Racers make their way up the massive set of stairs, one of the unique features of the course. © Patrick Burnham
by Dave Shishkoff
Nanaimo, British Columbia – The Kona Kup on November 10th doubled this year as the British Coumbia Provincial Cyclocross Championships.
The event, held at Bowen Park in Nanaimo has been a popular stop for the Cross on the Rock race series since 2009. It has the distinction of being one of the toughest scoring events in the 50-race history.
In perhaps the most challenging iteration of this legendary course (and incredible park), riders on this warm and overcast day were treated to a mix of pavement, singletrack, switchbacks, quick drops, steep and short ascents, twisty off-camber grass and not one, but two patches of wheel-sucking, gravity-inducing sand. Lastly, the course featured an epic, leg-draining set of 50 stairs, a true championship worthy course.
From far and wide, 220 contenders signed up to race their bikes to 15 hard-fought provincial champ titles, including several youth age groups not previously awarded, and which we hope to see at the Canadian National Championships. Among the athletes, 55 of our racers were under 19, with near full gender equality amongst categories.
Three U13 Girls lined up for the Kona Kup in our youngest category, ready to brave three laps of the Bowen Park course, and they gave it their best! Emilly Johnston (Trail Bikes) got a good start on her competition, and rode her way into the Provincial Championship Jersey. There was great riding from Lilly Ujfalusi (dEVo) and Talia Hill (Tripleshot) as well.
On the boy’s side, we saw eight young men take on the course, with Cody Scott (dEVo) from the mainland earning the top step on the podium, as well as the honor of being our youngest male British Columbia Cyclocross Champion. Local racers Tayden De Pol and Evan McBeath (dEVo) from the mainland rounded out the podium. Great racing, boys!
The U5 Girls were also well represented, and it was a pretty close contest, but Victoria racer Sarah Van Dam (Tripleshot) apparently had the best mix of fitness and cyclocross skills. Van Dam is our first-ever U15 champ. Elizabeth Gin (dEVo) and Jacqueline Cowley (dEVo) represented the mainland well, winning silver and bronze respectively.
There were 10 U15 Boys who were eager to become the first ever British Columbia Cyclocross Champion in their category. Cameron Paul (Tripleshot) and Isaac Van Der Vliet were both very near the honor, but Conor Martin (Chainline Cycle) was the first to rip around the course three times, claiming the jersey.
The U17 Girls field was small, with just Sidney McGill (Juventus) and Holly Simonson (Pro City Racing-VAC) dueling for top honors. But after three speedy laps, McGill was first across the line. With McGill being from Edmonton, however, Simpson was given the title.
On the boy’s side, things were fierce. James Grant (VIPYRS) took an early lead, but a lap in was spotted running with his bike to the line with a missing a chain. A mysterious Kona bike appeared for him, and he was off again, chasing down his nemesis John Willcox (Pro City Racing-VAC). On the second lap, Grant had to stop again to adjust the seat height, and he was off once again after Willcox with just one lap to go. It was a sprint finish between the two, but Grant took it by a hair. Earning the bronze medal, and bearing witness to the chaos was Kenji Yukinaga-Paradis. Congratulations!
Three U19 Women took up the challenge at the Kona Kup, and off like a rocket was Tarryn Cote (Pro City Racing-VAC), claiming the first lap. Right with her was Maggie Coles-Lyster (Local Ride Racing), who then started to pull away, claiming the provincial championship title two laps later. Kia Van Der Vliet (Trail Bikes) chased hard but had to settle for the third podium step. Impressive riding was witnessed from all three.
Facing five laps, 11 U19 Men charged out of the starting gates, but it was clear from early on that Rhys Verner (Team Squamish) would be the one to beat. None were quite able to, as he finished the race in style. After a rough start, Joel Taylor (Pro City Racing-VAC) seemed to be closing the gap, and a sixth lap might have told another story. Fergus Horrobin (dEVo) was no slouch either, rounding out the podium.
