BREAKING NEWS: #crossiscoming but a lot sooner than you think. All Alberta Cup XCO races to become cyclocross races. All Alberta Cup Road races to be gravel grinders or gran fondos.
Citing declining registrations in traditional Alberta Cup disciplines, Alberta Bicycle Association (ABA) executive director Heather Lothian has recommended that organizers move events to trendier formats to boost numbers.
Former Cycling Canada board member and race organizer responsible for bringing mountain bike Canada Cups to the spotlight of Edmonton’s River Valley, Mike Sarnecki, normally a proponent of Olympic format cross country admitted that interest in the format was waning. “Back when I brought Canada Cup mountain bike racing to Edmonton, I had riders from out east complaining that the course was too rooty and unsustainable. I guess most riders appreciate the smoother courses typical of cyclocross racing”.
Coach and former national team cyclocross member Shaun Adamson welcomes the changes. “Athletes can kick off their season with some high intensity racing and the rainy months of May and June will give riders experience in the mud”.
The transition should be smooth, especially for Iron Maiden race director Bella Amberiadis. “The Canmore Nordic Centre has a bounty of wider ski trails that would be excellent for cyclocross. We’ve always been trying to find ways to get the whole race course closer to the start/finish area; switching to cyclocross should do that for us”.
Asked whether a 3 season cyclocross race calendar will affect interest in his popular Dark Knight event, Ed Garvin wasn’t worried. “I’ve been inspired by tough mudder style events, I think those are the future of cyclocross. I’ve got something up my sleeve for the 2016 Dark Knight”. Leaked information suggests that construction heaters will be used to turn the sand pit into a lava pit.
Ed knows the struggles that XCO race organizers face. Garvin had success with hardcore sounding event names like “Organ Grinder”, but he admits those can only go so far. “I brought National Championships to Canmore. ‘National Championships’ just doesn’t have the same ring around the water cooler on Monday morning as it used to. Fluffy Bunny? What were those guys thinking? The races are only 20 to 30km long, it’s hard to impress anyone with the kind of numbers you can spin in one hour on the bike paths”.
Deadgoat Racing has picked up Garvin’s Organ Grinder calendar spot for their Giver 8’hr. Club president Tim Brezsnyak has has stated that the 8 hour format will stay, but on a UCI spec. 3km course. “We’re going to give you a lot of time and repetitions to dial in your corners, dismounts, and remounts”.
The few die hard cross country mountain bikers left are being encouraged to try Enduro racing or Strava hunting in the mountains.
On the road side of things the Velocity stage race looks to move a couple of township roads over and embrace the gravel grind format. “We looked into going for the high profit gran fondo, but we figured that the aid stations would just get blown over in the wind”.
The Rundle Mountain race in Canmore is another prospective gravel grinder. Although the community’s hotels and restaurants are attractive to gran fondo types, the area is already saturated with three gran fondos. President James Kendall is looking forward to racing on Hwy 742. “I just got this sweet BMC disc brake cross bike, it will be perfect for the washboard road conditions”.
Pedalhead Roadworks and Speed Theory will go the gran fondo route for their events, keeping in line with the bike shops’ target demographic. Aerobars will be allowed for these events. Aero helmets are recommended. Early bird registration ended last October.