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 email@example.com 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.
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!!!
We have one fantastic season of cycling planned again thanks to our amazing trip leaders!
And for those looking for overnight and international rides:
All events and dates subject to change. Please be sure to check the Events Calendar for the most up to date information!
On Saturday afternoon on September 23rd, sixty-one road cyclists from Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club departed on Georgian Way in Sherwood Park to make their way on RR 231 and TWP 510 to Collingwood Cove on Cooking Lake for an Italian Picnic. This event is patterned after the end of the Italian cycling season and suitably named “The Tour of the Falling Leaves”. This was the 8th successful ride celebrating this event. The picnic was a feast of cheese, grapes, and wonderful Italian goodies courtesy of Charles World (EBTC Safety and Education Co-ordinator) and his wife Julie as well as Lorraine Keast wife of Tour Director Scott Keast. After this picnic stop the Tour continued to baseline TWP 530 and back through the acreages. Scott had placed Italian flag markers at almost every turn. We were capably guided and supported by Terry Fannon, EBTC Vice President and Touring Co-ordinator. Ultimately we all returned to the starting point and from there many of us enjoyed an Italian dinner at Pasta Pantry. I was told by my cycling friend Cleve that this would be a great tour and it certainly was! Mother Nature was very kind that day.