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.