Traveling around Manitoba can be rewarding, but may take some effort.
If you have access to a vehicle, and wanted to travel to some prominent towns, you could start in Winnipeg, travel south to Morden, then East to La Riviere, and north to Dauphin, that would take some time. Then, to get back via the same route, would also take some time, and probably a few tanks of gas.
That distance, is roughly 1,000 kilometers.
Now imagine travelling by bicycle.
That’s exactly what four ultra-endurance Manitoba cyclists just did a few weeks ago. They started on the Friday of the August long weekend, and finished on Sunday.
They received no help during the event, but there was a time limit of 75 hours in which to complete the trek.
These people are the Manitoba Randonneurs, and this event is called a Brevet.
“The further I rode with the Manitoba Randonneurs, the more my focus shifted from the challenge itself to the sheer enjoyment of riding all day with such great people,” says event organizer, Sam Ehlers. “For me, the events have become a day long (or more) celebration of cycling and I’m always looking forward to the next one.”
Pete McAdams, a local pillar in long distance cycling, had a ‘Spot Tracker’ on his person, and people could get the link from the Facebook page and follow his progress, which was uploaded almost instantaneously.
“Sue Lucas, another Manitoban ultra-racer who lives in Dauphin, just went to the website, and knew exactly where we were during our journey,” says McAdams. “She wasn’t waiting outside wondering where we were: she could follow us from her iPhone. She surprised all of us by bringing home-made cookies for us! This really was spectacular!”
The last Brevet, held on Saturday August 16, had a total of eight participants, with four brand new riders who have never completed a Brevet before. Two of the eight participants were women.
“Being able to complete a 200 kilometer, 300 kilometer and 600 kilometer randonneur ride has been one of the highlights in my cycling career,” says Candy Badger, who participated in one of the 300 kilometer Brevets earlier this year.
“As a female rider and a woman in my early fifties, I feel such a sense of accomplishment, in an arena which is still fairly male dominated, I feel my teammates respect me as I do the group and the bond which is formed is an amazing feeling. I love being on my bike and endurance riding gives me the sense of freedom and power, to know that I have the fitness level to travel the distances. ”
“It was very exciting for us at the last 200 kilometer event to have some brand new faces out there,” Ehlers adds. “And it was such a beautiful day for a bike ride. I am sure this will be a memorable experience for all.”
The next event will be the last Brevet of the season; it’s 200 kilometers long and will be mostly on gravel roads. However, if a person does not have the confidence to tackle such an event, there are alternatives.
“There are a few riders who are just going to ride a portion of the event with us, thus it will not be an ‘official’ Brevet, but any company is welcome,” says Ehlers. “These people are going to start the event in the middle, and finish it with us, or another alternative is to start with us, and break-off some where’s during the event. We enjoy the company and the participants enjoy coming out.”
Ehlers adds, “If anyone has any ideas similar to that, they can contact me directly, or ask questions to the members of the Facebook site. We all pitch-in to solve the problems, and make it a memorable experience.”
All photos by Gregory McNeill