COLUMN: More than just cycling this summer

As a long-time fan of the Tour de France, which completes its three-week race this weekend ...

COLUMN: More than just cycling this summer

On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton

As a long-time fan of the Tour de France, which completes its three-week race this weekend, it was neat to watch the Prospera Valley GranFondo riders file past my home last Sunday.

Unlike the Tour, however, which usually sees a few leaders followed in minutes by the massed peloton, the valley racers passed by in clumps and stragglers for hours. However, to ride 160 kilometres in 40 C temperatures, regardless of their individual speed, was a remarkable accomplishment for the B.C. racers.

The GranFondo began and ended in Fort Langley, tracing a route from the Fraser River to the U.S. border, east to the little Sumas Prairie community of Arnold and then back north over Sumas Mountain, west through Bradner, Mt. Lehman and Glenn Valley to The Fort.

Coupled with the main race was the Medio, a 90-km ride that avoided the mountain region. A couple of friends were riding in that, and one said he achieved personal victory “just by finishing it.”

In the Tour de France, all the riders are professional, often earning remarkable salaries from their racing teams. The valley event, on the other hand, was made up of amateurs riding for the love of the sport, and regardless of their skill and conditioning levels, all earned my admiration for their endurance and perseverance.

Professional cycling, as anyone who follows sports knows, has been fraught with allegations of cheating both real, as in the case of Lance Armstrong, and imagined.

And this week, it seems, such allegations and suggestions of things not being above board have now played out in local politics.

The Conservative Party of Canada has just dumped Liv Grewal as the candidate for the new federal riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.

Back in May following the candidate nomination vote, I wrote that things did not appear to pass the smell test. On Monday, following an apparently comprehensive review of the voting process and voter eligibility, the CPC agreed and turfed Mr. Grewal.

Which, of course, now brings us back to racing, for between now and Oct. 19, when the federal election occurs, there must be another nominating convention to choose a Conservative candidate to run in this riding.

Since we are rapidly running out of time, the event must occur during the next few weeks. I assume Brad Vis, who was a distant runner-up to Grewal in May, will again seek to recruit supporters, as I’m sure will a number of other yet-to-be-named contenders.

There was speculation back in the spring that potential “star candidate” Barry Penner, former Chilliwack MLA and environment minister, was being encouraged to come out of political retirement to challenge the nomination.

He declined, however, citing a desire to spend time with his very young family rather than spend months in Ottawa and many hours on the red eye commuting between the nation’s capital and home.

After Monday’s announcement, and this late in the game along with the need to have an experienced campaigner on the ground, I have to believe the CPC is back romancing Penner.

My guess is that this time around, the former MLA who is known for an uncanny ability to gain positive media attention, will say yes.