Calhoun, Mark sweep Cyclocross

Inaugural event sets challenging course

Creekside became a hive of activity last weekend (Sept. 20 - 21) as the location of Whistler Blackcomb’s first cyclocross race.

The course incorporated a mix of pavement, dirt, grass and urban features such as stairs, climbing the bottom section of lower Dave Murray Downhill before descending past Dusty’s Bar & BBQ and looping through Creekside Village by Legends hotel.

Veteran mountain and road racer Kevin Calhoun from North Vancouver dominated the elite men category, winning by a healthy margin on both days.

“It was a good race for sure,” said Calhoun shortly after crossing the finish line. “It’s fun to have a cyclocross race in Whistler. The urban features through Creekside here are unique. It’s not something we’ve had in other ’cross races before. It’s a different dynamic. All in all, a very different course. You had to be fit today to
do well.”

The elite women’s category was equally dominated by Nanaimo’s Carey Mark, who was racing for the Stead Cycle team. “Everybody was falling down in that first lap,” said Mark. “I was feeling pretty good on the corners, but as soon as I let my guard down I bailed. You had to be really focused, I’ve never seen so many switchbacks.”

Despite the challenging course, Mark enjoyed her weekend of racing and is happy to see another cycloross race on the circuit. “I love the venue here in Whistler,” she said. “I’ve been out here a lot for other types of races and the more cyclocross races locally, the better. There’s nothing worse than hitting the border to try to go racing in Bellingham or something.”

The Saturday race saw a handful of Team Whistler athletes competing. Mike Boehm placed second in the Masters category with teammate Tony Routley flatting out.

Chloe Cross managed a fourth-place finish in the elite women, after dropping from second place to fifth when her chain became entangled in her drive train near the first stairs feature.

“I enjoyed how technical it was,” said Cross. “I like that being a mountain biker. Strategically, you need to go as hard as you can, that was pretty much my only tactic.

Line choice is important, because these bikes, for me anyway, are less maneuverable than a mountain bike. The heat made it really challenging. I can see why this is a cold weather sport.”

One category that took the cyclocross challenge to the next level was singlespeed. By running a bike with only one gear, mechanical problems in the drive train were avoided at the cost of more arduous pedaling.

“I have never raced a geared ’cross bike,” said Mark Oldenburg, who won the niche category of single-speed bikes. “It’s fun, I like it and I’m dedicated to it. There’s something about it; it’s just simple. Guys are going over those stairs and their derailleurs are rattling and they’re dropping chains.”

The proof that single-speeds can ’cross with the best of them came with Parker Bloom managing a runner up finish at Sunday’s elite men’s race.
“A course like today was not conducive to riding a single-speed,” said Bloom. “But the challenge is part of the fun. The mechanical simplicity is really nice. The long-term inexpensive nature of it’s great. And it’s a story. People get stoked on it.”

Both Bloom and Oldenburg  are heading to the 2014 Singlespeed World Cyclocross Championships in Louisville, Kentucky at the end of October.

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