After last weekend's big race in Mont Tremblant, which saw the start of the racing season here in the East, racers met in hills of Collingwood, Ontario to do it all over again. The Blue Mountain Resort hosted the East Coast Open last year at the end of June with temperatures will into what you'd consider summer. That may have been the difference between the dust bowl experienced then and this year's pudding fest. The clay dirt doesn't do well when wet as it takes a good while to dry out after the winter melt. Skis would have been good for either brown pow or mud slush but this is mountain biking and that would have been ridiculous, right? Well just ask the many who tried to slide their way down the track as if they were strapped in.
The driest, least sketchiest part of the race course. Within 20-30 feet of the start gate, bikes and kits were getting a little dirty. Anything past the first woods, everyone was the same color brown.
This is was what the upper section of the track looked like. Eventually, the decision was made to divert this part of the course into the neighboring segway trails for obvious reasons. There was just no getting through it.
If it wasn't a swamp, it was a slick pudding mix. I hope you brought flat pedals and mud spikes!Practice
Practice on day one was first delayed to noon before being moved to 3pm in an effort to preserve the track's integrity but even the course inspectors knew there wasn't much anyone could do at this point. The show had to go on.
This happened all too often. The thick ground was taking riders out left and right.
27.5+ downhill bike? Nope, just mud.
Steering one way while trying to go the other was also quite common.
Racers were either hating it or embracing the total lack of grip. Jonathan Lefrancois was all smiles in the lower woods.
Feet were always sticking out in ruts. Scooting through them was the only option when the derailleur pulleys stopped moving.
Audrée Vaillancourt relieved to see the blue of her bike again.Race Day
The sun was up and excitement was in the air for finals after Saturday's seeding runs. Blue Mountain usually won't open a trail if it looks anything like this or even if it's raining out because of the clay. Surprisingly though, the course was looking decent in certain sections of the track, especially those in the open on race day. It was time to see who would fare best in the worst conditions.
Samuel Thibault took the win last week in Quebec. He's looking fast and hungry for a second win.
Catherine Harnden trying one of many ruts forming in the roots.
Railing ruts on a hardtail, Adrian Camposilvan was on his bike as much as he was off but was easily one of the most entertaining to watch.
Condition check...yep, still gross.
Tight corners in the segway trail.
A leg out for Sarah Konefal, tripodding her way into third place on Sunday afternoon.
Audrée coming in hot about to splash into the slop. She held on tight enough for a solid second place.
Ella Skalwold was having a blast all weekend slipping and sliding around the course. She would stand on top of the podium after Sunday's final, conquering a track that was looking to catch anyone not careful by surprise.
BC's Daniel Shaw dancing around trees to stay on line.
Phil Ricard #Stoked
Alex McAndrew making shapes around the greasiest of corners.
The G-out to the final open towards to finish. Just when you thought you were safe...
Blair Fraser dropping into the steep bit. He was putting in work on practice days trying to figure out the ruts and finishing in third on Sunday.
Curtis Kennedy riding through the rutted tight woods. He was in control enough for second place when the racing started.
Sunday's Junior Expert winner was Kolt Hoyle and it was pretty obvious he had the mud figured out. He was one of few who would manage to keep both feet on the pedals in the slickest of sections. Impressive stuff by the youngster!
Junior Expert Podium.
The saga continues.
Adam Robbins knows this track well but couldn't find his pace in these conditions.
James Frost in the bog.
Phil Ricard was having the time of his life playing in the mud. When it came down to racing in it, he was looking confident and landed in third.
Jonathan Lefrancois was chasing points this weekend in order to be eligible for the Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup. He would need to repeat his second place performance in Mont Tremblant. He did no less than that in Sunday's final, missing the win by less than a second!
Last man on course was he who won it last year as well. Hugo Langevin was pinned every single practice run and aiming for the number one spot.
Hugo came in hot across the line and into first within a half second to take the win once again here at Blue.
The King of Blue.