Week 20 - September 9
And that is all she wrote! With our 20th race of the season now in the books, it is time to crown some champions, reflect on races past, and celebrate the accomplishments of our riders. And there is certainly a lot to celebrate.
Let start with some numbers: We had 1207 individual racers join us this season for an average attendance of 60.35 riders. On our most highly attended race, 81 riders took to the course to strut their stuff. Both of these metrics represent the highest participation levels in our history.
Our ongoing commitment to the community is clearly resonating with a broad audience. We are drawing people from as far as 50km away and enticing riders of all skill and experience levels. A particularly positive note for the future is the explosion of our Mini-Me category.
The very idea of the Mini-Me category originated not from us, but from the community. A parent suggested at season's end that we should create a category specifically for new and young riders that avoided major hills and obstacles while delivering a shorter ride time.
One of our core values at Spoke O'Motion is innovation. We state on our page describing these values, "Good ideas can come from anywhere at any time and we are always receptive to feedback. Our betterment is the foremost goal." Here is a perfect example of how listening to an external idea source can profoundly improve the whole cycling culture of our region.
Elijah Weening (Mini-Me) focussed on chasing down the race leaders
When we started the Mini-Me category about 5 years ago, we had three to five riders on a typical night. This year we had 24 registered little rippers and regularly had more than 12 riders per night. It has become our single largest category with the highest weekly participation.
The future of cycling has never been brighter than with this exceptional group of athletes driving the growth of the sport and laying down the foundations for future excellence. We are likely to see future superstars emerge from our current crop of competitors and we are thrilled to be playing a part in helping them develop a life long love of sport.
Julia Smith (Mini-Me) throws her arms up in celebration of a fantastic season
The results for the Mini-Me category in this last race were as close as ever. Parker Solem led the group in his usual confident way while he worked to shake the indefatigable Reid MacKinnon. As Parker stomped through the start/finish area heading out for his third lap, his breathing was ragged and it was obvious that he was riding at his limit. Reid, meanwhile, came through looking relaxed and composed.
Spectators waited with bated breath to see if Reid was going to pull off the victory he had fought for so galliantly all year long. A dozen races or more have seen Reid work his tail off to hang with the bigger and stronger Parker and the crowd would have been ecstatic to see him rewarded for his efforts. However, Parker managed his effort to perfection and was able to fend off Reid's advances all the way to the finish line. What an epic battle for these two all year long. And there is much more to come.
The last podium spot for the Mini-Me riders was snatched by Elijah Weening who was a consistent presence on the podium this year but was always relegated to third behind Parker and Reid. With another season under his belt and an enthusiastic family of riders stadning behind him, Eli is another rider to watch for in seasons to come.
Sean Mahoney and Chris Graham: A entire season of blood & sweat boiled down to a single race. Tears to follow.
Another epic showdown was due for our Senior Sport riders where podium glory was truly undecided until the very last race. Sean Mahoney has been on an absolute tear for the past several weeks and was slowing eroding Chris Graham's points lead. This Championship race offered the potential for both riders to make a statement and walk away with gold.
But momentum was firmly in Sean's favour. He took a 2-second lead after the first lap and then let loose the hounds of hell on lap 2 and put a full minute into Chris - who was riding very consistently. While their third lap times were remarkably close, that second lap defined the race for these two and Sean has earned himself the outright championship through his incredible performance.
13 vs 31: First they fight over number plates and then they fight for position.
Mike is really eyeing up Ian for the pass. Check out that look!
Master Sport Men saw a heated battle as well. While Les Hegedus took the race victory for the second week in a raw, the real battle was being waged by Ray Hawkins and Don Blue. These two have traded performances back and forth on a scale not measured in weeks - but in years.
Both riders are Coulson Hill stalwarts that have waged many a war over our courses and are super competitive with each other and within the category. On this night, Ray held his ground and managed to squeek to the line just ahead of Don with a gap of only 1 second. We love to see this tight racing and know that it motivates everyone to reach new heights and dig deeper than they ever thought possible.
We can't speak of inspirational performances without discussing Clay Te Bokkel. This young man, riding in Junior Sport, notched a phenomenal 15 wins this season and stands poised to become another weekly series legend. (To say nothing of his ultra-fast sister, Emmeline Te Bokkel, a rocket in her own right.) Unfortunately for Luke Knights these victories often came at his expense as they two young men had sprint after sprint after sprint. Another example of thrilling racing, these two were so close in skill and fitness that you simply never knew who would pop out from the woods or round that last corner first.
Another season, another Championship. Steve Prosser: The winningest rider in Coulson history.
Another Te Bokkel demonstrating some serious potential is the youngest rider of the clan, Levi Te Bokkel. This young man moved from Mini-Me to Novice Men this year and never looked back. Immediately winning several races against significantly stronger and older competitors, there was never a doubt about Levi's need to move into a higher category. His winning streak continued until deep in the season - and secured his championship.
The only fly in Levi's ointment took the form of the irrepressible Aaron Wright. This young man has exploded onto the scene over past two months and has rocketed to the top of the category and came within 12 measly points of cinching the category Championship. He is motivated; he is inspired by his equally impressive older brother, Brandon; and he has shown that he knows how to win. Bring on 2016!
Not enough can be spoken of our various Novice Women riders. Several riders had career best seasons and smiles are always found in abundance - at least after the race. Karen Goodyear took advantage of Coach Paul Cooney's LTD Performance Cycling coaching service and her improvements in fitness and technical prowess were truly impressive. Kerry Brennan took the championship crown this year and demonstrated courage and determination by overcoming some rough races and delivering an exciting string of victories to cap off her season.
In a similar vein, Abigail Weening showed tremendous potential this year and added 6 race victories to her resume in a season highlighted by consistency. Kerry and Abigail exchanged wins for much of the season and either rider is utterly capable of hitting the top step of the podium on any given day.
Of course we can't talk about top podium spots without talking about the man, the legend, the fat bike pioneer: Steve Prosser. There was considerable debate underway this spring as Steve vowed to campaign for another championship using, exclusively, a fat bike. While we are aware that the MTB landscape of changing in profound ways, the general consensus was that Steve would ultimately be handicapped by his bike selection. Well...naysayers be damned!
12 victories later, with another championship honour attached to the legend, Steve has proven himself yet again. For every rider that says, "Those must be slow!" we mention Steve. For every rider who says, "Where would I ride that?" we mention Steve. While in many ways Steve may be a bit of a Luddite, he was primed and ready to rock this new technology. It appears he made a good choice.
And I can't write our last race report of the year without offering up some thanks: Thanks to each and every one of you for your participation. Thanks to everyone for heloing spread the word about our awesome little series. Thanks to the volunteers who help so much - it has never been more of a team effort. In particular, Nigel Read for course design, Dave Knights for grass cutting, the whole Wright family for assisting with set-up and tear down, Steve Hart and crew for trail maintenance, Doug Brennan and Chris Reid for photography and to all of my vendors that help with prizing and demo days.
If anyone has ideas, suggestions, or feedback to offer please email me. We want to continue improving and delivering the most dynamic and exciting race series in Ontario.
Spoke O'Motion is 100% committed to your community. Please support the brands and companies that help ensure the vitality of the sport you love!
Please join us for our Awards Banquet & Social in a couple of weeks. Medals and prizes will be doled out and we will have a chance to sit down and enjoy the rich social community that is baked into our wonderful sport. Joins us for some food, some drinks, and some great stories. It's time to celebrate everything you have all accomplished in this fantastic season of racing.
When: Wednesday, September 23rd - from 6pm. Ceremonies start @ 7:30pm.
Where: Boston Pizza, Yonge & Green Lane, map link
Weather: 18°C, 56% humidity, cool, sunny, and dry
Week 19 - September 2
The conditions this week were a little sloppy thanks to a late afternoon thunderstorm that dropped almost an inch of rain onto our otherwise pristine course. As a result, our course engineers scrambled to drain standing water whereever possible and re-route sections as needed to accomodate both our rapidly diminishing sunlight and the technical tolerance of our riders.
By race time, the course had dried up nicely with only a handful of slick corners to contend with and a few sections with stnding water. While, strictly speaking, the conditions did not necessarily warrant double points, we are very mindful of the work involved in cleaning bikes after such a wet and wonderful evening and made the decision to reward the dedicated for their efforts.
So, with lots of points on the line and many championship podium positions yet to be etched in the hardpack, the gang hit the trails with caution on their minds and the tickle of a smile in their hearts. Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like playing around in mud and puddles! Once the initial revulsion at getting muddy dissipated, the course allowed enough traction that you could rail the corners with considerable confidence but always demanded your full attention.
Damian Fleetwood notches his first victory of the year
Some riders really shine when the sun doesn't and one great example of that is Damian Fleetwood. Damian blitzed the field last year in Novice and has delivered solid results this year with a slew of podium finishes to his credit. However, it took a slick and challenging course for Damian to really demonstrate his handling prowess and take home his first Junior Sport victory. This victory was also a huge boon to locking down Damian's overall Championship position where he currently sits in 3rd place with a strong lead over 4th place contender Trevor Anderson.
Another exciting first, from a personal perspective, was Ryder Cullen's successful completion of the entire race despite the conditions. It has been a bit of a mission to inspire Ryder to compete this year and, for some peculiar reason, he chose to hammer it out on one of the nastiest nights of the year.
