Cyclists swarm Canmore streets for RMCC stage race
The best local road riders will face off against the best Alberta has to offer as part of the first Rundle Mountain Cycling Club stage race in Canmore, this weekend (July 14-15).
Following in the footsteps of Banff Bikefest, this will be the first chance Canmorites will have to catch a glimpse of Category 1/2 road racing in 10 years.
RMCC has built up a stable of strong rides and organizer Shane Munro said the will and the way for a stage race is finally in place. After racing in several small, rural areas, he believes Canmore is an ideal setting for this competition.
"We've had a lot of success on the road and been building for a lot of years. In Canmore, the cross-country ski roots give athletes an aerobic base and cycling is a nice way to use that," Munro said. "We looked at running a race and expressed interest at our annual general meeting."
Most Alberta races are on small, rural roads in sleepy communities, but Munro said the volume of people around Canmore and the quality of roads should make for an exciting event.
Last year, Munro, along with Patrick Walsh, James Kendell and Matt Jeffries, took up the challenge and found support at the municipal level.
"They were very receptive, although they had reservations about holding it in the middle of the summer. But they saw the fit because Canmore is an active lifestyle community. Events like this will allow volumes of people to see it and have a positive reflection on the town's image" Munro said.
To kick off what they hope will become an annual event, routes showcasing the character of the community were picked. Fans will recognize many names in the race, as at least 20 local riders are expected to compete, as well as several retired cross-country skiers and biathletes.
Sean Crooks is one of those national team skiers turned cyclist. Considered one of the best in the province, he finished third in the Highwood Gran Fondo (see related story on page 51).
"This weekend should be a good one for me. I'm looking forward to the courses," Crooks said.
The event will start with 4.2 kilometre time trial races at the Canmore Nordic Centre, where racers will whip around the paved track, facing short climbs, long flats and rolling sections. Since the course is so narrow, arrow bars won't be allowed.
"The time trial is on the roller ski park. It's in the middle of the mountains, which is unique for cyclists," Munro said. "It's not safe to be in the drops because the course is so winding."
The 1.5 km criterium races will tear around town after the Miner's Day parade, beginning on Main Street and looping around Seventh Avenue, cornering on Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues before finishing on Main Street again. The races will begin at 2:30 p.m., with top racers taking off at 6:20 p.m.
"The crit course has taken the most amount of time to pick. We've closed several streets and the residents have been very good. We went door-to-door and the people were very receptive," Munro said.
The riders will reach speeds of 45 km/h during the crit, the most entertaining race for fans.
A youth community crit race will also take place, where all participants will receive a chocolate medal.
"There are not many races like this in Alberta for under 11- and 13-year-old cyclists. We want to encourage athlete development," Munro said.
On Sunday, the venue switches back to the Canmore Nordic Centre, as cyclists will travel up Spray Lakes Road before looping back toward the Stewart Creek roundabout. Top riders will complete the course seven times, for 131 kms.
"The road race is a championship course. If you equate it to Tour de France, you have mountain stages and sprinter stages. This one has both. You can't just sit in the peloton. You have to work on those hills." Visit www.rundlemountaincyclingclub.com for more details.