Monday, June 27, 2011

The Wheeler's Ride in Calgary.

When I first started riding, I lived in Victoria at the time. In that city, there was a great resource I was able to take advantage of. It was called 'The Wheeler's Ride'. The cool thing about the ride, is that it had: a lengthy warm up component, a sprint, a long tempo, then a great cool down. All done in a group (unless you attacked during the tempo!).

The ride started at the same place and same time every week. It usually took the same route, but sometimes went further if the group felt good that day. You didn't need to check the blog for start times or places.. you just had to show up. The ride was open to ANYONE. And this is why it was so good.

When I started riding, I would show up, and be pumped if I made it 20min into the warm up, then week after week, I got further and further. I was pretty excited when I made it to watch the sprint about 6months later. Two years later, I was attacking in the tempo section, having learned the rules of the road, excellent pack skills, the ability to suffer, and ride safely. I was able to use the better riders to get better myself, and then pass it on.

The ride would have cyclists/racers from ANY club show up regularly.

Excellent riders would show up to this ride since it was perfect training stimulus and race prep/training. They didn't mind the long warm up, since they knew the workout section was coming up. It actually was better than usual, since it forced good riders to concentrate on the actual 'fast sections' rather than ruin their sprint and tempo with a warm up that was too fast.

NOTE: This ride is not an official 'training ride' of any club and is not endorsed by any club or individual. It WILL be you riding with your buddies, meeting other cyclists, learning skills and getting a great session in, but it WON'T be covered under any insurance provided by the ABA.

Here is how the ride works:

- Ride is on Saturday at 9am ALWAYS. If there is a race that weekend, expect there to be less race cyclists out.
- Riders are CLIPPING IN at 9am to head out.
- This IS a drop ride. If someone gets a flat, the group doesn't stop. His/Her buddies may stop, but the group keeps going.
- If you show up, you know the route. You don't get your nose out of joint if you end up on your own. You enjoy the opportunity to become a better rider.
- You carry your own flat gear/tools.
- No full tri or TT bikes. If you have clip-ons, you DON'T use them.
- There is no 'ride leader', however, the more experienced riders act as 'patriarchs', they should feel very free to help less experienced riders and call riders out if they are acting unsafely.
- Single or double pace line whenever possible. RIDERS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DO THIS. THEY NEED PRACTICE !!


Warm up:
- 20km is warm up at between 25 - 30km/hr. No faster. Only slower on hills. This makes it useful for good riders, maintaining 'warm up' pace and makes it challenging for novice/lower ability riders.
- the warm up section of the ride is used as 'watch and see what I do'. The good riders paceline with good form and good signaling and let the novice riders learn while actually doing it. The 'while actually doing it' is the most important thing.

- there is a section roughly 3km long where the speed picks up (teams may go to the front for lead outs) and there is the same place for a sprint every week.
- The Sprint (lead out) can be started anytime after the Springbank Airport entrance.
- Sprint ends at the top of the hill just before turning right on Highway 22 (same as the cabin ride)

- After the sprint, and people have stopped wheezing, there is a slight slowing, but NOT a gathering of everyone.
- Riders can then hit it for 20 - 30km. This can be done as paceline, attacking, casual, whatever. The only stipulation is that it is safe (no launching yourself into traffic).
- Starts at the top of the first hill once turning onto Highway 22.
- Ends at the top of Cochrane Hill (the Glen Eagles way).
- Neutral through Cochrane downtown.

Cool down:
- After the tempo, riders can roll it in a packs, or choose to slow up a bit to gather the frayed peleton. But it doesn't stop.
- Starts once over the Highway 1A and onto Retreat Road. Nice (hopefully) tailwind section home.... or hammer, whatever you want to do.

Here is the route. It goes CLOCKWISE. I have tried to create a route that should allow fit, but novice riders to stay on for about 20km before the pace picks up for the sprint and tempo.

You can go to this link and download the TCX or GPX version of the route so you can put it into your GPS. Go to 'Export' and you can grab the file there.


The Tim Hortons at 85th Street and 9th Ave. and head SOUTH from there.


  1. Trev,

    Great idea, and excellent route. I was up at COP a couple of times last week and the road was closed at the top due to construction allowing no access to Cougar Ridge. May have changed this week but worth a check before you head out on Saturday as it looks like the planned route takes you this way. Off to the West Coast for a couple of weeks but will check this blog when I get back. Cheers, Keith

  2. So, this ride goes every Saturday... until when? End of September? October?

  3. My vision of the ride is that it would be on whenever the weather allows.

    If there is a Chinook in late fall, after some bad weather, then try out this option first.

    The cool thing about the ride in Victoria is that every time I am there, it is on. Sometimes there is 10 people, sometimes 50, but it is always on.

  4. Great first edition. Hopefully this catches on. Beneficial for everyone and super fun. About 25 cyclists today.

    First ever sprint winner: Ian Auld

  5. Trev, curious if there was a second edition and if/how many women showed up? Cheers.

  6. I just stumbled across this, and as a novice rider in Calgary without any buddies looking to take the bike more seriously I'm glad to see that something like this might be going on (though I'm sure I'll get dropped very early). Is this going to be on in 2012, once there's no more snow on the ground?

  7. These will hopefully be 'full on' in 2012 as soon as they are practical. I am really going to push them with our club and I will really encourage other clubs to embrace this idea as well. I think it will catch on. Last year there were consistently several people there, this year more and more!

    Keep an eye on the STC website as I will start pushing it there. If you don't want to join a team, consider joining the ABA as an independent rider so you have insurance on training rides.


  8. Hi, I'm new to Calgary and not a member of any clubs yet, just wondering when this ride will start this spring?

    Cheers, Greg

  9. I would say, head to this ride whenever it is decent weather. There has already been several editions of this ride this year.


  10. Hi,

    Does this ride occur during the fall? I was at the Tim Hortons last Saturday but couldn't find anyone...