Fantastic news … registration for the 25th Anniversary TdA is open. What’s the TdA you ask? Well, the Tour de l’Alberta (TdA) was started in 1994 by Don Peddie of the Edmonton Bicycle & Touring Club (EBTC) as a club ride for members to celebrate the Tour de France in our French communities and to promote recreational cycling by participants of all ages and abilities. On its inaugural ride, the club saw just over 20 cyclists ride 100 km. Since that day in 1994, the ride has grown to its current state of over 1300 cyclists with four different ride options: Family Ride, 50 km, 100 km, and 160 km.The TdA is one of the largest one-day cycling rides in Western Canada and is a staple on the local sporting event calendar. The Tour has introduced new riders to the sport as well as returning participants from previous years. EBTC offers three Sunday rides to help you train for the TdA: West End Target the Tour, Ardrossan Target the Tour, and the Sunday Afternoon Rides.
Not sure if you want to register yet? Well get to it because there are early bird incentives for EBTC members!! If 150 EBTC members register before May 31, they not only get a preferred rate of $85 but will also receive a free pair of 25th anniversary socks branded with the EBTC and TdA logo. Additionally, 1 of those 150 EBTC members will be the lucky recipient of a VIP upgrade valued at $275!! And get your friends to register because if total registrations exceed 750 by July 1, another EBTC member will be eligible for a VIP upgrade. So there are two VIP upgrades up for grabs. Spread the word!
submitted by Wayne Grover
This February, ten cyclists, predominantly EBTC’ers from Edmonton, joined Bob Fletcher’s “Tailwinds” Tour of Costa Rica. Over 16 riding days, we covered about 950 km total distance and 11,630 meters ascending. (Average day: ~60 km and 730 meters climbing). We had a three-day rest “holiday within a holiday” in Panama as well. This was the second year of Bob’s tour of Costa Rica and it is only getting better. It’s a really good mid winter cycle training camp and a great holiday at the same time!
On arrival in Liberia, Bob and his team picked us up at the airport in the 15-person van and bike trailer that would shuttle us and our luggage and bikes everywhere needed throughout the trip. Westjet had been merciful to the bikes in transit and after putting them together at our hotel in Tamarindo we had time to check out the beach until dinner. All dinners are included and provided at a variety of interesting local restaurants. Riding started the next day with a seemingly very hot 60 km (having been cross-country skiing only a day before!) and a stop in a little town where they make pottery by hand – and have been for over 400 years. They gave our group a demonstration and tutorial on the pottery making and glazing traditions of that region.
Over the next few days we did rides of about 60 km average through the west coast towns of Samara Beach, Nicoya, Uvita, Jaco, and Quepos, generally heading south along the Pacific coast about at the center of Costa Rica. This included riding through melon farms and extensive palm-oil date plantations, a pleasant ferry ride to cross the Gulf of Nicoya to Puntarenas and a walk out onto the locally famous “Crocodile Bridge” (see photo – don’t drop your phone!). That afternoon and night was spent in the really lively beach tourism town of Jaco. The next day’s highlight on reaching Quepos was the beautiful Marina where we had lunch.
Riding on, at the village of Sierpe, Bob had organized a 3 hour river nature-cruise through the largest wetlands in Costa Rica. (Cue numerous quips about Gilligan’s Island “3 hour tour”!). The wildlife was amazing; monkeys, birds, bats, snakes, fish, small mammals, and a sighting of a pair of brightly coloured big-beaked Toucans by Diane. The nautical theme of including ferries and boats for our journey along this coast continued after one of our longer rides the next day (~80 km) to Puerto Jimenez where we had a 20 km open water crossing of the Golfo Dulce (Gentle Gulf!?) under nearby thunderstorms –in a rather small boat- to a peaceful harbour town, Golfito, where we stayed at the beautiful Marina hotel.
