Hall of Fame Induction

October 2, 2016

It was a huge honour to be inducted into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame this year. Cycling Canada hosted the event at the Mattamy velodrome in Milton, Ontario, home of the Cycling Hall of Fame. Gord Fraser and Brian Walton, some of my esteemed racing peers were also inducted.

The event coincided with an international track race. My wife and son arrived on the Friday evening to watch some of the races with me and get a tour of the amazing facility that was built for the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am games.

On Saturday, my 22 year old son and I had an opportunity to ride the indoor, 250m wooden velodrome. What a treat it was to ride on this track and I was reminded of the Olympic venue in Montreal that was eventually removed in favour of a ‘biodrome’. Even more importantly, I was able to ride with my son and we staged a couple hard fought sprints to keep each other honest! He’s got a great jump on him and he beat me in the first round. I had to use all of my craftiness to make him lead out the next sprint and I came around him to take the second heat. We decided to leave it a draw and re-visit next season when we will both be racing “A-group’ at our home velodrome in Edmonton.

Sunday morning was a well organized group ride with 50 or 70km options available. We had 60 or so riders and we rolled along at an enjoyable conversational pace (just the way it should be) until it started raining. Then it was time to make a bee-line back to our lunch location for a hot shower and a change into our civvies for the ceremonies.

Here’s an excerpt from my acceptance speech.

I’ve been involved in competitive cycling in 1 way or another for the last 40 years.  Along the way, I raced amateur for 8 years, pro for 7 years and then after retiring have continued to stay involved in the sport in many ways. I think my proudest post-retirement moment came in 2013, at the start of the race that I founded, the Tour of Alberta. We just completed the 4th edition of the race this year.

I was a hockey player growing up in Vancouver and by a series of unique circumstances, I found cycling. Along the way, a family of dedicated cycling people volunteered their time to help me be the best I could be.

By the way, it’s very appropriate that the Hall of Fame is housed in the Mattamy Velodrome as my first real success in racing came on the track.

In the 70’s we had a velodrome in Vancouver called China Creek. It was an outdoor wood track originally built for the ’54 British Empire games. The magic came from my first coach, Baz Lycett. He just happened to be in Vancouver at the time and took a group of us juniors to a new level by applying everything he had learned about bike racing in Europe.

A seasoned pro also happened to be in Vancouver at the time, Ron Hayman. Ron took us juniors under his wing and illustrated to us what kind of work and dedication it would take to become a pro.

My Dad bought a van and equipped it with all of the equipment needed to run a race on city streets. Brooms, safety vests, signage. The road race at the Tour of White Rock still bears his name on the trophy.

Roger Sumner was a tireless volunteer who worked continuously to bridge the gap between the provincial cycling organization in BC and the National program based in Ottawa. Without Roger, many BC-based cyclists would not have represented Canada on the world’s stage.

My wife, Samantha was been a stalwart supporter of my career as a professional cyclist and then throughout my post athlete transition, often listening to my frustrations and tribulations with a sympathetic ear. Thank you Sam

I’m describing these stories because in my mind, people like Baz, Ron, my Dad, Roger and many others are the real heros. They understood the difficult circumstances that a budding racing cyclist faced and worked behind the scenes to create a support structure.

These say it takes a village and the cycling community is no different.

I’m very proud to be a volunteer coach of the Juventus Cycling club in Edmonton. I feel an obligation to give back to the sport that did so much to shape my character…who I am today.

At Juventus, we have an army of volunteers that have built our own cycling programs, completely self-funded. From our 8-10 year old Spockids, to our 11-14 year old Track/Road/MTB program, to our Junior racing team, Juventus has spawned an amazing group of racers who have gone on to represent Canada – all funded through the Juventus program.

Some of those riders are here today including Junior World Champion, Stefan Ritter, National Pursuit Champion, Kinley Gibson. Evan Burtnik, a member of Team RaceClean and Devaney Collier, Silver medalist at the Junior Worlds this year are also recent graduates of the Juventus program.

Our next mission is to build an indoor velodrome in Edmonton. Again, it’s another group of volunteers who have dedicated years of their time to coordinate this construction. In 2020, there will be another facility in Canada, similar to this one, ready to host an aspiring group of young people, who are trying to be the best athletes and build the best characters that they can be.

Of course, there are many other club-based programs and individuals across Canada doing great work. I believe that this is the core of how cycling will grow in our great country. I urge you all to continue, lias with your Provincial cycling organizations as well as the National program, many of whom are here today.

Again, thank you for the honour of this special moment, something my family and I will treasure for many years to come.

Alex Stieda

Alex Stieda Cycling, West Edmonton, AB, T5R 3N3