Jay's Report - August 08, 2005
The Highline 100 Turns 2
Cycling is abuzz in Fernie. The Canada Cup Mountain Bike Race was last weekend. I�m a faithful spectator, but a spectator I shall remain until armor comes with air bags. The TransRockies Challenge took off this weekend. I heard of a 63 year old Aussie that had been training for the Transrockies Challenge in an Australian desert for months before coming to Fernie to compete. Having grown accustom to 45C degree Australian desert heat the gentleman could be seen sporting a fleece vest in the coolness of the Fernie 30C degree sunny skies.
But, like last year, it was the Highline 100 that captured my imagination and participation. It appeals to a broader range of folks. Riders ranged in ages from 5 to 78. There were accomplished racers and sandal wearing riders, mountain bikers and road bikers, elite athletes and guys like me. With blue sky, hot sun, nicely swept road shoulders, and (remarkably) tail winds that blew out and back, it was meant to be. The summer Griz was perhaps offering redemption over the hideous weather dished out in the inaugural Highline 100 last year at this time. Who can forget the wind, rain and sleet from last year? I still have monkey bum from that ride. But, thankfully, the event endured in 05 and in fact grew to about 90 riders this year � twice that of last year.
The Highline 100 is a bike ride of 100 kms or 100 miles (rider�s choice). It was conceived last year by part time locals Curtis Rytz and Brad Zumwalt as way of commemorating Fernie�s centennial and to create an annual local charity event (proceeds from the ride are donated to the Fernie hospital and to the Fernie Alpine Ski Team - FAST). Nancy Clark was on hand at the barbeque afterward to say a few words about the Fernie general hospital and to let the riders know that the funds raised would go to good use such as emergency room equipment and supplies. Good thing because we needed some of those services. Louise Martin had a close encounter of the loose gravel sort, suffering a rather nasty gouge on her arm. Undaunted, she continued on another bike (hers being damaged) and finished the entire ride before utilizing some of those emergency services for stitches.
Louise is one of a remarkable group of women calling themselves the �Fernie Fossils�. These women of their golden years partake in amazing all-over-the-world cycling, hiking and traveling adventures. Two other members of the group are Linda Socher and Isabel Wright, both of whom completed the ride without breaking a sweat. Linda could be seen riding in sandals with her towel and swim suit strapped to her bike so she could go for a swim at Saunders Beach � the designated lunch stop. (The ladies would say that a lunch stop is �Fossil Fuel�.) Isabel carried a stuffed monkey on her back, explaining, �I know I am going to be last, but the reason is I have a monkey on my back�.
This year marked the first formal presentation of the prestigious Hub Cap Award, going to the rider or riders that best exemplified the spirit of the Highline 100. Now the true genesis of the Hub Cap Award is somewhat controversial and is moving into the realm of legend. The Hub Cap itself flew off the wheel of a passing car last year and sliced between Max Gartner and yours truly, narrowly missing us both and forever immortalizing us into Highline 100 folklore. Curtis Rytz and Sharon Fitzgerald, the ride organizers, retrieved the Hub Cap and embodied it in a trophy for formal presentation this year. Max and I humbly accepted the award for our calmness in the face of the near tragedy that could have occurred had the infamous hub cap struck either of us.
In establishing tradition, Max and I passed the award on to a much more deserving recipient this year, Claude Martin. Claude is amazing. Last year Claude was a volunteer at the ride, unable to ride due to recurring knee problems. He vowed to be in this years ride and took the extreme measure of having two freshly minted mechanical knees implanted this past winter. Claude rode 100 kms with apparent ease.
In a town known for legendary powder, the real story is legendary people. That�s spirit; that�s Fernie; and that�s what is special about the Highline 100. Watch for it again next year.