Bicycles and beer: Victoria International Cycling Festival’s final weekend

by Raymond Parker on June 25, 2012

in Cycling, Events, Photography, Racing

A Vintage Nishiki Landau Does the Job

Victoria sees itself as Canada’s Cycling Capital, and with the ascent this year of Victoria native Ryder Hesjedal to the heights of international cycle racing fame, the city is clearly big on bikes. Even so, one might be forgiven for thinking it the world hub of bicycling mania the last few days.

Over the weekend, the only thing more abundant than bicycles of every description was beer from every brewery.

The penultimate day of the Victoria International Cycling Festival saw the Victoria Gran Fondo send more than seventy riders out on a 270 kilometre jaunt around the Pacific Circle Route in challenging conditions.

The same storm that lashed gran fondo riders with wind, rain and hail halted the aerial acrobatics of the Jump Ship daredevils, down in the Inner Harbour.

On Sunday, under sunny skies, the streets along the waterfront, blocked to motor traffic, hosted the start/finish line of the second edition of Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria. The 2012 event eclipsed last year’s numbers (1,500), attracting over 1,700 riders to courses of 50, 100, and 140 kilometres.

The latter route saw an unfortunate crash on Lindholm Road in Metchosin that sent several lead riders to hospital with broken bones.

The first cyclists finished in three hours, 51 minutes and two seconds.

Hesjedal’s pink jersey, which he won at this year’s Giro d’Italia, was presented after the event to fan Derek King of Nepean, Ontario, who forwarded a winning bid of $10,300 in an earlier auction. Among other charities, the money will help aspiring racers through the CanFund

The Legislature grounds were home to the Classic Bike Rally and showcase for trial riders’ skills. Government Street, in front of the Empress Hotel, bustled with corporate booths and beer gardens.

Further north, the sun and calm weather brought back Jump Ship contestants to entertain from a barge tethered on the waterfront.

The Sky’s the Limit

While the Evil Knievel’s of cycling launched themselves into space, the adjacent beer garden on the jetty kept the suds flowing by the gallon, while a nearby band shell pumped out live music.

Alcohol and testosterone were an excuse for some spectators to display their imbecile gene in full, keeping security and police on their toes.

Fortunately, the cretin minority did not detract from the overall upbeat party atmosphere, where dancing and velo celebration was the order of the day.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Conor Ahern June 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

When I saw the “Bicyles and Beer” title it conjured up many images of unusual races. Maybe a criterium where a rider must drink a pint of beer at the end of each lap, last rider upright wins.

But seriously folks Don’t drink and ride, you might spill it!


Raymond Parker June 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

Who will take home the Brewer’s Cup … er, Mug?


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