Participants in last year's Salty Dog race.

Participants in last year's Salty Dog race.

Seven hundred to join 14th Annual Salty Dog

Everyone loves the Salty Dog. That seems to be true, with 700 cyclists set to compete in the 14th Annual Salty Dog

Everyone loves the Salty Dog.

That seems to be true, with 700 cyclists set to compete in the 14th Annual Salty Dog coming up this Sunday, May 11 at the South Canoe trails.

About 500 people from ages 14 to 60-plus will be competing in the main event, the six-hour Enduro, open to solo riders or teams of two.

Another 110 young people will be testing their endurance in the U15 three-hour Enduro, while 90 children are expected in the two Salty Pup races.

Organizer Tom Peasgood of Skookum Cycle explains that online registration for the six-hour Enduro went up in January and sold out in just 10 hours. Four hundred spots were up for grabs, with an additional 100 places for locals only. Those 100 spots sold out over Christmas.

The U15 race is also full, but the Salty Pups can drop in no later than Friday at Skookum Cycle and Ski to sign up.

The two Salty Pup events are a 30-minute and a one-hour race.

The 30-minute event on a one-kilometre course is for run bikes and kids with 12- to 16-inch wheels, for ages three-plus, no training wheels.

The one-hour enduro is also on a one-kilometre course, no training wheels.

Including volunteers and supporters, 1,500 to 2,000 people are expected in the start-finish area.

Why is this race so popular?

“Because of our community, people really like coming out here to ride,” says Peasgood. “They like the trails, they like the weather – a lot of Albertans are coming out and it’s been snowing there for the past three weeks straight…”

The atmosphere is important too.

“It’s a fun, family-paced atmosphere at the event, not intense,” he adds. “Even though there are lots of intense riders there. We try to create a fun atmosphere. That’s just been our mandate.”

Contributing to the relaxed feel  are things like the prizes and medallions.

“We don’t hand out prizes, we had out home-baked cookies and apple pies…”

The medallions, too, are homemade, created by his daughter Thea.

“They all get made this weekend at my house. That’s the nature of the event.”

This year organizers have partnered with Routes and Blues (the pre-festival outreach program) and other stakeholders to offer Salty Street Fest, a day Saturday of activities, bike events and a free concert with festival favourites, Five Alarm Funk.

“We want to give programming for visitors and increase tourism in our community,” Peasgood says, noting that hotels and campgrounds are booked for the race.

Peasgood predicts that, once again and as usual, it will be a weekend where fun is front and centre.

“It’s kind of like going to Grandma’s house to go in a race.”