Ryder Cullen makes his mark as the youngest rider of the year
We are often asked, "How old does someone need to be to race?". The answer, of course, is dependant on your particular child but the bottom line is that you can never start the kids too young. Ryder is four years old and is the youngest rider to compete this season and has managed to tie his brother, Seamus Cullen, as the youngest to ever race in the series.
Our weekly race has developed a strong reputation as being the most "kid friendly" event in the region and our Mini-Me category is, interestingly, our deepest field despite only running for a few years now. The word is clearly getting out there and we are thrilled to be the province's premiere race organizer in developing tomorrow's superstars. Several cyclists competing on the world stage today have emerged from our little race series at Coulson and we couldn't be prouder to be living our mantra: We are grassroots cycling.
While Ryder was brave enough to handle the conditions, noticeable in his absence was Mike Ceolin who is actually made from sugar and feared he would melt if sprinkled with water. While engaged in a tight battle with his fellow Master Sport riders, Mike elected to watch while his competitors ripped it up. Needless to say, Mike quickly came to regret his sugary composition and wishes he had just gotten himself dirty. (Disclaimer: Mike was expecting a little virtual tongue lashing here - in fact, he kinda requested it.)
Les Hegedus is back and gunning for the "W"
In Mike's water-soluble state, the field was left wide open for Don Blue to continue his podium dominating ways. In the Master Sport category, Don continually finds himself in the crosshairs of his rivals and needing to defend his status as the top dog. On this occasion, however, it was the reappearance of Les Hegedus that dented Don's armour.
Casting aside doubts over traction, Les railed the slippery course and rode himself to the top of the podium. The story doesn't end here, though. Sugar Mike Ceolin and Ray Hawkins have been secretly coordinating a full frontal assault on Don's dominance for the past few weeks and Ray's recent results have demonstrated his readiness.
So, with a mission to achieve, Ray attacked the course with reckless abandon and left nothing to chance as he blasted to a second place finish more than 30-seconds ahead of his nemesis, Don. Next week this will all come to a head as we look to crown the season champion in every category.
The beauty of a Championship race is that, in many ways, it is the truest measure of a rider's potential. One race where it is all on the line. And, whether or not one can walk away with an outright series victory (or even a podium), the are bragging rights on the line that will last an entire year.
In my books, if you win a Championship race you are a champion whether or not the season's totality reflects it. So when we hit the starting line next week, bring your motivation, your courage, your killer instinct and let's make it a race to remember!
Until then, race fans.
Weather: 27°C, 66% humidity, warm and soggy from afternoon thunderstorm
Week 18 - August 26
This week saw the debut what will ultimately be our Championship course. As such, we wanted to make the course different, a little challenging, and not too long as daylight fades to sunset much earlier as we face the impending change of seasons.
When previewing the course, I couldn't help but be transported to my early reading years. One of my absolute favourite family of stories were "Choose Your Own Adventures". These narratives allowed the reader to make judgements calls and lead the story in the direction of their choosing. Some choices led to instant death while other branches moved the plotline forward and allowed for continued exploration of the literary landscape.
This course brought me back to those days as we offered several deviations at critical sections of the course where, much like in the stories of my youth, you could truly choose your own destiny: "Dry" lines or "wet" lines; fireroad or singletrack climbs; fast or slow. Everything was left to our riders to define their own destinies. The excitement and strategic complexity of this style of racing introduces a dynamic that no other race in Ontario delivers.
Caleb Hellreich flys over a log-over and his way to a victory flat tire
That said, the course also left behind it's fair share of carnage with several riders flatting out. Caleb Hellreich, engaged in a tight battle with Brandon Wright, chose to rock the wet line and bottomed out harshly at the midway point when re-entering the creek bed. The impact resulted in a flat tire that Brandon immediately mimicked - off of the very same rock - for his second flat tire of the day.
Mike Ceolin suffered a similar fate on this day after emerging from the creek with what appeared to be a strong position amongst his peers. This course, with it's tight, twisty singletrack and challenging technical terrain, falls right into Mike's wheelhouse and he was certainly disappointed to have his race cut short due to mechanical failure. Next week, Mike is sure to hit the start line with an unquenchable fire in his belly. We can't wait toi see how the next two weeks go!
Clay Te Bokkel is owning the Junior Sport category this year
It has been far too long since we have offered one of the many successful Te Bokkels a shout out in our race report and the honour today falls to Clay Te Bokkel. Other than a loss to Luke Knights earlier in the season, Clay has been hammering through the field all year long in a quiet but very effective way. His handling and fitness both put a serious strain on his competitors as he blasts through every course with efficiency and skill. Congrats on the fantastic season so far, Clay!
Kerry Brennan notches another victory after a six-week dry spell
Aside from our champion photographer, Doug Brennan, we have more kudos to disperse amongst the Brennan clan this week. Kerry Brennan is always a podium threat but also faces some fierce competition in the Novice Women category from a variety of competitors that are always ready to steal her thunder. But when Kerry is in the zone and feeling good, she is a force to behold. And this was her week! Crossing the line and high-fiving her dad in celebration, Kerry looks strong and composed all day long. And, as many cyclists will attest, when the mind is ready the body is often willing.
Lisa Berger is both willing and able to "shred the gnar"
Another rider who put on a tremendous show this week was Lisa Berger. With a wealth of experience under her belt, and the confidence this experience instills, Lisa took to the gnarly course like a duck to water. This course plays well to riders with strong handling skills and relies less on absolute fitness. Fortunately, Lisa delivered on both front and nailed third place on the podium.
The sprint of the day - and maybe of the year - goes to the battling duo of Dan Hope and Roger Briggs. With a couple of Expert riders out of contention with flat tires, the field was wide open for an exciting finish and for some new faces to stand atop the podium. Roger, who moved to Expert from Senior Sport just this week, rode his typical race: Steady, smooth, and in control. Dan, by contrast, is the more explosive rider. Unfortunately for Roger, Dan is also an athlete who simply has no concept of the word "surrender".
Through the creek section, Dan had an ability to close major ground on Gary but the gradual climb to the start/finish area allowed Gary to reestablish his gap. On the last lap, however, Dan was mentally prepared to do whatever it took to win. Three hundred meters from the line, Dan was already pushing so hard that Gary was listening to him wretch.
"I've got him for sure," Gary reported thing as he heard Dan struggling to keep his insides...inside. But with quitting never an option, Dan buried himself even further and the two sprinted side-by-side from the exit of the last corner. With a mighty bellow as he threw every ounce of himself into the pedals, Dan closed the last few inches as they approached the line and earned his victory by mere centimeters. It was, quite literally, a photo finish.
Awesome face of the day goes to Matt Saunders
As Dan cruised past the line, he promptly turned to the bushes and disposed of any nutrition that may have been left in his body. Taking in the scene with the innocence only a young person can muster, Eli Weening turned and asked, "Why would someone race if they weren't feeling well?" As it turns out, it was exactly the racing that was the issue.
Perhaps Matt Saunders, pictured above, was anticipating Dan's inelegant post race celebrations at just the moment Doug caught his photo.
Join us next week for another chance to conquer the creek and relish one of the last races of the season. Many positions are still going to see some major changes as we wind down the race season. And remember that the Championship race is always worth double points. It's not over until it's over!
Weather: 15°C, 77% humidity, cool & moist, dry trails
Week 17 - August 19
A picture may be worth a thousand words but I don’t have any this week, so my rambling words will have to paint a sufficiently vivid image.
Please indulge me as I preface this race report with a little backstory from this past weekend. Paul Cooney, Dave Knights, Chris Graham, and I (Myles Cullen) undertook a grand adventure called Crank the Shield. This is a multi-day stage race that traverses some of the most challenging terrain Haliburton has to offer.
This year’s event consisted of two days covering more than 110km of rugged off-road trails ranging from gnarly single-track with lots of hike-a-bike to nasty ATV trails that shook your internals until you became cross-eyed.
While in the best of circumstances this is a demanding experience, we were hit with a significant thunderstorm the night before the race that delivered more than 3” of precipitation. Needless to say the course deteriorated into a mud and swamp bog that sapped your energy like quicksand and eroded your will to live with each pedal stroke.
What was supposed to be a 3.5 hour rip on day one turned into a 5 hour sufferfest that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Between a lack of nutrition, a lack of training, and an ill-advised aggressive start this first day pushed me so far beyond my comfort zone that I may as well have been on another planet. This pain and fatigue seemed – for almost 3 hours of 5 – almost unbearable.
However, despite the existential reflection while on the bike, within 45 minutes of completion the brain manages to push the negative aside and begins to relish the accomplishment. By the next morning, under clear skies and warm temperatures, we were refreshed, excited, and rearing to go. Heading to the line in second place overall probably didn’t hurt either. ;)
The most interesting part of this account – and the reason for its inclusion here – is the minds ability to push past pain, to break down performance barriers that may not actually exist, to forget the hurt and look for more. This lesson made my efforts at this week’s race seem quite comfortable by comparison. Even when I pushed myself to the edge at Coulson a quick recall of the absolutely horrendous suffering from a few days earlier provided some welcome context and forced the realization that I really wasn’t hurting that bad.
Your body will only go as far as your mind allows it. Learning to relish the suffering and push through it is what can make each of you a champion. It is truly all about choice.
And this week we saw many riders making the choice to up their game and show everyone what they are capable of accomplishing. Perhaps the most exciting bit of news was Aaron Wright snatching a victory from the seemingly unstoppable Levi Te Bokkel. Riding his older brother’s Norco Team, Aaron arrived at the race optimistic having already pulled a whopping 4 minutes off of his previous race time during an earlier practice session. But as we all know, things can change very quickly inside the pressure cooker that is the race experience. Aaron left nothing to chance and put a full minute into Levi after one lap and went on to win by 1:16.
