Posted by Editor on 12/19/05
by Pat Ferris
Blizzard Bike Club, Fort St John, B.C.
The question has often been asked how in the world such a large, good cycling club has appeared so far north, in such a tiny town, against all the odds.
Well, I will send write a weekly installment of how it all happened according to my recollections. The first weekly installment does not really count as the club had not yet started, so here are the first two.
In the beginning: 1981
To tell you the truth, I never even thought about cycling until ex-Victoria Wheeler Gary Leung came over and suggested we get out and do some cycling. I remember that afternoon very clearly. It was like a switch had been tuned on, that had been off and dormant for a very long time. Patricia encouraged me to get out there, so I did.
I had to find all my bike stuff which was at my parent's house. My Galmozzi road bike and bike clothing were intact. I picked it all up the next time I was in Prince George.
Gary and I rode almost every day, that summer. It was hard to try and get back into cycling after such a long time. I did not fly up the hills, anymore, for some strange reason. I gasped and wheezed constantly as I struggled to keep up.
That summer, a remarkable event occurred. I heard from the radio that a fellow was trying to start a bike club, in Fort St. John. His name was Mark Mann. He was a BMX wannabe with no actual cycling experience except for a keen interest. Gary, Mark, myself and one more person (I can't remember who....CKNL Sports guy?) met at the Marigold Restaurant and formed the Fort St. John Bicycle Club. Mark was President with Gary and me as Vice Presidents.
The 'Fort St. John Bicycle Club' fizzed out a month later as Mark went off with BMX, which Gary and I weren't interested in. By the mid eighties a highly successful BMX racing club was formed under Mike Morris. They had a real racing track at Kin Park. The club lasted until about 1989 at which point BMX racing went through a massive decline. Their track still exists in Kin Park, to this day.
The Blizzard Bike Club still did not exist at this time.
Club Start Ã‹â€ 1982
One gorgeous summers' day in June, Gary, Patricia and I were sitting in our living room musing about a bike club. I can't remember who coined the name Blizzard, but it stuck. I think Gary came up with the red and white jersey color scheme.
From there, we set up evening club rides from Overwaitea at 7:00 pm in efforts to drum up some members. The rides were done Monday thru Friday with weekends off for good behavior.
Some of the early folks we had that year were Rob Pryor, who was a student of Gary's from Kearney School. Andre Vietinghoff and Chris Budac were some of the others I can remember.
My first big thrill with our new club was when we had twelve riders attend! Wow, it seemed like a veritable army of riders. Success at least or so it seemed.
The club rides were the only club activity we did in those days. The rides consisted of everyone going as fast as possible so riders were scattered all over the country side, when we were done. It should have come as no surprise that there were very few repeat riders coming out.
We did have our first race, that year. It consisted of a criterium around the Fir Hall block. There was only four riders so we did not have to close down the road (or tell anybody!) that it was going on. Patricia was the timer with me, Gary Leung, Rob Pryor and Gary Frymier, a rider who joined in from a nearby BC Forest office. The new guy won. The weather was glorious. It was a wonderful day for northern cycling.
Coming up: Part 2 - 1983
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