From Golfito we partly rode, and partly shuttled on (where the road got narrow, twisty, busy and over 20% grade) to stay at an amazing botanical garden reserve and biological research station in the high interior. We had a guided tour and ate dinner cafeteria-style mixing in with the students and researchers in residence there. This also brought us into the cooler highlands of central Costa Rica where we would ride several more days. Highlights in this area were the beautiful Orosi town and valley and the Turrialba volcano. We stopped to see the lovely little church in Orosi and continued on very smooth quiet country roads lined with coffee plantations.
Next day we had a challenging ride to Siquirres and then bused it to our first Caribbean-side seafront hotel just south of Limon. From there, on our thirteenth consecutive day of riding, and our longest but probably flattest day, we followed the coast through the little beach towns of Cahita and Puerto Viejo, and we rode literally to the end of the road; to where jungle starts and the border of Panama lies. After lunch on the beach and some “cheap bubbly” popped by Bob to celebrate our upcoming rest days, we rode back to Puerto Viejo for the night and stayed in a cute little boutique hotel. An Orangutan was hanging out on the fence just outside our room there. After visiting a unique locally-made chocolate shop and walking the beach, dinner was quite a party: whole small barrels of beer on the table, not to mention 2-for-1 cocktails…and well…, you get the picture.
At this point we left our bikes and main luggage and with just a few days things in backpacks, we took a ride to the border and walked across the bridge into Panama! Then followed two more water taxis (another SS. Minnow experience!) to the holiday island region of Bocas Del Toro and two nights at the “Cosmic Crab” hotel. On our first full day of “beaching it” we hired a boat cruise to a beautiful national park island beach.
At one point our boat driver motored carefully over to where a lobsterman was diving and bought his catch from him while he was still in the water! (New meaning to fresh seafood!).
Now, if this doesn’t already seem like a very fun and thorough tour, you won’t guess what’s next (and showing how creative Bobs holiday planning is): why not just fly to Panama City to see the Panama Canal!!…And we did! We arrived early enough in the morning to explore the city, take a tour to the canal, and a visit the old French and Spanish parts of the city.
Next afternoon, after more sightseeing, we flew back to San Jose, Costa Rica and were met again by our trusty driver and van, and brought to a beautiful estate house / hotel near Alajuela in the central highlands again, just north and west of San Jose. This place stands out in its serene beauty and architecture that struck me “like a monastery….well, if a monastery had a bar and a pool…” From there began our last four days of riding back in the overall direction of Liberia again, through hilly cooler high country. We even got rained on…without anyone getting hypothermic!
The countryside on those last four days is hilly, with interesting towns, coffee plantations and mountain vistas. In Sachi we saw the world’s largest traditional style decorated Ox cart in the town center and continued on to the city of San Ramon to stay in a wonderfully quirky eccentric family owned hotel.
The last four days had some of the steepest long hills and 1000 meters or more of climbing per day on average. On the second last day we rode past plantations that apparently supply most of all the topical houseplants bought for homes worldwide. We ended the day in a hotel right under the shadow of the almost perfectly cone-like volcano Mt Arenal (which was active from 1968 to as recently as 2010) in the town of La Fortuna. Our last two days involved a 1200 meter climbing day along the north shore of Lake Arenal , a night at “The Living Forest” Lodge, and finally a “screaming” very windy descent (i.e., brakes and rider both screaming !) to the town of Canas.
Readers may have questions about other aspects of this tours organization. The 15-person van that Bob hired, with driver, for the entire duration is a really great way to move riders around to where the riding is good, and to leap frog forward to new scenic areas and was very well used to do that. The trip also accommodates e-bikes, and with the staff comprising driver, trip leader, and assistant trip leader/mechanic, every day’s ride was responsibly followed by a sweep person. We never lacked for water, help changing flats, or an air conditioned opt-out option if the heat demanded for anyone. While in Costa Rica, all meals were included for us, and for most dinners we’d go to a restaurant and simply pick “anything reasonable” off the menu.
