Thanks once again to Doug Bristow - he has captured the excitement and adventure of racing in this great article!
With the Pan Am Championships (Midland, Ontario) and CX Nationals (Peterborough, Ontario) being held on consecutive weekends it did not make sense to fly back to Edmonton. Coach Ken booked us an Airbnb and it was a beautiful yet cost effective property located about 10 minutes out of Peterborough along a small river.
The week was low key. The focus was recovery and some light training to get ready for Nationals. Luke and Ryan kept up with their school work and mixed it up with some paddle boarding despite the cold temperatures. Tracy tuned bikes, chef Ken cooked, Caitlan prepared her own unnervingly heathy meals and I worked.
On Thursday, we were joined by Greg Sowak and the Damants – Ron the patriarch along with his kids Jacob and Ben. Jacob and Ben have focused on cycling this year and had very successful seasons in road, mountain and cyclocross. Both come from a competitive alpine skiing background and Ben will be racing FIS this year. He actually spent most of August in Chile training for downhill ski racing, yet still mowed through the ranks of cyclocross, winning a Men’s Expert race and podiuming in several others with Jacob podiuming in Expert as well. Mark my words – we will be seeing a lot of the Damants next year.
The forecast had been a mixed bag but on Friday, the pre-ride day, it started to snow - wet and heavy. The course was going to be a good challenge. Run ups, a muddy side hill, barriers, twisty descents, the course had it all. After pre-riding course, it was decided that several pairs of tires were insufficient for the task at hand so off to the bike shop (Wild Rock Outfitters) the team went. We were not the only riders who came to this conclusion – apparently Wild Rock sold more cyclocross tires in a 24 hour period than they had in the preceding two years. Holding Nationals is clearly an economic boom to the host city. Also, a big shout out to Wild Rock – they loaned us a big tent and rollers for the event. Their store is fantastic – in addition to being a great bike shop, they are an outdoor store and have every brand for every sport you can think of. Very impressive, especially in a smaller centre like Peterborough.
Saturday was Cyclocross Nationals with the Masters up first, followed by the Junior, U23 and then Elite races. In the battle of the coaches Ken prevailed this time finishing 10th and Tracy 17th out of the 28 competitors in Men’s 55-64. In the Women’s 35-44 Caitlin was defending her Women’s 30-39 jersey from last year and rode a great race finishing 3rd out of the 18 competitors. The race was won by Sarah Gilchrist of ERTC so it was nice to see the jersey remain in Alberta. Sarah has also been a student under Ken Germaine’s new coaching business. The next to race was Greg Sowak in the Men’s 45-54 category. This race had 76 competitors! The start was like the Whitemud Freeway at rush hour. Greg had the number 43 bib and raced to a solid 40th place finish. Greg is super fit this year and had a great season. He loves the challenge of cyclocross and said this was one of his most enjoyable days on the bike ever.
In the Men’s Junior race, Ryan MacLean was sporting the number 1 bib (101) due to his strong finishes in Quebec and the Pan Ams. Luke had 109 with the others further back amongst the 33 competitors. By this time in the day, the course had softened making it a fearsome and muddy challenge. By some great stroke of fortune everyone’s height was such that each junior had a backup bike – Ryan/Caitlin, Luke/Tracy, Jacob/Ken and Ben/Greg and they were needed on the day. Cleaning bikes in time became a challenge as there were only so many pressure washers in the pits. The race was a strong test of one’s fitness, mental tenacity, deftness in the mud and overall bike handling skills. Carter Woods (National Mountain Bike Champion) quickly rode to the front and then away from everyone finishing 1:42 ahead of second place. He is from Cumberland B.C. and a lifetime of skill gained from riding in wet Vancouver Island conditions was put on full display. Ryan was locked in a tight battle with Dylan Kerr for the final podium position and unfortunately a slight bobble on the final lap by Ryan allowed Dylan to get away for third with Ryan coming in for a very solid 4th place finish. Luke rode a strong race finishing in 12th place and Jacob (19th) and Ben (25th) also rode good races.
In the Women’s U23 race, Sidney McGill followed up her strong showing at Pan Am’s with another good race finishing 4th out of the 18 competitors.
There was also a UCI race on Sunday so most of the crew raced again. I would write a race report on that but this is the most I have written since my first year English course in university in 1984 and I think I need a nap.
A couple of other things to note:
· Due to their strong performances, both Ryan and Sidney have been selected to participate in
Cycling Canada’s Christmas Cross Camp in Belgium as well as the World Championships in Denmark. A huge congratulations to them. If any club member knows Flemish, perhaps some tutoring sessions are in order.
· If I can just get on my soapbox for a moment - after watching these races, it would be great if the City of Edmonton would work with the cycling community to find a spot where we can race in all conditions. Currently, the permits issued by the City require the events to be cancelled if there is any risk to the grass. The essence of cyclocross is racing in muddy, inclement weather and there is no substitute for racing in these conditions. Surely in the City’s 685 square km of land there is one spot that could be allocated. We have very talented athletes in our City who would only get better if they could further hone their skills. The City has been fantastic in supporting a mountain bike trail infrastructure so there must be a solution.
See you at the AGM!