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Kevin Franco, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Tour de Victoria

This is my second season on a road bike, I took a 30 break from cycling when I got my drivers license. What was I thinking? 

I started 2016 with a goal of completing 10 Gran Fondos and 2500 kms... I achieved the 2500kms quite handily, but the Fondos presented a challenge - they are all booked on the same dates, so I had to be choosy about which ones I entered. I was fortunate enough to get into 4 of them this summer, my favourite being the Tour de Victoria.

I was hearing really good things about the Tour de Victoria so I decided to give it a go, at only 140kms and on an island, it should be an easy flat ride, right? hahaha

The ride was very well organized and there were thousands of cyclists participating in one of the three different distances. 

A lot of people, like myself, flew into Victoria for this race. In fact, I met very few people from Victoria, most were from elsewhere. The starting line was segmented based on your estimated finishing time; if you were going to finish in less than 4 hours you were at the front, 5 hours just behind the first group and so on until the 8 hour+ group at the back. This was a very smart way to arrange the lineup. I settled in with the 6 hour group. 

The ride started at the parliament buildings and went through the city and emptied into some absolutely beautiful country. What I hadn't prepared for was the extreme verticals. I've done greater verticals in one sitting, but the rollercoaster of 10% grade+ verticals was non-stop and often you had to leave your saddle in order to climb. 

The barrage of climbs left me spent with about 35kms left to go. The good news was reports of a bacon stop just ahead. The bad news was it was a 35km headwind all the way to the finish line! At this point in the race, the beer ticket I was given was beginning to wear a hole in my pocket and needed to be redeemed.

What impressed me, throughout the race, were the amount of spectators along the full 140km route, out on their front lawns, along the streets all cheering and ringing cow bells and whistling. In addition, the organizers had all of the roads blocked off to traffic so there was no worry of cars throughout the entire ride - that was a treat. 

A friend of mine from Calgary was also at the race, in fact his company, Planet Foods (Honey Stinger, Kicking Horse Coffee, Go Macro) was a sponsor and we got to catch up over a beer afterwards. 

The Tour de Victoria was a first class event all the way and I look forward to it next year, only I'll do a better job to condition myself for the hills! 

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Kevin Franco, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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