The Waterloo cycling community lost a local legend in September 2022. At age 58, Igor Dragoslavic passed away while on a trail-building trip in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Though he spent a lot of time in recent years in his homeland of Serbia, his time in Waterloo will be remembered by countless people. As word of his passing is starting to spread through the local cycling networks, it seems like everyone has a unique memory of Igor, whether it’s trail building at the Hydrocut, multiple mountain bike provincial wins, lost-in-the-dark gravel rides in the middle of winter, relentless Tuesday evening road rides or even road and CX races, Igor’s impact on the local cycling world was immeasurable. Across social media, tributes are appearing, as people spread their memories in tribute to Igor. This blog entry covers what I remember about Igor and his cycling legacy.
I first learned about the legend of Igor back in the spring of 2002, the first year I joined the Waterloo Cycling Club. My first group ride with the Waterloo Cycling Club was a mountain bike ride to the Hydrocut. I knew enough from looking at results from the Paris-to-Ancaster race that year to know that some guy named Igor from the WCC finished in the top 40 (which is a tremendous result in this race of nearly 1000 riders at the time!). Igor was on this Hydrocut ride, along with long-time WCC’ers Curtis, BrentE, MarkW. We left the Waterloo Rec Centre and rode to the Hydrocut and when we got there, it was announced that we would split into two groups: fast and slow. I chose the fast group and chased Igor and others for about half a kilometre before realizing they were at a whole other level of speed and fitness.
Over the next couple years, I learned about the Hydrocut trails and started to volunteer on trail days. These trail days were led by Igor and RonH, leading groups of dozens of volunteers through a lot of hard, manual labour, cutting new trails, closing old trails and trying to keep the ATVs and dirt bikes off. There was a real sense of nature on those earlier iterations of the Hydrocut, so close to the city, yet so peaceful, natural. It was on these trail days that I became friends with Igor and eventually joined the Hydrocut trail committee. This is when I saw how much time and effort Igor put into the trails. In addition to organizing and leading volunteer trail days, Igor spent countless hours and days in the forest doing maintenance, trail building and preparation for volunteer days. I used to joke with him that he spent more time working on the trails than riding them (and he rode there A LOT!). In addition to all of this outdoor work, Igor worked on digital maps of the trail system (well before the days of GPS systems to aid in mapping). His passion for the trails and all aspects of trail development was unparalleled. Even today, some of the best, flowiest trails at the Hydrocut were designed by Igor. Though he left the committee after some philosophical and personal clashes, he left his fingerprint on this trail system that remains one of the top mountain bike day-trips in Ontario.
Igor was also a competitive cross-country mountain bike racer. He won his age-group in the Ontario Cup Expert category several times and won Provincial championships as well. He also entered multiple 8-hour relay events with fellow WCC members. He always rode the first leg and his teams always finished on the top step of the podium.
In the early 2010s, the gravel rides started. Every Saturday morning we met at the farmers’ market and explored the backcountry dirt roads that were new to me, at the time. Igor, however, already had extensive knowledge of these back roads and during each week prior to the weekend ride, we’d exchange emails where he would alter routes I’d made, improving them to include better gravel roads. These weekend rides drew a wide range of levels, from provincial-level experts, like Igor, to weekend warriors like myself (I finally got a chance to ride with Igor – disregarding that very first ride at the Hydrocut years earlier!).. The rides attracted both roadies and MTBers and what I loved about these early gravel rides was the inclusivity. While Igor could have dropped most of us, he didn’t. He rode with the group, chatting, sharing cycling wisdom that is still articulated today and just enjoying riding with like-minded people. These all-level, all-inclusive gravel rides only lasted a couple of years. As they gained in popularity, different groups formed naturally. Fast groups, with the likes of Igor, Gaelen and many others, would head off and ride six or eight hours. The rest of us would ride two to four hours at a much slower pace. But for a few years, there was a sweet spot, both on Saturday mornings and the early iterations of the famous (infamous?) Tuesday night Lost-in-the-dark-with-Igor rides, when I got to ride with the him. Though we drifted apart in recent years, I’ll carry these memories with me proudly. Igor will be missed by many, and his legacy in the region will last for generations.
