Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As an avid Ottawa mountain bike racer I'm ashamed to say I had never raced at Bromont until this month. I have heard about how great this place is for many years and remember reading about World Championship battles in ancient newsprint Velonews issues. So with thoughts of Henrik Djernis and Flex Stems I headed up there for the Canada Cup a couple of weeks ago.

The Bromont Myth began to crack with a $175 speeding ticket near the ski hill. Eighty kph on this fairly quiet country road seemed perfectly reasonable to us but there was no negotiating with this sneaky speed trap. After parking the car at the race venue a few minutes later we were confronted by yet another friendly Bromont cop. This time he was walking the parking lot trying to open car doors. Apparently it's an offence to leave a vehicle unlocked. I find it offensive that public money is spent paying a cop to wander parking lots invading the personal space of hundreds of people just out for a fun day of bike riding. Thankfully we were still at the car guarding it when he came by. I'm sure others were less fortunate. Go Bromont!

Did I mention that it was pouring rain? Now, the race organizers can't control the weather but some kind of building to seek shelter in and maybe buy a coffee or something would have been nice. Especially considering this place is hosting a World Cup in a few weeks. Oh well, we were there to ride so we headed out to do a few laps before the next day's race.

The course looked promising with a long twisty technical climb each lap, a healthy dose of wild Quebec downhills and even a bit of a four-cross section. Very cool. Unfortunately the steady rains were making large portions of the course increasingly unrideable. Neil, Anna and I turned a couple of laps and left the venue optimistic that the soil would firm up a little overnight.

Nope. Sunday brought sunshine but the course was in even worse shape than the day before. The organizers had cut out a couple of unrideable sections but it made little difference. It's not an exaggeration to say that 30% of the course was unrideable. Most racers attacked the main climb and nearly all of the technical singletracks on foot. Neil had a flat at one point and decided to run to the tech zone rather than fix it. Running seemed to be no slower than riding anyway. He was right and managed to mostly keep up on foot with the group he was riding with before the flat tire.

My race was no better. Though I kept the air in my tires I was well off the pace. I did salvage 6th place and couldn't help but laugh at the whole crazy race... Before the start I overheard super-pro Peter Glassford advising a friend to "just keep laughing" in the race. Good advice.

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