Our trip to Victoria wouldn’t be complete without taking part in Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria. For me, it was my fifth participation (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). For Tammy and Miranda, it was number three, and Ian’s second! I can’t type that without smiling. Everybody did an amazing job and made it safely around the 140, 60 and 30 km courses.
It was almost perfect weather: there had been a few showers overnight, but the morning was dry with a mix of sun and cloud and temperatures climbing to only about 21. No wind. No smoke. It might not have been as picturesque as a brilliant sunny day, but it was great for riding, especially when yours truly forgot to put sunblock on. 🙈
It was an early morning. The 140 km distance started at 7:00, so we were up at 5:30 and down at the parliament buildings by 6:30. We ran into my friend Keith, who I have ridden with many times. I didn’t ride with him today: he was “resting” in preparation for a 26 km run the next day, and I was planning to test myself.
As usual, there was a big crowd of riders. There were two groups: the 160 and the 160 distance, but you line up based on how long you think you will take to finish. I placed myself right at the tail end of 4-5 hours. In previous years, I’ve taken about 5:45 to finish but today I was going to see how quickly I could do it. Not racing, just working hard.
As you can see, I still started pretty far back. I held my position until the 4 Mile Pub hill and the Colwood Crawl, where I moved forward. I was even close enough to the front that I saw the blue and red lights of the lead police motorcycle when I turned off of Ocean Boulevard and onto Lagoon Drive! (tiny cheer) I was committed to giving it an effort, but when I reached the top of Kangaroo Road, I realized that I was ahead of schedule by a fair bit. Stephanie had said that she and the family would be on the course near her house to cheer me on, but at this pace I was going to get there faster than usual. So while climbing Lindholm Road, I texted Stephanie to let her know. But as you can see: it wasn’t enough. I missed them. 😢
The rest of the day went well for me. I ended up riding most of the way with a fellow from Vancouver named John, until my legs fell off in the Uplands area. Because I was so far ahead of my usual schedule, three unusual things happened:
- The lead group of the 160 km riders didn’t pass me on Munn Road. They only caught me at the aid station on Hastings Street, 90 km in.
- The climb up into the Highlands was very peaceful. I beat the leading 100 km riders to it (they started at 9:00) so it was only a handful of 140 riders around me and not a traffic jam.
- I caught Tammy and Miranda at the aid station at Cordova Bay Elementary, where last year they finished before I did.
But as I mentioned above, my legs fell off not long after passing Tammy and Miranda. I was already tired, and the hills in the Queenswood area finished me off. By the time I got to Uplands my thighs felt like cooked pasta. I still managed a reasonable ride to the finish, largely thanks to the lack of a headwind this year. I finished in 5:09, much faster than my previous best.
Dad was still there after seeing Ian start, and I got to watch Tammy and Miranda cross the line!
Tammy and Miranda started at 9:00 and rode together.
Tammy said that she was proud of how she’d done. She felt stronger on the steep hills and didn’t have to walk up any of them this year. (The hills on the course are much sharper and steeper than we have around Calgary)
Dad brought Ian down for the start of the 30 km ride at noon. His biggest problem was finding a place to park. Everywhere was full. He ended up parking under the Empress Hotel and walking over with Ian. They made it on time, but we definitely were not as organized this year. We neglected to put Miranda’s SIM card in his phone, so we couldn’t track him, and we didn’t leave him any nutrition bars to put in his pocket for the outbound ride. It was 15 km to the aid station at the turnaround for him, so he was fine but it would have been better to be prepared.
He did great. He says he pushed hard this year, and he was back in 1:33, eleven minutes faster than last year. Who knows, maybe he’ll be ready for the 60 next year?