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Phelps, Harrington take Soo Valley Rumble

59 riders brave rain for inaugural north trail epic



Although almost 50 of 59 participants in the inaugural Soo Valley Rumble made the final cut-off to finish Sunday’s ride, it was a tough day overall, with one broken wrist, two broken derailleurs, two broken cleats, at least two double-flats, and enough single flats that some riders were forced to pull out after running out of replacement tubes.

There’s no word on the total distance, but one rider said the vertical over the ride was more than 1,300 metres, including about 900 metres from the start line in the Soo Valley to the top of the North Flank trail.

Overall, organizers were happy with the ride and the turnout, given the heavy rain Sunday morning. By the afternoon the trails were dry for the most part, and the rain actually made the sandy trails of the “No Flow Zone” grippier than usual.

Jason Shorter took an early lead in the race, and was the first to the top of the climb in the Soo Valley. Kevin Phelps, who is a strong technical rider, cut the time gap through the No Flow Zone trails (Shit Happens, White Knuckles, Big Kahuna, and Section 102) to under two minutes heading to Kill Me Thrill Me. About a third of the way through the last trail Phelps took over the lead, then managed to extend it to more than two minutes by the finish line.

Phelps enjoyed the ride, and is looking forward to next year. “I thought it was awesome, it’s a great new race that could become a yearly epic now that the Samurai is over,” he said. “I think that type of course definitely suited a few people in town, and I’m pretty lucky I didn’t have any mechanicals or anything. The highlight was going up the North Flank, where I haven’t been yet this year, and all the work Jerome (David) did to clean it out was much appreciated.”

Phelps expected Shorter to put up more of a fight when he caught up, and was surprised the veteran racer pulled over to the side and let him by.

“Shorter’s big strength was the climb, he was way ahead of everybody, while my strength is definitely in the No Flow Zone where I ride every day. It was good to get that first victory of the year.”

Phelps finished in 3:01:12, followed by Shorter in 3:03:57. Eric Crowe, a Masters rider, was a strong third in 3:15:40.

On the women’s side, Joanna Harrington was ranked about ninth overall when she crossed the finish line 3:39:10. Kristen Johnston was the second woman in 3:59:59, while Fanny Paquette placed third in 4:02:51.

Harrington has now won the West Side Wheel Up and Soo Valley Rumble, and will race in the Cheakamus Challenge this weekend. She says her chance of winning all three events will depend on what pro elite riders show up, and is just planning to enjoy the ride.

She also liked the Rumble course.

“It was good to have a new long-style race now that the Samurai is over, and if they keep changing it ever year it will become quite a fun race,” she said.

“The climb was amazing, but I was pretty happy to get out of the No Flow Zone and onto Kill Me Thrill Me. With a little light rain the night before it was so grippy and fast.”

Tyler Allison was sixth overall and led the juniors throughout the race. He held up just short of the finish in order to cross the finish line beside Sebastian Sleep of the Sunshine Coast, who Allison regularly competes against at the provincial and national level. They both crossed the finish line at 3:26:38.

Allison was ranked as high as third at one point in the race, but fell back back about six spots when he started to have mechanical trouble. He went through the last checkpoint in sixth.

Max Horner was third in 3:35:12, shaking off a few crashes to keep up a strong pace against some of the strongest riders in the valley. All the junior riders placed in the top-12 overall.

The race was held to fill in the weekend between the West Side Wheel Up and Cheakamus Challenge, and to feature trails that aren’t typically included in races or events. The goal is to make the Rumble an annual epic race, potentially moving around to different trails each year.

The event was also held as a fundraiser for the Terry Fox Run, with $10 from every race entry, and food and drink tickets going to cancer research. This year WORCA will contribute $630.

Event director Jerome David appreciated everyone who came out to ride.

“I want to thank everyone who looked at the weather this morning, saw the rain, and came out anyway,” he said. “It says a lot about the riders in this town. It’s a pretty hardcore group.

“The reason I did not change to Plan B (easier course) was because I heard from the riders and they said ‘don’t change it’.”

Grant Lamont, no stranger to long, technical rides, found it every bit as challenging as the organizers promised.

“It was a hard course. Anything that starts with a long, nasty climb like that is an acquired taste, I’d like to call it, but it was good for all of us that like long, tough rides,” he said. “The first half was crazy. You started off getting worked up on the climb, and then we had the long descent. I pedaled all the way down just to keep my muscles loose and stop them from seizing up. The last part, coming through all that technical stuff, was fabulous — it was a great way to finish the race. It was something fresh, using trails we never really race on unless it’s a Samurai (of Singletrack).”

Some of the most hardcore also did the Terry Fox Run that morning. Duncan Munro did the full 10K run course in his firefighter gear, complete with an oxygen tank. Mel Day and Sarah O’Byrne also ran and rode, while Mayor Ken Melamed rode the Terry Fox course and Soo Valley Rumble.

So far only Munro, Day and O’Bryrne have taken part in all Month of Pain events — West Side Wheel Up, Loop the Lakes, Terry Fox Run and Soo Valley Rumble — and are planning to do both the 71 km Cheakamus Challenge mountain bike race and 26 km Rubble Creek Classic trail run.