Aldor Acres Fort Langley – September 5th
Burnaby Foreshore – September 20th
Whistler Cross – September 26h/27th
Images by Scott Robarts Photography
Rodeo Cross – October 3rd
Vanier Park – October 4th
Visit the Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition for future race dates, schedules and how to get involved.
The Ultimate Gravel Grinder Road Race
This is the 10th anniversary of the Dirty Kanza 200, a gravel road race through the Flint Hills in and around Emporia Kansas. The Flint Hills were once the home of the Great Kanza Nation, and remains as a good representation of what the Great Plains once looked like. The Dirty Kanza traverses this area on gravel and dirt roads. First run in 2006 with 34 participants it has grown to a field of 1500 competitors with 900 trying to complete 200 miles and 600 entering the 100 mile version. The dropout rate is not insignificant, of last year’s 1200 entrants, only 465 finished. The last finisher came across the line in 22 hours 55 minutes. Yikes!
The race allows support at only two location, one at 75 miles and one at 150 miles. In between the competitors are on their own and must manage any and all issues that arise. The Flint Hills are notorious for (wait for it) gravel made of flint! This results in a very sharp edge to the stone and cut tires and flats are apparently rampant. Bike choice is usually a cyclocross bike built up with fatter tires tubeless. I’m using a Giant TCX Advanced with disc brakes and Clement MSI 40mm tires.
Race was Saturday May 30 at 0600 hr and the winning time last year was 10 hours 42 minutes. Think about that… an average of about 32 km/hr… on gravel!!!! Our customer John Ramsden being the power house that he is was participating in this treacherous race and will be reporting back shortly on the outcome and his experience.
UPDATED!! Words by John Ramsden
Well that was downright nuts!
I arrived in Emporia, Kansas late Thursday evening to find that the area had been inundated with rain for several weeks. The temperature was a very cool 15/16 C with high humidity / light rain / heavy rain occurring on and off. The expectation was that Friday and Saturday would be quite similar except that they expected to have 20-25km/h winds from the north both days.
The word on the street was that the organizers wanted to make the race harder because last year someone had scorched the course in less than 11 hours. To do so, for the first time they had incorporated B roads and farm field access paths that were really nothing more than two wheel tracks across the prairie. With limited drainage they were apparently holding water, and of course deep mud. Expectations were that this was going to be a very different DK200 than any that had gone on before.
From my point of view I really felt great. The shitty (no pun intended) conditions were definitely going to be to my benefit as I knew it would be mental block for a large number of competitors. My experience riding in similar conditions on a regular basis was definitely going to be an asset.
Friday, I met my support team and we went out for a quick hour spin to check out the road conditions and to make sure there were no last minute bike issues. The conditions were atrocious. Riding in a pace line any further back than third wheel resulted in a blinding spray of sandy grit. Glasses were quickly of no use. It was hard to imagine how we were going to manage 200 miles of similar conditions.
Saturday breakfast rolled around at 0400hr. The rain continued to drizzle down and with the wind from the north the temperature felt well south of 15C. It was clear that this day was going to be a war of attrition. To finish, racers were going to test their physical and mental fortitude as well as their mechanical skills.
The field rolled out promptly at 0600hr behind a pace car and about 2 minutes later pulled up full stop as a train come barrelling through the outskirts of Emporia at about 90 km/hr. Once it was by, the pace car pulled off, testosterone took over, and the race was on.
Forty five minutes of gravel grinding brought us to the first of the field access paths and we were promptly hike a biking for 3+ miles. The mud was several inches deep and clung to everything. Each shoe weighed about 5lbs, and if you tried to push your bike it took about 2 minutes for your wheel to be carrying 2 inches of mud. The spaces between your chain stay and seat stays quickly clogged up as well as the space between your derailleur and cog set. Your 22lb bike quickly became 35lb plus and attempting to change gears resulted in torn off derailleurs and broken drop outs. I am betting the field lost over 150 riders here with torn derailleurs and other mechanical issues. (They tried to ride it)
We eventually finished the hike a bike and aimed mostly south heading for the first aid station in Madison, Kansas at about 75 miles. With mostly a tail wind the miles quickly disappeared, and I felt like I was totally ripping it. I was riding with the pro’s or what was left of them, and in the top 75. I was keeping up with hydration and nutrition and did not feel I had burned many matches. I rolled into the first aid station in Madison after 5 hours and 24 minutes to find the entire main street lined with cheering spectators. I handed my bike off to my support mechanic, had the bike checked, restocked my supply of food and hydration, and was back out on the road in less than 10 minutes.
