MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — A cycling road race west of Olds which had to be postponed for two years due to COVID restrictions is now slated to happen today.
Plans call for the event, called the Hay City Classic Road Race, to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 14, with the Hainstock Community Hall serving as the headquarters for the race.
Hay City Classic Road Race organizer Jenn Proche says if all goes well, the plan is to make this race an annual event.
The 29-kilometre course will run counter-clockwise along Twp. Rd. 332, R.R. 22, Twp. Rd. 234 and Highway 766.
Those roads will be open to traffic. However, organizers ask that motorists watch out for cyclists and yield to race support vehicles.
In 2016 Olds served as the finishing point for Stage 2 of the Tour of Alberta cycling race.
This year’s event has been a long time coming.
Proche said the last time a bike race was held in the Olds area was in 2019 when a criterium bike race was held. However, cycling road race, also planned for that year, fell through, due to poor weather.
Then came COVID.
The road race was not held for two years because of COVID-19 restrictions, so Proche is thrilled that, as of last week at least, this year’s race is a go.
“So far, knock on wood, the weather looks like it’s going to cooperate," she said.
The goal is for the race to attract 125 riders. As of last week, about 40 had registered, including local cyclist Hillie Van't Klooster.
That 40 figure may seem low, but Proche said the cycling community is “notorious for waiting ‘till the last minute to sign up for races.”
Plans call for the race to proceed, even if it rains.
“Of it is pouring rain, if it is lightning, sometimes they do delays, depending on where that lightning is, Proche said.
"I had to suffer a whole race out in the pouring rain and it’s not fun, but you struggle through it and then find yourself somewhere warm to go.”
However, if there’s snow, that’s a different story.
“The snow’s a safety element, of course,” she said.
She recalled a situation previously when “one brave soul” decided to ride despite snowy conditions.
“Their brakes all froze up and everything like that, so that’s not a good way to have a race,” she said.
The race course was chosen because the hills create a challenging route.
“The cycling community around Olds, they like that area. We went and checked that out. I knew that area already, not from a cycling perspective. It's got a lot of rolling hills, nice topography,” she said.
“The main thing is the hall. It’s an amazing location and great facility. And the hall’s been really great to work with all these years because we keep booking and then not being able to have it.”