Posted by Editoress on 06/11/08
Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle Iron Lung XC June 8th at the Canmore Nordic Center
Courtesy Ed Garvin
What a day! 137 brave racers tackled the Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle Iron Lung course at the Canmore Nordic Center under what can only be described as challenging conditions. This was the 4th stop in the season long Alberta Bicycle Association Mountain Bike Cup point series and proved to be the biggest challenge that the racers have faced this year. The new course and the wet conditions provided a double hit that left most racers both exhilarated and exhausted.
The Nordic Center is well known for providing very challenging courses and this one delivered the goods. In a departure from the traditional uphill start and clockwise direction of travel, the course took the racers to the usually un-ridden lower trails of the Nordic Center. The race got underway with a fast start loop that brought racers back through the start finish area before launching them down the legendary Devonian Drop. Positioning was essential as immediately following Devonian the racers were treated to a long stretch of classic Canmore singletrack. A short climb then saw the racers hit the as yet un-named descent that would prove to be the highlight of the day. Racers in the morning start were able to ride this descent, but rain and deteriorating trail conditions meant that the racers from the afternoon start will have to wait until next year to claim bragging rights. After collecting themselves from the thrill of the descent, the racers then made their way over to the dreaded Georgetown Hill where the climbing and the real racing began. After cresting Georgetown the course served up even more Canmore singletrack before bringing the racers back to the stadium on the traditional Canada Cup route. The course proved to be a true test, and given the number of shattered but still smiling racers at the finish, it was a test worth taking.
The 9:30am start left under ideal conditions and saw a Men's Sport race that had 14 year old Felix Wilberg from Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle taking the hole shot into Devonian Drop and leaving the older riders in his dust. The technical opening 10 minutes suited Felix to a tee and he opened up a 45 second gap on a chasing group of 3. But the course took it's toll and after leading for 2 laps Felix faded under the relentless pursuit of Speed Theory's Trev Williams and Charlie Cooper who crossed the line holding each others hands raised to tie for first place. Felix held on to a well earned third place on a bike he borrowed from his dad after snapping his frame in the pre-ride. The Master's race saw Donald Robertson ride away with a convincing win over Brent Clark and Darren Freeman, with the rest of the Master's field rolling in with some large time gaps that were an indication of the race's difficulty. Novice Men proved to be a hotly contested race with Steven Kovalenko from Juventus/RVC/Kona taking an 11 second win over Aaron Sands. Ryan O'Hara rounded out the podium. Again, large time gaps, and shattered riders filled out the remainder of the Novice Men's field. Sport Women was taken away by the recently upgraded Michelle Eshpeter, followed closely by Deadgoat's Tori Fahey. Alyssa Barker completed the podium.
The 11:30 Youth start which featured a modified short course greeted the riders with an intense cloud burst and rapidly changing trail conditions. Muddy, and sometimes bloody racers were lapping through with big grins on their mud caked faces after the rain took it's tole on the course. In a first for an ABA race, the Women's Novice race was held on the Youth course, and given the reviews from the 9 first time racers from Spin Sisters, this is a change that will stick.
The Men's Sport Youth race saw Kevin Stafford from United Cycle taking a commanding win over Andrew Spahr from Rundle Mountain and Alex Steneker from Juventus/RVC/Kona. The Men's Novice Youth race saw Cody Ratte from Calgary Cycle take a 1 minute win from Cyclemeister's Leo Fleck and Rundle Mountain's Sean Qi. Women's Sport Youth saw Bicisport's Emily deFreitas take the win over Heidi Schaffer from Rundle Mountain and Sara Witzke from Juventus. The Women's Novice Youth race had Zoe Dahl and Andrea St. Germain from Cyclemeister's ride a close race with Zoe taking the win. The previously mentioned Women's Novice field seemed to be the unofficial club championships for the Spin Sister's MTB Club out of Calgary. Coach Jeff Nielson brought his athletes out for an intro to MTB racing and boy did they get one. Many big smiles were seen and hopefully, a new group of Women MTB racers has been born. Deanne Katnick won the race, with Megan Culham and Hanna Burger rounding out the podium.
The 1:00pm Elite/ Expert race started with rain and the prospect of riding the now soaked course dampening the spirits of the racers. The Elite men's race saw another dominant win by United Cycle's Tim Heemskerk. Tim opened the race with a blistering 22 minute first lap that shattered the field. Bicisport's Shawn Bunin and ERTC/Team Sask.'s Andrew Thomas fought hard to round out the podium with Bunin taking a 1 minute advantage for second. The Elite Women saw last weekends Elite Female Canada Cup winner Mical Dyck from Terrascape/Trek cruise to an easy win, catching all but the top four in Men's Expert in the process. Alberta Cup points leader Pepper Harlton from Juventus/RVC/Kona rolled in 15 minutes later for second while the ageless wonder Loni Klettl from Jasper took third. The Men's Expert race saw Hardcore's Mike Blennerhasset take his second Alberta Cup win in a row by almost 2 minutes over Devin Erfle and Erik Bakke from Deadgoat Racing. The Expert field can breathe a sigh of relief as Blennerhasset will surely be upgraded to Elite for the next race in Bragg Creek. The Expert Women saw Alana Heise from Terrascape recover nicely from winning the Giver8r 8hr enduro the previous weekend as she took the win with a commanding 7 minute gap to Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle's Katy Curtis. Kelly Hall from Juventus/RVC/Kona rounded out the podium for the Expert Women.
After the racing was finished the racers, volunteers, and spectators were treated to a Spolumbo's Sausage B.B.Q. put on by the parent's of the Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle Race Team. Generous sponsorship from Weatherford, Burstall Winger L.L.P., and Tech Star Fluid Systems meant that everyone left with full bellies as 21 dozen sausages were devoured.
Many thanks need to go out to all the volunteers and organizers who helped put on this race as well as Bow Cycle for the great podium and draw prizes and Climasource Dry Heat for the raffle prize of a Bow 57 Cruiser. Thank you to all the racers for braving the course and the weather and here's looking forward to The Iron Lung '09
Full results (pdf)
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