What happens when you cross a bike race with a mud bog?
Saturday’s driving rainstorm may have deterred all but the hardiest spectators, but dozens of riders from beginners to elite men and women relished the chance to battle each other and the elements at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park in the fifth race of the eight-race Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition’s series.
Cyclocross is an off-road version of a road cycling criterium race in which riders lap a number of circuits on a two or three kilometre course comprised of dirt trails, grassy meadows, over barriers and across creeks or gullies. It evolved in Belgium and Northern France in the early 1900s as a way for road cyclists to stay fit during the fall and winter off-season. Sometimes getting to the warmth and shelter of the nearest café or brasserie meant cutting across farmer’s fields and through forests; cyclocross replicates that experience.
Saturday’s cold torrential downpour was worthy of the worst weather of the Ardennes and turned most of the course at the west end of Queen’s Park into a track of thick, viscous muck. At the end of each event, the line at the hose station was 20-30 muddy cyclists deep. Even through their exhaustion, many managed a smile. After all, there’s often a rainbow at the end of a rainstorm.
A rider struggles up a slippery muddy slope in Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross race at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park.
A rider negotiates a tight corner at Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross race.
The trees provided little shelter from Saturday’s downpour at the Queens Cross cyclocross races.
A rider in the intermediate race gives his full effort.
Nobody escaped clean and unmuddied from Saturday’s Queens Cross races.
A female rider speeds through a downhill section of the Queens Cross cyclocross races at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park.
Riders in the intermediate race had to negotiate a gully that only got deeper and muddier as the event wore on.
Heavy rains Friday and Saturday quickly turned the course for the Queens Cross cyclocross races into inches of thick mud.
Nobody was spared from the mud at Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross race.
Just like most rainstorms, a rainbow awaits riders at the end of Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross races.
A driving rainstorm quickly turned much of the course for Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross races into a muddy bog.
A rider warms up prior to the start of the intermediate race at Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross event.
Exhausted riders wait for their chance to clean up themselves and their bikes at a hose station.
Riders in Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross race couldn’t take the time to enjoy the fall foliage in New Westminster’s Queen’s Park.
The lineup at the hose station at the end of each event in Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross race was 20-30 cyclists deep.
The rain, cold and mud at Saturday’s Queens Cross cyclocross races were worthy of the worst weather in Belgium and Northern France, where the sport originated.