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Rocky Mountain 1200


Rocky 1200 According to Bob
by Bob Goodison

    At first it seemed that my attempt at the Rocky Mountain 1200 might not happen. I got my entry in early, but when the official entry list came out, I was on the waiting list. Waiting is not something I do well at the best of times. Eventually, my name made it to the riders list, and I began to make definite plans for how to finish it.

    Checking previous 1200 times of riders I have ridden with led me to expect a time in the area of 75 hours. This meant I should be riding with front group of the 90 hr starters. Checking in and whatnot went smoothly, but I began to be intimidated by the apparent professionalism of the other riders. These are world class athletes! What the @#$%*# am I doing here? I don't have a clue what I'm doing!

    I started near the front, but did not stay there for long. These people were going at an insane pace! At this pace, I would not even make the first control before I was exhausted. I decided to ride with the middle group. Then I decided they were also too fast, and dropped further back. Then, disaster - 17 km from the start, the unmistakable ping of a breaking spoke, followed by the sound of my rear rim rubbing the brake pads. I stopped, compensated with the other spokes as best I could in the dark, and backed off the brake adjustment. By this time, everyone had passed me and I was all alone.

    I had a mistaken idea that if I rode fast enough, I could get to a bike shop in Jasper before closing time. I began to re-pass many of the riders who had passed me, now spread out into groups of 2 or 3. In the dark it was impossible to tell who anybody was. One good thing I had done was to fill one of water bottles with sugared iced coffee. Thus I was able to fool my body into thinking it should be awake and working at this insane hour.

    The approach of daylight always provides an energy boost, and I felt great all morning. It was quite foggy from Vavenby to Avola. I saw a good sized black bear just south of Valemount. I turned left too early at Tete Jaune, and by the time I backtracked to the highway I had added an extra 5 km. Having lunch in Tete Jaune, I spoke to David Bundrick from Georgia, the only other hybrid in the event, who was surprised by how hot it was. I told him just wait 'til Saturday, and the section from Salmon Arm to Kamloops.

    I wasn't using my camelback due to a sore neck/shoulder, figuring on using three bottles, then using a filter to refill when I ran out. Good plan, but I couldn't find my filter in my bag. I finally decided I must have thought I wouldn't need it 'til after Jasper, and put it in my drop bag. About this time I realized I was an idiot, there was a time zone change, and I would not get to Jasper during business hours.

    I reached Jasper tired and dehydrated, then found my filter, in the bag on my bike, where it had been all along. At most controls, I had been meeting up with Dario (Italy), and Jukka (Finland). They apparently had met at the Kamloops airport, and not knowing anyone else, had decided to ride together. They are fun, very likable people, and it was entertaining to watch them trying to communicate in their limited English, as neither spoke the other's language.

    After a shower, lots of food and liquids, 4 ½ hrs sleep, and more food, I set out in the dark for Beauty Creek. This is a great road to ride in the dark, as it is closed to large trucks, and therefore has no traffic. I passed a few more riders in this section. Had a great breakfast in Beauty Creek, but burned my tongue on my hot chocolate. If anyone had told me my tongue would be sore longer than my butt after this ride, I wouldn't have believed them.

    After leaving Beauty Creek, the combination of climbing and frost heaves made my rear wheel start to come apart in a big way. I stopped to tighten them, and continued. Anyone who has ever ridden with me knows that I have a problem with downhills that varies from mere extreme caution to something close to an anxiety attack, depending on fatigue, blood sugar level, and other things I haven't figured out. Feeling very shaky on a downhill, I stopped for a rest and a snack, then found out this one was legitimate - all my rear spokes were loose again. Dario and Jukka passed me on the downhill before the Icefields Center, and I passed them on the following climb. If I understood correctly, Dario's quads were cramping. I figured that to achieve my goal time of 75 hrs, I should be at the 600km mark (Sask. River Crossing) within 36 hours of the start. I made it with 40 minutes to spare. I was having food problems - none of the food I was carrying was palatable, and I was having trouble swallowing. I resolved this by eating as much as possible at controls, and fueling with bananas, gatorade, and scotch mints in between. It's funny how a song can get stuck in your head on a ride like this. At this point it was Marty Stuart/Travis Tritt's "This one's gonna hurt you for a long, long time".

    Somehow, my wheel held together to Lake Louise, and someone at the control guided me to an open bike shop. They replaced my spoke and trued my wheel as best they could, although it still had quite a hop. While he fixed my wheel, I had an ice cream cone. My ride had been saved.

    Physically and mentally refueled, I had a great ride to Castle Junction, and back past Lake Louise. Charles Breer passed me, riding very strong. I caught up with him just before we started to drop down towards Field, where he had stopped for more water. He had bought more than his bottles would hold and gave me the rest. I recaffeinated with a big bottle of Coke. Charles asked me if that was all there was to the Rogers Pass. I hated to have to tell him how much climbing we still had to do.