It speaks volumes of Levi’s skill and speed that he has become the benchmark for many riders young and old and his record so far this season is almost flawless. His continuing domination was a story often told in these reports and it is a stunning accomplishment for Aaron to have proven himself competitive with the best young riders in the series. In the Championship standings, Aaron currently stands in 3rd only 12 points behind the always threatening Matthew Jenkins.
Other big news for the young guns emerged from the Mini-Me category where Jonah Solem took his first win of the season. Beating all comers – including his own brother and series leader Parker Solem – Jonah unquestionably delivered his best race of the season and moved into a substantially more secure points position in the Championships against Julia Smith. One might ponder if there was some serious family strategic planning involved to secure Jonah maximum points at the expense of his rivals. Who says cycling isn’t a team sport?
On the topic of points strategy, Don Blue had better get out and join us for some more races as Ray Hawkins notched another victory and has made big inroads into Don’s once ironclad points lead. Nigel Read is also in the thick of things in this group and sits only 27 points behind Ray. This category is anything but all sewn up.
An even tighter battle remains brewing amongst the top six riders in the Senior Sport category. While Chris Graham looks to be sitting pretty in first place and should be able to defend his position, the next five spots are really still up for grabs. Chris Staniewski looked to be a real force in the category but hasn’t been out to race for several weeks. Ryan Primmett now stands poised to take his podium spot by next week.
That said, Sean Mahoney won’t take that lying down as he is only 8 points behind Ryan at present and a stones throw away from medal territory. Sean’s ascent into the upper echelons of the category has been rapid and consistent. It’s clear that he has more potential than has yet been realized.
The last callout of the day goes to Brandon Wright. With only a couple of years of intense riding into his legs, it is thrilling to watch Brandon spin away with the big guns and mix it up with the likes of Steve Prosser. While Dan Hope blew the doors off of the field with an outstanding start, once gravity took over Brandon, Steve, and Myles took control of the race.
With a few lead swaps over the course of the first couple laps, Brandon has an uncanny ability to deliver big power on lower grades. A power that hurt Steve and obliterated Myles. On the steepest stuff, the trio hung pretty tight – although Steve eventually launched an attack that could not be countered – but on the smaller grades Brandon’s attacks were enough to make you cry. Brandon wound up finishing only 10 seconds behind Steve – a huge accomplishment – and put more than 90 seconds into Myles.
We are not too sure what the Wright family is feeding their kids – but we want some!
(There you go. No pics…but a little over 1000 words.)
Next week we will feature a new course and hope to integrate some brand new singletrack. See you all then!
Weather: 26°C, 65% humidity, warm & sunny
Week 16 - August 12
For those who find themselves gravitationally challenged, this week's course may not have been entirely to their liking. But to those who relish the challenge and can push themselves through the suffering, the pain can lead to elation. Elation when you have put your opponents into the hurt locker and elation when you have widened (or closed) your points gap in the Championship standings.
Several riders came prepared to do battle and made significant gains towards their season goals. Aaron Wright road a tremendous race, nailed all the rock gardens like a seasoned pro, and rocketed his way to a second place finish. Falling behind only to the unflappable Levi Te Bokkel, Aaron's performance moved him into a second place tie in Junior sport alongside Matthew Jenkins.
Aaron Wright keeps his eyes on the prize - the podium!
This was not the only excitement in the Junior Sport field, however, as we also saw yet another stellar sprint finish between Evan Knights and the aforementioned Matthew Jenkins. These two have had their share of tight finishes this year and it is always super exciting for spectators to watch such close competitors battle it out to the line. Evan took the sprint this week with a look of focus and determination sharp enough to slice like a hot knife through butter.
Ray Hawkins gunning for victory
The most fundamental goal is most athletes is continuous improvement. For riders who measure their riding experience by decades rather than months or years, this concept morphs into a different measure of improvements. While in absolute terms, our Master athlete may not be getting faster but their performance relative to their peer group can indeed see the same kind of performance gains as those "spring chickens" in Junior or Senior categories.
Given these metrics, it is thrilling to announce that a we can still report a first win of the season for one of our veteran riders. Ray Hawkins took to the trails like a man possessed this night and shredded the mountain like it was a mole hill. His was not the only stellar Master Sport performance of the night, however.
Both other Master Sport podium spots were also the result of season best performances. Mike Goyette, fresh after some summer vacation time, stormed his way to the finish line only eight seconds behind Ray and looked strong and relaxed while doing so. Jon Weening also notched his top performance of the year and snagged a podium position for the effort. These three - along with the surging Mike Ceolin are sure to deliver many more exciting finishes as we wind our way towards the season's completion.
Our trusty canine, Manu, chasing Kelly Cullen through the finish area in a cloud of dust
One last story for this week: Two riders in the Senior Sport category bear special mention. Roger Briggs took his first victory of the year with a commanding performance and some exceptional handling through the pines at the top of the course. Check out his lean angles on the photo gallery - the Briggs brothers are always killer bike handlers.
Secondly, Sean Mahoney continues his charge towards the podium with another smoking race. Hot off of his Ontario Cup debut at the very challenging Buckwallow course this past Sunday, Sean was hot to trot this week and while he could not quite manage the pace of category winner Roger Briggs he was able to put a substantial dent into the armour of series-leader Chris Graham. Look for this story to evolve as the final podium positions get hammered out.
Ok...one more story. Congrats to Jonah Solem who, in the absence of his fiercest competitor Julia Smith, was able to climb back into the 3rd place spot in the Mini-Me category. In this field, every race and every position counts and one absence just might cost you a spot in Coulson Hill podium history. Julia will certainly be back with something the prove next time out.
See you all next week! (Be sure to check out all 360 of this weeks photos - there are a number of real jems.)
Weather: 19°C, 49% humidity, clear & cool
Week 15 - August 5
Heading into our 15th race of the season, the stakes are escalating as we roll towards the season's end. It is imperative for Championship podium hopefuls to remember that, in our scoring system, only your top 15 races in a season count towards your overall total.
The concept behind this methodology is to allow people who suffer mechanical failures, leave for some vacation time, or otherwise simply can't make all 20 races to remain competitive over the season. But as the season winds down and riders "extra" races start falling off of their scores we often see some dramatic shuffling of the series standings.
Bottom line: Whether you are gunning for a podium spot or looking to solidify your current standing, don't let off of the gas now and be sure to attend as many races as you can.
Now onto the race!
Dan Hope is back with a vengeance! (Again.)
Dan Hope was one of two riders that delivered rides that stunned other riders and organizers alike. Dan is a veteran Spoke O'Motion team rider that defines determination. While he may not always be the smoothest rider - as his reams of broken gear testify - he is unquestionably one of the fiercest competitors to ever turn a pedal at Coulson Hill. In keeping with tradition, Dan had a slow start to the season and was not a threat to the podium contenders.
Following that same tradition, Dan shattered all expectations last night and not only nailed a podium spot with his 3rd place finish but finished only 28 seconds behind category winner Steve Prosser. To top it off, Dan clawed back an extraordinary 22-seconds on Steve on his fourth lap. The effort this took and the suffering Dan battled through to accomplish this should go down in cycling legend. What a monster of a man to have another incredible comeback season. Impressive work, Dan!
In the words of second place Expert Brandon Wright, "Dan would catch my wheel and I'd launch a hard attack. He'd drop a bit and then be right there! Once he'd catch, I'd attack again. But Dan would catch right back up every time. I couldn't believe it!". That kind of competitive spirit, that deep in the guts determination, that willingness to suffer is what makes a true champion. We are very greatful to have Dan coaching with Coach Paul Cooney to help impassion the next generation of cycling superstars.
The second rider deserving of major kudos this week is one we wrote about in our last race report: Mike Ceolin. While we touched upon Mike's impressive rise through the ranks, we failed to provide the context that his latest accomplishments deserve. In this, his first year racing with the Spokes family, Mike began in the Novice category as new riders are encouraged to do.
In Novice, Mike had a couple of wins, several podiums, and a couple of lower finishes. Encouraged by his results and wanting to push himself to the next level, Mike moved to Master Sport a couple of weeks back. He was not, frankly, expected to be a podium threat this season as many of the Master Sport riders have been campaigning for years at a high level and cycling really favours experience over exuberance.
Last week we caught a glimpse of Mike's potential and were astonished at his ultra-competitive lap times. This week, like Dan, he brought himself to another level altogether and scored his first Master Sport podium with a third place finish. Not only a third place finish, though: Mike finished less than a minute behind category stalwarts Don Blue and Ray Hawkins. These stunning results have made Mike a marked man and the forthcoming battles will be very exciting to watch unfold as the end of the race season draws near.
William Corry nails his second podium finish of the year.
Another rider punching above his weight last night was William Corry. For the first time since week #2, William took home podium honours and rode a very strong race amongst the Junior Sport riders. After having to deal with a pre-race mechanical that forced William to straighten his derailleur hanger and replace his chain in the parking lot, William attacked the course with an uncharacteristic intensity and delivered the results to justify his efforts.
While Clay Te Bokkel and Luke Knights maintain their stranglehold on the Junior Sport category and delivered yet another awesome sprint finish, William was the rider that delivered the best story of the night and laid some groundwork for future success. Let's see what he can deliver for the next five races!