The second 75 miles proved to be much, much, much more difficult. There was more mud to traverse carrying your bike and as we headed back north, we began to fight the headwind. I started to feel tired and began making stupid mistakes in bike handling. In the slimy mud, these often had the consequence of an unintended body wash. I probably wasn’t eating enough, and bonked once or twice. This slice of the race took just under 7 hours and everyone in my vicinity was clearly having the same issues. No one seemed able to “get away” and we just seemed to keep exchanging places back and forth.
My big screw up of the day happened as I was coming into the second aid station town after 12+ hours of riding. I lost concentration for about 30 seconds and missed a course turn. I was about 100m behind the racer ahead, and in a moment when I had my head down, he must have made the turn. I merrily went sailing by the turn and although I quickly knew I was off course, in my screwed up state, I couldn’t tell which way to go. Eventually, I had to get out the written cue sheet to find the actually name of the street I needed to turn on, and then backtrack until I found it. Mulberry Street was my downfall. I spent around 15 minutes trying to find the proper way, and that silly mistake moved me from 1st in my division to 4th. Once again the town was rocking as we headed down the Main Street. It was really quite amazing that all these people were hanging in some little town in the middle of the Kansas prairie at 6 o’clock in the evening. I resupplied, had the bike checked, but was out of the second aid a little bit slower than the first time around as I took the time here to actually eat some real food. Ahhh, the wonders of a chicken burrito after 12 hours of riding. No more bonking for me.
The first 15 miles out of Aid Two were straight as an arrow right into the head wind. Picture this, seven hills in sight, each hill slightly higher than the one before and stretching into the distance as far as you can see. That really hurt; both physically and mentally! The rest of the race is a bit of a blur. Night arrived and I started riding with lights. For the last 50 miles, I basically rode all by myself. I think I maybe saw 2 other riders. I could see the occasional light behind me but it was hard to tell how close they were and if they were gaining or falling back. Eventually, quite un-expectantly, the Emporia city sign came out of the darkness.
Riding into town was just outright insane. For three blocks, they had set up a barricaded path right down the middle of the street. The barricades were lined 3 and 4 deep with cheering, cow bell ringing spectators reaching out to give you high fives. The energy was crazy… and it was already almost 10 at night. Beer tents, food trucks, live music… you name it, the place was going off. It was easily the biggest finish of any race I have ever been involved in.
I finished in 15 hours and 40 minutes, 82nd out of the 900 starters, and 4th in my age group. Looking back I probably should have tried to draft more, but as a group came by I kept telling myself that each one was either moving too fast or too slow. I kept thinking I had to just ride my own race.
Immediately post-race I had super sore back but that improved with some ibuprofen. I felt awesome on Sunday after such a big effort, but by Monday I was a lot sorer! By Monday night, I had a fever and was wondering if I was coming down with some sort of bug from all the cow shit I consumed off my water bottles. I guess we can call that an occupational hazard in a race like this. Would I do it again? I’m not too sure, but if you are looking for a challenge in a different locale with a really cool vibe, get on it next January and register. www.dirtykanza200.com
The VCXC is in full swing now. Round 2 will be presented by Steed Cycles. We will be at a new venue for 2014 as New Brighton Park has not recovered for the bad weather last year. We will be racing at Foreshore Park in Burnaby. It was used in 2012 and features a long sandpit and some great singletrack. Join us for fun and racing.
Register here: https://ccnbikes.com/burnaby-foreshre-cx/
Lion Cross, held at Port Coquitlam’s Lions Park twisted and wound its way around the small park in a maze of tape. Sitting on my trainer warming up for my race, I watch the future stars of cyclocross ripping it up on course. Of course I am referring to the U13 and U15 youth. It’s amazing to see these young athletes, in some cases, showing up the adults. Cyclocross is amazing in the way that it brings friends and families together for day of fun and racing.
My memories of this course are not fond as I broke my collarbone here a few years ago. A stick caught in my wheel as I accelerated out of a corner, abruptly bringing my bike to a stop, while I was pitched forward and slammed into the ground. The chance of this happening twice is slim to none, but before I race here, I meticulously comb the course for potential dangers (sticks) and remove them.
