Cycling, Edmonton | No comments yet.
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Perfect weekend to close the 2013 season in Edmonton!
Is there a better time to ride a bike than at the end of September? Especially with the weather we’ve been having lately. It’s perhaps the best time to get out and just ride for the pure pleasure of it. That’s exactly what 274 cyclists from Edmonton area did this past weekend at the Roger’s harvest ride in Ardrossan.
This year again, September had actually been better than all the previous months in the summer. The leaves are turning yellow and the morning air is crisp, which means conditions are again ripe for ‘Roger’s Harvest ride’. You’ve done all the work through spring and summer to become fit and strong, the race season is winding down, and the whole world around you is transforming into a spectacle of color. This can only mean one thing: ‘The Roger’s Harvest’ ride is here again. Again this year, just like last year there were more than 270 riders registered (including the staff) and ready for a ride.
Roger’s Harvest Ride is an interclub social ride hosted annually by the Tetrault Family, Velocity Cycle, and the Velocity Cycling Club. Founded by Roger and Laura Tetrault in 2001, the Harvest Ride is an open invitation for Edmonton cyclists to enjoy the fellowship of the cycling community and the stunning autumn colors that bless us here in the Edmonton region. It’s important to realize, this was not a race, but just a social ride to share in the fellowship of cycling and reflect on the past season.
In 2010, the ride took on an additional meaning as its founding member and our good friend Roger passed away after a long battle with melanoma. Since then they have introduced a charitable aspect to the ride, where proceeds are donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
I arrived early and parking lots around Ardrossan Memorial Hall were already full with cars and riders preparing for the ride. All riders must have been registered before the deadline (September 18th) and checked in the morning of the ride.
This annual event brings together Edmonton’s cycling community for an end of season celebration of riding and camaraderie in beautiful Strathcona County. It was founded by Roger Tetrault, a lifelong member of Edmonton’s cycling and cross-country skiing community. The Harvest Ride was conceived of by Roger Tetrault in 2000 while he and Laura were out riding on an autumn day in Strathcona County. All the leaves were turning and the farmers were out in the fields cutting. Velocity Cycle hosts the Harvest Ride for 15 years in a row, and back in 2010 it was renamed in Roger’s honor.
The start/finish location has been at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall, just 2 blocks back from previous location at the Ardrossan Senior Activity Centre. Departure time was set to be 10:00 am, just like last year. Cost of entry was $20/person, due to the new venue and catering cost. The registration fee covered participation in the ride and post-ride meal. All registered riders received bright green bracelets to prove their registration.
Laura Tetrault was at the start greeting participants – all 274 of them who showed up. I don’t know if it was the weather or the fact this event is becoming more popular every year, but it seems that everyone who matters in Edmonton cycling showed up on the start line. The ride was open to everyone from club racers to recreational riders.
We were all warned to ride within our own abilities. If you are not experienced in paceline riding or you are unfamiliar with group ride etiquette, consider riding with a smaller group of people you know and trust. First group with Velocity club members rolled out at 10AM and the rest of the 274 registered riders followed shortly in groups of 20 riders. This order was set to avoid any possible traffic problems that big groups would have, because traffic was not closed and we were all responsible and expected to ride according to law.
The fast group took off very quickly from Ardrossan new service road (3rd Avenue) by the Sports Centre and disappeared North on RR222. My group followed and in short distances other groups were heading North on the same road.
The route goes through beautiful Strathcona County. Shorter and longer routes (approx. 65km and 110km) were available. The route this year started with the North loop reaching Josephburg on TWP 550 and then returning to Ardrossan after 65 kilometers covered. This was a chance for the riders to regroup and only well trained and more experienced riders continued onto the South loop. On the South loop cyclists rode on Baseline Road all the way to Elk Island National Park where they made a right turn (South) until they reached Wye Road. They rode around Antler Lake, finishing back at the Ardrossan after 110 kilometers of fast riding.
During the northern lap, front group was cruising at a steady but high pace through the harvested fields (hence the name of this event!) of beautiful Strathcona County. The group was about 20-25 riders in size and most of the time they were riding in nice double paceline. Because there was no wind, they didn’t need to form echelons.
Even though this was not a race, the average speed was very high for this time of a year. My bike computer was showing an average speed of 33 km/h and I was riding in a ‘slow’ group. Very impressive, especially when you consider there were lots of guys in their 50s and 60s (like me)! Although the weather was nice, the high pace made this ride feel more like a race, and by the end of it everybody was exhausted. But I didn’t hear anyone complaining. It appears, speed is in cyclist blood, and people were smiling and having fun. They all had their own stories about the ride and were happily sharing them with each other.
A post-ride social lunch followed afterward at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall in Ardrossan. Somebody mentioned that Calvin was the cook!
Velocity Cycle thanks everyone who showed up!
Velocity Cycle would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who joined this ride. The ride was a big success, with great weather, beautiful scenery, and a wonderful turnout from the Edmonton cycling community. This was the 15th year of the ride, which Roger began as an opportunity for us all to get together and share our love of riding. Thank you for all your support, not only in participating and helping with the ride, but also in expressing support for the Tetrault family and the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
Harvest ride History
The first Harvest 100, named for its distance, was organized back in 1999 and drew some 160 riders from the Edmonton area. They gathered to celebrate the joy and fellowship of riding, and hopefully to see a bit of what made that first day special to Roger. After a successful first ride it became an annual event. Roger and Laura were regularly in attendance, often leading the ride out on their tandem. As the unofficial wrap-up to many a rider’s season, it has become a chance to gather in the cool air of autumn and the warmth of each other’s company and look back at a summer well spent on our bikes.
Roger was all about enjoying people, getting them together. So this is a nice tribute to his memory! Roger founded the Fast Trax ski shop, which was originally housed in the Velocity store on 101st Avenue during the winter.
Calvin Berube, the owner of Velocity bike shop, said Roger’s bike will always have a place of honor. “Goldie became his trademark. It is now hung in the store and will be used for all future Harvest rides”.
All pictures in this blog were taken by me, many taken from my bike during the ride. Yes, I can actually do this, riding with one hand on the handlebar and camera in the other. Hope you enjoyed them…
Thanks again everyone! Hope to see you again next year!
In addition to having a representative of the Alberta Cancer Foundation onsite at the ride to collect donations for melanoma research, you can also make a donation online through the Alberta Cancer Foundation here. Thanks!
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