If you have a group of friends, Bob is willing to customize the tour to fit your time frame and interests. Bob Fletcher is himself a long time EBTC member, and long distance cyclist who now lives in Costa Rica. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or see also Cyclewithtailwinds.com
If you are:
• New to cycling or revisiting a long-ago hobby
• Looking for opportunities to develop and improve your cycling skills
• Learn the basics of cyclng maintenance and riding safely and effectively
• Want to learn how to ride with like-minded people with a desire for healthy activity
• Meet the friendliest bunch of cyclists in Edmonton
Please join us for our New Rider Series beginning Thursdays May 2 thru June 6. Rides will begin at 6:30 pm leaving from the Rundle Park tennis court parking lot (Google Maps will provide directions). All bicycle types are welcome, and the rides will begin with distances that suit the riders attending on any given evening. We leave no cyclists behind! Club membership and a CSA approved helmet are mandatory to ride on any EBTC ride.
submitted by Tilly Jensen
In February, four EBTCers left the freezing Edmonton temperatures and headed to Portugal to join a 10-person cycling group doing the Algarve region of Portugal. We had one day of light rain during the 12 day trip with temperatures of about 18-25C in the afternoons; mornings were a bit chilly at 12-15C but way better than the temperatures we heard Edmonton was having at the time!!!
The colourful spring flowers were blooming in great abundance along with forests of almond trees in their pink brilliance; it was stunning. We rode through seemingly endless orange groves that were laden with fruit not quite ready for picking.
After finishing our ride one day we had a special afternoon treat. Our hotel that night was right on the route of the Volta ao Algarve, Portugal’s equivalent of the Tour de France. From our rooftop vantage point, I was surprised at how exciting it was to watch all the police motorcycles come through to clear the streets, then the team support vehicles, the breakaway group, and then the massive peloton … WOW!!! Couldn’t believe the speed at which they took the corner around our hotel shoulder to shoulder over those cobbled streets.
In keeping with EBTC protocol, we had daily coffee stops along the way that often involved luscious pastries.
We had some days riding by the Atlantic Ocean along spectacular cliffs and gorgeous beaches. It was a memorable trip.
Six EBTCers are doing the Heartland Tour with Pedal Portugal in May 2020 which this cyclist is looking forward to. Maybe after that we’ll do Pedal Portugal’s Border Castles Tour which is supposed to be another great adventure. For those of you who haven’t been to Portugal, don’t wait too long … Portuguese prices are ‘Canadian friendly’ unlike other European countries. The shoulder seasons are the perfect time to not only cycle, visit some of the amazing historical sites that abound in Portugal, and escape our cruel Alberta winters!
It’s here! Mark your calendar with all the rides you plan on joining!
You did it again! Below is the letter from Edmonton’s Food Bank regarding our most recent contribution of 130 kg of food plus $115 cash resulting from the April 8th Social. Once again, YEAHHHH EBTCers!!!
PedalPortugal’s website for the Southern Explorer tour says; “In terms of climate, the Alentejo sees
some of the highest summer temperatures in Portugal but spring (late February-early May) is one of the best times for biking in the region.
Some wet days are likely in March but there is a high chance of plenty of sunshine and warm days too. (Statistically, the southern part of the region gets around 200 hours of sunshine and around 55mm of rain in March.)”
On our journey a “high chance…of warm days” turned out to be about 10 percent – if you consider 18
In spite of rest days spent drying gloves, shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, panniers and just about anything else susceptible to penetration by rain hitting you from the side we fell in love with Portugal. We came away with a great deal of respect for Huw and Caroline Thomas, who operate the small tour company. Their trip notes were excellent. Their planning and concern for our needs – including a gluten free diet – unrivaled.
The trip began in the UNESCO World Heritage city, Evora, with
Roman Ruins, a gothic cathedral, and the Chapel of Bones. This misnamed first century Roman “Temple of Diana” sits beside the Cathedral with its 14th century cloisters and panoramic views of the countryside. The chapel was built in the 16th century with the bones of the citizens of Evora as a place to reflect on life. Over the entry is the inscription ““Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos,” or: “We bones, are here, waiting for yours.” We prayed it wasn’t a prophecy for the riding ahead.
