August 06, 2008

Tour de Gastown

The Tour de Gastown is the most prestigious cycling race in Canada, with former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong among its past winners. Named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, riverboat captain and saloon operator, the heritage district of Gastown boasts a variety of trendy boutiques, clubs, offices, and eateries along its cobblestone roads. The 2008 edition began soon after Gastown's signature steam clock chimed at six o'clock. The restored version of the world's first steam powered clock sprayed me with droplets of water, briefly obscuring my vision.

As onlookers watched from both sides of the street and I wiped my glasses dry, the women's cyclists took off. The laps were fast and furious on the 1.2 kilometer road course, leaving the 40,000 spectators little time to blink. I walked against the direction of the circuit to see the oncoming racers from various angles. The women's race was won by Gina Grain of Burnaby, and I left before the men's race started.