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Catch those Olympians!

“Sorry guys, I’m not going to be able to finish this 100 K ride, I’ve got to go race some Olympians,” I said, with the air of confidence that incites acts of vandalism to bike tires.

“Sorry guys, I’m not going to be able to finish this 100 K ride, I’ve got to go race some Olympians,” I said, with the air of confidence that incites acts of vandalism to bike tires.

Not a bad excuse to get out of a Sunday ride, not that I wanted to ditch out. In fact, I was quite eager to join the Century Club of Cycling — riders who have clocked more than 100 kilometres in one ride. (I do understand that term is usually associated with 100-mile rides, but this is Canada where kilometres are king. I also think this is a much healthier Century Club than the frat house drinking game which requires a shot of beer every minute for 100 minutes. No, I am not a member of that club.)

Anyways, my reason for only doing the 30 K waterfront-to-Mount Doug portion of the Sunday ride (which went all the way to Land’s End in Sidney and back) was because I had agreed to be part of the “celebrity relay” (that term used very loosely for my sake) facing off against Olympians in a race around Bastion Square during Sunday’s Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series.  

As I arrived downtown, I saw that it was transformed into a mini Tour de France, with Wharf, Government, Fort and Yates streets blocked off as spectators lined up and cheered on the cyclists whizzing by on the circuit.

I squeezed through the sea of spandex to find my fellow celebs (no pictures, please), which included Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, Chek News’ Mary Griffin, the Q’s Shayne Kaye and Rob Bettauer, head honcho at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

We made sure to cast our most terrifying/intimidating stares in the direction of the Olympians’ team, which included Simon Whitfield (pfft, four-time medalist, whatever) Adam Kreek (who rowed 73 days across the Atlantic...big deal), Alison Sydor (surely they let anyone into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame) as well as powerhouses David Calder and Andrew Byrnes.

Given the sheer athletic might our Media and the Mayor team was up against, there were a few adjustments to, ah, even the playing field.

We had the advantage of an electric-assist bike, which gives your ride a little extra kick, and the Olympians had a single-speed, 1980s-style road bike. Dean Fortin thought a tricycle with flat tires would have even things up a bit more, but life is never really fair.   

Starting off the race for our team was fiery redhead Mary Griffin versus perfectly dimpled Simon Whitfield, who whipped out some dirty tricks at the start line by surreptitiously trying to turn off the electric part of the electric bike.

Mary quickly swatted his arm away and returned her focus to the race. As the shot gun blasted, the two bolted out of the gate. Mary closed in on Simon’s back wheel, finishing the lap a respectably close distance behind him.

However, the gap behind the Olympians slowly widened with each lap. I was third in the relay and I could see my Olympic opponent just approaching the finish line as I was curving around Wharf Street onto Fort.

Their biggest advantage — other than impeccable physical fitness and distracting good looks — was their smooth transitions between relay riders, which made our bumbling descent/ascent on the heavy electric bike look like a Three Stooges skit.
The race was far from a photo finish but not quite the blow out we were expecting. The Olympians were awarded with the most Canadian of prizes — a box of Timbits, but the everlasting glory is the sweetest reward.
After that grueling one kilometre lap, I treated myself to a half hour massage courtesy of Atlas Therapy, which was pure heaven.  

As for the Tour de Rock riders, they finished their 104 kilometres amid picture perfect weather and justifiably bragged about it on Twitter. I felt a pang of cycling envy. I guess I’ll have to join the Century Club next time.

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Katie DeRosa is one of the media riders for this year’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, a 13-day bike ride from Port Alice to Victoria. Follow DeRosa's blog for details about the ongoing training, leading up to full coverage of the ride Sept. 20 to Oct. 3. To donate to her fundraising campaign, click here.