Eleven cyclists, if you count the rider on the underpowered
motorcycle (e-bike), departed from Evora, south to Lagos on the shores of Portugal’s Algarve. We rode through changing landscape – cork trees, small mixed farms, fields of sheep, blossoming almond trees, olive, and orange orchards. We rode through villages that have seen Phoenician sailors, Roman soldiers, Moors, Christian crusaders, cell phones and computers. We rode over the Algueva Dam and followed the Guadina River. We climbed 1000 meters in the course of one days ride, and descended 400 meters in minutes into the Algarve.
Along the way we stopped in a Hotel that had been in operation as a hotel since 1898; and, before that was a convent. We had a rest day in a city on a hill. Mind you, in Portugal, almost every city is on a hill.
The bad news is that each days ride ends with a
climb. But this city, Mertola, is at the confluence of two rivers. It is inland but still affected by the tide. The remains of the Roman port from the fourth and fifth centuries are still there. Above, perched on the city walls, the medieval castle of the Order of Santiago is next to the church. It incorporates Islamic features created by the Moors whose mosque stood in the same spot.
Only a few meters away Roman mosaics and baptismal fonts are protected from the elements by steel structures. Not to mention those who might want a souvenir. One can imagine the Phoenician merchants in the river below long before any of this was built.
Another next night found us in a remote “guest house and spa” 5 kilometers from the main road up
steep short climbs at the end of a mile long gravel driveway with an incredible view of the Alentejo
forest. It was deceiving. The windmills in the distance, which we rode by the following day, were at the
end of a seventeen kilometer ascent (a gentle climb they called it). At the guest house they appeared to be below us. It was from those turbines we descended into the Algarve.
While not billed as such, it was a
culinary tour as well. Huw and
Caroline arranged for meals every
night that included wine or beer
giving us a taste of the different
regions and recipes of the
Alentejo. Lunches were picnics in
town squares, and on a couple of
days courtesy of the cafes which
allowed us to bring our own food. Coffee to die for. Not Timmies Large or Extra Large but Café
Americano, or as it’s called in Portugal “abatanado” (essentially a large expresso), at regular stops
along the way. Breakfast was included every morning – freshly baked bread, cheese, meat, cereal, and the occasional English Breakfast.
The Alentejo is one of the least inhabited areas of Portugal. Rural, quiet roads, wind through the hills
and villages. Coming into the Algarve with it’s tourist population after 10 days, and some 500 kilometers of cycling, came with a bit of culture shock. But the beaches are sandy, and the sun was out. The ride finished with a dip of our toes in the cold waters of the Atlantic, and a seafood feast that couldn’t be beaten.
Great ride from San Ramon to La Fortuna. Good climbing with better downhills.
Posted by Tailwinds Cycle Tours on Monday, March 5, 2018
A fantastic winter getaway! February 15th until March 7, 2018 13 EBTC members and 2 Aussies toured Costa Rica with Tailwinds Tours. Tailwinds Tours (www.cyclewithtailwinds.com) is a cycle touring company owned by Robert Fletcher, a longtime EBTC member who now resides in Costa Rica.
The reasonably priced Westjet Flight from Edmonton to Calgary to Liberia was a bonus as the bikes were loaded in Edmonton and not seen again until Liberia. All bikes arrived intact with no reported damage.
On arrival, we went to our first accommodation, the beautiful Cove Condos at Ocotol Beach where we stayed for the first 7 nights. 5 of the 7 days we rode “out and back” from our condos, exploring many of the local beaches and towns. Day 5 was most memorable starting with a cycling tour of Liberia, followed by a “killer” climb up to a volcano “Rincon de la Viaja National Park”. At the summit we did a 2 hour walk viewing bubbling thermal mud pools, a variety of interesting vegetation and animals (howler monkeys, coatis and racoons) and brilliantly colored flowers. This was followed by a rewarding downhill ride to a microbrewery owned by a guy from Nebraska. There we enjoyed great craft beer, excellent food and lots of fun! All that in about 60 km of riding and 800 meters of climbing!
