have grown in numbers) and raising the profile of the President’s position in general. 


[translation:Gerry Pareja, Vancouver] 

There are two parts to this. The first part outlines the foundation of Randonneurs Mondiaux in 1983. The second part, called the “Addendum”, traces the organisation from 1983-2002.This material first appeared on the original RM website in 2003 under the presidency of Réal Préfontaine’s presidency (1999-2003). Sometime later it disappeared. Special thanks to Gerry Pareja for retrieving both the English and French versions from his files and forwarding them to me. The blue photos are from the 1983 PBP “plaquette” [Eric Fergusson, January 2008] Our thanks to BC Randonnuers for allowing us to use this articles and photos. 

Of the “anciens” and founders of les Randonneurs Mondiax at the end of August 1983*,the only ones left are the Spainards Francesc Porta and José Luis Garcia-Rodriguez, contacts for Catalonia/Spain and the Basque Country respectively, and myself as Treasurer of RM. 

First of all, here is the summary of the agreement signed at the founding meeting of les Randonneurs Mondiaux: 

Other than the above founders, we recall: 

  • Russell Moore, representing Australia 
  • Marc Demaesmaker and Jacques Delava, Belgium 
  • John Nicholas, England 
  • James Konski, United States of America 
  • John Hathaway, Canada 
  • Jean-Claude Muzellec, Sweden 

Marc Dobise, President of the French Cyclotouring Federation (F.F.C.T.), attended this founding meeting. 

Photo soirée Randonneurs Mondiaux (photo Allaire)
1er rang:J.Konski, J.L.Garcia, J.Nicholas, M.Dobise, L.Hathaway, F.Porta
2e rang: R.C.Muzellec, Devos,Lepertel,Delava (caché), R.Moore (caché), Demaesmaker,
dessous 3 rangées de 3
(Caption from the 1983 PBP plaquette) 

The 9 founding countries voted unanimously (less one vote) for President: Robert Lepertel; Vice President: John Nicholas; and Treasurer: Jacques Delava. 

The main concepts outlining the guidelines for the future of the oganization were adopted, namely: 

  • The President is elected for a 4-year,non-renewable term 
  • Annual dues are 100FF 
  • Admission fee, after two years probation, is 200FF 
  • New countries must be sponsored by member countries, whose duty is to make sure that Audax Club Parisien rules for brevet organization are closely adhered to. 

Member countries agree that the Audax Club Parisien is the only body that recognizes and registers open-speed brevets organized under its rules. Audax Club Parisien route cards are mandatory for organized events (later amendments allowed countries to have their own route cards, as long as they were registered and approved by Audax Club Parisien). All the foregoing formed part of a protocol of agreement to be signed by each country. 

To our knowledge, this point causes no difficulties. From the beginning, the Audax Club Parisien has indicated that any interference with the internal affairs of a country was outside of its purview. When serious problems have arisen, we have acted as mediators, leaving it to the General Assemblies of each country to make their own best decisions by majority vote. 

To our knowledge, there is no more underlying issues. This is a source of joy to us, as we see our concept of open-speed randonneur cycling as a superb facet of the practice of cycletouring. 

We wish to extend our sincere thanks to those who helped at the birth of les Randonneurs Mondiaux. We hope they will continue to trust us, continue to help us out and reap their reward in the form of strong participation in our formula in their countries. 

Robert Lepertel
Treasurer, les Randonneurs Mondiaux 

*All of the directors of Audax Club Parisien attended this meeting.