There must be a bed graveyard somewhere in Cloverdale.
If you happen to know where it is, give Cindy O’Brien Hugh a call.
She’s one of the organizers of what has to be Surrey’s zaniest and most challenging athletic event, the annual Cloverdale Bed Races, celebrating 38 years in 2015.
The races – traditionally held on the Thursday before the Cloverdale Rodeo – are an irrepressible mix of creative team names, clever costumes and lightning-speed reflexes. But above all else, fierce competition.
Local legend has it the bed races got their start in 1977, when a motley, high-spirited crew called The Cloverdale Pub Club won the inaugural bed pan trophy.
It was a six-block marathon involving real hospital beds and raw courage. Racers and spectators got drenched when one of the opposing teams used fire hoses to blast the winners, and the guys were de-pantsed in the ensuing deluge.
In other words, the Pub Club (Rob “Turkey” Kielesinski, “Bub” Homfield, Shawn Loftus, Lorne Aniuk, Chuck Wallis, “Wang” Peterson, “Kat” Stevens and “Warp” Fruno) won the trophy – but literally lost their shorts.
Things really got out of hand when the crowd started pelting eggs, old tomatoes and horse manure “somewhat discriminately,” the Surrey Leader reported.
Team members rarely lose items of clothing these days, but injuries can occur during the fast-paced competition. Serious cases of road rash and pulled muscles are not unheard of.
Then there’s the fine art of losing gracefully.
Aaron Hotell of The Vault Restaurant and the Hawthorne Beer Market and Bistro has donned a bright blue dress and puckered up, good-naturedly honouring a gentleman’s bet with Rob “Turkey” Kielesinski, the kingpin behind current champion team Turkey’s Party Makers, which has won the coveted bed pan trophy in the men’s division five years in a row, despite well-matched competition.
Turkey’s bed is actually one of the older beds, says O’Brien Hugh.
Nobody can quite remember the origin (it looks suspiciously like the Cloverdale Auto Body bed of past, she confided).
The Surrey Fire Service is using a second-generation bed, having retired their first. “Maybe it went up in smoke?” she joked.
The Surrey RCMP bed – memorable for its flashing light bar – is, sadly, in pieces and therefore retired.
For many years, most teams had their own beds but over time, the beds have been lost. (Fortunately, teams without a bed can still enter – there are one or two loaner beds.)
In January, she figured there were only about a half dozen beds in racing shape still out there, resulting in a community call-out to create more.
“We’ve had a few new beds made in the last three to four years, including beds by The Henry [Public House] and Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary,” which made two, she said.
The original beds were just that, beds on wheels.
“Thirty some odd years ago, a long-time local physician, Dr. John Forster, actually brought in two hospital gurneys to race.”
More recently, the trend has been to build beds based on the official bed races specs, so they’re faster and easier to handle.
The race itself has become more organized but remains just as fun to watch and enter, attracting local businesses, sports teams, non-profit organizations and others out to compete. Teams of six pushers and one rider compete in five categories: men’s bed pan division, ladies’ chamber pot division, the mixed team centre of the universe division, and the media stone pig division.
Winners in each category receive a trophy to display for one year, Cloverdale Rodeo tickets and “huge” bragging rights, she says.
“We’d like to invite and encourage folks to pull together a team, create their own unique bed, dress up in some wild and crazy costumes and come on down and join in the races,” she said.
The 38th annual Cloverdale Bed Races are May 14 starting at 6:15 p.m. on 176A Street, between 57 and 58 Avenues. The free event follows the children’s decorated bike parade and a demo by competitors at the World Freestyle Round-Up at the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.
For more information and to register, call 604-574-4328 or the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce at 604-9802, or visit Cloverdale.bc.ca (see Special Events).