Chris Graham back in first place overall in Senior Sport
The "Mover & Shaker" award this week belongs to Chris Graham who moved up two places in the Championship standing with an exceptional race. This one was not a gift, however, as Sean Mahoney was not prepared to give Chris a single pedal stroke of latitude. With only four seconds between these two, the victory was up for grabs right until the closing ten meters of the race. Sean probably had some extra motivation, however, as he was racing aboard a new bike and one the best XC platforms ever made: The Rocky Mountain Element.
Sean made up some serious ground on his second lap and was poised to snatch a victory from Chris, but just didn't have enough gas in the tank to launch an effective attack against Chris' mighty pace. Mark McArthur - another serious threat in this category - did not have the legs to hang with the leading duo on this night but next week is another opportunity to re-write the narrative.
Join us next week for another exciting new course!
Weather: 18°C, 56% humidity, clear & cool
Week 14 - July 29
Under the crushing heat of a late-July heat wave, a smaller field took to the start line in a bid to see who could lose the highest volume of water.
Interestingly, two riders - both of whom performed particularly well - claimed to simply love the heat. Matt Saunders, who worked extraordinarily hard over last winter is having his best season in a decade, rocked the house and beat his closest weekly rival Dave Knights - who is himself a rocket again this year - by just over a minute. Despite the desperately hot weather, Matt didn't even take a sip of water and was able to focus on keeping his tempo high with losing a moments concentration.
Similarly, the toasty temperatures also worked well for Rusty Fisher who delivered another win and has really come into form over the past several weeks. In the Master Sport class, both Rusty and Don Blue cracked into the 20s for their average speeds on our new, super fast race course. They were the only sport class riders to breach this benchmark.
The finish of the day belongs to Trevor Anderson who battled for two hard laps against William Corry. When this duo flew through the start/finish area onto their third lap, William clung to a narrow gap while Trevor appeared to struggle to hold his wheel. As the race wore on, Trevor launched an aggressive third lap attack and found himself leading out William to the finish line. From 150m out, it was truly either rider's race to win.
Trevor dug deep and brought his full force to bear on the cranks, fiercely determined to defend his narrow lead. As the two closed on the starting line, Trevor let out a deep bellow as he dropped the hammer for his final surge and crossed the finish just a few feet of a similarly tuckered William Corry. Congrats to you both for pouring out your hearts (and sweat!) on the race course.
The battle also rages on amongst the Mini-Me riders where Julia Smith continues to impress and deliver solid results. Unfortunately, Jonah Solem, who is fighting hard to regain third place on the Championships took a wrong turn and was passed by a few of his direct competitors. Julia capitalized on this mistake and took home another podium finish and, even more importantly, a bunch of Championship points to increase her odds of retaining that precious podium position.
The outright performance of the day belongs to a man who didn't expect to be written bout in this race report: Mike Ceolin. Mike joined us this year for his first taste of the Spoke O'Motion weekly series and quickly fell in love with our family atmosphere, engaging courses, and happy "vibe". His initial ride was a Norco Sasquatch - a second generation quality fat bike with the Rock Shox Bluto suspension fork. With some mods, it was down to a respectable 34 pounds.
Last week Mike took delivery of a flagship level carbon fat bike: The Borealis Echo XX1. This new rig, upgraded with HED carbon wheels, hit the scales at only 26 pounds with some super fat/heavy 4.6" tires and a Bluto fork. Needless to say, Mike's race performance on Wednesday was inspired and his lap times were in line (and sometimes better than) many of the series leaders.
When Mike was told that some of his lap times were better than the race winners, he simply didn't believe me. But the numbers don't lie and Mike bust out some seriously impressive lap times that put him in some elite company. Experiences like this one instill great confidence, produce broad smiles, and inspire riders to dig even deeper to exploit their capabilities. We love to see success stories and this is certainly one of them! Congrats Mike.
Next week we'll be on the same lightning fast course and we will aim to ensure the grooming is more complete. Until then, friends!
Special thanks to Nigel for course design, Dave Knights for grass cutting, and the whole Wright family for the incredible help and support every week.
Weather: 29°C, 48% humidity, dog days of summer - HOT!
Week 13 - July 22
This Wednesday we were stoked to run our annual Team Time Trial under blue skies and perfect conditions. In celebration of the Tour de France, this unique mountain bike race builds camaraderie amongst riders of different categories and experience levels and treats spectators to an exciting pass-tastic event with constant action from start to finish.
It all begins with our classic Le Mans start:
From there, riders mount up and prepare themselves for 40-45 minutes of non-stop hammering as the simple course winds through a criterium style course that emphasizes speed and power over bike handling. Contructed almost completely from fireroad and doubletrack, passing opportunities are continuous and the action rather frenetic.
Steve Hart demonstrates perfect mounting technique - both feet in the air!
The course may be "easy", but there isn't a moment to rest and the timed race can either pass in the blink of an eye or seem to drag on forever depending on your state of mind.
Mike Ciglic is definitely having a good time!
The fastest riders in the pack managed to turn out 13 laps in under 45 minutes. The race is extraordinarily fast and the pace never lets up.
The train is being led out by one of the most sporting riders around - Reid MacKinnon
Congrats to our winners Emmeline Te Bokkel/Adam Pevcevicius, 2nd place finishers Ray Hawkins/Ryan Smith, and 3rd place finishers Don Blue/Karen Goodyear.
Next week we return to our regular race format wih a brand new course. See you there!
And don't forget about our July 26th social ride & BBQ.
Weather: 21°C, 43% humidity, stunning!
Week 12 - July 15
The weather was dry, cool and perfect for pushing hard. Tuesday's rainfall had firmed up the trails to perfection while forcing riders to be mindful of potentially slick corners. This combination delivered a relentless race pace that put a smile on everyone's face - at least after they had a chance to catch their breath.
In fact, some riders were having so much fun that they took a moment mid-race to deliver their best Miley Cyrus impressions:
Jaxon Brennan and Dan Hope doing Miley proud! ;)
Our effervescent Mini-Me category continues to impress with the depth of skill, the awesome participation numbers, and the enthusiasm writ large on their little faces as they tear through the start/finish area. The biggest takeaway from this week was the extraordinary consistency of lap times delivered by these mighty mites.
Seamus Cullen delivered two identical lap times as did Ethan Cairns. Several riders (like Reid MacKinnon and Julia Smith) delivered lap times that varied by only several seconds. This consistency indicates that these riders are pushing themselves to their utmost and are leaving everything on the trail. Parents must be happy too: These children sleep like logs when they hit the pillows at home.
Another highlight here is that Julia Smith has, with another fantastic performance, clawed her way onto the Championship podium and leads fourth place Jonah Solem by only 5 points. The battles heading into the final stretch of the season will only get more heated as these athletes look the solidify their positions.
There was also something of a fat bike battle this week as both Steve Prosser and Paul Cooney took to the starting line aboard carbon-framed, carbon-wheeled, 25lb rocketships worth as much as most peoples cars. Once the race was underway, however, Paul's fate was selaed by a third part of this race equation - Brandon Wright.
In a section where there was an extremely difficult rocky shortcut, Brandon took the aggressive line, nailed the rocky chute and gained a handful of seconds over Steve Prosser. Steve, unaware of the legitimacy of this "shortcut", was just a wee bit angry at this loss of ground. As a result, he dropped the hammer and decided with certainty that he would drop the field.
That he did. From there on in, Steve controlled the race and relegated Brandon to second place. Paul Cooney, on this night, was unable to respond to the pace change and was instead left to chauffeur duty for Keith MacKinnon who clung to his wheel right through to the finish. Lesson learned: Don't make Steve mad!
The Te Bokkel family continues to dominate the standing through a variety of categories. Levi Te Bokkel took another victory by riding hard against a surging Aaron Wright who seems determined to follow his successful brother's footsteps. Emmeline Te Bokkel finally rode her own pace and rode away from Kelly Cullen late in the race to secure a solid fourth place finish. And, to top it off, Clay Te Bokkel lay a hurt on the rest of the Junior Sport field with his comfortable 44-second margin of victory. Now if only we could get Papa Te Bokkel out on the course too!
Carys Reid looking relaxed under pressure
The crash of the night goes to Dave Knights - who also wins grasscutter of the year, for the record. Dave was ripping down the steepest downhill section of the trail when he lost control of his rear wheel. In an attempt to corral the impending carnage, Dave applied too much steering correction and when his rear wheel caught traction Dave found himself facing - and promptly landing in - the rhubbarb. It was, by all accounts, a spectacular dismount.
This incident was brought to my attention by Matt Saunders who paused at the timing tent to tell us that Dave looked to be in trouble and was lying on the trail side in a heap. Just as we prepared to launch into emergency response mode, a slew of riders comes charging around the final corner heading towards the finish line. Thick in the mix of things was none other than Dave Knights! Recovered after winding himself, Dave finished the race strong and offered an upbeat recount of his adventures to those listening at the start/finish area.
Determination defines the difference between winners and losers - on and off the bike. Lesson learned.
Join us next week for our annual Tour de France celebration: Our much loved Team Time Trial.
And don't forget about our July 26th social ride & BBQ.
Weather: 17°C, 63% humidity, cool & dry, moist patches from previous days rain
Week 11 - July 8
We are past the halfway point in our 2015 season and the racing action has never been better. Despite a day full of rain on Tuesday that hampered our grooming efforts, the new course was in solid condition by race time. The current design is chock full of tight, twisty singletrack and, while there are no massive climbs to speak of, there is also very little opportunity to rest and recover.
We have also returned to a shorter course format that allowed for more laps in each category.
