Posted by Editoress on 02/2/13
Course conditions changed from icy and rutted to sloppy mud at the second day of the 2013 World Masters Cyclocross Championships in Louisville Kentucky. Temperatures well below freezing and a biting wind provided competitors with both physical and mental challenges as they dealt with the extreme conditions.
“That was one of the craziest rides I’ve ever had,” said Peter Mogg (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery), 14th in the mens’s 35-39 event. “Super slimy, slick, mud freezing everywhere. By the third lap it was a single-speed race. You had one or two gears the whole way.”
Peter Mogg and Aroussen Laflamme - photo Jon Safka
Also in the race with Mogg was Aroussen LaFlamme (Xprezo-Borsao), for whom the event presented even greater adversity. Riding in fourth position on the opening lap, a dramatic crash on a steep downhill saw LaFlamme go head over heels. Although he was okay, his bike wasn’t. Not having a spare bike of his own, the 35-39 national champion was handed a neutral service bike in the pits. “One lap I had a large which I was not able to sit on so I had to run the whole way. Running a whole lap is very tiring.” Coincidentally, perhaps, LaFlamme was wearing bib number 13, which was not turned upside-down.
Racing in the women’s 50-54 category was “absolutely fabulous” for Judy Harlton of Devon AB. “I had a crash on the second lap but I got up and kept fighting.” The fourth-place finisher had her daughter Pepper working in the pits. “Pepper and I have been racing the circuit all fall so it’s kind of a nice finale for the two of us.”
Fellow competitors Carolyn Haill and Robyn Angeles suffered in the cold but maintained a positive outlook. Haill (Chain Reaction) was visibly suffering after her race, but rebounded quickly after taking a puff from her inhaler. “I like the (course) layout. I just wish it had been a little bit warmer. It just makes me pumped to do another one, I suppose. I like the fact that you’re competing against different countries, albeit there aren’t that many here. You just get caught up in the hype of it all. I’m looking forward to watching the elites tomorrow.
Angeles (Independent) had to cope with cold hands that led to handling difficulties. “It’s a pretty hard race here. The ruts are obnoxious. I crashed five times and it’s really icy for me. This is probably the most challenging ‘cross I’ve ever done. Whoever won definitely deserved it. She’s an incredible rider. You have to be an incredible bike handler and incredibly fit to do as well as she did. I need a lot more fitness and need to work a lot more on my bike handling skills. I’m 50 so I’ve got another 21 years to do this.”
For Janna Gillick, a seventh-place finish in the women’s 35-39 event came after only a year of racing cyclocross. “It’s a pretty cool experience. Tough conditions, but the atmosphere and being able to race against some of the best in the world is pretty amazing.” The Nanaimo resident credits Wendy Simms and Normon Thibault for supporting and encouraging her nascent ‘cross career. “Norm basically harassed me. He found someone willing to lend me a bike last year, and e-mailed me until I finally showed up at a race. So I borrowed a bike from a good friend of mine and showed up and signed up for the intermediate class. Norm said if you don’t like it you never have to do it again. I raced intermediate and won the race and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Fellow competitor Shawna Donaldson (Synergy Racing) was also positive about her race experience. “It’s pretty exciting. In a way it felt like any other race,” said the ninth-place finisher. “The fact that it was the world championships didn’t really get to me, but it’s pretty exciting stuff knowing that you’re racing against the top girls.” The oil and gas production accountant from Calgary had been looking forward to her race for more than a year. “I was going to do master worlds last year but it just didn’t work out. But I was going to do this for sure because it was lined up with the elites. The way the conditions were and the way they changed throughout the race, and the way I was able to pass lots of people, I’m happy. I’m excited to get back into training and get ready for next year.”
Thibault (Frontrunners) fought to an eleventh-place finish in the men’s 45-49 race. In the same event was Toronto resident James Cook (Canadian Cycling Magazine) “I had a great race today. I managed to get pulled, unfortunately, because I’m not nearly as fast as Don Myrah, but I had a great start, managed to gain a bunch of places after starting in 80th, climbed up a bunch, so yeah, I had a really great time.”
Normon Thibault over the barriers - photo Jon Safka
Andrew Croutch (The Hub Race Team) and Edgars Apse (Blacksmith Cycle) finished 14th and 65th respectively in the Men’s 40-44 race. “It was just survival,” said Croutch. “It was just nuts.” He came to Louisville with two bikes, but with differing types of tires on each. When riding with mud tires, he was able to pass riders, but upon switching to his second bike equipped with hardpack tires, he found himself going backwards.
Edgars Apse shows off his broken derailleur - photo Jon Safka
For Apse, the conditions led to a bike covered with frozen mud and a broken rear derailleur. To add insult to injury, he was pulled from the race. Despite it all, he managed to put a positive spin on things. “It’s the conditions of ‘cross.” Explained the marketing and advertising professional. “You’ve got to take it as it comes. Some days are better than others.”
The world championship experience has been a good one for Apse. “It’s been a great experience. I would come again. It’s great to be around it. It’s nice to have all these people out for ‘cross. It’s been a full week of just being in it and around it and it’s a great feeling. We’ll have to have it in North America again, for sure.”
Report by Emil van Dijk