Quick eye and mind needed to watch tour
Cycling: Some of the best in the world coming to the Foothills
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 06:00 am
Do's and don't of the Tour of Alberta
Tour of Alberta spectator guide
• Don’t enter the course when riders are approaching
• Don’t have your dog unleashed near the course
• If you’re planning on writing a message for your favorite cyclist on the road, do it in chalk not paint
• Touching the riders is a no-no, if you cheer for them from the side of the road, it will lift them without risking a fall
• Keep your cameras inside of the race barricades
You will need more than a quick eye to watch some of the world’s best cyclists this weekend.
Positioning is the key when watching somebody fly by on two wheels at 60 kilometres per hour during the Tour of Alberta, according to an Okotoks cycling enthusiast.
“It’s kind of like watching a downhill ski race,” said Bruce McGee, of the Natural High Cycling Club in Okotoks. “You have about a split second and then they go by.”
McGee is helping to organize the Okotoks stage of the event on Sept. 8 when the cyclists leave Seaman Stadium and head down Elizabeth Street and exit Okotoks on Secondary Highway 549. The actual race won’t start until they go past the hairpin turns at the railway tracks on Highway 549, just west of Okotoks.
He said fans will have a chance to see the cyclists ride Elizabeth Street as they jockey for position. McGee stressed there will be no vehicles allowed to park along the route.
Some of the best athletes on two wheels are participating in the Tour of Alberta, including 2011 Tour de France winner Caden Evans of Australia.
“The field is going to be very good,” McGee said. “Guys like Peter Sagan, one of the top sprinters in the world and of course Ryder Hesjedal the Canadian who won the Giro d’Italia last year — the only Canadian to win that event and there will be lot of the new up-and-coming races.
“For those who follow cycling, there will be a lot of big names here.”
After leaving Okotoks, the cyclists will continue on Highway 549 through the hamlet of Millarville and past Brown-Lowery Park. They will eventually get to Bragg Creek and proceed to Calgary via Highway 8. The Tour of Alberta will end in downtown Calgary.
The final portion of the race will be broadcast on Sportsnet from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
As many as 10,000 fans are expected to watch the festivities in Okotoks.
Outside the Oilfields Arena in Black Diamond, which is both the start and finishing point for Stage 4 on Sept. 7, will also be an ideal place to get a close look at the cyclists.
The June 20 flood forced Tour of Alberta organizers to change the Sept. 7 stage of the race which will now start and finish in Black Diamond. In between the cyclists will be seeing some of the more scenic — and hilly parts — of the MD of Foothills.
However, McGee doesn’t plan to watch from Oilfields Arena.
“When they do the Black Diamond loop, a bunch of us are planning to ride out to 112 Street — which the locals riders call the Hills of Nepal,” McGee said. “We will cut across some of the back roads and to get to the top of one of these big hills where we will be able to see them from a kilometre or more away.
“We will watch them come up and watch them go by — and maybe if we are lucky will be able to get a water bottle if they happen to throw one away,” he said.
Spectators will not be allowed to park along the route as there must be room for the cyclists, the officials and support vehicles.
There will be barricades along the route, which spectators must stand behind.
For more information on the tour go to www.tourofalberta.ca.