There was a different kind of bike race in the stadium of the Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club on Sept. 22 — one straight out of the Low Countries.
Velonorth Cycling Club hosted a cyclocross race for 32 racers who competed in either a short course or long course.
Cyclocross is a form of racing that combines off-road racing on “beefy” road bikes with different obstacles to create a race where riders have to tackle off-cambre sections, multiple surfaces and even carry their bikes over barriers.
Joel Macht, president of Velonorth, explained that while the sport is relatively novel in North America, it’s a staple race in places like Belgium.
“It’s a kind of sport that isn’t a huge global phenomenon at all,” said Macht. “It’s really got an origin and a huge following in Belgium where it is like a religion in the winter.”
The course in Whitehorse included barriers, a fly-over, hills and dirt mounds — enough to change the skill set to win from a typical road or trail race.
“It’s not always the man or woman who has the best fitness, but the person with the combination of the best fitness and strongest technical abilities on a bike,” said Macht.
Of the 32 racers who competed, 16 raced the short course — a 30-minute race — and 16 raced the long course — a 60-minute race.
On the short course, Veronica Porter was the fastest girl, with Ava Irving-Staley in second and Callah MacGillivray in third.
The fastest boy was Jonah McConnell, followed by Heron Land-Gillis and Johna Irving-Staley.
Laura Salmon was the fastest woman and Jennifer MacKeigan and Sarah Crane rounded out the podium.
On the long course, Kristenn Magnusson was the fastest woman. Geneviève Favreau was second and Ellorie McKnight was third.
The winner for the men was Matthias Purdon, with Marc Lapointe in second and Lionel Stanley in third.
Macht said that this was one of a handful of cyclocross races over the last decade in Whitehorse, most recently thanks to the efforts of Magnusson.
“There have been a couple ‘cross races I remember in the last sort of five to eight years,” said Macht. “Two years ago, (Magnusson) … organized one that also took place at the stadium and then a few years before that there was one at Selkirk Elementary, but it’s not a race format that has been seen a lot up here for sure.”
During the race, Macht credits MC Kalin Pallett for keeping the crowd engaged and informed.
“Having (Pallett) there to MC it made a huge difference in terms of just the atmosphere and people who just happened by or family and friends who came by to know what was going on,” said Macht. “Between that and the turnout we had, both of those things were a pleasant surprise.”
Velonorth now turns its attention to the winter and planning for next season. Macht said the idea is to put together a series of events to bring the road biking community closer together.
“Primarily we want to do a small number of really high-quality, fun events that can appeal to a broad range of people,” said Macht. “So half a dozen fun events next year that really recognize and value our volunteers who can help us put it on, but can appeal to everyone and really promote the social side of road cycling.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org