Cana­dian Club

Rid­ing for hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres at a time

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Jules Mait­land

Ran­don­neurs Nova Sco­tia ride for hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres at a time

“We start our 400-km at mid­night. It’s re­ally quite a mag­i­cal experience, to ride through the night as a group. Out in the coun­try­side where there is no traf­fic, ev­ery­one is asleep apart from us. You ride un­der the stars and maybe hit a cof­fee shop at 3 a.m. to re­fuel” says Mark Beaver, pres­i­dent of Ran­don­neurs Nova Sco­tia. “Then you’re rid­ing along and you see a red glow on the hori­zon. A while later, the first bird will sing. Then you’ll hear a rooster crow. The sun will rise, and then it’s morn­ing.” When day does break, Nova Sco­tia presents the ran­don­neurs with spec­tac­u­lar coast­lines, tall pine forests and fer­tile farm­land val­leys, all dur­ing a sin­gle ride, al­beit quite a long one.

Ran­don­neur­ing, with its brevets that chal­lenge rid­ers to cover long dis­tances within set time lim­its, can take cy­clists on 200-km and even 1,400-km routes, or shorter recre­ational rides called pop­u­laires. Ev­ery­one i n the brevet must be self-sup­ported.

A friend had in­tro­duced Beaver to ran­don­neur­ing by invit­ing him to ride the 720-km Raid Pyrénéen with mem­bers of an On­tario club. Later, Beaver was per­suaded to try to qual­ify for the 2003 Paris-brest-paris: the 1,200-km ran­don­née with a 90-hour time limit. To qual­ify, rid­ers must com­plete a brevet se­ries that in­cludes a ride of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km, and 600 km. For Beaver to achieve his goals, he needed a club closer to home. In 2003, Ran­don­neurs Nova Sco­tia was born. Beaver has com­pleted all four Paris-brest-paris chal­lenges since 2003.

The Ran­don­neurs Nova Sco­tia’s an­nual sched­ule is built around its brevet se­ries. In the spring, weekly brevets in­crease in dis­tance in­cre­men­tally, with the oc­ca­sional pop­u­laire. From July 7 to 9, the club will run its long­est brevet of the year, the Fundy Park 1000, a 1,000-km cir­cuit from Hal­i­fax along the Bay of Fundy to Fundy Park and back via the Northum­ber­land Strait.

Later in the sum­mer, with the club’s big events fin­ished for the sea­son, mem­bers par­tic­i­pate in rides roughly every two weeks. “It’s so peo­ple can re­con­nect with their spouses, and mow their lawns and such,” Beaver says. In fall, the sea­son closes with a weekly sched­ule of shorter pop­u­laires.

The club has grown from eight to 30 mem­bers of vary­ing back­grounds and abil­i­ties, with a core group who have been mem­bers for roughly 10 years. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the rides fluc­tu­ates. The longer the ride, the fewer the peo­ple. Between 15 to 20 will show up for a 100-km pop­u­laire, with 10 to 12 rid­ing longer brevets.

Sev­eral mem­bers com­plete the brevet se­ries every year. In 2017, Miche­line Mcwhirter com­pleted the se­ries and be­came the first Nova Sco­tian woman to ever com­plete a 1,000-km brevet. This year, Mcwhirter will join Beaver and club mem­ber David Ross in Min­nesota for the Coulee Chal­lenge, an­other 1,200-km ran­don­née. Ross, a mem­ber since 2004, has al­ready com­pleted eight 1,200-km events.

Beaver ac­knowl­edges that any­thing longer than 600-km is a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing, but in­sists that rid­ing 1,000-km in fewer than 75 hours is achiev­able as long as you work your way through the se­ries, stay in good shape, and have com­fort­able shoes as well as a com­fort­able bike, a good sad­dle and a good leath­ery butt. “The leath­ery butt comes from many miles in the sad­dle,” Beaver says, “so there is no sub­sti­tute for rid­ing. The best train­ing for ran­don­neur­ing is ran­don­neur­ing. Get out there and ride your bike. A lot.”

“Rid­ing 1,000 km in fewer than 75 hours is achiev­able.”

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