While many people have had their eyes and ears on the terrible weather down south, we’ve been lucky here. Fall has been gradually approaching, precipitation has been kind and we’ve been able to enjoy some gentle, warm weather on weekends.
Until this weekend. Last Sunday, the rain built up from a gentle drizzle to a light downpour and while your average individual was probably quite content to tackle some other endeavour, 23 enthusiastic mountain bikers gathered at the bottom of Bluff Trailhead with hopes of going up and down the course as quickly as possible.
The Huckin’ eh Upchuck cross-country race is not for the faint of heart. Going up the hill is a controlled process but coming back down is more like a controlled re-entry from outer space. This is not a nicely paved path like we might find around town, but provides the riders with more than a few tests of each rider’s abilities.
Race director Peter Krause said that he was happy that the rain did not really start coming down until all of the riders were at the top of the course and preparing to come back down.
Safety is always a key element in this type of competition, and personnel and equipment were on hand in case of accident or injury.
“I was worried about the weather last night. I didn’t want to have to cancel,” said Krause.
For the uninitiated, the race format has safety in mind. There is no mass start as the riders take off with a substantial gap between them. The race starts at the bottom of the course and each rider is timed on their upward portion.
Once all riders are at the top, the same process occurs as they go down. This makes it unlikely for passing to occur and less chance of crashing. Anyone who has seen cycle crashes in road races with large numbers of riders going down will cringe at the thought of such an occurrence as these riders speed down a wet, muddy trail.
The time that each rider takes for the uphill portion of the race is combined at the end with the descent time to create the final time.
According to Krause there were no crashes in this year’s race. The riders were experienced and knew what they were up against.
As the riders approached the bottom of the hill to finish, it was easy to see the speed they had gathered in the process.
The final results showed some very close conclusions. In the women’s race, Kristen Brewer was 1:20.0 to Cara McCulloch’s 1:20.1.
The men’s open race was dominated by Michael Jordan with a combined time of 00:53.1. The men’s 40-50 years category was taken by Oren MacDougall with a combined time of 00:59.52.00. Larry McCulloch took the Masters division with a 1:06.1 clocking.