If you’re looking for a ride that you can tailor to your skill and fitness levels, the Tour de Victoria may be just the ticket.
The fifth annual Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria, happening Sunday (Aug. 23), offers a choice of three distances in a non-competitive, mass participation format that works its way through the Capital Region and the West Shore, depending on the distance you choose.
The 140-kilometre Harbour Air Epic course is geared toward competitive riders, while the 85km Legend route is designed to appeal to cycling enthusiasts. The 45km Challenge is more for the entry-level cyclist, which this year will include first-time entrant Leonard Hesjedal, Ryder’s father.
“I was inspired a few years ago by a rider with one leg who took part,” said Leonard, who has volunteered with the event since its inception. “And last year I made a promise to the oldest participant in the race that I would ride with him this year.”
Leonard said Ryder, who grew up in the Highlands, showed an interest in cycling at an early age and made a three-year commitment to get serious about the sport after he won his first mountain bike race. “Ryder’s level of commitment and dedication (throughout that three-year period) made me realize that he had the potential to do great things one day,” he said.
Despite Ryder’s success, which includes winning the 2012 Giro d’Italia and placing fifth in the Tour de France in 2010, he’s never lost sight of where he’s from, dad said.
“Ryder put the Tour de Victoria together to raise funds to support racers and the cycling community. He really enjoys the opportunity to give something back to the community he grew up in.”
Leonard looks forward to the opportunity to finally take part in an event his son is riding in.
“It’s a proud moment to be able to celebrate the sport,” he said.
Tour de Victoria director Seamus McGrath, who has ridden with Ryder Hesjedal on various occasions and will this time around, said it’s “always nice when he can make it here.”
The presence of the Tour’s namesake is proving to be a drawing card, McGrath said. “We’re well ahead of last year’s event in terms of numbers,” he said, adding that the 2014 total of 1,000 riders should increase by 300 or 400.
The courses’ routes, which are tweaked every year, include the Lochside Trail, the Galloping Goose, mountain views and scenic roads that set it apart from other venues, he said.
“One of the cool things about riding in this area is the variety of terrain,” McGrath said, comparing the routes to those found on races in Europe. “You’re riding along the beach at the Lagoon, through farmlands in Metchosin, around the hills of the Highlands, in wine country on the Peninsula, then on the waterfront in Saanich and Oak Bay.”
Registrations are open until Saturday. Entry fees are $215 for the Harbour Air epic, $175 for the Legend and $110 for the Challenge. Cycle over to tourdevictoria.com to register for the ride or find more information.
Pick your riding test
Three routes of various degrees of difficulty are available for the Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria:
• Harbour Air Epic (140km) – For experienced cyclists looking for a challenge; 1,500-metre elevation gain, multiple timed sections; 3.5 to 9 hours.
• ProCity Legend (85km) – For less competitive cyclists; starts at Western Speedway, elevation gain 850 metres, 2.5 to 6 hours.
• Challenge (45km) – More of a casual ride starting from Iroquois Park in Sidney, highlights the region’s cyling friendly routes, 390 metre elevation gain, 2 to 4.5 hours.