THE PURPLE HAZE OF PROVINCIALS
After a few dry, but chilly, days of practice the sun finally came out and scorched us on Sunday at the Western Open/Provincials this past weekend. While flesh obsessed black flies that swarmed like repellant was a pheromone, the Dunbar Cycles crew taped the course on Thursday morning. By Friday racers were slowly arriving for practice laps and the camping areas filled up while the lift lines began to stretch as far as five people deep. Tippie's voice rang out across the land, or at least over the mic for Saturday, and it really started to feel like a race weekend!
Although there were only four women who showed to compete, they still managed to steal the show. Stephen Exley started the Western Open six years ago in an effort to raise money to help his daughter Lola. At the age of two she contracted viral encephalitis and has since suffered from intractable epilepsy, she is non-verbal and developmentally disabled. It is because of Lola and her family's love for her that the Western Open, and now the Silver Star and Fernie races have come to set the standard in BC Cups. This weekend as the only woman to race in the Elite category, Danice Uyesugi, chose to donate half of her winnings to the Love for Lola
trust fund and in doing so she demonstrated the essence of our DH race community and why it is so much more than simply riding bikes fast. A total of $3500 has been raise for Lola from Stephen's two events so far this season.
|I always enjoy going to Stephen's events. They are well organized, exciting and there is always a lot of free swag! The Western Open is the most challenging course on the circuit and because of that it is the most rewarding one to conquer. This year there was a noticeable shortage of female racers and Stephen did an excellent job of recognizing each of the women who showed up and raced, more so that I have ever seen at any race. It ended up being an incredible race experience despite the lack of competition and I am so glad I got to be a part of it! - Danice Uyesugi|
The track was the same as previous years and ran down Pioneer trail with a loamy reroute in the top section to avoid an especially eroded portion that didn't fair well over the winter. Exposed rock faces make up the top of the course before technical and equally steep forest lines take racers through the middle. Loose dry berms and a long sprint lead to a wooden booter at the finish line. It is an aggressive and physical track but it still drew over 130 participants.
On Saturday a kids race was held in the plaza while the Kicking Horse crew put on a Toonie Race down one of the upper mountain trails, Northern Lights. Riders had the option to buck up two dollars and "race" to the top of the Western Open course where practice runs continued. Following the excitement of the Toonie Race and seeded runs, was the spectator friendly long jump contest.
The Elite Men's category had an upset on race day when Adriano Digiacinto, who has the fastest time overall during seeded runs on Saturday, ended up with a flat on his race run. Taking the top step on the podium was Dean 'T-Bone' Tennant with a time of 3:45, Dean also won the long jump competition and the toonie race over the weekend. Second place went to Nick 'Keebs' Grimm (3:47), in third was Guy Gibbs (3:50), in fourth was Aaron Dobie (3:51) and in fifth was Bryden Rigets (3:52).
Taking home Provincial Champion jerseys was Dean Tennant (Elite Men), Danice Uyesugi (Elite Women), Magnus Manson (Junior Expert Men), Kyleigh Stewart (Junior Expert Women) and Colin Yarrow (Masters Men).
With the Western Open behind us we now have a month until our next and final BC Cup of the season in Fernie. It was one of the favourite courses of the series last year, so don't miss out this year. Register now!