Between the technical new course and the great weather, the racing action was fast and furious as always. The Mini-Me gang continued to generate tons of action. This time, however, a tough break fell upon Reid MacKinnon who tangled bars with another Mini-Me rider while defending his 2nd place championship position. The resulting spill damaged Reid's rear break and unfortunately took him out of contention on this occasion.
As a result, Felicia Fleetwood continued to storm the gates and snagged the final podium position to capture another 3rd place finish only 8 seconds behind Jonah Solem.
At the other end of the competitive spectrum, Paul Cooney and Steve Prosser waged another epic battle in the long-standing war of cycling supremacy.
It was fat bike versus race hardtail on this occasion and these two titans traded blow-for-blow and pass-for-pass through most of their race until Paul announced that he had enough and launched a massive last lap attack that Steve could just not respond to. The margin of victory may have only been 14-seconds but that length of time can seem an eternity when you are mashing the pedals for everything you are worth.
All that said, we had a new rider join us while on a trip from Bermuda that bears mention. Robin Horsfield began in Sport class but proceeded to race all four laps and dropped such a blistering pace that we threw him straight into the Expert field for our final results. While his total time suiffered tremendously by starting midway through the field, Robin posted individual lap times rivalling our fastest riders and will be a podium presence should he be able to rejoin us before returning home.
The Master Sport Men had another great battle this week and Rusty Fisher showed up with guns blazing. While Don Blue and Ray Hawkins both rode very strong races (and finished within 20 seconds of each other), Rusty led from start to finish and drove the pace like a man possessed. This marks Rusty's second win of the season and it's great to see him back on form after an early season injury.
Richard Speers on his way to his first career victory
Huge kudos this week to Richard Speers for finally nailing down his first Coulson win after a whole slew of "almost there" second place finishes. Richard and Chris Graham were tight all night long, but on this occasion Richard had the right balance of power, technique, and endurance to steal the show. The Senior Sport category continues to be the place where the finishes are consistently tightest amongst the top five or six competitors and where the most exciting story lines emerge.
The finish of the week goes to Clay Te Bokkel and Luke Knights who are always running wheel-to-wheel. Luke ran an extraordinarily canny strategic race and came back on his last lap to overcome a big deficit of over 50 seconds (!!!) and lose by mere inches as the two riders crossed the finish line within 1-second of each other. Luke's final lap of 14:30 was the fastest Juinor Sport lap of the entire event - on his last lap! Amazing stuff. Here's hoping that we can see another finish like this next week.
That said, Clay will certainly be looking to duplicate his result as he looks to continue polishing his gleaming race record for the 2015 season having already racked up an incredible 9 wins out of 11 starts.
See you all next week and we'll work hard to finish grooming the remaining sections of trail for your riding pleasure. ;)
Two calendar dates to remember:
- July 22nd - Team Time Trial - a great night for spectators!
- July 26th - social ride & BBQ Here's a flyer.
Weather: 20°C, 56% humidity, perfect!
Week 10 - July 1
What an exceptional job Nigel has done on this latest course! A true mountain bikers track that featured technical sections galore including a challenging rock garden, an extended creek run, and plenty of climbing this one was as epic as they come. Our weekly series continues to deliver to most exciting racing action in Ontario.
And, on this Canada Day evening, the fireworks were saved for the race course where we saw several exciting stories light up the sky to inspire, excite, and entice.
Julia Smith on her way to her first podium finish!
One such bit of excitement was evident by the cheering crowds as Julia Smith crossed the line after three gruelling Mini-Me laps to sample her first taste of the delicious podium pie. Despite her pre-race protestations as having to ride three laps, she delivered a compelling performance and achieved her best result to date and finished less than a minute behind race winner Parkem Solem. Congrats, Julia! Keep up the progression.
In the Novice category, Kerry Brennan pushed herself hard despite the lack of competitors and nailed down very respectable lap times even without a bunny to chase. On the men's side, the day was dominated by the youth brigade of Levi Te Bokkel (1st), Matthew Jenkins (2nd), Evan Knights (3rd), and Aaron Wright (4th).
This ambitious foursome battled hard all day - particularly for 2nd through 4th - where these guys were seperated by only 16 seconds. Maybe if Aaron Wright hadn't toiled all day helping us massage the nasty rock garden into something rideable he'd have been even stronger. On the other hand, we sure can't do what we do without the tremendous support of volunteers like Aaron and his older brother (and race weapon) Brandon. Thanks to you both for your help.
Don Blue took another Master Sport victory and I'm sure he's eternally grateful to Rusty Fisher who blew his legs up with a three hour road ride and five laps of our course before racing at 7pm. Now that is strategic thinking. ;) Just teasing - Rusty always has his eyes on the bigger picture and I can't think of too many other cyclists with the commitment to pounding out the miles like Rusty does.
The Senior Sport races continue to be very hotly contested as three new riders to our series this year - Sean Mahoney, Mark McArthur, and Ryan Primmett battle back and forth for the podium. All three riders seem very evenly matched on both cardio and technical fronts and the final podium composition is always up for grabs and these emerging powerhouses battle through race after race. Be careful, though: Sean has been seen taking some technical instruction at Spokes in an effort to improve some technical skills. Once he masters his "tic tac", he is sure to be an even more competitive force.
Kudos to Chris Graham - who usually finds himself at the front of the Senior Sport train - for completing his laps after suffering a broken chain and coming to the timing tent for repairs. It may have been a 69 minute race for Chris and Chris alone, be he got the job done and collecting his hard earned points. Another tremendous example of sportsmanship for our young riders to reflect on. Never give up!
Next week we'll have another new course ready for you and remember that if you don't like it, just "Blame Annie"! See you then.
And don't forget to mark July 26th on your calendar: Join the Coulson/Spokes gang for a fun ride at Ravenshoe followed by a BBQ and social at Ray Hawkins house.
This will mark our third annual event and everyone always has a memorable time - although you may not recognize your fellow cyclists without their helmets and lycra! Here's a flyer.
Weather: 17°C, 77% humidity, clear skies
Week 9 - June 24
Race report courtesy of Nigel Read:
Round 9 of the Weekly World Championships at Coulson’s Hill was marked by the notable absence of Ringleader Extraordinaire Myles Cullen. Myles was called away to yet another hopelessly dreary product launch; this time with Cannondale in Utah. In consequence, Myles missed 5.3 km of what may be the flowiest, most feature-ridden, and just the downright most fun course of all time. Poor Myles, bored senseless in the featureless deserts of Utah...
Tons (tonnes) of people commented on how much they enjoyed our latest creation. Even Mike Drukarsh liked it, and he normally snivels about any course with rocks, roots, ruts, water, mud, leaves, trees, grass, or dirt.
We started towards the highway, but our normal run-in to the first turn has been rendered unrecognizable, and at least double its former width, by the passage of a fleet of dump trucks carting away the debris from the newly demolished 11th Concession bridge. Our old familiar berm has gone the way of the dodo, giving the course a fresh, new feel right from the start. About a third of the way through lap 1, we get to an Option; go straight for Rocks, turn left for No Rocks. Turning left takes us into a nice twisty bit of singletrack. Going straight brings us to ‘Blame Annie’, the new section that had everybody talking before the start. Right at the entrance to the trail, there’s a big, nasty looking rock to get over, then the trail immediately threads through the ‘V’ formed by a big double-trunked tree, with barely enough room to get your bars through. Right after that, there’s a skull attached to another tree that serves as warning for the huge rock garden that’s coming up way too fast. It’s more than twice the length of any other rock garden at Coulson, and twice as gnarly. The nimrod that designed it didn’t ride it clean all night. Pah!
After some nice relaxing singletrack, and a nifty little rollercoaster downhill with a lip, it was time for a cool, refreshing dip in the river. A couple of 60 metre lengths did the job, then it was onward and upward. And upward. And up a bit more, to 3 more rock gardens within the next 500 metres, all with options around! Next was the funky little trail beside 11th, then into the finish straight, and we’re done. Well, except for the rest of our laps...
Brandon Wright took the overall win with King Prosser absent. Is the kid wearing him down? Just asking.
The Mini-Me class got a bit of variety in their course this week too. We like to keep the two courses seperate as much as possible, which results in the Mini courses having a more limited number of centrally located trails to choose from. The layout of this week’s full course allowed the Mini course to include trails that some of the kids have never experienced before. Good stuff! There were some tired but happy kids afterwards.
Thanks to Dave Knights and Brandon Wright for hauling, setting up, trimming, wacking, and moving rocks. Thanks to Chris Reid for great action photos (please delete the one of me floundering in the rocks Chris). Thanks to Kelly Cullen for running a smooth show, timing, and lap scoring. Thanks to Myles Cullen for maintaining the enthusiasm year after year that makes this series possible, and so special.
See you next week!
Thanks to everyone's support in keeping Coulson running in my absence. Our community is what makes this all so special and worthwhile. See you all soon.
Week 8 - June 17
The sun just keeps on shining for the gang at Coulson Hill and the conditions for our weekly race were truly exceptional. The trail grooming crew of Dave Knights, Nigel Read, Brandon Wright, and Myles Cullen all put in a great many hours to ensure that the trails were well marked and the foliage cut back from the trail side as best possible given the time constraints faced.
