“wishin’ you were here…..”

Happy Canada Day!  150 years young! The staff at The Brantford Cyclepath want to wish everybody a happy and safe Canada Day.  In celebration, Julian researched and wrote this celebration blog about Cycling in Canada!  Read on……..

Oh Canada. One hundred and fifty candles on your birthday cake. As far as countries go, you aren’t exactly an old gal yet. There’s still plenty of time for us to explore all of your highways and by ways from the saddles of our bicycles. And what a country to pedal through! From the rugged west coast, over the Rockies, across the endless prairies, and through the east to the Maritimes, she’s a big country with inspiring vistas. She also has a sizeable connection to the sport of cycling. If you look to the world stage when considering this activity of ours you’ll find that Canada has contributed plenty to it.

Archieffoto 1984 Barcelona
Steve Bauer at the ’84 Worlds

So much so that this particular blog entry could become a fairly lengthy book if left to it’s own devices. There’s that much good stuff that can be covered. The question is, what might we write about when it comes to bicycles and Canada?

Tory Nyhaug on his way to a gold for Canada in the Pan Am games.

We could definitely list all of the great cyclists that Canada has produced. There are so many that it would take some doing to list them all. Some of the names, like Clara Hughes (Olympic medal winning cyclist and speed skater with medals in both the summer and winter Olympics), are household words. Others, like Tory Nyhaug (two time member of Canadas Olympic BMX team, BMX Worlds silver medalist and gold medalist at the 2015 Pan Am games), are a little less familiar. Let’s introduce you to a few from each discipline.

Andrew Faris doing what he does.

On the BMX scene, there’s the previously mentioned Tory Nyhaug. Samantha Cools (thirteen time Canadian National BMX champion and five time world junior champion). Jay Miron (legendary nine time X-Games medalist with the first ever gold in dirt competition. Invented a large majority of the sports tricks). Andrew Faris (legendary Canadian flatland rider. Two time Flatland World Champion).

Cycling - Mountain Bike - Olympics: Day 15
Catherine Pendrel at the Rio Olympics

On the mountain bike front we have, among many, many notable Canadian riders, Catherine Pendrel (Canadian National Team member. Two time World XC champion, 2007 Pan Am Games champion, reigning Commonwealth Games champion, 2010 and 2016 World Cup champion, 2012 UCI champion). Cindy Devine (first official World Downhill champion, numerous World Championship medals, three time Kamikaze Downhill titlist, five time Canadian National Downhill champion. Rode across both Canada and Europe at a young age). Alison Sydor (three time World Champion, multiple medal finishes in mountain and also one in road, Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame inductee, Canadian Sports Hall Of fame inductee). Geoff Kabush (charismatic Canadian mountain bike racer, competed in several Summer Olympics). This is all very impressive when you consider that mountain biking itself is a relatively young sport!

Clara Hughes in time trial mode.

Canada has produced a very large roster of talented road cyclists. Athletes such as Linda Jackson (six national championship titles, medals in the ’96 Road Worlds and ’94 and ’98 Commonwealth Games, won the ’97 Tour de l’Aude Feminin and ’98 Womens Challenge, two second place finishes in the Giro d’Italia Femminile and a third in the Tour de France Feminin). Christian Meier (many solid performances, winner of the 2007 National Under 23 Road Race Championships and 2008 National Road Race Championships). Steve Bauer (won Canadas first Olympic road cycling medal, competed in eleven Tour de Frances, finished fourth in the ’98 Tour, winner of five Canadian Championships). Alex Stieda (first North American to lead the Tour de France by winning the yellow, polka dot, multicolored, red and the white jerseys on the second day of the ’86 Tour).

Harnett , Curt
Curt Harnett on the boards with his Gardin track bike

Once you start looking into our cycling heritage, one thing becomes clear. We’re well known for velodrome track cycling. Just a few of the great names include Gord Singleton (an incredible number of titles, including first Canadian to win a world championship and the only rider in history to hold world records in all three sprint distances at the same time). Jocelyn Lovell (Canadian Sports Hall Of Fame, numerous victories in road and track cycling, gold medal winner in both the Commonwealth Games, with three golds, and Pan Am Games, silver medalist in the ’78 world championships). Tanya Dubnicoff (four time gold medal winner at the Pan Am Games, represented Canada at three Summer Olympics). Curt Harnett (triple medal winner in both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games, held the world record for the 200 meter time trial for eleven years, Canada Sports Hall Of Fame inductee). Lori-Ann Muenzer (winner of Canadas first ever Olympic gold medal in track cycling)

Guiseppi Marinoni, after setting the hour record… at 75 years old!

Canada has most certainly produced its share of bicycles over the years. There have been just as many obscure brands as have been more well known ones. Massey Harris once manufactured bicycles. Brantford was home to the Goold Bicycle Co Ltd. They eventually went on to become a component of Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd. (CCM). How many people have ridden bikes with branding such as Norco, Rocky Mountain, Steve Bauer, Miele, Velo Sport, Cervelo, BRC, Argon, Guru, Raleigh, Supercycle, DeVinci, Louis Garneau, or Sekine? How about our Canadian custom frame builders? Bicycles such as Marinoni, Mariposa, True North, Cyclops, DeKerf, Gardin, Thin Blue Line, Proctor (Proctor-Townsend), Legge, Edwins, Moulden, Giro, Bailey, Brodie, Cove, Cycles Bertrand, Runout, Steelwood, Talbot and Cycles Golem. Rest assured that there are others. What a fantastic collection you would have if you owned one of each!

A gorgeous Mariposa randonneur bike made by Mike Barry

Over the years there have been many reasons to pedal a bicycle in Canada. In times gone by you could have joined the Montreal Bicycle Club, which was our first club, formed in 1876. Incidentally, that’s the same year that the first bicycle showed up in Canada. The Canadian Wheelmen’s Association of 1882 was formed to promote cycling and advocate for cyclists rights. They later became the Canadian Cycling Association. For competitive cyclists there were many events to be entered. The Dunlop Trophy Race, six day races and cycling championships both Canadian and World took place during the early years. During the later years, Canadian cyclists competed successfully for medals in events such as the Commonwealth Games, National and World Championships and the Olympics.

jim walsh
The late Jim Walsh hosted The Jim Walsh Bike Ride For Kids With Cancer

A growing number of Canadians have also signed up to participate in various charity cycling events. The list of available rides grows by a large number each and every year. Some popular ones have been the Ride For Sight, The MS Bike Tour and The Ride To Conquer Cancer. Whether it be a small local event or a large national one, each one does it’s part to unite cyclists for a worthy cause. The reasons that we ride might change, but the fact that Canadians love to ride their bikes remains a constant.

A gorgeous day for cycling in our nation’s capitol

On July 1st, why not celebrate Canada’s cycling heritage from the saddle of a bicycle? Set out on an all day ride or an afternoon pedal to feed the ducks at the park. Whichever route you choose, it’s a fantastic way to become connected to this wonderful country of ours. Happy birthday, Canada!