More than 500 participants from across the country will descend on Bear Mountain from November 26-28 to compete in the 2021 Canadian Cyclocross Championships.
Event director Jonathan Watkin said the sport is different from mountain biking or road cycling. Bikes have sloped handlebars like road bikes, but use tires with a thicker tread to help riders negotiate muddy trails. The runners do a loop of approximately three kilometers and the sessions will last between 40 and 60 minutes.
“Part of the appeal is that participants ride these bikes that really don’t seem like the right bike for the terrain,” Watkin said. “And it’s really exciting to see how people sort of navigate through these different obstacles and the mud.”
Sport is a cultural phenomenon in Belgium, with races regularly drawing crowds of over 60,000 people. It is also growing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic and is one of the fastest growing cycling disciplines in North America, added Watkin.
The event will feature races for youth, novices, “weekend warrior” riders and elite level competitors. World Ranking Points are at stake for these competitors and are used to determine their starting positions as the circuit moves to Europe.
“If you don’t have a good start (position) it makes it really hard for you to get a good result,” Watkin said. World ranking points are also used for the selection of the Canadian national team for World Cup and world championship events, he added.
Local riders poised for success at Bear Mountain include Victoria native Isla Walker, returning from her season in Europe; Canadian Under-23 Champion Emily Johnston of Comox and Carter Wood of Cumberland, a former National Champion.
Watkin said the event is great for spectators, with the track being self-contained within the Bear Mountain resort complex. COVID-19 protocols will be in place for runners and spectators and anyone present is encouraged to get vaccinated.
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West Shore Cycling