Although the course was satisfactorily cleared, it was still a rough day of racing for me. My start was my regular, not fast off the gun, start. Near the back of the pack rounding the first corner, I pedalled hard to make my way up through the ranks, only to have my chain drop off after coming through the barriers. I tried to ride it back on, adjusting the shifting, but it wouldn’t catch. I had to stop to manually put it on, fumbling as my gloves kept getting caught in the chain.
By the time I was back on my bike, everyone I had passed had gone by me. I had my work cut out for me if I had any hope for a podium finish. I slowly gained places, moving into 4th behind Marnie and Stacey with Maggie ahead and Sandra way off the front. Speaking of future stars of cyclocross, Maggie, riding with the Elite women, is only 14 years old!
Stacey, Marnie and I agreed we must catch Maggie. We worked briefly together then a gap formed behind me. I was feeling pretty good and decided it was time to go. I finally caught Maggie and went for the pass. I encourage her to stick on my wheel as Stacey would surely be chasing. She stuck to my wheel like glue, matching every move. I was not able to shake her. I rounded the snow covered corner (brought in just for today from a local ice rink) and took myself out. Maggie manoeuvred around me and took the lead. She was on fire, and once again I was on the chase. I dug really deep, as pride was on the line, and managed to catch her again. I edged past a second time and managed to hold her off for second place. Sandra ran away with first today.
What an awesome battle! Thanks Maggie! I hope cyclocross gives you as much as it has given me.
The wheels keep rolling here in Vancouver. After the last few weeks of bad rain and muddy conditions the dry snap has finally hit. The ground has become hard and the moisture has evaporated. What does this mean? Fast Cyclocross racing!!!!! After the last Double header weekend in Vancouver and the tiredness I felt in Vanier Park it was time to rest for the week after and regroup in terms of how I was riding. I know I still have the confidence but was feeling run down a bit. The training has taken a new direction now. I needed a bit more speed and some more intensity if I was going to step up to Master 1-2.
Roll on another Double header in Vancouver. Saturday would see LionCross at Port Coquitlam (which was the site of my first ever CX win in Vancouver) and Sunday at Mahon Park (The park at the bottom of my street). After finishing 5th in Vanier I was one point short of moving up so knew I had to get a Top 8 this week to get the 20 points I need. Saturday morning seen me make the trip out to Port Coquitlam for Round 4 of the Super Prestige. The course had changed a bit from last year but still had the major features like the Pea Gravel run through the kids playground, the off camber and the tight twisty up and downs. They added on a few more twisty bits and after a few warm up laps I knew it would suit me. I was still feeling a bit tired but knew I could ride well with Steve supporting me. By now Steve has learned the ways of CX and knows that you need a good start and have to be a bit aggressive.
The gun went off and we all rushed away. Usually I go to the front and try go off hard but this time I let somebody else do the work. I sat in 2nd place with Steve just behind me. As we approached the first off camber I passed the leader and Steve followed. I wanted to get in there first to be safe. Once we got out the other side I looked back and Steve was the only rider with me. I didnt want to go too early and blow up so I kept it steady for the next lap or so. Once we had a small gap we pushed a bit more. I was riding well and felt good. As we came onto the last lap I looked across at Steve and we both wished each other ‘Good Luck’ and put the hammer down. I know my strengths and Steves so I upped the tempo leading into the flat fast part so he couldnt ride around me and then really pushed it through the techy bits. As we hit the barriers I tried to stay smooth and remount quickly. I had a bike length on him and pushed it around the last few turns catching back markers. Out of the last turn I kicked hard to the line and took the win. Two for two at Port Coquitlam haha.
A great start to the weekend for me. And an even better weekend for Steed Cycles with podiums from Kim, Myself, Steve and Kelly.
Sunday morning came around and it was off to Mahon Park. I like the course here as its fast and great for spectators as they can see most of the action from one spot. My awesome wife was on hand to cheer me on with an Irish flag to wave too. I was tired from Saturday and didnt think i would have the legs to be challenging for the win.
My plan was to ride the race at my pace and help Steve to break away. The race kicked off and once again I sat in behind the leaders and opted to watch the race from 3rd place.
As we came around onto the second lap I moved up into 2nd and a small group of 5 of us got away.
Next time over the barriers myself and Steve moved to the front and I controlled the speed from there on.
With 2 laps to go Steve took a spill on a grassy side hill and as I looked across at him he said ‘Hammer It’. I upped the tempo and only one rider managed to stay with me. I didnt let up and as we came onto the final lap Drew Hemmingson was biting at my heels. As we came off the running track he pushed by me and into the lead. I stuck to his wheel around the mud pit and up the steps.
