After a breakthrough performance at this year’s Amgen Tour of California, in which he finished 7th overall and 3rd in the queen stage finishing atop Mt. Baldy, Team Sky’s Ian Boswell visited his hometown for the first time in over a year. During that visit, we were honored to sit down with him over coffee and ask a few questions about just what the Tour des Chutes means to him.
Dillon Caldwell: How did you get involved with the Tour des Chutes?
Ian Boswell: I knew about the Tour des Chutes long before I ever participated in it. In 2011, I was riding for a team that benefitted Livestrong (Bontrager-Livestrong) and we were asked to ride this event in support. I’ve known Gary through family and his involvement in the community forever, so it was a really good excuse for work. The Tour des Chutes was always one of those things, similar to the Pole Pedal Paddle, I guess, that brings the community together and highlights the good riding season here in Central Oregon.
DC: And so how many, in all, have you participated in?
IB: I’ve only ridden it twice now — 2011 and 2012. Both with the Bontrager-Livestrong team. [Ian has been in Europe during the TdC, competing in World Tour cycling races, ever since. He still offers his support in any way he can each year though, perhaps most notably through donating signed Team Sky jerseys for our on-site auction.]
DC: I remember trying to keep up with you and your teammates on that 2011 tour. It was back when we still rode McKenzie Pass for the century route. Trying to keep up on that climb just about killed me. You guys were just winding down for a hard week of NRC racing at the Cascade Cycling Classic. Do you remember finding that this was pretty good training for the CCC?
IB: [Laughs] Definitely. But yeah, I think that was one of the really neat things about that team… that it was more (similar to the TdC itself) about riding your bike, but also about spreading the message. And the fundraising aspect as well. But yeah, I remember that being a really hard ride. We made it really hard. It’s a long ride, a great workout, but it’s really nice to just get our there and share the experience — stopping at all the rest stops, chit chatting with other friends from the community, sharing the road with others who have gone through the cancer experience. I think it’s a great thing.
DC: Is there anyone in specific who inspires you to ride the Tour des Chutes?
IB: My mom had breast cancer, actually twice — it came back after five years. So, to be riding with other families who have been touched by cancer… I think it’s an awesome experience. Especially to be there at the end and to share those stories, to see survivors coming across the line and picking up their roses. It’s a special thing. Also just the awareness aspect of the TdC is really powerful. I remember the first time my mom had cancer, it was a really scary thing but we mostly avoided talking about it. I guess cancer has become a much more “mainstream”, if you will, disease, where people are much more open about it and willing to talk about it. I think that’s one very important thing that events like this one help with — it helps shift the public perception about cancer to something that otherwise healthy people also have to deal with. You know? Everyone can be affected. Any lifestyle can lead to cancer. And events like this show that there is a really supportive community out there. There are many people that have gone through the same thing and to be able to reach out and use the help that is out there, is a great thing for us all. And also just to celebrate the survivors. Those of us who have come out the other side and are still able to enjoy a good day on the bike.
DC: Will you be riding the TdC this year? And do you have any tips for first-time riders or course highlights to mention?
IB: I will not be able to ride this year, again, because I’ll be racing over in Europe. But I hope I will be able to join in again in the future. I would say to all riders, pace yourself. Because there are, what, five distances? Pick a distance that is comfortable for you. It’s great to challenge yourself, but don’t go overboard with it. I think the most important thing in an event like this is just to do what you can to ensure you have a good time. And realizing that what you’re doing is much more than just riding your bike.
DC: Well, do you think you’ll do alright in the Vuelta this year [likely Ian’s first Grand Tour] without the Tour des Chutes for training?
IB: [Chuckles] Uhhh, questionable… without all those extra miles in my legs and missing all the cookies and burritos at the end.
DC: Yes, how do you feel about that burrito bar? I hear they have this thing at the Taco Stand in downtown Bend called the “Boswell Challenge”, where they’ll give you the five pound burrito if you can eat it in under five minutes.
IB: The burrito bar. Another great example of the amazing community support for this ride [generously provided by Long Board Louie’s Eastside]. I guess one of the highlights of the ride for me is that burrito bar. Buffet style, you can make as big a burrito as you want. Lots of guacamole!