Fundraising, racing and remembering
Vancouver’s Gastown Cycling
Like Canada, the historic Gastown section of downtown Vancouver, one that grew from a single tavern founded by John “Gassy Jack” Deighton, celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Gastown Cycling was born in 2008. It was originally called Terminal City Cycling Club after a Vancouver club formed in 1892. Following a spell as Click Cycling, the club changed its name to Gastown Cycling in 2012. Gastown Cycling is composed of Vancouverites who love cycling and, as the club’s director Sergio Hsia puts it, ”embrace the rich history and culture of the sport.” Hsia outlines the club’s philosophy: “It is expected that all members represent the club, its fellow members and sponsors with respect and integrity both on and off the road. This means being actively involved in Vancouver’s cycling community. We encourage everyone to participate in at least one charity ride per year.”
Since the club’s inception, it has been fundraising for cancer research mostly through the Ride to Conquer Cancer, with more than $611,265 amassed in its first eight years. Another favourite Gastown Cycling charity ride is June’s Rotary Ride for Rescue, a hill climb up Cypress Mountain to support North Shore Rescue, an elite and busy service that has plucked hundreds of lost or injured hikers, bikers and snow enthusiasts from peril.
Five years ago, the club formed a competitive squad, the Racing Reds, of 14 Cat. 1 and 2 racers who compete in road, track and cyclocross. Not confined to their city stomping grounds, the Racing Reds can be spotted all over the southern half of British Columbia participating in gran fondos, riding the boards of the Burnaby Velodrome and flying the flag at BC Superweek.
Summer months see members of the 80-strong club meet on Saturdays at club sponsor Wholey Fit to take in laps around the University of British Columbia campus. Sundays are for venturing out to Belcarra Park along the Burrard Inlet or over to Britannia Beach via the Sea-to-sky Highway. Challenging rides up Cypress Mountain or Mount Seymour are part of the club’s regular training jaunts.
Derek Ulrich, a member of Gastown Cycling’s board of directors, describes his ideal club ride as starting from Milano Coffee Lounge on West 8th Avenue near Columbia Street before a roll through Stanley Park and Horseshoe Bay to Porteau Cove and back. He says, “It’s got a bit of everything, and the stretch between Horseshoe Bay to Lions Bay is one of my favourites.”
Throughout Vancouver’s long, wet winters, team members keep sharp with spin classes, cyclocross riding or track cycling at the velodrome, where Ulrich is also a board member. Of the track, he says, “It’s where I do a lot of recruitment for the racing team, as it’s a great place to meet new people.”
Tragically, last autumn the club lost a member who was hit by a vehicle. Brad Dean was on a ride in Richmond with Gastown Cycling clubmates and
others. “Brad’s passing has definitely made us more tight-knit,” Ulrich says. The team has emblazoned a memorial patch on its jersey this season, distributed a dedicatory sticker and created a trophy for the top Rotary Ride for Rescue fundraiser in Dean’s honour. Ulrich adds that, along with a commemorative plaque at the Burnaby Velodrome, “Brad’s track bike has a permanent home at its spot under the track.”