JASPER CYCLISTS GEARING UP FOR ENDURANCE EVENT MAD DASHES ACROSS THE EASTERN SLOPES FOR THE THE INAUGURAL ALBERTA ROCKIES 700
PHOTOS BY JEFF BARTLETT
Six Jasper cyclists are preparing themselves for a butt-busting, quad-quivering, lung-loosening good time. The Alberta Rockies 700 is pegging itself as an epic adventure through the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The 700 km self-supported bike event will see cyclists depart from Hinton and ride a combination of logging roads, secondary highways and gravel parkways en route to Coleman, AB.
Says Jasper’s Jeff Bartlett: “It’s the perfect example of Type Two fun: something that’s fun in retrospect.” Bartlett, along with Derek Anderson, Josh Blomfield, Chris Peel, Matt Staneland and Greg Van Tighem, are the Jasper riders signed up for the marathon tour. They, along with 50 or so other masochists, will depart Sunday, June 19 at 7 a.m. along Highway 40 towards Nordegg, where it is thought most riders will stop to refuel and rest. Hintonite Jonathan Hayward, who created the event, said he dreamed up the concept after participating in an endurance ride in Oregon a year ago. He said he liked the open format: riders can choose to look at it as a race or simply as an interesting tour. “There will definitely be some people who are going to be riding it like a race, other people will take a week and tour the route,” he said. That’s not to say there aren’t rules. Riders have to be fully self-supported. That means they can’t pre-book a hotel room, they can’t have dinner at a friend’s house, they can’t make a food drop…they can’t even draft off one another. “You’re responsible for your well-being along the entire route,” he said. “There’s no pre-planning. You start with what you think you’ll need to get to your next supply point.”
Bartlett has recent experience with this type of riding. Last year he rode the Tour Divide, a 4,600 km, 50,000 vertical-metre epic from Banff to the Mexican border. It took he and Coburn Brown 26 days. He hopes to complete the Alberta Rockies 700 in just over two days. “I think the coolest thing is it’s a road I’d never ride,” he said. Chris Peel hasn’t biked the northern half of the route—although he’s driven it plenty of times. Last week, however, he biked the south stretch, from Coleman to Canmore. He reported good riding on unpacked gravel, less so on the maintained stretches. The paradox would reverse itself with fatter tires, he figured; he was riding a fairly skinny set up. Come race day, the veteran long-distance sufferer plans to ride 460 km from Hinton to Canmore in the first day-and-a-half, find a hotel room and then ride the rest of the way after a decent sleep. “I’m feeling fine now, we’ll see what next weekend’s like,” he said. Although he hasn’t put in as many huge days as Peel, Derek Anderson’s speed and racing experience puts him among the favourites to place well. Anderson said the key to staying in the race is pacing, nutrition and hydration. “It’s an unknown challenge,” he said. “I’m looking forward to managing the variables without prior knowledge of the route.”