When North America’s best riders line up for the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix presented by Allstream, they’ll be racing for more than just a record-setting $15,000 top prize.
In addition to the anticipated battles for Gastown’s always large cash primes, the biggest battle of the night will be for a prize the riders can’t even take home with them. The winner of that battle will win Canada’s most famous gazunder.
What’s a gazunder? Some call it a potty or a piss pot. Others call it a thunderpot or chamberpot. In Gastown, our prized gazunder is known as the Roger Sumner Trophy, and since 1973, it’s been one of the most coveted trophies in North American cycling.
Why a chamberpot? The idea came from race founder Roger Sumner, who organized the race for its first 12 years. Known for his dry British sense of humour, Roger collected them. Originally called the Mayor’s Cup, it was first presented by Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips, who ran the City from 1973 and 1977.
Aside from its “breathtaking” beauty, what makes the Roger Sumner Trophy so special is the list of winners inscribed on it. The names read like a who’s who of North American cycling, with Tour de France winners, Olympians, and world and national champions.
Only one rider has added his name to the trophy three times. That honour goes to the great Ron Hayman (1981-83), whose 7-Eleven squad won a record seven times in Gastown. Other repeat winners include Bill Wild (1973,1976), Brian Keast (1975,1978), Alex Stieda (1980,1984), Jonas Carney (1990,2004) and most recently, Gord Fraser (2003, 2005).
Just as the NHL Stanley Cup has a keeper of the cup who travels with it to ensure its safekeeping, so too does Gastown’s trophy. That man is Barry Lycett, also known as Baz to his many friends in the cycling community. In addition to being a fine racer who rode numerous editions of the Gastown Grand Prix, over the years Baz has served the cycling community in numerous ways, including bike fitter, personal coach, Olympic team coach and from 1985 to 1993, as one of the organizers of the Gastown Grand Prix with business partner Simon Holwill.
When a title sponsor couldn’t be found to continue the race in the mid-1990s, Simon and Baz returned the trophy to Roger Sumner for safekeeping. Roger would have been the happiest person in Vancouver to see the race return in 2002, but tragically he died 18 months earlier when he was struck by a car while doing what he loved most, riding his bike.
When Roger’s family offered Baz his pick of Roger’s cycling memorabilia, the only thing he chose was that one-of-a-kind trophy to ensure it would be available for future Gastown Grand Prix races. To honour Roger’s memory, and his gigantic contribution to the race and Canadian cycling, the trophy was renamed the Roger Sumner Trophy.
Since then the trophy hasn’t left Baz’s side, although it could very easily have ended up in Australia after the 2006 race. That year, race winner Hilton Clarke of the Navigators team was already strolling up Water Street with the trophy held above his head before Baz quickly caught up with him.
“He was very surprised, but quickly understood when I explained that the trophy had a permanent home in Vancouver,” says Baz.
The year before saw another first for the trophy when Gord Fraser showed his Canadian roots by bringing a long-standing NHL tradition to the podium ceremonies. Having obviously watched a few Stanley Cup celebrations in his time, Gord celebrated his second Gastown victory by drinking his winner’s champagne from it; the first and only rider ever to do so.
For Barry Lycett, the trophy is a cherished connection to his great friend Roger Sumner.
“The trophy resides prominently in my den,” says Baz. “It creates instant conversation and Roger is mentioned in the same breath as 1991 winner Lance Armstrong. I loved going for rides with Roger and I fondly miss him and his exceptional talents.”
On July 11, 2012, more than 130 of North America’s best riders will line up for a chance to win the prestigious Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix. The lucky winner will win a lot more than the $15,000 first prize. He’ll also win the Roger Sumner Trophy, forever linking his name too to Lance Armstrong, Gord Fraser, Ron Hayman and the other great winners of the Gastown Grand Prix.