The son of a Scottish professional cyclist, Lorne Atkinson grew up in the era of the Six Day cycling races and began competing in his teens. He earned his nickname, Ace, after a newspaper headline declared "City ace triumphs in Province Cup" after one of his many victories. He won his first provincial title, the British Columbia Junior, in 1939, and would follow it up with four senior B.C. titles and two national championships. In 1946 he founded Ace's Cycles in Vancouver, a business that he ran for over 60 years. He began to compete internationally for Canada in 1948 and attended that year's Summer Olympics in London, placing 15th out of 21 competitors in the 1000 m time trial, and also participated in the individual and team road races, as well as the 4000 m team pursuit. Two years later he placed eighth in the road race, ninth in the 1000 m sprint, 15th in the track time trail, and competed in the 10 miles scratch at the 1950 British Empire Games while simultaneously managing and coaching the cycling squad. He improved upon this feat four years later when the British Empire and Commonwealth Games came to his hometown of Vancouver. Not only did he help establish a cycling track and organize the cycling events, but he captained the Canadian team and placed 4th in the 10 miles scratch event.
As the automobile began to overshadow the bicycle, Atkinson's local fame grew as he worked to preserve his passion in Vancouver by organizing events through the late 1950s and early 1960s. His efforts culminated in the presidency of the Vancouver Bicycle Club in 1962. Also active as a mentor, he was selected to coach the Canadian cycling team at the 1967 Pan American Games and the British squad at the 1982 Canada Championships. He continued cycling up until a few years before his death at the age of 88, and kept busy by documenting the history of cycling in British Columbia. He was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 as a builder, received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canada in 2002, and was honored with a British Columbia Community Achievement Award in 2006. Two months before his death he was presented with the Olympic torch as it made its way through the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics.