Posted by Editoress on 01/12/08
Roller Racing Championship a Hit at Ottawa Tavern January 10th, Ottawa ON
Courtesy the West Quebec Wheelers
Regulars at Ottawa's Elmdale House Tavern, a traditional watering hole in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood, were startled to find themselves outnumbered by Lycra-clad cyclists Friday night as the bar played host to round one of the Eastern Ontario Roller Racing Championships.
More than 40 cyclists took part in the event, organized by Chris Mullington of the West Quebec Wheelers as a fundraiser for the Echelon Project espoir racing team, and the bar was filled with raucous spectators who screamed themselves hoarse as racing progressed through the evening.
The competition was organized into two separate events: a 500-metre race on track bikes clamped firmly in place on the rollers, and a 1,000-metre race with the riders riding their own machines unsupported on the rollers. Riders were seeded through a timed round, then the top 16 raced through elimination rounds to the final.
The action was tense, with two needles on a giant dial showing each rider's progress, and a video camera and several TV monitors around the bar treating spectators to closeups of the riders' agonized expressions as they struggled through the final metres of each race.
"The crowd was great and it was a blast, but this kind of racing is tougher than I expected," said 1,000-metre winner Kris Westwood. "It's not easy to stay smooth when you're trying to race all-out, and I actually unclipped in one of my heats because my back wheel hit the frame of the rollers."
The head-to-head elimination format created some close matches and a few come-from-behind wins, and the bar's regulars got into the action as some lively betting sprang up on the sidelines. The surprise winner of the night was 16-year-old Trevor Damon, who beat out former Ontario team member Brent Atkins to win the men's 500-metre event.
"This event was a big success for us, better than we had hoped," said Mullington after racing ended just before midnight. "It was great to bring this kind of action to people who didn't know anything about bike racing and see them really get into it."
While this is a new event for most Ottawa cyclists, it has a long history. Mullington is, in fact, the defending Eastern Ontario roller champion, having won the last event held at the Ottawa Ex in 1975. That race was organized by cycling legend Peter Tyler, who was brought in a wheelchair from hospital to watch Friday's event.
The Wheelers are planning the next round of the roller racing championships for February 16th, again at the Elmdale House.
1. Leah Howe (West Quebec Wheelers)
2. Nadia Marshy (West Quebec Wheelers)
3. Heather Loeffelholz (West Quebec Wheelers)
1. Trevor Damon (EuroSports)
2. Brent Atkins (West Quebec Wheelers)
3. Sandy Fulton (the Cyclery)
1. Kris Westwood (the Cyclery)
2. Andrew Lees (Cyclelogik)
3. John Large (West Quebec Wheelers)
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