Holy smoke!


It’s been a hot and dry summer in western Canada and a lot of this place is on fire, man. And while Canmore isn’t burning (yet), we do have our share of wildfire smoke in the air throughout the Bow Valley.

On some days, it’s clear(ish) with blue skies while on others it can feel like you’re stuck in a Cheech and Chong movie (where uncontrollable coughing has replaced the uncontrollable laughter). Unfortunately, reliably forecasting local smoke conditions more than about a day ahead of time is pretty difficult, so we just have to keep on keeping-on until race day and hope for the best. In other words, it is very unlikely that we would cancel the 2018 event before race day because of what the air quality might be.

Of course, there is a good chance that the Air Quality Index on race day in Canmore will be moderate or high. If that’s the case, out of interest for rider and volunteer health, the race could be modified (i.e. shortened, neutralised, or both) or cancelled. Ultimately this decision rests with the ABA commissaire or (in exceptional cases) with the Conservation Officers (translation: it’s basically out of our hands). We’ve had good conversations with the ABA to develop some general guidelines for air quality and we will support the race day decision of the ABA commissaire.

So when you register for XCX this year, keep a few things in mind:

  • There is always an elevated health risk when involved in strenuous activity in poor air quality conditions. For most healthy individuals, adverse effects will likely be limited to temporary irritation of eyes and lungs.
  • Individuals may be more seriously affected by poor air quality if:
    • they have chronic cardiac or respiratory conditions (including asthma),
    • they are younger children,
    • they are elderly, or
    • they are involved in strenuous activity.
  • Unfortunately, a race day cancellation would mean that our expenses for the event are about the same as if the race had gone ahead, so full refunds would NOT be provided in this case. We promise, however, to try our best to put some swag and maybe a bit of money back in your pocket if we possibly can.

For more information on the risks associated with air quality and wildfire smoke in particular, have a look at the information posted by the Alberta Government or by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA.

You can keep an eye on the real-time air quality index on Environment Canada (Calgary is the nearest station) or use the interactive air quality map at Breezometer.com.

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