I had the good fortune to be in Victoria, BC on August 10 when there was a celebration for Ryder Hesjedal who returned "home" for the first time since his Giro victory. It was really cool to be able to attend as I grew up in the Victoria area and have followed his career on the road pretty closely. I've posted some pics and comments below.
Ok eh, time to flip you hosersIt seemed like there were probably 300-400 people at Centennial Square. Lots of bikes and cyclists. Ryder and his wife arrived in a pedi-cab escorted by a large peleton of local cyclists and bike police. The ceremony was hosted by a local sportscaster and started with some presentations from a provincial government minister (who made requisite political comments that seemed to try and link the miniscule sport funding from her government to Ryder's success, but I digress...) and the Mayor of Victoria who is an avid cyclist. One of the presentations was of a commemorative bike rack that will be installed at a local bike park.
Commemorative bike rack. IMG_1538 (via HydroCycle)
Ryder also has a charity that raises funds to support cycling in Canada. A couple donations were made to young racers from Vancouver Island.
IMG_1548 (via HydroCycle)
Following the presentations there was a Q&A sort of discussion with Ryder, a couple of his long-time friends, his dad and his first coach. There were some really good stories, especially about how the two buddies and his dad made their way to Italy for the last couple stages and had to bluff their way past the security to get access to Ryder. After hearing his dad speak, you can definitely see where Ryder gets his quietness.
From left: Ryders Dad, host, Trevor, Seamus and Ryder. IMG_1554 (via HydroCycle)
During the Q&A with the audience, it came up that a local couple had named their newborn Ryder. It was a bit surreal and Ryder (the elder) seemed pretty stunned by it.
IMG_1561 (via HydroCycle)
Following the Q&A, the lineup started for autographs. I was about half-way in the lineup and it took almost 90 minutes to get through. I'm glad I didn't bring my kids! Once I had a couple autographs, it was taco time at the Puerto Vallarta Amigos truck (highly recommended).
Some other observations:
Ryder is seriously skinny! I'm about a 2.5 cm (1") inch taller and 10 years older, but I would bet that I outweigh him by a good 30+ kg (~70 lbs). Especially his legs, really skinny, amazing he can generate that much power with those little twigs. I get teased by my family for my chicken legs, but I'm not a pro cyclist!
He really seemed as laid-back as portrayed in the media. Definitely a nice guy, but really quiet.
Ryder seemed really touched to see his old coach, and there were some great stories from his teenage days as a mountain bike racer.
IMG_1571 (via HydroCycle)
A video recap of the event can be seen here.
It was a fun event, and I'm really glad that I could be there. Ryder also has a Gran Fondo that takes place in June. I'm thinking of going as Victoria is a fantastic place for cycling.
All photos by me (HydroCycle)