Posted by Editoress on 09/8/11
What happens when you mix together a group of enthusiastic, positive cyclists, supportive encouraging fans, and nearly ideal weather conditions? A recipe for "inspiration" - the theme of this year's Youth and Paralympic Road and Track Championship, held in Edmonton and Devon (Bike Town, Alberta) during the Labour Day weekend. Over the three days of competitive racing, which focused exclusively on Youth (U13, U15, U17, Junior) and Para athletes, there was much "inspiration" to draw upon, whether you were budding cyclist, a seasoned racer, an official on the sidelines, or a volunteer marshaling corners and roadways.
Saturday's opening event saw youth riders compete at Edmonton's Argyll Velodrome in an ominum-style track race, with flying 200 metre sprints, match sprints, scratch and points races rounding out the day. On Sunday, competitors met at Graminia Community School, just outside of Devon, for the Individual Time Trial Event.
Here, the previous day's youth riders were joined by a strong and competitive host of Paralympic cyclists, competing on hand-cycles and bikes. Distances varied from 10 km to 16.5 km. Monday's action brought riders into the centre of Devon for the Championship Road Race, on a circuit winding through a scenic residential section of town.
Highlights included those who earned medal standings and/or succeeded in accomplishing personal bests, but especially noteworthy was the positive atmosphere surrounding the event. To hear the young riders encourage, cheer for and applaud the accomplishments of the para athletes, and the para-cyclists responding in kind; and to listen to family members and friends of the athletes speak in glowing terms about everyone, made for many moments that were simply, wonderfully heart-warming.
In a pre-race interview with the Devon Dispatch, Guri Randhawa, one of the race organizers, commented that although numbers are small, the championship event has potential to grow as a breeding ground for Alberta's next generation of cycling professionals. "These are kids that could someday be Olympic hopefuls," said Randhawa. "And the Paralympic athletes are guys that can compete on the national and international stage."
Courtesy Andy Holmwood
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