Over 2,000 cyclists in Victoria’s 10th Ryder Hesjedal Tour under blue skies
Ryder Hesjedal was all smiles as he watched group after group of cyclists cross the finish line at the 10th anniversary of the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria cycling event on Belleville Street on Saturday afternoon.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better day for cycling,” said the retired rider. “We rolled the dice when we changed the date from August to October due to COVID-19, but it played out in a spectacular way.”
Just over 2,000 cyclists of all skill levels, ages two to 91, joined the eight rides that made up the event. Adults and children alike could choose to join hikes of 15, 30, 45, 60, 100, 140 and 160 kilometers. Children aged 2 to 10 had their own Kids Ride, with parents allowed to run alongside them. About 130 children had the chance to meet and ride with Ryder Hesjedal, some on tricycles or racing bikes.
Matthew Ishikawa, 9, joined the adults in the 60 kilometer event. It was his third Victoria Tower; he has already covered the distances of 15 and 30 kilometers. During the event, he met Noah Barton, another nine-year-old, who has been cycling since the age of five.
Meeting new friends isn’t limited to young people.
Rob Blackie started cycling to get fit and lose weight, and discovered a new circle of friends in the process.
“My wife and I were new to the city three years ago and the bike was a great way to meet new people,” said Blackie, 38. “I was also new to cycling at the time and joined the Tripleshot Cycling Club for their group. Ride.”
It was his first Tour of Victoria cycling event and he was feeling a little discouraged, but happy, having ridden 140 km, his longest to date. He said the road was difficult for him, with an elevation gain (hills) of around 1,800 meters. Most of the runners in this group took between four and eight hours to complete.
“The different routes of the event are what makes the Tour of Victoria unique,” said Seamus McGrath, tour director. “We have a Tour de France level event held on a varying landscape that can take you through a rainforest at one point and along a beach the next. This is not a race, so you can just enjoy the scenery on a traffic-controlled route.
He said that while international riders were common in previous years, out-of-town riders this year came mainly from the Lower Mainland.
The ride is a fundraiser for three charities. The Ryders Cycling Society of Canada hopes to raise $ 10,000 to promote local and national cycling initiatives. Opportunity International hopes to raise $ 100,000 for its microfinance initiatives in developing countries. World Bicycle Relief hopes to raise $ 19,700 to purchase 100 specialty bikes for students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs.
A smile is still on Hesjedal’s face as he sees more cyclists arriving.
“I still remember when we started the event 10 years ago,” said Hesjedal, as he watched more riders reach the finish line. “I said ‘Build it and they will come’,” said the 2012 Giro d’Italia champion. “And they did.”
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