Saturday, October 27, 2007

Front page news

. . . in the Altona Echo. Now if we can only get the Free Press out to cover Belgian cx.

Altona terrain creates challenging ride

By Lori Penner
Friday October 26, 2007

They couldn’t have asked for better weather or better participation. About 57 cyclists from across Southern Manitoba competed in Altona’s first ever cyclocross race on Sunday, Oct. 21. Twenty of them were local riders. “That’s a better turnout than the races they have in Winnipeg,” said local organizer Jonathan Sawatsky.

The standard 2.5 km course wound through the Altona Park and Buffalo Creek Nature Park. The course’s challenging terrain, a defining feature of cyclocross, included grass trails, steep hills, lots of sharp corners, off camber sections and even a sand pit. In many sections, cyclists needed to dismount and run with the bike or carry it. This constant need to change speed and effort is what makes cyclocross the most challenging and exhausting type of cycle racing. Winning is based on the most distance covered in a set amount of time.

The event began with a 15-minute kids race. About 15 participants age 6-13 braved the course, with Sam Brillinger of Gretna finishing with three laps. The 30-minute (plus a lap) race had even the most seasoned cyclists huffing and puffing up the hill at the Nature Park. Winner Jonny Friesen of Tinker Creek completed six laps and was amazed at the stiff competition. In it simply for the joy of racing, Friesen later gave his winnings to the last rider in the kids challenge. The winner of the one hour (plus a lap) race, Olli Hyytiainen of Winnipeg finished with 10 laps.

Plenty of support
The hills seemed to get steeper, but cyclists were cheered on by dozens of fans merrily ringing cow bells, another trademark of cyclocross. Cow bells could be purchased at the park for $10. “The sound of those bells really keeps you going,” said Deanna Wiebe of Winnipeg. She was one of four women who took part in the 30-minute race. “I took one spill coming down the off camber switchback on the other side of the hill,” she admitted. Deanna and her husband Scott have competed in cycling races for several years. Altona’s course was one of the best they’d ever seen She said the time limit in cyclocross makes it a fun event for everyone. “You all finish together, no matter where you are when the final bell rings,” she said. Prizes were awarded later at the Altona Curling Club. Sawatsky said the best part about competing isn’t taking home the largest prize. “You won’t get rich in cyclocross, but it was great to see so many people come out to take part in the fun, and so many fans out there with their cow bells.” He is grateful to all the sponsors and local retailers who contributed to the event in various ways. “It was great overall. Much better than I anticipated,” he said.

OTT: Flunk, True Faith

No comments: