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Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle Iron Lung XC Race Report

June 10, 2008 (Canmore, AB) – What a day! 137 brave racers tackled the Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle Iron Lung course at the Canmore Nordic Center under what can only be described as challenging conditions on June 8. This wasthe 4th stop in the season long Alberta Bicycle Association Mountain Bike Cup point series andproved to be the biggest challenge that the racers have faced this year. The new course and thewet conditions provided a double hit that left most racers both exhilarated and exhausted.The Nordic Center is well known for providing very challenging courses and this one deliveredthe goods. In a departure from the traditional uphill start and clockwise direction of travel, thecourse took the racers to the usually un-ridden lower trails of the Nordic Center. The race gotunderway with a fast start loop that brought racers back through the start finish area beforelaunching them down the legendary Devonian Drop. Positioning was essential as immediatelyfollowing Devonian the racers were treated to a long stretch of classic Canmore singletrack.

A short climb then saw the racers hit the as yet un-named descent that would prove to be thehighlight of the day. Racers in the morning start were able to ride this descent, but rain anddeteriorating trail conditions meant that the racers from the afternoon start will have to waituntil next year to claim bragging rights. After collecting themselves from the thrill of thedescent, the racers then made their way over to the dreaded Georgetown Hill where theclimbing and the real racing began. After cresting Georgetown the course served up even moreCanmore singletrack before bringing the racers back to the stadium on the traditional CanadaCup route. The course proved to be a true test, and given the number of shattered but stillsmiling racers at the finish, it was a test worth taking.

The 9:30am start left under ideal conditions and saw a Men’s Sport race that had 14 year oldFelix Wilberg from Cyclemeisters/Bow Cycle taking the hole shot into Devonian Drop andleaving the older riders in his dust. The technical opening 10 minutes suited Felix to a tee andhe opened up a 45 second gap on a chasing group of 3. But the course took it’s tole and afterleading for 2 laps Felix faded under the relentless pursuit of Speed Theory’s Trev Williams andCharlie Cooper who crossed the line holding each others hands raised to tie for first place.

Felix held on to a well earned third place on a bike he borrowed from his dad after snapping hisframe in the pre-ride. The Master’s race saw Donald Robertson ride away with a convincingwin over Brent Clark and Darren Freeman, with the rest of the Master’s field rolling in withsome large time gaps that were an indication of the race’s difficulty. Novice Men proved to be ahotly contested race with Steven Kovalenko from Juventus/RVC/Kona taking an 11 second winover Aaron Sands. Ryan O’Hara rounded out the podium. Again, large time gaps, andshattered riders filled out the remainder of the Novice Men’s field. Sport Women was takenaway by the recently upgraded Michelle Eshpeter, followed closely by Deadgoat’s Tori Fahey.Alyssa Barker completed the podium.

The 11:30 Youth start which featured a modified short course greeted the riders with an intensecloud burst and rapidly changing trail conditions. Muddy, and sometimes bloody racers werelapping through with big grins on their mud caked faces after the rain took it’s tole on thecourse. In a first for an ABA race, the Women’s Novice race was held on the Youth course, andgiven the reviews from the 9 first time racers from Spin Sisters, this is a change that will stick.The Men’s Sport Youth race saw Kevin Stafford from United Cycle taking a commanding winover Andrew Spahr from Rundle Mountain and Alex Steneker from Juventus/RVC/Kona. TheMen’s Novice Youth race saw Cody Ratte from Calgary Cycle take a 1 minute win fromCyclemeister’s Leo Fleck and Rundle Mountain’s Sean Qi. Women’s Sport Youth sawBicisport’s Emily deFreitas take the win over Heidi Schaffer from Rundle Mountain and SaraWitzke from Juventus. The Women’s Novice Youth race had Zoe Dahl and Andrea St. Germainfrom Cyclemeister’s ride a close race with Zoe taking the win. The previously mentionedWomen’s Novice field seemed to be the unofficial club championships for the Spin Sister’s MTBClub out of Calgary. Coach Jeff Nielson brought his athletes out for an intro to MTB racing andboy did they get one. Many big smiles were seen and hopefully, a new group of Women MTBracers has been born. Deanne Katnick won the race, with Megan Culham and Hanna Burgerrounding out the podium.

The 1:00pm Elite/ Expert race started with rain and the prospect of riding the now soakedcourse dampening the spirits of the racers. The Elite men’s race saw another dominant win byUnited Cycle’s Tim Heemskerk. Tim opened the race with a blistering 22 minute first lap thatshattered the field. Bicisport’s Shawn Bunin and ERTC/Team Sask.’s Andrew Thomas foughthard to round out the podium with Bunin taking a 1 minute advantage for second. The EliteWomen saw last weekends Elite Female Canada Cup winner Mical Dyck from Terrascape/Trekcruise to an easy win, catching all but the top four in Men’s Expert in the process. Alberta Cuppoints leader Pepper Harlton from Juventus/RVC/Kona rolled in 15 minutes later for secondwhile the ageless wonder Loni Klettl from Jasper took third. The Men’s Expert race sawHardcore’s Mike Blennerhasset take his second Alberta Cup win in a row by almost 2 minutesover Devin Erfle and Erik Bakke from Deadgoat Racing. The Expert field can breathe a sigh ofrelief as Blennerhasset will surely be upgraded to Elite for the next race in Bragg Creek. TheExpert Women saw Alana Heise from Terrascape recover nicely from winning the Giver8r 8hrenduro the previous weekend as she took the win with a commanding 7 minute gap toCyclemeisters/Bow Cycle’s Katy Curtis. Kelly Hall from Juventus/RVC/Kona rounded out thepodium for the Expert Women.

After the racing was finished the racers, volunteers, and spectators were treated to aSpolumbo’s Sausage B.B.Q. put on by the parent’s of the Cyclemeisters/Bow CycleRace Team. Generous sponsorship from Weatherford, Burstall Winger L.L.P., and Tech StarFluid Systems meant that everyone left with full bellies as 21 dozen sausages were devoured.Many thanks need to go out to all the volunteers and organizers who helped put on this race aswell as Bow Cycle for the great podium and draw prizes and Climasource Dry Heat for theraffle prize of a Bow 57 Cruiser. Thank you to all the racers for braving the course and theweather and here’s looking forward to The Iron Lung ’09

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