Hundreds of top cyclists from around the province will take over the streets of Maple Ridge this weekend for the ninth annual Race the Ridge event.
Presented by Local Ride Bike Shop, the two-day, three-stage race is considered one of the toughest in B.C.
“It’s kind of a one-of-a-kind opportunity in our area,” said event organizer Barry Lyster. “For the community, it highlights the world class cycling we have here and draws race teams to train here. We’ve seen lots of Canada’s top riders come through our race.”
Race the Ridge kicks off Saturday morning at 8 a.m. with the scenic, 22-kilometre-long Golden Ears Provincial Park time trial, followed by the high-speed criterium through the streets of downtown Maple Ridge in the afternoon.
The latter stage features multiple short laps around an 800-metre technical course with five corners, including two 90-degree turns, a chicane and the hallmark Haney Place hairpin.
“It’s a very fast-paced, action-packed event,” said Lyster. “They’re doing 60 kilometres down the straightaways, going fast into corners and there’s passing and sprinting. It’s a really exciting race to watch.”
Cyclists return on Sunday for the grueling 100-km road race through Maple Ridge’s Thornhill neighbourhood. With its series of rolling climbs and unforgiving uphill finish, the course is designed for strong climbers.
Each stage is timed and the rider with the lowest combined time at the end of the weekend will be crowned the winner. More than $5,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs.
“It’s the good climbers that tend to win,” said Lyster. “At the end of the day, it gives cyclists a weekend out of the year to highlight what our wonderful sport is about. It gives great, free entertainment.”
In addition to some of the top provincial competitors, there will be plenty of local cyclists participating in the event.
Some elite racers to watch out for include Rich Machhein and Zach Young of Local Ride Racing, and Mike Rothengatter with Garneau Evolution.
The women’s category debuts the Local Ride/Dr. Vie Superfoods + Elite Women’s Team. The all-star roster includes World Cup track cycling medalists Laura Brown and Steph Roorda, as well as local youth racer Maggie Coles-Lyster.
Race the Ridge will also feature a u-17 youth stage race, a kids competition on the criterium course Saturday night, and a new novice category. The event will serve as a qualifier for the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops.
• For more information on the race, including road closures, visit www.localride.ca.
Road racing tactics
• If a rider’s teammate is up the road on a breakaway, their teammate may not chase them down. If a breakaway is reeled back in, then expect another team rider to counterattack.
• Each team’s highest placed rider in the overall classification will be protected by their teammates in order to save them for the final sprint or the decisive stage on the last day.
• Riders will use drafting techniques to safe energy and a well-organized team will set up a lead-out train on the final lap in attempt to catapult their key rider to the finish line.
• Cycling is a numbers game, and riders are always trying to pare down the field in order to make their odds of winning better. Some team riders have the role of workers or “domestiques.” These riders are not expected to go for the win and have the assigned task of wearing out other competitors in order to make the chances better for their team leader. In the overall scheme of things, the results of the domestiques don’t matter to the team.