The story of the night on the riding front belonged, once again to Levi Te Bokkel. Having dominated the Mini-Me category for the past seven weeks, this 9 year-old rock star took the the course after a day of tattered nerves and bubbling excitement. Much to everyone's surprise (probably including Levi's), Levi not only competed very effectively but showed the older Novice riders a thing or two about how to win a race. Solidifying his role as a championship podium contender, Levi rode to a commanding 52-second victory and set his own mind at ease about being able to compete against the older cyclists.
Levi on his to his first Novice victory
Kudos as well to Ray Hawkins who showed remarked poise and timing with his incredible sprint victory against Nigel Read. Both riders came around the last corner wheel to wheel and the fireworks started early as both men charged like raging bulls towards the finish line. Ray actually had the less desireable line through a wet and gravelly section but came through it neck and neck with Nigel. The two battled hard right down to the wire but on this occasion, Ray had the power to snatch the victory from the fiercely competitive Mr. Read.
The action was similarly ferocious in the amongst the Experts where Brandon Wright was looking to overthrow King Prosser and his race was going perfectly to plan when, on his second lap, a mechanical gremlin jumped onto the course and broke his chain. Brandon ran back to the starting area, made the repair, and finished his race but the opportunity for victory had obviously passed.
Dave Knights, however, suffered no such ill fortune. He clung to Steve Prosser's rear wheel like a leech and sucked Steve's will to live with each passing meter. As the two launched their blistering final attack a couple of hundred meters from the line, it became clear that this was to be the tightest race for the outright win that we had seen in quite a while. The two remained neck and neck right until the line until Steve pulled up just shy of the line and handed Dave his first ever outright Coulson win. What an incredible finish for a pair of phenomenal athletes.
Dave Knights looking mighty relaxed after his impressive outright win.
Thanks very much to Chris Reid and Doug Brennan for coming out week after week to take all of our awesome photos. Your efforts are appreciated by many and you really bring an added element to our race series that other events just don't match.
Next week I will be travelling to Utah to attend the 2016 Cannondale Product Launch, so event hosting duties will be fall to my wife Kelly Cullen with the generous support of Dave Knights, Nigel Read, and Brandon Wright. Thanks to everyone who is picking up the mantle in my absence - I'm sure everything will run as smooth as butter. But please everyone, make their lives easy next week! Bring your plates, give the crew some extra time and breathing room, and, as always, have an AWESOME TIME!
I'll be posting updates from the product launch on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Weather: 21°C, 46% humidity, stellar conditions
Week 7 - June 10
Let it not be said that we don't deliver on our promises. Last week we forewarned our riders that a doozy of a race course was coming and that it did.
With a total length of ~6.5km, this masterful piece of track weaves almost every available trail into a tapestry so complex that you'll need another week just to digest it. The course incorporated long fireroad descents that would let you catch your breath just long enough to lay the hammer down again. Only then, the trail would turn rooty and rough and the challenge became finding a smooth enough moment to put down some power in an effort to catch that wheel in front of you.
At every twist and turn the course would seemingly dive back to where you just came from - just so you could do it again. The rhythm of the course was totally unique as it took so many unusual directional changes.
What a rush of adrenalin this sport delivers! Kudos to Nigel Read for the innovative design.
Does it look like Annie Nanowski had fun? She should be smiling - Annie is the new Sport Women points leader!
The big news of the day is that Levi Te Bokkel has just upgraded from Mini-Me to Novice Men. What talent young Levi has show so far: Seven races, seven wins, and a cumulative 9m30s lead on the field. Levi is sure to be a tough competitor in his new category and the new challenges can only bring more speed.
Another rider demonstrating exceptional speed on this occasion was Nigel Read who notched his second victory of the 2015 season and collected enough points to bounce himself right into the top podium spot for Master Sport Men. Not only can this man lay out awesome course, he can ride!
That said, veteran Coulson Hill'er Ray Hawkins was only a few steps behind and finished up just 8 seconds off the pace. This strong performance was enough to give the Master Sport podium another little shake during which Ray climbed into 3rd overall.
Another rider who was all smiles after this race was Annie Nanowski. While fellow competitor, Mary Quinn, may have clinched the win with some very consistent lap times, Annie still came away a winner as the points she earned pushed into the leadership position in her category.
Every once in a while we see an athlete deliver a truly standout performance. Something that reaches beyond everyone's expectations and both surprises and delights all involved. Last week we saw Matt Saunders scorching the earth underneath his wheels as he clung to the fastest riders in a display of fitness we haven't seen for years.
On this night, the "knock your socks off" performance was delivered by the young lady pictured above - Felicia Fleetwood. While always a strong rider, this race saw Felicia looking more focussed and fiery than ever before. The better part of that story is that she earned the results to show for it. Her 4th place finish in Mini-Me was leaps and bounds better than any previous showing and shines some light on the tremendous potential in all of us. Way to go, Felicia!
Next week we'll be running the same course, but will be raising the challenge a little further: Novice classes will be running two laps. There will also be a substantial amount of trail maintenance performed to ensure more speed, more traction, and more GPM (Grins per Minute).
We're always looking to improve the GPM factor! See you all next week and remember: Rain and tornados NEVER hit Coulson Hill. It's sunshine all year long - brought to you by Spoke O'Motion. :)
On an administrative note: There has been a rash of riders forgetting their race plates. Five this week! This creates a tremendous strain on results accuracy and results in a lot of extra work for us. The $5 "No Plate" fee will be strictly enforced moving forward. Thanks for your understanding.
Weather: 20°C, 60% humidity, another beautiful Wednesday!
Week 6 - June 3
With a welcome return to clear skies and warmer weather, our competitors this week were plentiful and motivated. The best news was that the track had also settled in beautifully from the many hundreds of laps it has seen over the past couple of weeks.
The resulting speed and traction potential was a boon to those with the skills and courage to push their limits. It goes without saying that last weeks lap time records lay shattered beneath the pedals of our 74 cyclists. Alas, this week it was not the mighty Steve Prosser posting the benchmark times but his occasional nemesis, Kaleb Hellreich, who typically joins us for a handful of races each season.
Kaleb on his way to crushing the lap record
As it stands, Kaleb was the only rider capable of cracking the 13-minute barrier on our lengthy 4.5km course with a stunning 12:58. Beyond this incredible performance, however, is another noteworthy accomplishment by Dave Knights who posted the third fastest lap time of the night at 13:21. Even this is not the last "season best" performance to share, however.
Matt Saunders rode what may have beeen his strongest race in the last five years and was running wheel-to-wheel with our fastest riders all night long. But not only was he mixing it up with the most elite riders in the field, he also managed to post the fourth fastest lap time of the night at 13:26. When the stars align, your body is cooperating, and your mind focussed extraordinary things can happen and Matt should rest well knowing that he delivered a performance nothing short of extraordinary.
In the Championship standings, we saw an interesting little flip flop that should make the family dinner table discussions a little more lively than usual. Darcy Anderson had earned himself a nice spot on the podium and was very eager to maintain his position when, in a turn of tides grudgingly accepted by parents since the dawn of time, his very own Mini-Me, Trevor Anderson, went out and stole his thunder.
Trevor had a stellar race and finally gave Mike Ceolin a bitter little taste of defeat with an unanswered last lap surge. This victory catapulted Trevor into second place in the Championship battle and dislodged Darcy from his coveted spot. How's that for an early Father's Day present? ;)
But if Darcy needs a lesson about "Never Quitting" he need look no further than little Wade Briggs and his dad Gary.
When Wade stopped racing at the edge of the parking lot and couldn't find the motivation to cross the finish line despite the enthusiastic encouragement of the spectators, Gary saved the day like good Dads do. He scooped Wade up into his arms and made sure that he finished the race in fine form.
Stuff like this exemplifies the spirit of what we are doing here at our weekly series: Creating memories that last a lifetime. Sharing our love of sport and the outdoors. Showing our loved ones how important they are to us. This is what it's all about, gang!
Join us next week to make some more memories of your own on a brand new course. In making some preliminary plans with course-meister Nigel Read, we are going to have a whopper ready for you next week!
Please be aware that we may have to park a little further east than what we are used to depending on the progress made with the bridge expansion project. We'll try to post updates as the situation develops. But the good news is that we will continue to start our races from 11th Line.
Weather: 19°C, 30% humidity, beautiful!
Week 5 - May 27
It was bound to happen: Our streak of flawless weather came to a muddy end last night as participants slipped and slid their way through the fresh 4.5km course. The new course brought us to the very northern reaches of the forest for the first time in four years.
The track concept was to deliver a fast, flowy course punctuated by some tight twisty sections included to bunch the packs back up for some renewed head-to-head excitement. As the season progresses we also look to increase the duration of the races to take advantage of our plentiful mid-season daylight and build everyone's fitness.
As the race wore in, conditions improved tremendously as water was driven out of the puddles and greasy sections of trail became gradually more traction-rich. Despite the later afternoon deluge, the course held up beautifully and the sections of trail that were reopened will have benefitted tremendously from the mucky pounding.
In typical fashion, Steve Prosser christened the race with a big attack right from the starting gun. Right on his tail was an exceptionally strong Dave Knights who pushed so a pace that he remained unchallenged through the first lap. Misfortune struck for Dave on lap #2 on the fireroad paralleling Highway 400 when his rear wheel caught a rut and sent him spiralling off course.
Mike Cowan immediately made his move and was tailed by Myles Cullen and Brandon Wright. This trio rode together until Mike launched another strong attack on the eastern fireroad climb heading south before the creek crossing. Unable to respond, Mike quickly established a 30m gap that Myles would not close for the remainder of the race. Brandon, however, was intent to write a different story. With an aggressive launch past Myles, Brandon hollered "I've got to catch Prosser!" as he ripped up the fireroad.