Coming back onto the final straight I kicked hard and tried to ride around Drew but it just didnt happen. I finished 2nd and was happy with that. I now have 30 points and can move up to Masters 1-2. Next week its Pumpkin Cross and that means Im racing with the Cat 1-2 men also for 1 hour. Lets see how that goes.
As always a huge thanks goes out to Steed Cycles and all the team for the support, Louise for becoming a #cyclocrosswife, Sean Travers for the awesome pictures in Mahon Park and all the other photographers at the races who capture the action for me to relive it.
What a way to spend Thanksgiving Day! Good friends, spectacular weather, and some of the finest cross racing in BC. The big turnout was a record for attendance.
Last year this event was a month later, and it was cold, wet, and some might say miserable (if you are not a true cross racer!). This year, the sun was shining, the mud was minimal, but the course offered a whole new set of challenges. Like last year, racing kicked-off with a mass start, giving everyone a fair chance to show who has the best cross start. Clearly, not me, but what fun! Note to self, work on start.
The organizers didn’t let the pleasant weather take away from the challenge of the track; creative elements and high/low risk course options kept racers on their toes and added extra entertainment for spectators.. First up – take the fast line over a gap jump, or the slow choice through a series of barriers. Knowing that all the women I race against would choose the jump, I had to put all my fears and my love of keeping my wheels on the ground aside to keep in the mix. My first attempt during warm-up on my “B” bike landed short, my rear wheel casing hard, and I was really worried about the consequences of landing my carbon wheels the same way.
The first lap came, I sprinted to the jump and to my surprise, I floated over the jump and into the next corner. Awesome feeling! Quickly after the jump, my next decision, the right line or the left through the tire maze. I chose the right option, which turned out to be slower as I discovered in later laps.
The center of the course presented its own challenges with a very steep flyover, lots of tight twisty sections, and power road sections. Last in the line up was a steep climb into the motocross track where my arms were wishing I had done some push ups sometime during my training this year. The dry braking bumps were relentless and with 2 laps to go, my arms wanted to stop riding.
With one lap to go, I was managing to hold off my friend Joele. She was only behind me due to an unscheduled bike change. I gave everything I had to keep her at bay and thought I had managed it until I came through the finish and the lap board still said 1 to go. Not sure if I still had a lap, I kept riding knowing full well I had burned all my matches on the last, last lap.
Joele and I had a brief discussion as to whether we actually still had a lap to go. We decided if nothing else, it would be a good training lap and it was game on again. I managed to hold her until the 2nd to last corner on the motocross track where she finally found the sweet line and passed me on the inside sprinting to the finish ahead of me. What an awesome battle. I finished 7th behind Joele. Carey Mark, also riding for Steed, landed a podium finish in 4th place. Congrats Carey!
You always think that you have done the right training and then life throws you a curve ball. Although I have had a slow start to the season, I am looking forward to racing myself into fitness and loving every minute of it. Hopefully, I will still be able to meet my goal of a better finish than last year at Nationals.
Thanks to my sponsor Steed Cycles for their support and for putting together an awesome group of people that love cylcocross as much as I do. North Shore Sports Medicine for getting me through an early season injury. Also big thanks to all of our other sponsors: Giro, Sugoi, Giant, Bean Around the World, and Roberts Composites for their support.
October 21st, 2012 :: By Kim Steed
This past Sunday Atomic Racing / Speed Theory put on the Provincial Cyclocross Championships at Mahon Park; god knows how they managed to put a 3km race course together in such a small park! Being late October this was the fourth cyclocross race of the season for me, and for some it was their first since last season. What made this event different for me was the weather; it was WET! Lucky for us the weather has been consistently dry for months and to be forced to ride in the rain felt like a new experience again. I know, I know, we are a spoiled lot, but it was the first time since last season I was racing and not able to brake or shift properly due to the icy cold spray of water running into my gloves.
My race was the 40-49 Masters age group which I believe ended up being the largest group consisting of 43 racers. When the starting whistle was blown we followed the gravel track along the first third of the loop until it veered into a hairpin turn breaking up the massive group. Because I had registered so close to the event I ended up being buried at the back of this crowd and had to slither my way through the elbow to elbow crusty old crew to get to the front.
