By Tori Taylor, August 25 2019 —
The Tour de Bowness is a race held annually in the heart of Calgary. It’s a weekend of cycling that draws elite athletes into the city to compete in three different races, inspiring community spirit and giving attention to the older Bowness area. Many small businesses benefit from the tourist attraction and population pulse. The Tour de Bowness is a top-notch athletic event that lines the community’s streets with passionate cyclists, local vendors and food trucks. It’s not only the athletes that look forward to the annual races, but stores and restaurants in the area benefit as well. It’s even a chance for many smaller, unique pop-up businesses to set up their tents and sell handmade items.
Many cyclists train months in advance to prepare for this race. David Reinhardt, a U of C alumnus, was available for interview after the final race.
“Every year is a progression,” he said “ I’ve been riding a road bike for two years now and getting faster all the time. But this year I put in around 2000km since the beginning of the season in training. Evidently I needed more.” This was Reinhardt’s first entry into the Tour de Bowness.
This race is an excellent opportunity for students who are avid cyclists and looking to compete. You don’t need to be intimidated or nervous about your skill level. Although the competition is high, if you work hard to train during the year then come next summer you can join in where you fit best.
“The races can be intimidating because of the competition level,” Reinhardt said, “But, we are placed in appropriate categories based on our cycling level — so you don’t have to worry about being stuck embarrassingly behind.”
Cycling doesn’t need to be your current forte to decide to race in the Tour de Bowness. If you have enjoyed other styles of racing then this might be a competitive avenue to venture into.
“There were lots of people who had decided to try it out for their first time who had been training in other sports — like triathlons, rowing, speed skating and other cycling disciplines, and they did quite well,” said Reinhardt.
The first day of races are held in Cochrane at Horse Creek Road — a beautiful country road with gorgeous scenery and rolling hills. It’s a 22-kilometre road race and the athletes will do a designated amount of course loops depending on their category placements.
The second day is the hill climb. This is a short but incredibly steep up-hill climb in the community of Montgomery. It is a one-kilometre, 141-foot brute battle to the top of Mackay road. Although quite short, it requires intense strength and mental power to push up to the top. As an added athletic bonus, the top five finishers race a second time on the same course to determine their final status.
The third and final day is the criterium — a speed race on a short circuit that requires cyclists to rapidly cycle around and around for their category’s designated lap amount. This takes place on Bowness Road and the surrounding streets are closed to traffic. It can be terrifying for some athletes as the corners are sharp and the cyclists are packed closely together within their heats. Racers can reach speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour.
It is exciting to spectate and participate in local athletic events. Calgary is home to so many passionately driven athletes. Whether or not cycling is your top interest, it is well worth it to be apart of this race. This city is constantly supporting active lifestyles. If a cycling road race has ever been on your radar then perhaps next summer will be your Tour de Bowness debut.