Cana­dian Club

Hard rides on the windy Prairies

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Rob Stur­ney

Cy­cledelia Rac­ing’s hard rides on the windy Prairies

When peo­ple imag­ine road cy­cling in Saskatchewan, they might en­vi­sion straight roads on the flat prairie, a ter­rain seem­ingly per­fect for long rides. But Mike Gavelis, pres­i­dent of the Saskatoon bike club Cy­cledelia Rac­ing warns, “You have the flats but there’s the pun­ish­ing wind that goes with them.” Cy­cledelia is at the cen­tre of Saskatchewan’s com­pet­i­tive road scene, one that is made ex­tra chal­leng­ing by the gusts that buf­fet the wheat fields and the in­tense heat of sum­mer. The club de­scribes its ranks as filled with “like-minded sado-masochists” and its motto “It never stops hurt­ing, you just go faster” is a vari­a­tion of Greg Le­mond’s fa­mous maxim “It doesn’t get any eas­ier, you just get faster.” Gavelis, who be­came pres­i­dent of the club af­ter only one year of rac­ing in its ranks, claims the winds are the worst out­side the city and rec­om­mends rides within the city. “There are a few short hill cir­cuits to train on with the beauty of the South Saskatchewan River as the back­ground,” he says. Club mem­bers meet on Satur­day morn­ings for train­ing rides. Cy­clists join­ing for first time are cau­tioned be­fore these 120-km af­fairs. “They have a bit less chat­ting than you’re used to on a Satur­day morn­ing ride,” Gavelis says of the ad­vice that a new rid­ers is of­fered.

Cy­cledeli­acs will want to train for the Tues­day night races, which are fast and fu­ri­ous events con­tested by 20–30 rid­ers. “No friends on Tues­day night,” warns the club’s web­site. Gavelis ex­plains the for­mat: “De­pend­ing on num­bers, we will usu­ally have two or three groups where the newer rac­ers are sent off first in a head start, and then are chased down by the big en­gines to make for an ex­cit­ing fin­ish.”

The high­light event of the sea­son is al­ways Bikes On Broad­way, a three-day, three-stage race in the lat­ter part of May. While the chrono and con­clud­ing crit take place i n down­town Saskatoon, the road race is set 90 km north of the city from the Ba­toche Na­tional His­toric Site. Most of the time trial route runs along Spad­ina Cres­cent East with the river on the rider’s right. Once con­tested by as many as 200 rid­ers, Bikes On Broad­way has seen par­tic­i­pa­tion fall to around 100 in re­cent edi­tions.

With short Saskatchewan sum­mers, Cy­cledelia has fo­cused on grow­ing in­ter­est in cy­clocross and gravel rac­ing re­cently. “Saskatoon has a num­ber of great parks that serve as great cy­clocross cour­ses,” says Gavelis, who started rac­ing with the club in the mud and grass.

In 2014, the travel web­site Trav­elpulse named Saskatoon one of the best cities for cy­cling in the world. If you’re com­ing to visit the city and are look­ing for some­thing be­yond a nice, re­lax­ing roll around the city by the river, Gavelis ad­vises that you head south of town on High­way 219 east of the river to the Dakota Dunes Casino and back. You could also ride Val­ley Road (High­way 762), to the west of the river, to­ward Pike Lake Pro­vin­cial Park. There’s also the ride north to the town of Aberdeen. On the way, in Ea­gle Ridge, you can add some hill cir­cuits.

“They have a bit less chat­ting than you’re used to on a Satur­day morn­ing ride.”

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