Caption: Before the big ride, Joan Potter, Yvon Cote (6900), Ric Potter (6758), Tim Sparling (6776), Roy Thomas (7072), Nigel Griffin (6997), Dave Campbell (6897), Harry Hamilton (7001).


Some 15 years ago in September 2001, a group of several relatively keen Ottawa area cyclists from the RMC grad class of 1966 took up Dave Campbell’s challenge to ride our bikes to Kingston for the reunion weekend. Dave offered up his cottage on Big Rideau lake as a half way overnight accommodation point to make the trip a little more enticing.

In order to boost our numbers the idea was put out to the whole class to opt in. In the end we got a few out of town takers from Toronto and Montreal and elsewhere to join in. One of the latter was John Van Haastrecht, who was then living in Edisto, South Carolina and joined us at somewhat the last minute using an old clunker of a bike, which he had ridden precious little around Edisto island.

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However, John declared himself fit enough for the event, having just climbed a sizable mountain in Washington state on another dare. John used both of these occasions to raise a significant amount of funds for the RMC Foundation.

This first trip proved very memorable for many reasons and established another class tradition. John’s wife, Beth, drove the “SAG wagon”, which was full of old vintage wines (including a 1954 bottle of Chateau Latour!), and Dave had made a huge lasagna with all the garnishings for supper. The lake was still warm enough for the hearty to take a plunge, and many laughs were shared late into the evening. Joan Potter, who had also ridden with us, graciously shared some of her Mellaluca products to soothe our aching pains. Despite a relatively late night we all made it to Kingston the next day in time for all major reunion events. John had amazed us with his stamina, given the minimal training time in preparation.

Given the obvious success of the initial ride, of course the challenge to repeat this in 2006 and again the year we joined the Old Brigade, 2011, was irresistible. Again, the cry went out to all our classmates, and although there were a few new faces the total number of riders ended up about the same (9). Once again Dave had arranged for his and a neighbour’s cottage to house us at the half way point, and once again a great time was had by all, with John providing us all with sweatshirts and T-shirts to commemorate the occasion. Two fine highlights of the third trip were Beth driving the SAG wagon with her dog, Breezy, and meeting up for lunch with the Chasse Gallery canoeists on the last day.

Naturally, when it came to 2016, most of us were curious to see how many were still prepared to take up such a challenge, given the changes an extra 5 years can bring. However, despite one of the saddest changes, that John was no longer with us, 8 of us, including one wife, responded to the latest call. In memory of John, we called this one, the Van Haastrecht Memorial Ride. Just to make it a little easier this last time we all stayed at the Best Western in Perth at the half way point, and enjoyed a glorious first day of riding in bright sunshine. After a fine evening meal at Fiddlheads, the group showed their true grit on Friday morning, cycling through 3 hours of pouring rain on a five and a half hour ride to Kingston. Ironically enough, the sun popped out just as we arrived in town, and in the end our efforts were rewarded with a glorious weekend that made it all worthwhile. Although he was sorely missed, we sensed that John was with us in spirit all along, and we were delighted to see Beth at all reunion events as a full member of our class!

Caption: After the big ride, Joan Potter, Yvon Cote (6900), Ric Potter (6758), Tim Sparling (6776), Roy Thomas (7072), Nigel Griffin (6997), Dave Campbell (6897), Harry Hamilton (7001).