JAIME GUZMAN POINTS the way while Randy Atkinson and Michael Tilitzky (right) prepare for the next leg of their journey.

JAIME GUZMAN POINTS the way while Randy Atkinson and Michael Tilitzky (right) prepare for the next leg of their journey.

Marathon cyclists battle clock, elements

Riders had to go from Victoria to Port Hardy and back in less than 90 hours

The heat was definitely on for participants in the 2014 Van Isle 1200.

Record high temperatures along the 1,200-kilometre route (Victoria to Port Hardy and back to Victoria) tested the mettle of the 47 starters in the BC Randonneurs Cycling Club-hosted event. Remarkably, 35 hardy riders finished the course under the required 90-hour time limit.

Day one of the brevet (as the organized rides are called) on July 14 took cyclists through Comox and a quick stop at the Air Force Museum, one of the designated checkpoints (information control) along the route.

A trio of cyclists arrived at the museum at the same time around noon. Michael Tilitzky of Tofino went on to finish in ninth place in a time 76:37, just ahead of 10th place Randy Atkinson of North Vancouver who timed in at 77:59.

Jaime Guzman of Vancouver finished 15th overall in 81:24 and received his Can-Am Challenge pin, which acknowledges riders who complete a US and Canadian 1,200 km in the same year.

“This year’s Van Isle was supposed to be my ‘easy 1200′ to get my Can-Am pin,” Guzman wrote in his race report on the Randonneurs’ website. “I should’ve suspected something was amiss when they announced a heat wave was about to hit Vancouver Island and I got assigned the lucky number 13 at the bike check.

“At the end, it was the superb volunteers that carried me through the ride and helped me survive the heat,” Guzman said.

Keith Fraser of Vancouver was the overall winner in a time of 56:45. The Lanterne Rouge, awarded to the last rider, went to Michael Bratkowski of California who completed the ride with 90 seconds to spare despite eight flats and a broken chain.

The end-to-end and across-the-Island course started in Victoria, with riders cresting the Malahat summit at sunrise then winding their way north through Qualicum Beach, Comox and Campbell River.

From there, they went west to Gold River before returning to Campbell River and cycling onwards to the northern turnaround at Port Hardy. The route featured 9,100 metres (30,000 feet) of total elevation gain.

“At the end of the day, randonneuring is not a race,” says Jim Runkel of Victoria, who finished 31st. “Covering 1,200 kilometres on your bicycle is so much more than that – it’s an amazing experience.”

FINISH LINES Previous Van Isle brevets were held in 2006 and 2010 … this year, riders came from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, California, Oregon, Arizona, Texas the UK and Japan …


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