What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tour of Courage: 2005 Preview

This Thursday the Great White North welcomes Lance, George, Johan, Chris, and Phil to complete the $6 million fundraising for important cancer research. It’s pretty much all over but the suffering as about 30 major donors will spend 2 days riding with Lance & co. in the Canadian Rockies.

Fall in the Canadian Rockies: warm colours, cool temps, and Lance leading a 30-strong peloton.

Over $6 Million In Under 3 Years
Definitely, one of the more ‘unique’ fundraising campaigns over the past 2-1/2 years, the Calgary Tour of Courage Society set out in 2003 to raise $6 million for cancer research. The first year seemed typical enough – with Lance as the keynote speaker, the gala dinner for 1300 at $350.00 a plate sold out in a heartbeat while 800 more people were turned away. But needing to raise even more money in the second year, the ante went way up: in addition to a sold out $500 a seat gala dinner for 1200 supporters, about 30 people who donated $25,000 to the cause enjoyed a very exclusive day riding over the Highwood Pass with Lance, George Hincapie, Phil Liggett, Johan Bruyneel, and Chris Carmichael. Huge success, but how to top it this year?

Looking west towards Banff, and beyond to Lake Louise – we’re joining the Tour of Courage for two amazing days of riding.

After 2004’s very successful event brought them to within a million dollars of the goal, it was Lance who volunteered to come back this year to finish off the job. Calgary is a city full of entrepreneurs and big ideas, so the Tour of Courage organizers asked how could they top last year’s event – and put on a fund raiser that would be ‘experience of a lifetime’ special…?

The answer – offer a very limited number of riding enthusiasts the chance to spend 2 days riding in the glorious Canadian Rockies with Lance and his buds. It seems that even the suggested $35,000 donation wasn’t enough to deter a stampede of participants, and this year’s 30 spots were sold out in June. Commitments were firmed up, and the funds raised went over the top of the $6 million goal.

With the fundraising complete, the only thing left on the agenda is the … RIDING!!!! Giddyup!

If you haven’t been to the Canadian Rockies – go there. Soon. It’s full autumn colors, fresh crisp air, alpine wilderness at it’s best, and naturally some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever ride through.

Accomodations at the Post Hotel – this is gonna be good.

The Routes Close-Up
PezCycling will be there in the official capacity of ‘media partner’ (and un-official capacity of “If this is one of those dreams, somebody better pinch me or I’m gonna be real pissed”) to bring you an insider’s peak at what the two days will hold. Accomodations are first class at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise. We’re talking river-stone fireplaces, natural wood beams, leather chairs (cee-gar anyone?), and pristine wilderness surroundings – top it off with that legendary Canadian politeness and what could be better?

But I digress – this event really is about the riding…

Day 1 – Lake Louise to Columbia Icefields, 127km

• Day 1 will be a ride of epic proportions for most of us “non-pros”. Check the stats:
• Location: Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, where temps this time of year get a might chilly – if we see a high of 12 degrees Celsius – we’ll be lucky. Base altitude is around 5000 feet, so the air is thinner than us coastal types are used to.

Distance: 127km – that’s a fair distance for most of us.

Profile: Lance once said he breaks up Alpe’d Huez into thirds – bottom, middle and top. The Tour of Courage day 1 ride will be nicely broken into thirds as well – but instead of 5km chunks, we’re talking 40km chunks. Ugh…

Part 1 starts with a climb that rolls it’s way up to 2100meters in the first 40km, gaining around 600 meters at an average grade of 3%. The overall grade here is not that steep, and I suspect Lance and George will barely notice it, but you do a 40km ride that goes mostly uphill and tell me how you feel.

Follow that with 37km of descending, where you lose all that altitude you just gained, and end up 150 meters lower than when we started. Looks like recovery time for me…

Lance is either a) Beside himself with confused joy, or b) wondering why I’m fumbling with my back pocket – as I’m about to swag him out with PEZ socks at the 2004 Tour of Courage.

The final third of the stage covering the next 40km is where the pull of the broom wagon will be a factor for some – we’ll gain over 700 meters, peaking at a lofty height of just over 2100 meters again, with the real stinger coming at 115km, where we’ll ‘enjoy’ an average 10% grade for the next 5km! Reaching the Columbia Icefields on your bike wil be a big reward, and the last few kms are downhill – so we’ll have time to savour the lactic acid.

(Good thing the organizers have made after-ride massages available…)

Friday’s Day 1 activities are capped with a special team dinner, with Lance and the guys, and orgainzers are even promising a few extra surprises…

Day 2 features a much easier ride – 50 rolling kms from Lake Louise down the old highway to Banff – wait till you see the pictures.

Day 2 – Lake Louise to Banff, 50km

• The legs will likely be sore on Day 2, but I’m sure we’ll find a way to roll 50km from Lake Louise down to Banff.

The Columbia Icefields – our destination on Day 1. This view is taken from the highway – no hiking to get needed to score this view – just 127km of bike riding.

In spite of the ‘lofty’ donation required to join the fun, most participants are pretty good riders (at least from last year). Bike prep and logistics are being handled by Ridley’s Cycles – Calgary’s premiere shop – and many participants have sent their own bikes ahead – including yours’ truly. The guys at Ridley’s have assured me they’ll take good care of my baby and will have her all ready when I arrive.

Stay tuned as I’ll be filing the full report – and hoping this all isn’t just another dream…

Get more info at the Official website www.TourOfCourage.com
Or contact Joe Dutton at 403-681-5483

[email protected]

See The Video – Also watch the short movie clip of last year’s ride on the Tour of Courage website.

Read more about the Calgary Tour of Courage:
1. Lance To Complete “Courage” Cancer Fundraising
2. Lance Back To Cancer Fundraiser
3. Liggett Joins Lance To Cure Cancer In Cowtown
4. Last year’s inaugural event was a huge success
5. Here’s How The Journey Began
6. Tour of Courage: the PEZ Report

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