Ice bike racing is part of Toronto’s rich cycling history. Going on something like 18 years now, the ice bike race – now known as Icycle – is the most anticipated cycling event of the season. It all started on the Toronto Islands (naturally, a car-free paradise of cycling savvy citizens) when a group of people decided to build a track on a frozen lagoon near Algonquin Island. Here’s a great photo of that original ice wall at one end of the track from Jet Fuel‘s Flickr stream. Legend has it that someone fell through the ice and parks officials put an end to the ice bike races on the lagoon.
So nowadays the ice bike race happens on the much safer Dufferin Grove skating rink. And on the night of February 18, a large crowd of cyclists, having stuck hundreds of little screws into their tires, spent several hours racing in circles and falling on their asses. Welcome to Icycle.
The tiny bike ride launched the evening, followed by the tandem shirtless ride, a blinding mangle of sun-starved flesh.
The qualifying races had a somewhat satisfying ratio of spills. The men’s final was quick, with cyclists whipping around the rink nearly too fast to snap photos of. The winner was Sean Thompson – who we referred to as ‘youngblood’ in our Spring 2010 issue (“Spokes” cover) – and is shown here trying his darndest to take out the “Ice Bear” two years ago.
The women’s final was a lot more exciting: Linda Shin (pictured below in tutu) battled with reigning “Ice Queen” Briana Illingworth (black spandex). After switching spots a few times, Shin took the crown after a spill took the champ out of the running.
The best entertainment was saved for last: the rubber ride was open to anyone with two wheels (or, in Celeste Koon’s case, a unicycle). In other words, guaranteed spillage. After party was hosted by the Bike Pirates with proceeds going to Charlie’s Freewheels.
We also talked to a few spectators as part of our popular Bike Spotting series.