Riding with the Legends
Being active in cycling for more than 40 years, I remember many tales of such past greats as Torchy Peden and Jocelyn Lovell. I learned that along with every accomplishment comes a memorable story surrounding that experience. The Cycling Canada Hall of Fame inductions in early Oct. and Legends Ride, proved to be an opportunity for everyone, including past and present racers along with enthusiastic riders, to experience the love of cycling they all share, as well as to hear some of those amazing stories.
It wasn't surprising that some rain and ominous clouds didn't deter many brave participants of this Lexus-sponsored ride. It was well worth the effort, and when the skies cleared and the temperature reached 17°C, it ended up being a classic day for riding. Cycling routes around Milton, Ont. feature beautiful terrain and little traffic with a backdrop of picturesque waterfalls amongst the changing autumn leaves.
Three of this year's inductees, Gord Fraser, Brian Walton and Alex Steida, joined the 100 members of the cycling community for the morning ride through Halton Hills alongside 2015 Hall of Fame inductees Steve Bauer, Curt Harnett and myself. Adding to the excitement, current Rio Olympians Hugo Barrette, Kirsti Lay and Kate O'Brien also rode along in this inaugural event.
After the ride, a luncheon was held at the Crosswinds Golf and Country Club and this year's inductees were welcomed into the Cycling Hall of Fame by emcee Randy Ferguson. Humourous and touching stories were enjoyed as this year's inductees Fraser, Walton, Steida, Louise Lalonde, Marie-Hélène Prémont and the 1908 Olympic Team Pursuit squad were honoured.
The character of all these successful and accomplished athletes and builders was an inspiration to everyone present. They recounted their own personal stories that reflected integral contributions of mentors, family support and fellow athletes who made their achievements possible.
These behind-the-scenes stories truly illustrated just how an athlete reaches the podium. These humble recipients all acknowledged, recognized and were grateful for such support – signs of a true champion!
One shining moment of the afternoon was a touching tribute by Robert Vellend of
Vellend Tech Canada Inc. to the late iconic
Lovell, who passed away on June 3, 2016.
Vellend's son was named after Lovell and also became his godson. When Lovell met the newborn Jocelyn, he asked to have the baby placed on his lap and presented him with a gift. It was his treasured
Commonwealth Games gold medal!
The story seemed to reflect the theme of the day that a champion isn't only defined by his/her fleeting moment of achievement. A true champion leaves a legacy behind. The stories of these great Hall of Famers become legends and inspire the rest of us for years to come.
(top) The inaugural Legends Ride featured many stars, including (l-r) Kirsti Lay, Gord Fraser, Alex Stieda, Kurt Harnett, Gord Singleton, Brian Walton, Hugo Barrette, Steve Bauer and Kate O’Brien.
(above) Alex Stieda flanked by John Tolkamp (l) Cycling Canada President and Matt Jeffries Marketing Director.