This coming weekend Human Powered Racing will be embarking on the annual Parksville 360. This will be the 7th time we have made this epic journey up island. The origin of this ride came from none other than Peter Reid. I remember him telling me about how he got on his bike one day with nothing but a small back pack and decided to ride to Mt. Baker. Mt. Baker can look quite close on a clear day when you are looking at it from Victoria. It is not! A ferry and ocean crossing is required for this ride.
I always thought this was a really cool idea, just throw a pack on your back and ride as far as you can one day and then turn around and come back the next day. You just pray your credit card is not denied because other than that and a change of bike clothes and some running shoes that is all you have with you. The first time we did this ride there were just a few of us. We rode up via the back roads and when we arrived in Parksville we decided we had gone far enough. The route we took ended up being 180km, or the exact distance of an Ironman ride (perfect!). We jumped off our bikes, went for a quick run and a tradition was born.
We stayed at the luxurious 5 star (out of 10) Paradise Sea Shell Motel. We bought some pizza and beer, watched playoff hockey and crashed for the night. The next day we got up, had a quick continental breakfast, some hotel coffee and started the journey home. The one thing about this ride that is somewhat daunting is that you know that you have to get up and over The Malahat (a pretty decent climb) in the last hour of what has already been about 10 hours on the bike. When we finished this ride we were all exhausted but we knew we had accomplished something. It was this sense of accomplishment that I wanted the rest of the team to feel so it has been a staple of the Human Powered Racing calendar ever since.
Since that first ride things have become a little more civilized. We now stop in Chemainus for a proper lunch on the way up and we have 2 or 3 support vehicles along for the trip in case of bike troubles and to take up bags with dry clothes etc.. Although things have changed a little over the years, the goal of the trip and the feeling of accomplishment is the same when you get back home on Sunday afternoon.