I’ll end this post with a list of quotes from Igor. I compiled this list years ago from emails, forum posts and Igor’s spoken word. While the Velominati may exist, we now have the Igorminati:
- You never make U turn!
- Season always starts now!
- The only way I was able to win races was by not listening to my brain.
- I’d hate to ride with guys that wouldn’t want to drop me, or make me hurt in any opportunity they can get
- You’d be weak if you didn’t ride cause of the cold. It’s okay to complain about it, as long as you ride regardless…
- Also, the rule #1 of the Winter Riding Club: we never talk about the “other training”
- Not bothering is the worst thing you can do…
- The Hydrocut TT’s aren’t going to ride themselves
- I might be man enough to ride in all conditions but my bike sure isn’t
- There is no such a thing as “unsafe” bike for the Hydrocut. The only unsafe thing in Hydrocut is the people that overestimate their own abilities.
- The way we live here regarding our dependency on cars cannot be explained with anything other than stupidity
- My Religion (Erbsville Tuesday Night Road Riding) forbids me to worship at any other place than Bamberg roads.
- It’s a sacrilege to bring up the heat as a reason not to ride on Tuesday. Only a violent thunderstorm can be allowed to get in the way.
- It is mostly in your head and not so much about the calculated physics and mathematics
- People too often overanalyze things and forget to have fun. The more rigid structure someone is adhering to, the more likely he /she is to crash (mentally) and loose interest and motivation.
- Getting beat and put in place is the best way to get a realistic perspective and the only way for improvement
- Guys, you should just get on your bikes and ride!
- Why wait 2 months when Sunday is going to be dry and comfy ‐5 degrees!
- You must immediately, without delay go to the rule # 5: https://www.velominati.com/ and fully embrace it, or find something other than cycling to be interested in.
- Cycling is the best training for cycling, period. No amount of indoor trainers, rollers, weight lifting, running, yoga, hockey or anything else can keep you in as good shape for cycling as the real cycling will.
- Even if one was to salt‐destroy one beater bike each winter, it would still be cheaper than paying gym membership fees.
- Dogs ‐ cyclists, I really don’t see much difference…
- It is the best to buy the costliest, highest‐end bike you can possibly afford, and in such way save your self the grief of upgrading too many times and wasting money on depreciation.
- Yes, I will definitely be there and I pity everyone that will not!
- We had a blast last night; a 3 hour long ride on totally car‐ free gravel roads and with a sweet sensation of being lost (although you can never really be lost when you are with me).
- All the blood rushing to our legs left the brain numb, and the lungs had no capacity left for gasping out courteous remarks to other cyclists. Pretty sad, but I don’t see how this can be improved on.
- Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.
- This is our church!
- No bike should be stored ever; they need to be ridden all the time…
- It’s not about the performance, it’s about the attitude.
- a TRUE cycling friend will do his/her outmost to make you squirm in pain
- I just want to make sure you’re not THAT guy.
- Keep in mind, it is March, so it is hold on to the strongest pacer or have a lonely ride home
- Lazy bums, it’s time to get off your couches, trainers or whatever, and RIDE your bikes!
- The only injuries were in some tarnished egos and crumbled confidence.
- The Steaming Nostril race is in 3 three weeks and you guys are still pondering and hesitating to step up the training rides
- Oh I so wish more guys would embrace pain and suffering as the highest form of fun on the bike…
- Getting dropped is being frowned upon, while that is the best thing that can happen to an aspiring cyclist. If one is never riding at the level where getting dropped is a
- constant possibility, one is not training hard enough.
- For a true WCC Tuesday Night worshipper, attending any different church is an unforgivable sacrilege!
- Keep in mind that the glory is only in the first place, so battling for the second is totally meaningless
- I always go full out, regardless of how long the race is
- I know a lot of people will hate me for saying this, but I still have to say it: the tonight’s road ride was so good, even better than mountain biking!
- Road riding within my comfort zone would be awfully boring…
- Fun without Gaelen? Where will then the fun = pain‐and‐ suffering come from?
- Doing just 100 is like accepting defeat