On Day 3, we left our lovely condos at Ocotol Beach by bus to a start just outside of the city of Nicoya. We rode about 72 km to catch a ferry that took the bikes, bus and riders to Puntarenas. It took about 1.5 hours on the ferry then on drove on to Jaco, stopping to see a river full of hungry crocodiles – from a bridge above! Our hotel at Jaco was on the beach where we were able to view one of many exquisite Costa Rican sunsets. The next morning, we had a short and fairly flat fantastic ride to the hilly town of Quepos. We stayed 2 nights in a hotel beside Manuel Antonio National Park where we had a rest day! On our Rest Day-Day 10, we were up early to join a guided tour of the National Park that started at 0730. Here we saw blue morph butterflies, a sloth, frogs, insects, many monkeys and more fantastic very colorful tropical flowers.
En route to La Fortuna, riding the route of the Grand Fondo La Fortuna (check out the video), we stopped in the country at a lovely boutique hotel, San Ignacio! The next day, we cycled to San Ramon where we stayed at an interesting hotel in the city centre. The landscape was lush and green compared to Guanacaste province where we began our trip, in fact there were many fields of large and colorful ornamental plants cultivated for export. The route was very challenging but oh so rewarding when completed. There were many cyclists training on this route, going very fast on the ascent! We stayed 3 nights at an Eco lodge in the cloud forest jungle in the La Fortuna area that was perfect for a group of our size. We had our first and only experience of Costa Rican rain which came down heavily overnight and in the morning the sun came out! This was opportune timing as a guided hike through the jungle was planned. We walked down a river of fast flowing water, under a waterfall, enjoyed a mud bath and observed most interesting tropical plant life. Later that day, we were able to enjoy the thermal pools at our hotel that evening at the base of the Arenal Volcano.
On Day 18, we cycled around the Arenal volcano and Lake Arenal. The ride was the toughest of the trip, climbing 1326 meters over 66 km. As we were all conditioned at this stage, everyone was able to successfully complete the ride, made all the more enjoyable by several stops for refreshments en route where we were able to appreciate the scenery. After Arenal we returned to our original condos for a rest day and bike packing in preparation for our return home.
The trip was well organized, riders were supported every day by a fantastic team, our bus driver Andre, our mechanic Warren and our leader Bob! Everyone and their bikes arrived safely back in Edmonton for more winter!
Five EBTC members spent one memorable week cycling in Sicily, Italy. In September 2018, we explored the south-eastern part of the island, pedalling through the Baroque gems of Ragusa, Modica, Noto and up to Syracuse, the ancient Greek capital.
Our adventure started in Palazzolo Acreide, a maze of narrow streets and Baroque churches built after the 1693’s earthquake on the site of the Greek Akrai, which was founded in 664 BC. We took the scenic roads to Modica, riding through the lower valleys of the Iblean Mountains, passing olive plantations and dry-stone walls. A few hills on that day lol.
On our second day of riding, before leaving Modica, we had a taste of the original Aztec chocolate recipe that is famous in Modica. We then made our way downhill, along a ravine to Marzamemi. On days 3 and 4, our ride took us through the coastal wetlands Patano Longarini and Patano Cuba. We followed the coastline to reach Sicily’s southernmost point: Isola delle Correnti, where the waters of the Ionian and the Mediterranean seas merge. Yes! Some of us did take a dip in the sea! We then turned back north to the town of Noto, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Day 6 was a challenging climb towards San Corrado to reach the canyon of Cavagrande del Cassibile. After a well-deserved cappuccino, we had quite the winding descent to the coastal plain and the sea at Syracuse, the capital of Magna Graecia.
A typical day of riding started around 8:30 with a mid-morning coffee break and later in the day a beautifully prepared lunch of local cheeses, olives, tomatoes, bread and a few surprises. By 3:00 we were usually at our hotel and with a chance to relax and look forward to a group supper that of course always included wine. Not only was this trip a learning experience about the Sicilian culture, but also an awesome bonding experience between the five Canucks and our new found friends.