Tour de Victoria drops tip of the Peninsula

Mass cycling route will only come as far north as Central Saanich this year

In a move to increase the challenge for riders in this year’s Tour de Victoria bike event, much of the Saanich Peninsula has been left out.

The 2014 Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria is Sunday, August 24 and will only come as far north as Benvenuto Avenue in Central Saanich. Its route stays mainly in Saanich, Victoria, the Western Communities and Metchosin.

Last year’s event followed a route into Sidney and North Saanich but event coordinator Sheleena Gutierrez says rider feedback indicated people wanted a more challenging route.

“A lot of cyclists don’t like straight, flat roads like there are in the upper Peninsula,” she said. “To provide more challenges for the riders, we do follow West Saanich Road in a much windier route.”

This year’s Tour de Victoria route, she continued, has more twists and turns.

Asked their take on the route change this year, members of Sidney’s Tuesday Night Ride Group, a collection of around 40 cyclists who regularly tour the Peninsula, say they understand the change.

“I agree that riders do want more windy roads,” said member Bonnie Mitchell.

Arthur van Deth added however that if it’s that the event organizers are looking for, they should try Land’s End Road in North Saanich.

“That’s real workout,” he said.

They added, however, the loss of a portion of the Tour at the north end of the Peninsula is unfortunate, as there is a lot for cyclists to see in the area.

Recently, the event’s namesake, Ryder Hesjedal, rode the new route with the event’s director, Seamus McGrath. The Harbour Air 150km route is the longest of three choices in the Tour. The others are 105km and 45 km.

“He absolutely loves it,” Gutierrez said of Hesjedal’s reaction to this year’s Tour route.

Hesjedal, a professional cyclist from Victoria, is the Tour’s creator through the Ryders Cycling Society of Canada.  The annual Tour de Victoria is a mass-participation cycling event, raising money for the Society, which promotes and support cycling across the country. Last year’s ride, said Gutierrez, drew an estimated 1,800 people and organizers hope for the same this month.

She added the event is looking for more volunteers. She said they need around 300 people to work all aspects of the ride. As an incentive, they are entering volunteers who sign up before August 8 in a draw for some great prizes.

To find out more, or to register for the Tour, visit

Watch the site and Black Press community newspapers for event road closure announcements.