Posted by Editoress on 07/19/10
Thunder Bay, Ontario, is best known for the Sleeping Giant that lies to the east of the city, as well as being the place where Terry Fox ended his Miracle of Hope marathon. However, Thunder Bay is also a very active community, with well known events like the Sleeping Giant Loppett Ski marathon. The city also is home to the Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club, who host some events like the Mud N Mayhem Festival, as well as race events at Shuniah Mines and Centennial Park.
The Thunder Bay Cycling Club is the older of the two cycling clubs in the city, and hosts a number of road, time trial, criterium and touring (Mtb and Road) events though out the season. Some of the club's racing events include the Moose Hill four kilometre hill climb, the Candy Mountain Road race and the crown jewel of the club's year: the Triple Crown event, which is a three day, three event stage race that took place this year on July 16-18.
This is the second year that I myself have had the experience of participating in this amateur racing event in Thunder Bay. Unfortunately, this year the race was reduced to a Double Crown event with the cancellation of the Friday evening Prologue time trial. The club had decided to temporarily suspend their weekly Time Trial Program due to riders breaking some rules and creating some unsafe situations the week before. This still left riders with two great events on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday saw Category 1 through 4 riders race a criterium around Innova Park, which is an undeveloped industrial park within the City of Thunder Bay. The 1.2 kilometre loop is cut off from any major traffic routes, which makes it the perfect race track for high speed racing without any concern of riders about traffic. Category 1 riders set the pace and raced full throttle for a tough 45 minutes plus 5 laps. Category 2 riders sped around for 35 minutes plus 5 laps and the Category 3 and 4 groups put in a fast paced 25 minutes plus 5 laps.
The terrain west of the City of Thunder Bay offers several challenging riding routes, and was the stage for the Sunday morning road race. The roads just south of the village of Stanley had riders put themselves to the test around a 15 kilometre loop on Highway 588, Barrie Drive and finishing on River Road. The 1.1 kilometre leg-burning climb up Highway 588 was enough to take get your heart rate into the red zone and, just as you felt you had recovered from the climb and the pace had picked itself up once again, the route turned left onto Barrie Drive for a section of rolling and undulating climbs that kept the legs, lungs and heart working. This kept riders testing each other or working together to see who was the fastest, or who could just survive on the day. The finishing stretch down River Road was very fast paced with a series of long gradual descents, fast flat and rolling sections that had groups riding at maximum speed and gathered up anyone hoping to make a last minute break to the finish line, resulting in most Categories finishing with a bunch sprint at the line.
So if you find yourself in Thunder Bay with your bike next year in July, I would suggest that you have the TBCC, Triple Crown on your race program. Full results for the event and information about it and the cycling community in Thunder Bay can be found on the TBCC website at www.tbaycc.ca.
by Jeff Tilbury
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