A dusty scene at the Langley Cyclocross Classic. Joe Sales

A dusty scene at the Langley Cyclocross Classic. © Joe Sales

by Aaron Schooler

The first clinic of the School of Cross series went off without a hitch on Saturday with over 20 degree Celsius weather kicking off the clinic, and it only got hotter. The morning started off with the basics: mounting, dismounting and shouldering, with more of the practice skills coming in the afternoon like bunny-hopping, cornering, stairs, barriers, and much more!

The next day those skills were tested with the H&R Block Langley cyclocross classic in Ft. Langley. All of the attendees did very well with one of them winning his category.

Look out for the next two clinics being run in Edmonton and Calgary in conjunction with the School of Cross race in Edmonton, and the Dark Knight race in Calgary.

Clear blue sunny skies set the stage for what was to be the warmest and dustiest Langley Cyclocross Classic on record. Just over 100 participants took to the farm fields and forests of Aldor Acres for this early season ‘kick in the pants’ ’cross race. The course featured a long flat gravel section, barriers, a long run-up with a knee high log at the base of it (which only the top few were able to ride it), a single track descending section followed by some twisty turns through the trees in almost sand-like ground.

A look across the bike-dotted landscape. Joe Sales

A look across the bike-dotted landscape. © Joe Sales

The racing started off with the Citizen, U17 and Cat 3/4 Men’s races. Matt Hornland put on an impressive display of speed and skill to take the Cat 3/4 Men’s race solo. Guy Mckintuck won the Citizen’s race with Peter Whalen and Maggie Coles-Lyster both taking the U17 boys and girls categories respectively.

The largest field size of the day was the Master Men’s 3/4 race with a total of 31 riders kicking up a dust storm seen from miles around at high noon. Josh Weiss (who took tutelage from Aaron Schooler’s School of Cross Clinic the day before), Tyler Dumont and Mike Murphy took the podium in this newly formed category in BC. A sizable women’s field put on a great show of competitiveness with Dawn Anderson riding away from the field and Joele Guynup and Sarah Stewart rounding out the top three.

The final races of the day started at 1:00 in the afternoon in the midday heat. In the Master Men’s 1/2 race, Bob Welbourn put the smack-down on the rest of the field with his climbing skills up the dreaded run up. Kim Steed and Jeff Cummings made up the rest of the podium in this field.

As this was the first ’cross race of the 2011 season and the racers were out for first blood, the pace on the first couple laps in the Elite Men’s race were astounding. Kevin Noiles, Zack Garland, and Kevin Calhoun took off real early with Craig Ritchey and Aaron Schooler chasing. About two laps in, the early pace of the leaders started to dwindle as Schooler and Ritchey overtook all but Calhoun. It got a bit dicey on the run up with some guys running it and some guys riding it in the front group, Ritchey being able to ride it almost every lap.

After about the half-way mark, Calhoun was left hurting from the early pace and Ritchey and Schooler were off to duke it out for the remainder of the race. With five laps to go Schooler threw a hardball by beginning to bunny-hob the barriers while Ritchey was left running them, although they came back together on the climb as Schooler stumbled and was forced to run. On the descent through a u-turn Ritchey fumbled a bit when Schooler got a gap and ended up holding it down for the remaining laps to the line for his first BC Cup win.

The run-up that gave even the elite men a touch time. Joe Sales

The run-up that gave even the elite men a tough time. © Joe Sales