Lucky for me I was custom made for this course for two reasons. 1. I have spent over 20 years mountain biking on the north shore in the slickest mud and have learned to manoeuvre, slide and balance my way through it without a removed spleen thus far. 2. I live three blocks from Mahon Park and have ridden here enough to know the lines that were to be used in this race and practiced like a true cyclocross nerd on many mornings.
Once I got up into third place behind Bob Welbourn and Norm Thibault I planted myself on Norm’s wheel, thrilled I had been able to catch up to the leaders in less than a lap! My happiness turned to fear not long after the second lap as I slowly lost the feeling in my fingers and was having a real challenge shifting and braking into all the corners and up the short gut wrenching lumps of earth, I’ll call the hills. I duked it out with Norm for several laps and even had at least a couple of pedal stokes in first place until I skidded into a bush on a corner and Bob and Norm blew past me.
One lap to go I made a few stupid mistakes and couldn’t regain composure… Damn! Can’t complain though, third place at Provincials is pretty SWEET! A bunch of guys had technical issues that cost them the race, like Shawn Pettersen. Shawn’s front tire blew off the rim when the glue let go in a corner and he was pretty stoked about it. If you don’t believe it was cold, Mike Murphy literally got hypothermia and bailed out to warm up and refrain from having to go home in an ambulance. No jokes.
All was good in the end though and I think everyone had a good time. For all the results go to Atomic Racing’s Website
Novice and youth riders will benefit from reduced insurance fees for Local Ride Bike Shop’s Pumpkin Cross cycling race, scheduled for October 28 in Maple Ridge, thanks to the support of North Vancouver based Giant Bicycle Canada, plus race organizer Barry Lyster will offer first-time women racers a discounted entry.
“It is great to have a company like Giant Canada that is eager not only to get involved with racing, but also willing to help support and grow youth and women’s cycling,” said Lyster.
Most novice and youth racers do not hold a race license that covers insurance, so they are required to buy a mandatory single-event license for each race on top of the race entry. This insurance fee can be as high as $30, which makes the cost prohibitive for many riders wanting to try racing for the first time.
Giant Bicycle Canada’s financial support has enabled Lyster to offer the single-event licensing fee at a reduced price of $10 for Senior-category and $5 for Youth-category riders.
In keeping with Lyster’s ongoing passion to get more women riding bikes, he is also inviting first-time women racers an entry fee of only $10.
“Women are underrepresented in cycling and I want to change that,” said Lyster. “Let’s get more women out there experiencing the fun of riding a bike. I want Pumpkin Cross to have the largest Beginner women’s turnout in the province.”
In the beginner categories, riders may use any type of bicycle they have, such as a mountain bike.
Lyster is not alone in his enthusiasm for promoting women’s cycling. Liv/giant, Giant’s women’s specific brand of bicycles, is all about getting more women pedaling. Liv/giant will be generously providing prizing for the women’s categories and Pumpkin Cross.
PedalMagazine.com | October 20, 2012
The “to-do” list! I did my first cyclo-cross race and much to my surprise I actually did quite well. I had worked a plan with old man Kim Steed that I would lead him out and then fake a mechanic al giving him the lead, but for two reasons this didn’t happen. One, we started at separate times and most importantly I pulled the ever popular “Tail Gunner Gronross” routine. Between call ups and my talking to a friend at the start line I completely missed my opportunity to jump up and be where I had been warned I needed to be; at the front of the line. The first few laps were ugly and I reserved myself to a bottom of the pack finish. On one of the laps cyclo-cross machine Kevin Noiles even reminded me that with the wheels I was rolling with I should probably run up the hill, not walk with a brisk pace as I was doing; okay I was walking.
Mid race all I could do was use my strength and power through the flats. Each lap I passed more and more racers, coming into the finish after the bell lap, without any idea where I was. I was finally rewarded with the knowledge that I had actually came in 3rd. Pretty excited to say the least.
But I have set that bar high and now I have to follow up at Abbotsford this weekend. Will see what I can pull out of the rabbit’s hat this weekend.
2012 has been a world of change for me. New friends, new sports and I have even gone so far as to get a coach to help me with the prep for CX and next year’s road race season. Short, dark winter days will find me out there slugging through the routine. Why you might ask? I have never done anything like this in my life but have quietly always wanted to.
Where will this take me? I have no idea, but after this past summer, the challenges fun and yes, even the pain, I am hooked. I know that I can do better, and I am willing for the first time to take the steps required to get there.
Thanks to Kelly, Kim, Tim, Scott and everyone else that has given me advice on this journey.