Thursday, October 11, 2007

Canuck Cross

While most of the Kona crew headed back East to the big $ races in Southampton, I decided to stay close to home on the Thanksgiving weekend to support one of our three UCI races in Canada and to help out with the first race of our Vancouver Island cyclocross series – Turkey Cross in Victoria.

Jim Horner Cyclocross Gran Prix, Edmonton Alberta
I met the organizers of this race at Cyclocross Worlds two years ago in Zeddam. Their son Mike Bidniak was racing as a junior and they were in the beer gardens cheering on the Canadian team the entire weekend with their flag held high. They all belong to the Juventus club in Edmonton which made the effort and financial commitment to put on one of the few UCI cyclocross races in Canada so I thought I should go and show my support. Plus it was a Kona sponsored event and a great chance to pick up some points for my euro trip later in the season. I was not disappointed. My rental car was a sweet Magnum, the weather was sunny and warm, the course was super fun and I ran into some friends that I hadn’t seen for awhile. It was a small field on the start line compared to my last race at Cross Vegas but what was promising was the number of younger athletes racing. Very cool to see. I started fast but could not shake Pepper Harlton (Juventus) for the first lap. She told me afterwards that it was her goal to stay with me as long as she could but what was more impressive was that this was her first season of racing cyclocross. Watch out. Eventually she blew up and I extended my lead and settled into the twisty course. That is until I saw the lead junior that had started a minute behind us charging hard. The crowd screamed out that they would give $50 to the winner of the heat. Game on! I did not want him to catch me but he was gaining fast. He caught me in the tricky ravine section and I couldn’t hold his wheel. He was too fast - $50 was his. Unfortunately I had to pack up immediately after the race and get on a plane to Victoria but I made sure to let them know I would bring more next year – well worth the effort. And who knew Edmonton could be sunnier and warmer than home??

Turkey Cross Victoria
For a few years now, I have helped out with the Vancouver Island cyclocross series – Cross on the Rock. We love the sport of cyclocross so why not share the joy? Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I hear someone who has just finished their first cross race gushing “that was awesome!! I loved it!! I can’t believe how much fun that was, I am totally going to buy a cross bike for next race”. We don’t work for the bike companies – honest. Dan Proulx, Sarah Stewart, Norm Thibault and Oak Bay Bikes were the masterminds behind the Victoria event so I just had to show up, help out where needed and race. And since I had been racing in Edmonton the day before most of the work was already done – slacker. Victoria is a hot bed for elite cyclists in Canada so the Turkey cross was bound to get some big names out. Hmmm lets see we had multiple World Champion Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain/Haywood), U23 World Championships Bronze Medalist Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain/Haywood) just to name a couple. The course was probably the best yet – with a BMX track, mud, sand, a steep hill to run up (that was rideable if your legs weren’t full), a chicane, chip trail and a velodrome. Top that. I was excited to play with Alison on a cross course that had more features (she schooled me in Vegas) but she broke her bars into the first set of barriers so I was on my own for the rest of the race. Just me and a field of Master men that were actually pretty fun to play with too. The best race however was the kids race. They loved it so much they did it three times!

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