The Edmonton Oilers prospects are in Jasper for Orientation Camp and their stay in the mountains has been full of not just on-ice sessions and off-ice workouts but camping and biking around the area.
The biking is all thanks to Jasper’s own Freewheel Cycle.
“Freewheel has been going on for about 30 years, which is pretty long for the bike industry,” lifetime Oilers fan and owner of the bike shop Chris Peel said. “Not many stores last that long. We’ve been going strong, mostly focusing on mountain bikes but we have everything from town cruisers to street bikes and high-end mountain bikes.”
When the prospects rolled through town, Freewheel rented out their entire fleet to the players to use this week. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins, an avid cyclist, led some trail rides and the players used the bikes to get from their lodgings to town for practice.
Peel says there were some fit issues with some of the players as they are a much larger clientele than the usual bike enthusiasts.
“They definitely took our biggest bikes,” Peel said. “The few issues on the bikes were these guys are so strong that they were breaking chains and stuff because they’re built pretty solid. There were a few broken chains but not too bad considering that most of them don’t ride bikes other than inside and doing fitness testing and things like that.”
|Photo by Ryan Hrycun/Oilers TV |
Freewheel is no stranger to the Oilers, having helped them out with bike rentals in the past. In 2010, the Oilers came to Jasper for training camp.
“That was exciting,” Peel said. “The difference now is it’s neat to have these young guys. It’s neat to meet these guys and put faces to the names. I’m a hockey fan and we have some hockey fans in the shop here.”
Peel has ridden bikes with Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish before and was very happy to meet Eakins. During Orientation Camp, Peel has been able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the team operates on the player development side. He also took the players for morning bike rides at 7 a.m. All of the bike riding this week, along with the workouts has these prospects exhausted as we reach the end of camp.
“I think they were a little tired, a little more than they thought they would. We know these guys are getting hammered while they’re here. We tried to take it as easy as we could. We understand it’s not easy to do all of those workouts. It’s early starts too. We started our morning bike ride at seven in the morning so these boys are working pretty hard.”
The experience this week was great for everyone from coaches to management to players. The prospects really had an opportunity to bond and the bike riding was just a part of it all.
MacTavish even bought himself a new bike this week. As you can see, the relationship between the Oilers and Freewheel Cycle was prosperous for both sides.