My name is Sandy Fleming and my wife Kim and I are from North Vancouver – both of us have ties to Vancouver Island. Kim was born and raised in Duncan and my family was Navy – growing up in Esquimalt. So, returning to Victoria for Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria is a bit of a homecoming for both of us.
We are both retired so have more time now to cycle in general and to prepare for the TDV. We ride with the Silver Wheels, a cycle club registered with the West Vancouver Senior’s Activity Centre and we also train and ride with the TaG Ride Club, located in North Vancouver.
The Silver Wheels is mainly a social ride club but of course when you have a group of cyclists, the pace to the mid-ride coffee stop often becomes more competitive than “social”. Silver Wheels has 80 members and 35 of us are registered for the TDV this year, up from 20 last year (I’m the team captain). TaG is a training and competitive cycling club originally formed by Leslie Thomlison and Gina Gran with a focus on training, skill development, and competition for both road and mountain bike. TaG has a great indoor studio and started an outdoor ride club just last year, with well over 100 members now. TaG expects to have over 50 riders at the TDV as this will be the primary club event for outdoor training this year. So nearly 100 North Shore riders are coming to Victoria for the TDV! I’m torn which club jersey to wear – last year I rode wearing my TaG jersey and switched to Silver Wheels for the beer garden.
I have participated in the TDV for the past 6 years, only missing out on the inaugural event in 2011 and riding the 140km route every year. Somehow I’ve improved my time each year, including the very wet and cold event in 2013, but not sure if that record will continue. Kim accompanied me every year and was my cheering section the first two years, but then decided that riding would be more fun than watching, so she has ridden the past 4 years, including the 90 km route the past two years – 100 km this year.
Our club rides are typically 50 to 80 kms, 3 times per week weather permitting, so we get in around 200 kms of riding per week with a bit more when we get closer to the TDV. We expect to be doing lots of north shore rides over the summer plus some endurance rides with TaG to get ready, and maybe some extra long rides on the weekends.
I have ridden in other Gran Fondo’s and similar cycling events, but have found the community spirit, organization (beer garden!), and great routes makes the TDV the most enjoyable one we have participated in – especially the families who sit at the side of the road cheering you on. We have encouraged other cyclists we ride with to try the TDV, especially for their first mass cycling event, and many of them have also returned for subsequent years.
So we’re off to England for a vacation now – with some easy rides in the countryside planned. We will have some conditioning catch-up to do when we get back!
–Sandy and Kim Fleming will be blogging for the Tour de Victoria as they train for this August. Amazing advocates for the Tour de Victoria, they always bring a large group with them!
If you visit my street on a Saturday morning in May, you’re likely to find a four-year-old boy chasing a seven-year-old boy on their bikes screaming obscure references only a cycling fan would know.
“It’s a breakaway, Nibali wins!,” “No I’m Nibali, your Froome.” “No, I don’t want to be Froome.” “Fine, you can be Nibali, I’m Quintana.” “Wait, can I be Quintana?”
I had the same conversation with my brother when I was a kid except it was Gretzky and Lemieux, and not European bike racers. That’s not to say we’re a bike racing family. We’re not (at least not yet). But we love riding for recreation, and we love following the sport’s big races via the internet, which are mostly in Europe and finish during breakfast time here in Victoria.
And if it sounds abnormal, it’s my fault. Well actually, it’s Ryder Hesjedal’s fault. He is probably… wait, Ryder is totally the reason I’m training for my fourth straight Tour de Victoria.
A few years before I got into cycling, it was 2010, and I was sitting at the Victoria News sports reporting desk. I took a call from Seamus McGrath, the director of Tour de Victoria and who I knew of as a two-time Olympic mountain biker. He phoned to tell me about this new mass participation cycling event he wanted to create across Greater Victoria. I remember he had to visit all 13 councils from Sidney, to Oak Bay to Sooke.
I said, “So you’re saying, you know this Ryder Hesjedal guy riding to fourth place in the Tour de France?”
That summer I started watching and reporting on Hesjedal each day. My wife and I fell in love with the morning routine of watching Hesjedal and the peloton ride through the French countryside before heading off to work.
