Thursday, August 2, 2012

My RM 1200

In July, I took part in the Rocky Mountain 1200, exploring the Rockies in British Columbia and a bit in Alberta, and expertly organized by the BC Randonneurs.  It's held only every four years, so here was our chance!

We flew into Seattle, skirting Mt. Rainier and other volcanoes on the approach, then caught a ride up to BC with the ever-gracious Mark Roerhig - who organizes the Cascade 1200 - and his wife Nancy.

Organizers had arranged a great lodging option for us, at the Thompson Rivers University (TRU), perched above the start town of Kamloops.  You could gaze up the valley the event would be taking you in a few hours.

Inspection was a cheery, sunny affair, with languages of many lands in evidence.

Organizers (and multi-time ride veterans) Ali and Roger Holt did their usual excellent job of organizing this RM 1200 edition.  Ali would go on to ride and finish the event.

The event drew many heavy-hitters.  Outside the Kamloops Curling Club, the start/finish venue, you could tally the most recent 1200k's that Mark Thomas has finished.  (The sticker to the left of the Colorado High Country - just nine days past - is for the Korean 1200k, a bit earlier this year.)

The other side shows some other 1200k's Mark has toted up.

I opted for the 4am / 84-hour start, with the aim of sleeping in Jasper, about 450km into the route.  This is a reasonable option, as the route rises only very gently, with occasional short climbs, and there was a tailwind.  It's about the same distance as to Loudeac on PBP.

The forecast for the first day was for "rain" - not showers, but just plain rain.  We actually got a couple of dry hours between the first control at Clearwater and the next, and counted ourselves lucky.

But most of the day looked like this (except dark at the start and finish, of course).  Still, good scenery.

Given the BC moisture, lots of big, gushing waterfalls like this one.

Veterans like Ken Bonner were bolstered by a cheerful attitude and some soup.

Despite the goofy look, I'm actually doing pretty well at the Valemount control, aiming to look cheerful while wolfing down some food item at the same time.  - Ken Bonner photo

Ann Trason, in her Texas Rando Stampede jersey, is greeted by two of the great Rocky volunteers, and the ambience of palm trees, contrasting with the chilly, soggy scene outdoors.

As evening moved in, the rain felt like it increased, in a pelting way, and the temps decreased.  Fortunately, at Jasper, volunteers ferried riders to a local athletic club for warm showers. 

Makiyo Goto from Japan evidences the salutory effects of a warm shower and dry clothes.

Volunteers arranged an impromptu clothesline inside the Jasper control.

The trusty Green De Rosa waits at the ready out in the rain, but that's as far as I got.  I decided to write this report, though, because the RM 1200 is such a fine event, and there was much more to tell.

The Icefields Parkway, between Jasper and Lake Louise, is the high point of the RM 1200, in terms of elevation (two climbs above 6,000 ft.) and scenery.  Here's a waterfall (with bilingual sign).

... and another!

The mist and low ceilings only made the scenic impact more "atmospheric."

... as clouds hid and then revealed the grand mountains on either side of you.

Henk Bouhuyzen tops one of the big climbs ... before descending to the Beauty Creek hostel and control.

At Beauty Creek, Tim Foon Feldman and Mark Roerhig ponder some insightful remark from Gary Prince (center).

Organizers mounted helpful "RM 1200" arrow signs near controls, like this one at Lake Louise, making it easy to hone in on control venues even for distance-addled randos.

And just beyond the control is scenic Lake Louise!

The final third of the route triangle is the Trans-Canadian Highway (Hwy. 1).  Generally ok, but the cue sheet describes some segments deserving attention, such as this winding descent into Golden.

After Golden the route climbs to Rogers Pass, for some great, alpine views.

You traverse several snow sheds (termed "galleries" in some parts of the world) in particularly avalanche prone areas.  Both the Canadian trans-continental railroad and this highway faced numerous challenges and setbacks dealing with the heavy snow.

There are still pockets of snow in the north-facing avalanche chutes.

The day has brightened quite convincingly with mild, comfortable temperatures!

Highway 1 is not really a quiet road, but the scenery does not flag.

Mark Thomas, Bob Brudvik, and others motor along as though they're on a morning outing.

Spencer Klaassen is racking up another mountain 1200k on his fixie.

And Ron Himschoot is wearing a different RM 1200 jersey on each day of this ride.

We saw these menacing looking "hurtling dumptruck" signs periodically.  They may mean "trucks entering."

Past Salmon Arm, the route takes quiet country roads for a while before the home stretch - a nice touch.

We stop at a country store to enjoy local snacks, including "Cheesies" - which seem more like the Cheetos of old than the current product.

A big congratulations to all the finishers ... and thanks again to Roger, Ali, and the volunteers!


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