    Apart from a little trouble finding the control, which added a couple of extra km, my ride into Golden was uneventful. I arrived at dusk, showered, ate, slept 3 ½ hrs, ate, and left about 1:30 am. Almost got lost just before the big bridge when I followed an exit lane to the right when the highway curved to the left. On the first big climb, I caught Bruce Farenwald and Brad Tanner from New Hampshire. Due to my downhill phobia they went by me going down the other side. I caught them again going up the next climb, and we rode up the Rogers Pass together just as the sun was coming up, passing two more very tired looking riders at the summit. Everyone but me pulled into the Rogers Pass Center for refreshments and I continued on towards Revelstoke. Just past the summit, my right knee decided it didn't like what I was doing to it and wouldn't put up with any more. I rode into Revelstoke as gently as possible, and had a rest and another breakfast. I was shocked to find that only 5 riders had been through ahead of me.

    I stopped on the way out of Revelstoke to phone my wife, Susan (I had been phoning with progress reports from every second control) to tell her when I expected to be in Enderby, where she was going to meet me. My knee was hurting so I stopped and raised my saddle, which helped a little. I was having so much fun I rode faster than I should have, but the ride from Revelstoke west is too nice to ride slowly. Near Malakwa, I had my biggest disappointment of the ride. In the distance, I thought I could see a lemonade stand. However, as I got closer, it became obvious that someone had brought their yard sale to the highway to attract more business. I could almost taste that lemonade!!! Note - here's a potential business opportunity.

    After Sicamous I was on roads that I had cycled before, so I felt as though I was nearly done. Resisting the call of D-Dutchmen ice-cream, I arrived in Enderby almost an hour sooner than I expected. I greeted Susan with "Do you have any Ibuprophen?" She did. Some orange slices and lots of water later I was on my way to Salmon Arm. Climbing the hill between Enderby and Salmon Arm reminded me of just over one year before, on my first 400km brevet, having to stop twice to rest on this hill. No such trouble this time, so I guess I'm getting better.

    I had enough lunch in Salmon Arm for any three normal people, and left with cold Gatorade and ice in my bottles and my jersey pockets full of bananas. This was when all the yahoos came out of the woodwork. In downtown Salmon Arm, someone in a passing car saw my polka-dotted Rocky Mtn. 1200 jersey and yelled "Hey! The Tour de France is that way!" Another yelled "Hey! Can I have a banana?" Just after cresting the first little climb out of Salmon Arm, a boy of about 10 or 12 from the reservation I was passing through, riding a bmx bike down the wrong side of the highway, wearing no shirt or helmet, yelled at me "I'm faster than you are!", and started to sprint. For whatever reason, I responded. By the time I started to pull away from him and his buddies, my computer said I was going over 40 km/h! If this kid ever decides to become a serious rider he'll be unbeatable.

    I tried not to think about the cold Kokanee in the fridge as I rode through Sorrento less than 1 km from my house. It was blistering hot as made my way towards Kamloops and my knee was very sore. Dropping down Jade Mountain to Chase I hit my highest top speed of the ride - 58 km/h. It's a good thing my climbing is strong enough to compensate for my pathetic descending. Nearing Kamloops, my knee got so sore that I got off and walked for a couple of minutes.

    I arrived at Kamloops at 7:00 pm. I had finished in 69 hrs! I asked for something to drink that wasn't hot Gatorade. Someone got me a big glass of ice water, and someone else gave me an ice-cold Heiniken. I almost cried with gratitude. I was the 5th rider to finish, first rider in from the 90 hr. group. Somewhere between Salmon Arm and Kamloops I had passed David Bundrick. He had been 40 minutes ahead at Salmon Arm, so he must have stopped for quite a while.

    I am eternally grateful to the wonderful volunteers at all the controls. They looked after all our needs so well. I was made to feel like a celebrity at every stop. There were people at every control who were knowledgeable as to what to expect of the riders needs. I heard Ray Wagner at the Revelstoke control, obviously aware of how stupefied we were by that point, telling his helpers it wouldn't work to ask us what we wanted, we wouldn't be able to give an intelligent answer. They had to put the food in front of us and say "Do you want this?" Very helpful to one who is beyond thinking. A HUGE thank you to everyone involved in organizing this great event. I'm already looking forward to the next one.


1 - Pack less stuff. I didn't use or eat half of what I took with me.
2 - Use my camelback - my neck should be better by then
3 - Try to ride more in the dark when it's cooler.
4 - The best bike for randonnees is whatever you're most comfortable on. David and I were the only riders on hybrids, and both finished in the top 1/3.
5 - If I ever learn to go down hills, I can keep up with the fast guys.
6 - If caffeine ever becomes a banned substance for these events I'm doomed.


1 - Starting out slow.
2 - Coffee in water bottle on 1st night.
3 - Starting with 90 hr group. Tiding at the front means it's a lot quieter to sleep at the controls. You go to sleep by yourself, and wake up with 20 people snoring around you. Ear plugs are a must.
Thanks again to everybody!
Bob Goodison (Sorrento, B.C.)

© Bob Goodison, 2004