Four riders. Sixty kilometers. Six and a half hours spent exploring gravel alongside the Fraser River in British Columbia.Photo & Video By: Nicholas Kupiak, Ride Gradient
When a UCI Continental Women’s team can’t race or host clinics, they do the next best option: just enjoy riding bikes. Partnering with River Shed Society, InstaFund La Prima wanted to find a way to bring awareness to protecting the Fraser River, a 1,300 km long river in Canada.
“What I like best about their (River Shed Society) approach is that they’re not necessarily preaching anything. They want people to experience the Fraser River, and make their own decisions about the environment from there,” said Isabella Bertold.
Originally, their plan involved racing bikes against a canoe team through a summer program provided by the River Shed Society.
“I had this idea of a cyclist racing the canoe team down the river. There so many questions of ‘How can this be a race? How fast are you going to go biking?’ and I just said, “I have no idea, but we can figure it out,” said Isabella.
With COVID-19, the program is canceled for the summer, but the team decided the ride was still necessary for their year. When travel restrictions lifted, four riders gathered to spend a day slowing down to experience the river valley via bike.
“For me, that was the most stressful time of the break. It brought the highest highs and the lowest lows, so it was great to get away with teammates that I haven’t seen since March to be able to be in nature and just shut off. I just rode my bike and remembered why I loved it,” said Isabella.
Switching out their O2s for ViSTAs, their route weaved through the Fraser River valley, with a mixture of pavement, hard-packed gravel, and a MTB-ing single-track course.
“Laura told me to hit a single track section with speed, and I went in with too much speed – completely overshooting the turn. I ended up in the air. I have never screamed so loud on a bike in my life, but I landed. It was perfect, it ended great, and that to me sums up how versatile that bike is,” said Isabella.
InstaFund plans to have team camps in October and November as they prepare to start their 2021 season in January.
“The team is committed to some early racing next year to make up for the lack of racing we’ve had this year. It’ll be a shorter offseason for us than normal, and for the rest of the 2021 season, but we are just taking it one section at a time,” said Isabella.
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