Grey County has a huge impact on the success of the Toronto International Bicycle Show each year as a lot of the planning and set up processes take place in Durham for one of its featured events, the Toronto XJam.
Carl Bastedo, who is the founder of Moto Park in Chatsworth, also founded the Toronto International Bicycle Show in 1987 and he has assembled a great local crew that has built the Toronto XJam course and worked at the show for the past 10 years.
For the past five years the group has work in the former Interforest Ltd. building in Durham to make repairs and construct some fresh designs to the course that is shipped to Toronto in three transport trucks.
Zeb Dennis of Durham, who is also a professional BMX and motocross rider and is part of a BMX stunt team during the summer months, helps coordinate the work on the course each year as he is also the Toronto XJam event manager.
Dennis said the group is even more excited about the show this year since Cycling Canada and the Paris-based sanctioning body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirmed Toronto XJam will be one of only two events in Canada designated as a UCI-C1 event destined for Japan’s Olympic BMX Freestyle Park in 2020.
“Being designated a UCI-C1 event qualifying riders for the 2020 Olympics presents us with bold new challenges for 2019,” Dennis said.
Dennis said last year was a good year for the show and afterwards they were contacted by UCI for the possibility of hosting an Olympic qualifying event.
With BMX freestyle now an official Olympic sport at the Japan 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Toronto International Bicycle Show’s always popular, star-studded BMX freestyle competition promises to be even more intense, as teams of riders from around the world battle on an incredibly challenging course for points to qualify for this thrilling new Olympic event.
Dennis credits Kevin Seabrook of Owen Sound for the course design, who along with Greg Stephens of Holland Centre have been integral course builders and show workers for 10 years.
Dennis said a few other friends make up the small crew that gets the course ready to be shipped. The group works seven to eight hours a day for five days a week starting in February in order to have all the ramps completed on time. They also perform ride tests periodically to make sure the construction is precise.
Then the group has to dismantle the ramps in order to load them into three transport trucks, which left Durham on Friday. Upon arrival in Toronto the crew has two days to put the course back together.
“My course design and build team have been working hard to offer international athletes a challenging course to compete on,” Dennis said. “We look forward to hosting the world’s top BMX freestyle athletes at the show.”
The course contains 12 sections and includes 24 ramps. This year the ramps have been painted red and white and on top of all the white-painted areas will be a red maple leaf to symbolize the Canadian flag.
Dennis said it was decided to promote the Canadian theme with this year’s event being an Olympic qualifier.
Competitors from 12 countries (Canada, United States, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, France, England, Australia, South Korea, Japan, China and Poland) have confirmed entry into the event.
Bastedo said in the past the event would only draw participants from three or four different countries, but making it an Olympic qualifier this year has drawn more interest from around the world.
He also said this year will feature the largest number of female entries in the show’s history.
“The Toronto International Bicycle Show has provided features for BMX and mountain bikes since its founding in 1987,” Bastedo said. “Having the Toronto XJam feature at the show now designated as a points qualifier for the Japan Olympic Games in 2020 takes this event to an entirely new level of importance and excitement. We look forward to working with Cycling Canada, UCI and Joyride 150, and we’re equally excited to offer this world-class event to all show attendees.”
The Toronto International Bicycle Show will take place March 1-3 at the Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto. For more information visit the website www.bicycleshowtoronto.com. For more information about the Toronto XJam event visit www.xjam.ca.
The other UCI-sanctioned event took place at the Joyride 150 Indoor Facility in Markham on Feb. 26, followed by the Canadian BMX Freestyle Championships on Feb. 27.