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Tour du Canada stops in Irricana for overnight recharge

The Irricana Campground played host to some non-traditional clientele on July 6, when a group of participants on the 2021 Tour du Canada stopped by for a night of rest and recuperation.

The Irricana Campground played host to some non-traditional clientele on July 6, when a group of participants on the 2021 Tour du Canada stopped by for a night of rest and recuperation.

The Tour du Canada is an annual group cycling ride from British Columbia to Newfoundland. This year, the 72-day ride kicked off in Vancouver, B.C. on June 23 and will wrap on Sept. 3, when the group arrives in St. John’s, Nfld.

Louise Reid, who runs the Founders Park campground alongside her husband Sid, said this was not the first time the Tour du Canada participants stopped by Irricana on their cross-country ride.

“They sent an email out in March or April to say they were coming out again this year,” she said. “We missed them [last year] due to COVID, but they’ve been here...this is our sixth year and they’ve come through at least four of the six years.”

Reid said she always enjoys seeing the cohort of weary cyclists roll into Irricana in the summers, adding it’s interesting to talk to the tour participants about their experiences and motivations for taking part in the gruelling cross-country ride.

“We try to accommodate them in any way we can,” she said.

“It’s so interesting, the miles they put on in a day, and they don’t stop if it rains. They still have to push through because they’re on a schedule they have to keep. Thunder or not, they have to be on the road.”

She said a talking point this year was the extreme temperatures the cyclists had to endure while making their through B.C. in the midst of an extreme heat wave, when temperatures reached record-breaking daily highs above 45 C.

One of the tour’s organizers this year is Paul Turcotte. While he’s not participating in the cycling part of the journey, Turcotte is responsible for driving the trailer that stores all the participants’ gear and making sure the logistics of the ride operate smoothly.

“We’re on riding day 14, and in there we’ve had rest days as well,” he said on July 7, shortly before the group departed Irricana for Drumheller. “Those are kind of scattered throughout the trip, so we get to have time off and the riders can do what they want in the town, and see what they want to see.”

While the tour takes riders through an assortment of cities and communities along the cross-Canada route, Turcotte said Irricana's location at the approximate mid-point of Alberta makes for an ideal resting stop. The group arrived in town on July 6 after cycling more than 170 kilometres from Banff.

“It’s kind of north and is a quiet location for everyone to relax a bit,” Turcotte said. “We go through a lot of tourist locations and national parks, like Banff, so it’s just nice to come to a place that is a little more quiet to have a day to recuperate.

“Irricana has been totally hospitable and it’s been a great place to stop into.”

This year, Turcotte said there are 11 participants taking part in the tour, all of whom are from Canada. Normally, he said the tour would also include international participants and there would be more than 20 riders in total.

The ride, which has been taking place annually since 1988, was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been quite the start, for sure, [due to the heat wave]. but people are starting to find their groove now,” Turcotte said. “Having the nicer weather has certainly been good for everybody.”

For more information on the Tour du Canada, visit or visit to follow along the daily blog published by one of the participants.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

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