On the women’s side, Jen Erlendson (Pro City Racing), who is one of the most consistent Cross on the Rock riders, raced her way to perhaps the most impressive title of her riding career. A well-earned second place went to another Cross on the Rock supporter, Charlene Hay (MIVA).
The men’s side was the polar opposite, being the biggest field of the day, with a huge crowd of 39. There was a lot happening in the race, but at the front, Vincent Marcotte (Nordica) lead on the first lap with Bob Welbourn (Cannondale) and Justin Mark (Steed Cycles) in tow. After that, Welbour took the lead, and held it by just 20 seconds at the line. Marcotte and Mark exchanged places a few times over the seven laps, but Marcotte was just able to give it just a bit more gas, and took silver in this exciting race-long duel.
Glenowyn Carlson (Oak Bay Bikes – Victoria Wheelers), despite a lingering hip injury, put her skills to the trails, and claimed the first-ever Masters 45-54 provincial championship. It wasn’t handed to her on a platter however, and she had to beat out five other women, including Shannon Baerg (Pro City Racing) and Donna Bartel (Escape Velocity), who joined her on the podium.
Shawn Pederson (Steed Cycles) managed a gap on the first lap in the men’s race, but was unable to hold it. Normon Thibault (Frontrunners-Splashes) was the next to head to the front at the end of lap two. Our beloved Cross on the Rock founder and organizer could not fend off Dale Plant (KONA), who demonstrated how a Kona is meant to be ridden. Unfortunately for Plant, however, is the fact that he’s an out-of-province racer. While Plant took top race honors, Thibault was crowned the champ, adding to his collection in as many race categories as is possible. Given that, Pederson was the silver medalist. We must also highlight fourth place finisher Steve Bachop (IRC p/b Robert Cameron Law), who’s been gunning for this jersey as well. Bachop rolled a tire and will have to try again next year.
Masters Men 55+
Seven starters lined up in this age group. We were proud to see someone that works so hard with cycling youth come out on top and prove his ’cross credo. Congradulations go to Lister Farrar (Tripleshot), the Men’s 55+ provincial champ. Making him work for it were 70-year-olds Derek Steel and Derrill Shuttleworth, who also regularly make people half their ages sweat. Great riding.
Thirteen participants dared take up the challenge in the Elite Women’s field, and it was an exciting race. On the first lap, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Sandra Walter (Liv/giant Canada) opened up a gap on Wendy Simms (KONA). From there, Penderl exerted her dominance and was soon catching the Elite Men. Penderl nearly caught most of them. Walter and Simms were never far behind and rounded out the podium, with honorable mentions to Carey Mark (Steed Cycles), Andrea Bunnin (Deadgoat Racing) and the rest of the women who kept this race tight.
The Elite Men’s field had 28 starters. Aaron Schooler (Team H&R BLOCK) and Drew MacKenzie (Marin-Shimano) were soon away from the field and exchanging the lead over several laps. MacKenzie, however, succumbed to “gotnothingleftitist” and was seen no more, leaving Schooler out front to win his second provincial championship event of the month. Given that Schooler is already the Alberta champ, the British Columbia title couldn’t be awarded to him. The fight for second was the big prize, and Thomas Skinner (Sponsor Connected/VOMax) worked on reeling in Schooler. The Victoria resident rode his way into the title of Elite Men’s British Columbia Cyclocross Champion. Andre Sutton (Hardcore Cycling Club) chased hard, as did Richard Machhein (Local Ride Racing), who round out our medal contenders. Just behind them was Parker Bloom (Stuckylife), who gets the unrecognized distinction of singlespeed champion in the Elite Men’s field, but also fifth overall, and fourth in the province.
A big thank you to the event organizers, volunteers, supporters, sponsors and racers for making it the biggest Provincial Cyclocross Championships British Columbia has had. The Cross on the Rock Series Finale at Shawnigan Lake takes place on November 24, and the National Championships in Surrey will be held on November 30.