The mud was a deciding factor at the Tim Horton’s National Mountain Bike Championships at Mt. Washington this past weekend.
“Whoever’s bike was working the best probably did the best,” said Trevor Hopkins of Team Whistler, who was competing in the cross-country race. “People thought the Test of Metal was muddy, but this was probably twice as muddy. It was pretty tough — it was about 10 degrees, it was pouring rain, and it was windy.”
Hopkins said the mud was knee-deep in places, and there was a lot of running involved because bikes were getting stuck in places and the climbs were often too slick. “I think racing Cyclocross really came in handy, because of all the running,” said Hopkins. “I had my bike on my shoulder half the time.”
Bob Allison agreed. “It was really a running race,” he said. “They don’t do any maintenance on their trails over there like we do here, which was kind of disappointing.
“I took off ahead at the start on the first climb, but when I got to a spot where I had to start running all the other riders would pass me. Then I’d pass them again on the next riding section, and then we’d be running again and they’d pass me again. For me this race came down to who was the fastest runner, because we were off our bikes so much.”
Despite the conditions, Hopkins managed to finish second in the 30 to 39 men’s race — just over seven seconds back of the winner.
“I’m pretty happy. Heading into the last lap I was in fifth place and a minute and a half back of the leader, and by the end I got to within seven seconds of the leader. If the race had been another 500 metres I would have had it, the guy in the lead was dying.”
Allison finished fifth in the 50 and Over category, which he said was suprisingly good considering the conditions. “I am a little disappointed, I wanted to rank a little higher in this race and think I could have won it without all the running. I don’t think anybody passed me on the sections where you could bike.”
Tyler Allison, who moved up into a higher age group this year after winning the Under 15 nationals in 2006, placed third in the Under 17 cross-country race on Saturday.
“I sprained my ankle pretty bad in training for the downhill, so it was really hard to run and a lot of the course was so muddy it was unrideable,” he said. “I really wanted to win the title, but in the end I think I was happy just to be on the podium.”
Jennifer Tabbernor also raced in the nationals, placing fifth in her age category.
The national downhill championships took place on Thursday. Tyler Allison won the national Under 17 title while reigning national champion Alex Prochazka of Whistler was set back by a flat.
“It was a pretty good race, the course was pretty fun for the (Canada Cup) on Wednesday and the nationals on Thursday,” said Allison. “It was really wet for the nationals, so everything was really slippery and sketchy. I pretty much just tried to hold on the whole time.”
In the Elite Women’s race, Whistler’s Claire Buchar and Katrina Strand were second and third respectively.