FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — One of Blizzard Bicycle Club’s founders, Pat Ferris, said smoke from this summer’s wildfires caused the club to cancel some of its events this season.
Ferris said the smoke was difficult to deal with, but it was often clear in Baldonnel, where the club holds weekly time trials.
“For some reason, the east-west road with all the trees and everything on it, there seems to be very little smoke out there,” Ferris said.
“We’d go out there thinking it was going to be brutal and hard to see across the street because it was hard to see the planes at the airport, but we’d get out there, and there’d be a breeze blowing through that got rid of the smoke,” he recalled.
Because the area was clearer than expected smoke-wise, Ferris said the club could host events it didn’t think would be possible.
He added that the club had to shorten some of its Sunday races near Baldonnel School because of weather conditions.
“We’ve had some Sunday ones we’ve had to shorten up, or we make them low effort. We’ll say, Okay, everybody, we’re going to go slow. We’re going to go 20 km instead of the 80 km,” Ferris said.
Ferris said he started the club in 1982 with his wife and a friend after moving from Victoria. The trio were all members of the Victoria Wheelers at the time and decided to create a club of their own.
“The idea was they had a ride once a week, and they had a time trial and a few events. We wanted to see what interest was out there,” Ferris said, adding that the population of Fort St. John at that time was about half of what it is in 2023.
“We didn’t anticipate a lot of people, but we always had a steady crowd turning up,” Ferris recalled.
He said the number of people who sign up for the club has been as high as 150 riders per year, but the club’s average is usually around 50 to 75 annually.
The club welcomes riders of all skill levels and bicycle types, with members ranging in age from eight to 81.
Ferris said new members are always welcome.
“Come on up and get thrashed by an 80-year-old. It’s always humbling,” Ferris said.
Those interested in becoming a member can reach out to the club via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
At the club’s latest Baldonnel Time Trial, Nigel Wray took first at 23:12, followed a few minutes later by Calvin McCraken, who clocked a time of 27:57.
Barb Jarnigan came in third with a time of 28:38.
Learn more about the Blizzard Bicycle Club by watching the Community Roundup interview below: