Superman never made any money

16 08 2010

I survived my brief career as a cycling crash test dummy.

Sunday, my Uncle Pete, a longtime bike racer, was in town to help out with his club at the Sockeye Spin criterium in the village of Steveston; so I rode out to meet him, and watch a little racing.

After a loop out to UBC, I crossed the Fraser River on the Canada Line Skytrain Bridge, then followed the well-integrated network of bike lanes through Richmond to Steveston. These bike routes don’t relegate you to obscure sidestreets; they’re marked right into major thoroughfares. They’re also wide and well-signed. It was one of the most stress-free urban rides I’ve ever enjoyed.

When I got to Steveston, as I rode up to the barricaded course, I was corralled by a race volunteer; would I make a quick lap to see if the hay bales in the turns were properly placed?

It must have been my Euskaltel jersey that caught his eye, as there were other cyclists around he could have asked. I’m not a racer, I don’t even play one on tv, I explained. No worries he said, just give it a good run, check the corners and don’t get hurt!

The contentious corner I was enlisted to test

My run went without incident, I was on the rivet. I recommended they shift a couple of bales in one corner. I hope I made the right call.

The criterium was a first-time event for the village. The women’s and cat 1 and 2 men’s fields were relatively small, but the organizers seemed fairly on the ball, and the crowds were enthusiastic. Hopefully the business community was happy, and the race gains a foothold in the summer calendar.

Afterwards, Pete and I retreated to the shade of a waterfront patio to drink some cooling ales and talk bikes and racing while awaiting Katie’s arrival from her epic 29 km training run.

Uncle Pete cheering on his Kamloops racers

At 75, Pete is sort of the patriarch of the Bartel cycling heritage. He’s been racing Masters for years, took some time off for hip replacement surgery, and is back training, competing and cheering on his bike club. He knows bikes; he ran his own shop, Ten Speed Petes, in Kamloops in the lateĀ  1980s. But he closed the shop just before the big mountain biking boom. Too bad. He could have been the King of Cycling in the Interior.