Today the race starts in Kananaskis and ends in Olds. The profile is a downhill slope so it should be a fast one. Although the start is the only time we can glimpse the mountains, it would be complicated to get to the start, and see much of the race, as there is only one way out of K country and we have to follow the peleton at their pace at least to highway 1. We opt to jump ahead and watch them climb the hill out of the Bow Valley at Cochrane. We meet Debbie’s cousins M&G at the top of the hill where King of the Mountains points will be on offer.
I don’t know what it is about the Tour of Alberta and southern Alberta but every time we have followed the race south it has been rainy, cold and miserable and today is a day to maintain that ongoing record. The rain was everything from a sprinkle to a downpour and it dipped to 9C as the race passed through Cochrane.
The guys go slow up that big hill and it is a chance to see their faces and the hurt the hill causes. The group is stretched out with some of the riders that prefer not to climb quite a ways back.
Some good planning has us on the road and heading to the finish in Olds as soon as the broom wagon goes by. It is easy to beat the riders when we can travel at 100 kph and they are doing a pedestrian 40 to 45, so we get there early and choose our spot.
With the lousy weather the crowd is thin at 1 hour before the riders are to arrive but as time passes more and more folks show up and by the time Mr. Putt crosses the line there are quite a few folks lining the finishing straight cheering.
It’s funny to watch a bike race live. It’s kind of like a chess game. We have to figure out what move to make, how to make it and when to make it. We leap frog our way along the course and watch as the riders pass. Sometimes we see 30 seconds of action, sometimes 2 minutes. We could see much more of the race on TV, but what fun would that be.
What following the Tour of Alberta does for us is it provides the reason to tour our province. We travel the world to see this or that, to see how these or those folks live, to get a better perspective on how we live and what we have and how we understand the world to be, but we (and not just Debbie and me) rarely take the time to see what is close to us.
How often do we head off to a small town in Alberta and stop in for any reason. Following the tour, we are taken off the beaten path and through places we have only seen as highway signs. They really do exist, by the way. If the timing is right we will stop in and have lunch at the local diner or gas at the one and only station. We see things along the way we might not notice if we were on an A to B trip and rushing by on the fastest highway. We see the side of town that does not face the two lane divided and wow that sure is a neat old brick building.
Today we drive though Black Diamond/Turner Valley, they are always mentioned together, and noticed how it seems as though these places have frozen in time, stuck somewhere around 1969. After the finish in Olds, we head west with Sundre being our destination.
Have Driven Hwy. 27 many times and always enjoyed the vision of the mountians getting bigger and bigger at 100 kph. Today the vista is mountainless. The clouds have completely swallowed them. It is reasonably clear where we are but 50 kms west the puffy white and black billows start at ground 0 and go up well past the 3000M of the tallest peaks. I’m quite sure I have never seen clouds like that before.
Alberta has to be one of the most amazing places on earth and we live dead smack in the middle of it. It is odd but the Tour of Alberta is the catalyst providing Debbie and me the reason to stop and smell the Alberta Rose.