I completed the Tour de l'Alberta! Even though I've done a heap of them, and even though I've done longer rides, there's just something satisfying about completing a century.
The Tour de l'Alberta was a very well run century. (Other rides I've done could take notes!) There were about 400 riders. In the interests of safety, riders were set off in bunches of about 25. The first set was lead out by a police car, and I believe at least one other police car followed after. We had a police escort for the first 7 or 8 kms. We spread out all over the road by that point, with the fast bunch way up ahead, and the slower ones back where I was.
The first rest stop was at about 25 kms ... it was a surprise to me that it was so early, but I was getting hungry so I helped myself to some of the piles of fruit they had available. That hit the spot as the day was already warming up.
Somewhere in here I had a cyclist ride up to me and ask me if I was training for an adventure race. No, not an adventure race ... a randonneuring event! Do you think my Carradice bag and handlebar bag gave it away? I also spent some time chatting with a guy who was using this ride (and other sports) as a training ride for a hike he and his wife are doing this coming December, up Mt Kilimanjaro.
The lunch stop was at 65 kms, and they served 4 different kinds of Subway sandwiches, plus a pile of fruit and veggies, plus a bag of chips (our choice of various kinds), plus a Subway cookie (our choice of various kinds). They also had numerous pitchers of cold iced tea sitting on a table as well as various kinds of fruit juice. Very good!!
While at the lunch stop, I chatted with some people I had met at the Nordegg ride I did a couple weeks ago. Very nice to see them again.
We had a bit of cloud cover all morning which kept the temperatures from going too high. But around lunch time, the clouds cleared off and for the next couple hours we were in blazing sun and the temperature on my thermometer reached 32 degrees. Fortunately a couple hours later more light cloud moved in, and the temperature dropped to about 28 degrees and remained there for the rest of the ride.
From that lunch stop the 100 km riders headed off in one direction, and the 100 mile riders headed the other direction. I don't think there were too many 100 mile riders because I rode basically solo after that point. There were a few other riders around, we would leap frog a bit, and I'd see some at the rest stops, but none actually rode with me. But that was OK ... I'm used to riding alone, and it was nice to see other cyclists around.
We had three more rest stops after that, and all were well stocked with fruit (mainly) and one with left over chips and cookies from the lunch stop. All were also well stocked with water and gatorade and one with fruit juice as well. Interestingly ... they somehow managed to keep the water cold most of the time. I'm not sure how they managed that. They used the same sort of large jugs I've seen on other rides in which water usually reaches somewhere near boiling point after about 2 hours of sitting in the sun. They must have kept the water in the shade or a cool place or something till it was needed (what a novel idea!).
I should also mention a few of the other services they provided ...
-- an ambulance followed us around out there ... nice to have medical services readily available.
-- two bicycle shops provided maintenance services, they had people located at every rest stop, and they also helped as sweep vehicles.
-- there was communication between the sweep vehicles and the rest stops so that everyone knew how many riders were still out there ... no one was abandoned out there. (I had about half a dozen people behind me who were all being tracked as to their whereabouts ... I was being tracked and checked on too)
-- the rest stops remained open until EVERYONE was through ... even the last few people. And the rest stops still had a good supply of food.
-- the start/finish area remained open until EVERYONE was in ... and everyone was offered hamburgers, muffins, cookies, chips, ice cream (and more fruit and veggies), as well as a choice of various cold beverages at the end of the ride.
-- riders were welcomed in at the finish and congratulated on a well-ridden ride. Even those of us at the back of the pack.
It's interesting how all those little things (mentioned above) work together to make a very good ride.
They also handed out souvenir waterbottles to everyone, and there was a prize draw for about 50 different prizes (I won a baseball cap).
The terrain just north of Edmonton is almost dead flat ... not quite ... Manitoba is dead flat, but this was close. I was really surprised. For some reason I thought the area would be like it is in Central Alberta - undulating. The area reminded me a lot of the area just south of Winnipeg ... it is a French area, like the area just south of Winnipeg, and flat, like the area just south of Winnipeg. It was also reminiscent of the Iowa/Illinois area around Le Claire, but not as hilly as that, and there were fields of canola rather than corn.
(Speaking of canola, I'm still sneezing. Blech! Canola is bad on it's own, but hot, sunbaked canola is just nasty ... and just about every field was a glaring yellow. I'd much rather have Iowa's corn!)
And so ... I finished the 170 kms (the ride was a little long) in 8 hours and 30 minutes!
Not too bad ... for me. It was a really good ride.