But it still took me a five years before I joined the Tour de Victoria on its fifth edition in 2015.
This summer I’m excited to share my journey in the build-up to the 2018 Tour de Victoria. I started in with the 45km from Sidney. I learned I really didn’t know much about cycling or how to train for it, except that I was scared enough to know I needed to get in a lot of rides.
On that 2015 ride I had to stop about 10 minutes in and borrow a friend’s multitool to tighten a broken crank, and then I repeated this act the whole ride (he let me take the tool). The next year I took the bike in for a pre-ride tune up at (the wrong) local bike shop in anticipation of jumping up to the 90km ride and, once again, I had to stop and tighten the crank about five times throughout the ride.
I got the bike fixed, finally, and had a much more enjoyable 90km ride in 2017.
To challenge myself again this year, I am making make the jump to the Harbour Air Seaplanes 140km. I’ve never biked beyond 100km, and only hit that mark once, so I’m serious when I say this will be a big jump for me. I am a full time parent, reporter, and masters student, so finding time to bike is not easy.
Finally, I’m proud to say the amount of cycling I watch is starting to be outmatched by the amount of cycling I actually do!
Look for my upcoming blogs about my painful but rewarding first experiences accomplishing popular local rides that are part of the Tour de Victoria, including the legendary Munn Road hill climb, riding in headwinds, and sneaking on the back of group rides.
-Travis Paterson is a community reporter for the Saanich News and local Black Press papers. At night and on the weekend, he is a spandex-loving poser on a bike.
I am the author of the book, Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries. I am also the Producer of Victoria Beer Week, which takes place annually in early March, and the Director of Content for the BC Ale Trail. You might hear me talk about craft beer on CBC Radio or CFAX 1070 from time to time, and I write the occasional article on beer for magazines like WestJet and British Columbia.
Cycling has been a big part of my life since I was a kid growing up in the countryside in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. I had to ride my bike to get anywhere so I guess I was a cycle commuter long before such a thing was considered cool. As an adult, cycling has become a pleasure pursuit and a source of exercise. I am a fair-weather cyclist — I have trouble motivating myself to ride in winter months or on a rainy day. I only own one bike — an 8-year-old Trek 7.2 FX that is a hybrid commuter/mountain bike. I picked it because I needed a bike with a big frame and I feel like it fits me well. Also, it has 24 gears so there are plenty of options for me to choose, and I definitely use them all!
As a beer writer, I drink beer on a regular basis so exercise is important to me. For the past several years, I have been riding the Tour de Victoria’s 45km Christie Phoenix Challenge. That is generally the longest ride I do every year, but when the organizers announced new distances this year, I decided to up my game and signed up for the Christie Phoenix 60km ride. I plan on working my way up to it over the next few months — I don’t want August 18 to be the first time I try to ride 60km.
A good workout ride for me is about 25-30 km long; I often ride a loop around Victoria using the Lochside Trail and Galloping Goose as much as possible. I can go for a long time on flat stretches, and I really try to push myself to get a good workout every time I ride. I tend to avoid hills as much as possible because they really sap my stamina (I am a big guy so it takes a lot of energy to get my body up a hill). The first couple of years I did the Tour de Victoria, I had to walk myself up part of the big Ash Road hill and that other nasty one at King George Terrace. It’s so unfair that King George Terrace comes so close to the end of the ride when I’m usually so tired!
But more and more during my training this spring and summer I intend to challenge myself on hills to build up some endurance (I hope!). I also intend to ride the route of the Christie Phoenix 60km at least once before the day of the ride, just to prove to myself that I can do it.
So far this year I’ve only gone out on a few rides, but as the weather warms up I plan on getting out more and more often. I have a couple of longer rides planned, including a ride to Swartz Bay to meet a friend who is coming over to visit from Vancouver (that is a 70-km round trip for me so I might have to take my bike on the bus up there).
Next month, I’ll provide an update on how my training is going, and maybe I’ll recommend a post-ride beer, too. Cheers!
Joe Wiebe, the “Thirsty Writer,” is the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, the definitive guidebook to British Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer industry, currently in its second edition. Joe has ridden in all of the Tour de Victoria rides and will be challenging himself with the Christie Phoenix 60km this August.