Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships & Jim Horner UCI race
Edmonton, Alberta

As we boarded the plane to head to Edmonton for CX Nationals, the Air Canada agents laughed at us and told us to expect snow. They weren't far off on the temperature scale (it was hovering around freezing) but we were lucky to get mostly sun for the weekend. I had raced the Jim Horner event here last year so I had a pretty good idea of the course - a long (3.1km), fast, mostly grassy loop with a few tight corners and a fun bowl section with some ups and downs. Nothing too extreme, but not a lot of rest.

Edmontonian love
As always, the Edmonton hospitality was in full effect the moment we arrived. Dan from the Juventus Cycling Club that hosted the event gave us a guided tour of the course before it was even set up, Don Fox the organizer invited Mike Garrigan and myself to be on Breakfast TV to promote the event as the defending National Champions, and Tom from River Valley Cycles (second biggest Kona dealer in Canada) gave us a guided tour of his shop and helped out our Junior travel buddy Nick Holatko (team BC) whose bike had a catastrophic failure while we were doing a 5 up sprint pre-riding the course. For the record, Nick did get the holeshot on the sprint but a few pedal strokes later his bike exploded and ended up in pieces. Not bad for an 80lb 16 year old kid (should have bought a Kona).

The main event
With Lyne Bessette retired, the question was whether Alison Sydor would start. She hadn't shown up at a single CX race yet this year and she did not seem like the type to "wing it" unprepared so I had my doubts. In the end she was a no show. So there would be a lot of strong cyclists at the race but only a few pure CX addicts. It wasn't a very technical course so I figured if they were smart, a few could work together and pose a problem. Star crossed 2007 ring a bell to any of the gals that ganged up on me? Boooo. But that didn't change my stratgey. I wanted to go off the front from the gun and see who was game. I got a gap on the first lap and it was only young Pepper Harlton (Team Alberta/Juventus) that posed a threat. I had raced her last year and knew she had speed, skill and guts but not a lot of endurance built up yet so I kept my eye on her. Any problems and she would be able to close the gap quickly. She held the ~20 second gap steady for a couple laps but then faded a bit near the end of the race so I got to cruise into the finish and savour my 4th National Championship title. Red and white for another year!

My fourth National Championship title! photo by Joe Sales

Overzealous Officials

Its a bit unfortuante that even though the Juventus Cycling Club put on a great event the talk of the weekend was the overly anal officials enforcing random UCI rules. It was like they had scanned the rules manual (and there a LOT of UCI rules) and cherry picked their favourite obscure ones to enforce. At registration they told everyone that there would be a mandatory bike check 30mins before the start. ?? A bike check, WTF?? Apparently they were going to check and enforce rule

1.3.013 The peak of the saddle shall be a minimum of 5 cm to the rear of a vertical plane passing through the bottom bracket spindle

So 30mins before my race I went to the tent for my bike check. On an uneven grassy field with the wind blowing the plumb line they eyeballed my bike without a ruler. The "expert" said ohhh, uhhhm, yeaahhh, I don't know, this one is pretty close and called in another official expert. Ohhhh, uhhhmmm, yeahhh, I don't know, this one is close, get her on the bike. So I got on my bike against a table and they "measured" from my knee. They made it seem like they were doing me a favour and let it slide but I was supposed to go in the box now 30mins before my race or risk getting checked again. I chose to continue my warm up.

Contrary to UCI rules which state that the podium event should take place right after the race, Norm's awards ceremony for the Masters race was 2+ hours after his finish so he decided to stop the festering in his crotch and change out of his chammy. He went to the podium for his third place in pants and a Frontrunners jersey. As this is against rule

1.2.113 Unless otherwise stated, riders shall appear at official ceremonies wearing competition clothing.

Norm got FINED for wearing inappropriate gear to the podium. And he also got a fine for giving sass to the officials (although I can't find this rule in the UCI handbook....). They didn't actually tell him that he was fined, the posted it on an official communique that he happened to see outside the clubhouse. He was pissed! You can guess he will be protesting that fine. Two can play at that game.

