By Dave Shishkoff, Council of Cross
September 18, 2012, Victoria (ISN) – Cross on the Rock, the cyclocross race series run on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, was off with a boom with a record 208 participants at the season opener last Sunday in Esquimalt.
It was an impressive showing from Victoria, up-island, the mainland and even from the US. Lots of smiles, cheers, and several of the new faces commented on how much they enjoyed the race and atmosphere – giving us confidence in running a ‘cross event!
The course at the waterside Gorge Park was one of the more ‘traditional’ Euro designs we’ve had in a while. One major climb and almost the whole course on smooth but tricky grass. There were enough straight-aways to give roadies a chance to power away, and still lots of twists favoring technical riders; the most trouble might have come from a few steeper kickers. Temperatures were still very summer-y, in the 25C range.
The Beginners field was HUGE, with 27 men, and 23 women on the line – amazing!! Naomi Dove, visiting from Vancouver, was the fastest in the Beginner Women’s field, finished a minute and a half ahead of local rider Cristin Schlossberger(IRC), and the third podium step was earned by Alexandra Grant, a 17-yr old riding for Tripleshot. The Beginner Men’s race was all action at the front with Strava speedster Sylvan Smith(Tripleshot) and Derek Vinge exchanging blows in their first cyclocross race, but Sylvan took the sprint at the end. Not far back was Nick Walker (Frontrunners), all three from Victoria.
In the Intermediate field, the Single Speeders took control, with Seana Wright(Alberni Valley Riders) from Port Alberni maintaining a 10 second lead over Sylvia Story(ProCity Racing), and Shelby Harlen(Oak Bay Bikes) in her second CotR race had these two in her sights, finishing just behind. The Intermediate Men had 43 starters, but none stood a chance against Parker Bloom(Stuckylife) on his SS ‘cross bike, who opened up a pretty huge gap a couple laps in. Unofficial CotR videographer Pelle Gustavs (Sooke Mtn Club) nearly reeled Parker in, with Jordan Kinghorn (OBB/Kelly’s Kids) and two others in tow just behind – one year Jordan’s junior was 17-year-old Liam Farrar(Tripleshot) and Trevor Mackenzie(OBB/Wheelers) made the Top 5.
The biggest single field was the Master’s Men, with 54 starters – our 2nd biggest ever! North Vancouver rider Dan Gronross(Steed Cycles), had a solid lead practically from the siren (unfortunately he is actually only 33, and our Master’s field is for 40+ so he took home the prizes but gets a NOR for the race/points). Age didn’t seem quite as much a factor as series director Norm Thilbault(Frontrunners) out-sprinted Sean Cruickshank(ProCity Racing). The world’s fastest man, Sam Whittingham(Team Naked) visiting from Quadra Island finished 4th, on his own hand-built single-speed, only 17 seconds down from Norm, and 28sec from the leader, and Derek Shiers(Jacks Bicycle) from Bellingham, WA, was just behind. Bill McMillan(MIVA) had the distinction of being the fastest in the 50+ age group, 7th overall and 1’17 behind the winner.
The Expert Women started 3:30 before the Master’s Men, and the one to claim the leader’s arm band (did we mention series leaders now get to sport a fancy arm band?) was Joele Guynup(Condo Group) who out-sprinted mainlander Kelly Jones(Steed Cycles). A minute back was last year’s series winner Dawn Anderson(Oak Bay Bikes), who had raced the Xterra earlier in the morning! Rounding out the Top 5 was Janna Gillick(MIVA) and Glenowyn Carlson(Oak Bay Bikes).
There were a lot of fast men on the start line for the Expert Men’s field, but the fastest of the 34 this day was race director and former Single-Speed World Champion Drew Mackenzie(Condo Group). Maybe he knew the course too well? It doesn’t matter now, as he and his wife Joele were both top winners this day! Four more Victoria riders finished within 2mins filling out the top positions – Kelly Guest(Marin) maintained his lead over of Carter Hovey(MBC) and Tom Skinner(Oak Bay Bikes), who’s awaiting his ‘cross bike and was racing on a 29er. Raphael Lalumiere(Russ Hay’s) brought home an impressive 5th place in his relatively young cyclocross career. Honorable mentions go to Mical Dyck(ProCity/Stan’s No Tubes), riding Expert Men for her first time, preparing her for a big season of racing in the US, and to Halldor Gunnarsson(Stuckylife), for being the only Expert Male to ride single-speed, as well as moving up from the Intermediate category (where he finished 2nd overall last year).
A big thank-you to all our volunteers for coming out early to set up the course, to Esquimalt Parks & Rec for letting us use the lovely Gorge Park for the day, and to the event sponsors Condo Group and OBB Westshore.
From the furthest race South to the Furthest race North: the next race is ‘Another Dodgy Cross Race on September 30th in Cumberland, For all the details, visit http://CrossOnTheRock.com and follow our tweeter: http://twitter.com/crossontherock