Canadian Cyclist


September 26/06 12:23 pm - Cheakamus 2006

Posted by Editor on 09/26/06

Plaxton and Sydor Crush All at Cheakamus
Courtesy organizers

On a perfect, classic, sunny fall day this year it all came togother as the 2006 Cheakamus Challenge delivered the best off road race of the season in Canada.

In a joyous group of close to 400, the pack headed out at 10 a.m. from the Squamish airport. The leaves were falling as the wheels hummed along the road for the first 5 km with the morning light knifing through the maple canopy that hid the first challenge of the day. Once riders hit the dirt the pace picked up and once across the Jack Webster Bridge the hammer came down and the group splintered. Once the pack hit the 100 year old lava rocks and 400 m of stunningly beautiful climbing it was a quick 30 minutes to the highway and the first opportunity to get it back together. The highway section was right out of the twilight zone as riders came from peace and tranquilty to major construction/paving and traffic control. All points considered, everyone involved showed incredible skill and adaptability in working on a program that worked very well for everyone.

Enough of that and now on to the important stuff. Once the pack hit the steeper trails it was the fitness and form of Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain , Business Objects) that shone through. He just seemed to ride away with the help of team-mate and MTB legend Dre Hestler, with all others eating his dust. As they hit the meat of the course it was the sage Hestler urging Plaxton to give it the gas as he pulled away and soloed in for a very well earned victory in 3:08:48. In second, after reeling in the draft beer hunting Hestler, was Kris Sneddon (Kona /Le Gets) who had his best finish ever in this "King of the Off- Road Classic's". Hestler cruised in for 3 rd place and local lad and Canada Cup Overall Champion, Neal Kindree (Kona-Let Gets) of Squamish finished in fourth with another local Whistler boy Matty Bodkin (Whistler Bike Co./Giant) looking incredibly strong with a 5th while having the ride of his life and rounding out the podium.

Who is that chick? Alison Sydor!

That was the lament of many strong riders at this years event who tried in vain to hang onto the wheel of 3 time World Champion and 5 time Cheakamus Winner Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain/Busines Objects). Not only did she dominate a strong women's group but she also came in 10th overall and sent many a lad to bonk land with her smooth and powerful style in a time of 3:38:41. Coming in second was last years winner Trish Sinclair (Scott) with Sandra Walter coming in 3rd and local girl, Lesley Clement (Whistler Bike Co./Giant) pulling of a solid 4th and Angela Sucich (Voodoo) looking spooky in 5th.

This was the best race ever! was heard from the throng of racers and thousands of spectators who lined the course. A crowd in the hundreds greeted riders in the Demonstration forest as they exited Trash, and faced the steep ramps of the Ridge Trail. Riverside Trail and Far Side with their swooping turns that went on forever and short bursty climbs softened the gang up as they approached the High Trail and the gnarly old nasty Microwave Climb to the top of Tunnelvision.. The crew at the aid station which was incredibly hosted by IGA Marketplace of Whistler and headed by Tom (Santy Claus) Thompson of White Gold. Watermelon is the miracle food for bike racing and based on the consumption and satisfaction, more will be added for next year. Speaking of next year there are some plans in the works to make it even better!


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