Brandon erased the gap and whittled away Steve's lead until he was on his wheel. This may have been the fastest bit of racing in Brandon's young career. Catching Steve Prosser under any circumstances is a notch in your belt you are sure to remember. While Brandon ultimately was unable to pass Steve for the outright win, his performance was a victory in itself.
Now comes the story of dynastic families: Clay Te Bokkel did the deed and took the Junior Sport win as did Levi Te Bokkel in the Mini-Me category. In the Sport Women category, Emmeline Te Bokkel continues to ride hard and is always battling with our other young Sport rider Carys Reid.
Similarly, the Knights clan continues to be a strong presence on course. While Dave may have lost that critical position early in the race due to a handling error, he still nailed a 3rd place finish while Luke Knights scored a second place in Junior Sport and Evan Knights battled hard in Mini-Me and emerged victorious against Aaron Wright as the youngsters battle it out in Novice.
And then there is the Weening family. Starting with Eli in Mini Me (4th), Abi in Novice (1st), and Jon (5th) in Master Sport, the whole family comes out week after week to enjoy the cameraderie, competition, and relish their time in the forest.
There is no sport with such family connectivity as cycling - and Spokes helps foster it all.
The most remarkable moment of the day came, unfortunately, as a result of a rather nasty crash. Keith MacKinnon and Myles Cullen approached the finish line in top gear at full speed when, in the blink of an eye, their bars became entangled and both riders were instanteously ejected from their bikes. Myles flew through the air more than 20 feet before landing in a heap well past the finish line. Keith came to a rest a little sooner and with less visual drama, but both riders were nursing some uncomfortable wounds in the post-race wind down. Thanks to evryone who rushed to support both riders. Community is what this is all about.
Several veterans of the series noted that this was the most dramatic crash yet witnessed in our long running history. Fortunately, there appeared to have been no serious injuries and, amazing, the bikes also emerged more or less unscathed.
This incident also brought forward the importance of keeping the finish line free of bikes and bystanders. This is an area of extreme danger and no spectators should be present there. Keith and Myles had nowhere to go. There was no avoidance possible as there was a crowd of people.
That lesson aside, the race was an incredible triumph for everyone who came to take advantage of the double points opportunity and, as always, the conditions proved much better than the sceptics may have expected.
Next week we are looking forward to some more sunshine and even better trails conditions. See you all then!
Weather: 19°C, 88% humidity, warm & wet - but no rain!
Week 4 - May 20
Four weeks into our season and we have yet to see even a hint of rainfall - this must be some kind of record! That said, the temperatures remained on the cool side this week despite the soaring temperatures on the course.
The blistering tempo set by race winner Paul Cooney proved too hot for anyone to handle on this occasion. With a fire in his belly and intent on proving his readiness for this weekends Ontario Cup race, Paul led from start to finish and made it readily apparent that he meant business as soon as the race began.
Paul was not the only newsmaker in the Expert categories, however, as an epic battle formed between Brandon Wright, Dave Knights, and Keith MacKinnon. This trio freight-trained through the start/finish area in tight formation for three laps. For the entirety of that time, Brandon bravely took control of this group and pulled them through the course. Typically, this is a strategic recipe for disaster as the lead rider is working hard to set the pace while his cohorts can relax in his wake.
As these three drove hard onto their fourth lap, I predicted with absolute confidence that Brandon would fall to a last second attack by Dave or Keith. Some would say that I went so far as to bet everyone spectating $10 on the finish but I'm sure everyone just misheard me. ;)
Brandon Wright, Dave Knights, and Keith MacKinnon sprinting for the win!
Much to his credit, and my amazement, Brandon was well aware of his strategic risks and had calculated his output perfectly. With a massive push over the last 100m, Brandon fought off the hard charging Dave Knights and secured himself a fantastic sprint win and 2nd place overall finish. This finish also pushed Brandon into 1st place in the Championship standings.
Kudos also to Eric Simpson who stormed to his first ever Expert win and averaged over 23km/h on our super fast and flowy course. All but one of Eric's laps fell below the 10 minute threshold putting him into very elite company indeed.
Our Junior Sport Men continue to feature an intense battle between budding superstars Clay Te Bokkel and Luke Knights. These two young rippers sprint it out almost every week and are constantly looking for chinks in each others armour. Currently Clay looks to have Luke's number but every race is a new day and results are never guaranteed. What an epic rivalry these two are forming.
A very similar scenario is present amongst the Senior Men where Chris Staniewski has, thusfar, maintained a dominant position. However he was, this week, challenged like never before by Richard Speers who fell short by inches at the line and definitely stands poised to topple reigning King Chris. Richard rode an incredible pace for lap 2 and 3 - gaining almost 15 seconds per lap on Chris. With a better opening lap, the next chapter in this story will only become more compelling.
Nolan Rader showing great mid-corner poise
Anouchka Lewis, freshly returned from an epic Moab cycling trip, showed that the best way to improve your cycling is more ride time. Notching another victory under her belt, Anouchka is looking to make up some lost Championship points ground on Annie Nanowski. Both riders possess excellent technical skill and impressive fitness - a powerful combination that is making it difficult for their competitors to make up ground.
The battle this week for 3rd and 4th in the Sport Womens group was hotly contested as Kelly Cullen hit the course and worked hard to fend off the ever-threatening - and incredible cycling talent - Emmeline Te Bokkel. Kelly's efforts were successful this week but Emmeline remained within striking distance to the end finishing only 20-seconds back. And only 30 back from this duo, Carys Reid and Lisa Berger were hammering hard to keep the podoum in sight. What a tight category this has become!
Karen Goodyear, our current Novice Women leader, continued her extraordinary season with another win to her name but Kerry Brennan is nipping at her heels and will, undoubtedly, continue to put in the work necessary to whittle away Karen's lead.
Levi Te Bokkel tearing his way to another victory
The Mini-Me show continues to generate exciting racing action and help turn todays youth into tomorrows legends. A dozen riders took to the course to strut their stuff and Levi Te Bokkel continued to dominate with another commanding victory. The gap between 2nd and 3rd, however, was only 5-seconds as Parker Solem and Seth Kelly fought hard to take home the maximum possible championship points. What troopers all these kids are! Seamus Cullen also posted his best finish yet (5th) and the points earned have pushed him onto the third spot on the Championship points.
Congratulations to everyone for coming out. Thanks this week to Dave Knights and Steve Hart for the extra help with trail maintenance - it is tremendously appreciated.
Next week we'll have a new course laid out for your riding pleasure. It'll be awesome as always!
Weather: 10°C, 29% humidity, cool & dry
Week 3 - May 13
A little cooler weather could do nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of our Coulson Hill crew this week. And at the end of the day, while it was cool for our pre- and post-ride hangouts, it was exceptional for getting out there and expending some energy. Without the withering heat, our bodies are able to pump out the power without hitting the thermal wall.
There were several exciting changes afoot this week. First off, we changed our starting protocol and have discontinued our start across the road. We are now taking the same approach as an Ontario Cup and have dedicated starting padocks for each group configured at the start/finish area. The top three riders from each category get front line positions and the balance of the riders file in behind.
This presents a better solution on a number of fronts:
- Athlete development - this replicates the experience of provincial-level events and prepares our riders for a bigger stage;
- Competition - riders are more tightly spaced with riders of similar abilities and speeds. The field - and a rider's ability to sprint for 300m - will no longer decide the outcome of a race;
- SAFETY - no more road crossings.
The next exciting bit of news was that our 2015 Team kit has finally arrived! With fresh colours and a modern design, we are thrilled the deliver our next generation style to a whole new generation of riders. Get it now at Spoke O'Motion! Just be aware, that small and x-small clothes are available in limited quantities at this time. We'll get another production run in the works once we establish the interest levels. Inventory on other sizes are plentiful.
Spoke O'Motion staffer - and World Cup legend - Rusty Fisher showing off the new kit.
Now on to some actual racing news...
Our expert podium was looking notably young this week and it gives me great pleasure to announce that Brandon Wright notched what (I think) is his first Expert victory. I followed Brandon around the track for a couple of laps before I made my move on lap four and was thrilled to see Brandon cling to my rear wheel as we bombed through the series of high-speed chicanes towards the bottom of the course. Brandon demonstrated that he has the handling skills to ride with anyone at any pace. Next week, he'll have to show that hit can hold those same speeds while in a leadership position.
While Brandon's pace was mighty impressive, Jacob Goyette continued his assault on the Expert heirarchy and finished only 28 seconds off of the pace. Jacob is showing remarkable poise and strength for his age and should he continue on this trajectory, who knows where he may wind up. While I have heard that Jacob sometimes rides on the ragged edge of control, in the time I spent on his rear wheel his lines were clean, his braking points quite consistent, and his handling without major fault. The only advice I'd offer: Make those passes happen!
Mark Cairns rounded out the Expert podium with a solid ride and he managed to stay within a minute of Brandon. Only 23 seconds behind Jacob, Mark is sure to bring his "A" game next week in an effort to take these young bucks down a notch or two.
Sprint finishes were the name of the game in several categories this week. In Senior Sport, Richard Speers was so close to dethroning Chris Staniewski he could probably taste Chris' chain lube. Similarly in Novice Men Matthew Jenkins could not quite close the two second gap to Trevor Anderson. Now that the course has been fully scouted by all of these riders, next week should really deliver some exciting racing action. The sprint to the finish is surprisingly short and if you are first out of the forest, you are certainly in good stead for the victory.
