On a normally sleepy Sunday afternoon, the streets of downtown Maple Ridge were humming, as bike racers from across the province competed in Race the Ridge – which was also the provincial championships this year.
Organizer Barry Lyster said it was probably the biggest turnout for the race since he started it 12 years ago, and there were 180 riders entered in the town core criterium.
The Haney course is a favourite with cyclists, as riders start on MacIntosh Avenue at 224th Street, race to 223rd, come back via 119th Avenue, loop through Memorial Peace Park and finish at the starting line.
“It’s one of the most popular courses in the province,” said Lyster, ranking it just behind Vancouver’s Gastown race.
The Haney course is great for spectators, who can watch almost half of the race from the park.
They had some local racers to cheer for, and Lyster’s talented daughter, Maggie Coles-Lyster, didn’t disappoint. The speedy 16-year-old competed in the elite women’s category for the first time, and took second place.
The provincial road race event was held in Mission, the time trial in Abbotsford, and Coles-Lyster finished sixth and fifth respectively in those events.
“She has a really strong sprint, which suits a criterium,” said Lyster.
Locals could also cheer on Brett Wakefield, a Maple Ridge cyclist with the Giant cycle club out of Vancouver, who is racing in the elite men’s category for the first year. He was in the middle of the pack in the criterium, and seventh in the road race.
Kelsey MacDonald of Pitt Meadows also competed in the elite women’s criterium, and finished 18th.
Coles-Lyster is building toward the junior nationals in Quebec in July. The event is for 17 and 18-year-old competitors, but she has received permission to compete as an under-age racer. Still, she should be in the hunt for a podium finish in all three disciplines. Next summer, she will be eligible to be chosen to race for Team Canada at the world championships.
Race organizer Coles-Lyster said he couldn’t pull off the popular Town Core Criterium without the cooperation of downtown businesses and city hall.