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Strand top rider in Charlie's Angels

223 women at start line for women's-only mountain bike race



There was a male go-go dancer in the woods with music and strobe lights. Almost naked men wearing nothing but pool noodles. A Love Boat-themed refreshment station with three Isaacs serving up beverages. Firemen. The "elephant man." A guy in a leopard-print thong. Charlie's Angels was like a giant stagette on wheels, in other words, and for all the riders that were just out for a good time, the event delivered.

The race was a follow-up to last year's popular Betty vs. Veronica race, but with almost twice as many participants. Riders were divided into three teams, Team Jill, Team Kelly and Team Sabrina after the Charlie's Angels characters. They rode for both themselves and for their teammates over two stages — a downhill race in the Garbanzo Zone on Friday night, followed by a 20-plus kilometre cross-country race on Saturday that included the long climb up to the top of Golden Boner and Roam in the Loam on Blackcomb, the Yummy Nummy climb, the middle section of Comfortably Numb, Jeff's Trail, Green Lake Loop/Sea to Sky Trail and a chunk of Lost Lake Park.

In the overall, Katrina Strand placed first. She won the downhill event on Friday and placed seventh in the cross-country. With the scoring system she finished with a 7.75 — just 0.25 points ahead of bike coach Sylvie Allen, who was fourth in downhill and fourth in cross-country. Third place was a tie between Carrie Meltzer and Chrissy De Vall with 15 points. De Vall was 13th on the DH and second in the XC, and Meltzer fifth in DH and 10th in XC.

The cross-country race was itself won handily by Squamish's Brandi Heisterman, who had a mechanical on the downhill to put her out of contention for the overall. Final times are still to be posted, but she had a gap of over 10 minutes after the Sea to Sky Trail.

A former national downhill champion and bike coach, Strand knew she was riding well enough to place in the downhill. As well, she's been riding more cross-country recently and knew from the Toonie Rides that she was doing well in that category as well. But actually winning the event was another thing — she didn't even pre-ride the cross-country course and was seeing that selection of trails for the first time.

"I didn't go in with any pressure or a goal of having to win — I don't go into any events like that anymore," said Strand. "My focus was genuinely that it was just to have fun. I didn't put that much effort into anything except showing up, making new friends and having a good time."

Strand said she didn't realize she won the event until her name was called.

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