After my award ceremony (in full accordance with rule 1.2.113) I asked an official if I could wear my pre screened KONA National Champion jersey for the UCI race the next day. They said yup no problem. Wait let me check with another official, yup no problem. But I had remembered some random rule reference a few years ago that you couldn't wear any sponsors on the jersey for 24hrs (I can't even find this rule, but i am getting a little dizzy). Since my race was 23hours later I decided to play it safe and wore my orange KONA skinsuit with the plain National Champ jersey over top (sorry Kona).

All bikes were supposed to be checked again for the UCI race on Sunday (you never know I might have slipped in a TT bike in while they weren't looking...) so as they were doing call ups (15mins before the race which is contrary to UCI rules) there was a line up of people waiting for their bike check to pass. I missed my call up. They called up everyone again and I was still in line. When I finally got through I was second last to pick a spot on the start grid. Our brand new National Champion in row 3. Respect. I wasn't the only front row racer to miss their call up so someone in the crowd yelled out "your start grid is all wrong" so a few of the girls moved aside and tried to let me through but the officials got very angry and said we would all be fined if they moved their position. You want to prove a point, I will prove a point. So I held my third row start position for the gun. The gun went off and I blew out all my anger and proceeded to get the holeshot. Bite me.

In the mens race, our new National Champion Geoff Kabush missed his call up and the racers moved aside to let him start on the front row. He was FINED $100 for not respecting the start order.

2008 Canadian National Champions. The commisaires tried to fine Geoff Kabush for wearing a hat on the podium but he reminded them this was not an official UCI podium. Suckers.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! (Hey, your nationals are almost as early as ours in Finland.)

I'm usually in favour of enforcing all the rules in the book, but doing so at random or, worse still, incorrectly, really pisses me off. The "unless otherwise provided" would in the case of any CX podium be this one:

5.1.055 Those involved in the official ceremony are permitted to wear additional clothing.

Anna R

Halldór Örn Gunnarsson said...

Congratulations Wendy, I had a great time watching you and Geoff at the Juan De Fuca event and what I really enjoyed about that scene was the casual atmosphere. I guess the Nationals are a little different!
I'll be posting a link to Norm, with a lot of pictures from that race, today or tomorrow.
Again, congrats.

Dwayne said...

Wow, the CCA never fails to amaze.
Gotta love the simplicity of GRMBA races.

Jen Tilley said...

nice work Wendy! Woohooo!
you rock. the hoouussseeee

love, jen tilley

Anonymous said...

Good job...

Regarding the officials, you have forgotten the first rule - those who can't, supervise. Its a meaningless exercise in control.

It reminds me of a race official who decided to check the stack height on my daughter's GS skis with a freaking micrometer in a J2 ski race last year. Of course this would have meant the the ski manufacturer made a whole batch or World Cup race skis with an illegal stack height.

rumon said...

Nice rip, Simms, with the legs and with the tongue...let 'em all have it...we armchair heros will keep on lovin' it and cheering you're an inspiration!


jsager said...

I heart UCI.

chr15 tree said...


scottyucsb said...

Hey, great race. I was in the master B race and also got "back-rowed" because I wanted a warm-up and didn't want to go through bike check 30 minute early.

At the same time our SK provincial series is commissaired almost exclusively by the same two people, one of whom is CCA/UCI trained in most disciplines. The nationals/jim horner weekend was a UCI training/accreditation opportunity for 'cross and she was there all day, both days. Having people volunteer to do this training and then come to all of our races to help run them is essential to our ability to race.

They were certainly being picky but it could have been the case that they were being observed and wanted to be diligent in order to ensure they did what was necessary to receive their credentials (they had probably been reading the regulations the preceding week). I can assure you there was substantial grumbling here in Saskatoon over the jersey regulations, lots of horsetrading of club jerseys in the days preceding the race too.

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