As a category, the most hotly contested category belongs to our Sport Women. While Annie Nanowski commanded a strong victory with a full 2-minute gap, the battle for second through fourth was as close as it gets. Carys Reid (2nd), Emmeline Te Bokkel (3rd), and Lisa Berger (4th) all finished within six seconds of one another. That is as close as the racing can really get and next week should deliver quite the showdown here, too.
Join us next week for the ride of your life!
Weather: 10°C, 25% humidity, cool & dry
Week 2 - May 6
Cycling is on a roll for the 2015 season. With the stellar weather we have enjoyed over the past few weeks, we are experiencing the highest participation levels ever. More than 80 riders bathed in glorious sunshine yesterday and also relished the opportunity to hammer out some laps on some demo machinery from the likes of Cannondale, Norco, and Rocky Mountain.
Several riders took the opportunity to race on some borrowed bikes and we're confident their experiences will rekindle their passion for some sexy new hardware. The engineering and ride quality of today's bikes put to shame even flagship hardware from a handful of seasons ago.
The racing action was exceptional and we were thrilled to play host to a couple of Norco Factory Team riders - Andrew Watson and Peter Disera - that were keen to rip it up with the locals and push our best riders to their absolute limits. Spoke O'Motion Team Coach, Paul Cooney, did his darndest to hold onto the wheels of these superstars and was able to mix it up quite effectively on the tight, twisty singletrack but met with difficulty when countering Andrew and Peter's massive power on the flats.
Perhaps inspired by the presence of some superstar athletes, Clay Te Bokkel had another tremendous race in the Junior Sport category and drove to the podium with a solid multi-minute lead over strong competitors Luke Knights and Damian Fleetwood. As the season rolls on, it will be interesting to see if Clay maintains his dominant position or if the rest of the crew can start to tighten the screws as their ride time increases.
Senior Sport Men had another great battle with any of the top 5 riders in contention for podium spots if they can limit errors and manage their pace precisely. Our current course does not involve a ton of climbing, so while Chris Staniewski is currently leading from a position of strength, this may change as the course styles evolve. Different riders tend to favour different courses and it is far to early to declare any of these tight categories as "sure things". Richard Speers is nipping at Chris' heels and is surely strategizing on how he may pull a few seconds off of each lap and find himself bearing down on Chris' wheel.
The sprint of the day has to be awarded to Rusty Fisher who wore his heart on his sleeve as he chased down Nigel Read at the line and won with inches to spare. The only wrinkle in that story was the extraordinary effort laid down by LTD Cycling Coach Dan Hope as he bore down on his star pupil Jacob Goyette and snatched a victory from Jacob's grasp over the last few feet. Spectators knew something special was going down as they heard the low, guttural growl escape from deep in Dan's belly as he emerged from the final chunk of single track onto the final straight hot on Jacob's heels.
It looked like Jacob's victory but he just couldn't dig as deep as Dan and relented a moment before the line. Rusty may have worn his heart on his sleeve, but Dan left his lungs on the trailside. What great finishes!
The boys weren't the only oners having fun ion the dirt, though. While Anouchlka Lewis walked away with another convincing victory, Carys Reid and Annie Nanowski were locked in a fierce competition for the next podium spot. Carys prevailed with a tight 3-second margin and both women will be carefully evaluating their competitors strengths and weaknesses to find chinks in their armour than can be used to gain advantage.
But Carys and Annie had better keep their eyes peeled because Emmeline Te Bokkel has hers legs back and is nipping on their heels. This week Emmeline was only 14 seconds behind third place Annie and I know she has more in the tank. Just check out Emmeline's impressive negative splits in the race results. By getting progressively faster on each successive lap, Emmeline is learning to cope with the longer races and stands poised to make some serious podium progress. Awesome work, Emmeline.
Our Mini-Me category was as awesome as always and a few new riders joined us this week - all of whom were making their race debuts. Wade Briggs was a little rock star as his dad, Gary, jogged alongside to provide encouragement through the course. Kaiden Sampson (pictured below) also impressed by picking himself up after a significant crash, drying off some tears, and finishing his second lap like a champ. It's so fantastic to see these kids sense of accomplishment as the crowd cheers them across the finish line.
Next week we'll have a brand new course set up and it will be sure to thrill and challenge us all. Given the continued growth of the Mini Me category, we will also construct the course to keep the two streams of riders as seperate as possible.
Thanks to Kevin Haviland & Justin Rogers (Norco), Neil Gold (Cannondale), and Kevin Noiles (Rocky Mountain) for helping make this such an extraordinary demo day.
Weather: 17°C, 30% humidity, stellar weather!
Week 1 - April 29
Bathed with sunshine and blue skies, our inaugural race of the 2015 season was a tremendous success that saw 72 riders take to the trails in an epic contest of fitness and bike handling.
The early season races always present something of a risk as we have no guarantees that Mother Nature will cooperate and deliver tolerable weather and the trails themselves may or may not be ready for thousands of laps to be pounded into their delicate soil. On both fronts we came up aces. Not only was the sunshine inescapable, but the trail conditions were nothing short of extraordinary - thanks in no small part to efforts of our volunteers who have already put more than 300 hours into trail maintenance.
We knew this was going to be an interesting season on the hardware front as there are several new technologies competing for the attention of the avid cyclist. Perhaps the most interesting debate here is the explosion of the fat bike. Veteran racer, and reigning Coulson Hill Champion, Steve Prosser, staked his position firmly in this first race by coming equipped with a 23lb full carbon fat bike.
Check out that lean angle! Traction is almost endless with so much rubber...
Willing to risk his winning ways to campaign an admittedly controversial bike, Steve let it be known in no uncertain terms that big tires do not equate to big rolling resistance by taking the season opener victory against an exceptionally fast Keith MacKinnon. Keith has always been a formidable rider, but his winter efforts have clearly taken his cycling to another level as he and Steve took a commanding lead over the rest of the pack.
The Expert podium was rounded out by Brandon Wright who showed race-ready poise on the trails with some aggressive passing and sharp bike handling. Fighting in the mix with the Master Experts, Brandon was always ready to pounce if another rider made the slightest slip. His LTD Perfomance Cycling training is clearly paying off.
The Master Expert field itself was very strong but on this day, no one was stronger than Mike Cowan who is looking to repeat as Master Expert Champion. There was several lead changes in this category as Myles Cullen, Dave Knights, and Mike swapped spots over the course of their demanding four laps. The winning move came on lap 4 when Mike dropped the hammer on a short doubletrack piece of trail and accelerated past Myles to secure a 10 meter lead. While the gap was mere seconds, Mike's strong handling and assertive double track surges successfully prevented an effective counter attack.
Our Junior Sport action was no less intense and here we can already speak of the Most Improved Rider. Jacob Goyette, previously strong but rarely dominant, blew the tires off of the field and rode to a 5+ minute lead over the rest of the excellent Junior Sport riders. With such a commanding performance, Jacob will be joining the Expert category next week and will become the youngest rider to ever earn that honour. Talk about extraordinary progress over the course of one winter! (Jacob is another LTD devotee.)
The Senior Sport ranks saw the return to the racing circuit of Chris Staniewski, who is one of Newmarket's founding fathers of the street riding/urban freeride scene. Some of Chris' most extreme exploits from back in the day remain legendary in the community. Let's just say that this man doesn't know the meaning of fear. But after his show of power this Wednesday, his opponents certainly do. Chris rode to a convincing win while Ryan Primmett, Paul Boken, and Chris Graham fought an incredibly tight battle to secure the balance of the podium spots. That trio (who placed 2nd through 4th, respectively) were all less than 30 seconds apart.
Trail master Nigel Read took his first victory of the season by delivering a great spring finish against Steve McCrossan who, while competing in a different category, surely wasn't willing to give Nigel an inch he didn't earn. Nigel's margin of victory over the second podium position in Master Sport was only 7 seconds. Surely Don Blue will be looking to claw back each of every one of those seven mesely seconds next week in an effort to thwart a repeat by Nigel.
Sport class was not the only source of excitement last night, as evidenced by the extraordinary performance of Karen Goodyear who had the most successful race of her life and pedalled her way to the top of the podium with an impressive 1-minute cushion over her closest competitor. Karen is yet another rider taking advantage of Coach's Paul exemplary tutelage through LTD Performance Cycling. Just behind Karen, though, Abigail Weening and Kerry Brennan battled like troopers and finished only 7 seconds apart.
The best part of this entire event, however, is unquestionably the huge success of our Mini-Me program. This week we had 12 little rippers out there - as young as 6 years old! The category has exploded in size over the past few years and we are so excited to see parents and kids alike helping us build the next generation of cycling enthusiasts. Some of these kids may even grow up to be our next superstars. Brett Rheeder, current X-Games Slopestyle World Champion, got his start with us as did road warrior and Olympic hopeful, Ed Veal. Maybe you'll be next!
On this night, newcomer Levi Te Bokkel took the outright victory in the Mini-Me category against the children of several high-level competitors. Parker Solem is following on his father's mighty footprints and took second place while the MacKinnon family took home more podium laurels thanks to Reid's tenacious efforts to keep Parker in his sights.
We are just getting started folks - the most exciting racing is yet to come.
Don't miss May 6th: It's our Demo Day!
For the first time, all of our brands will be on hand to demonstrate their finest wares. Cannondale, Norco, and Rocky Mountain: Canada's finest brands.
Weather: 13°C, 51% humidity, cool & sunny - perfect!