It has poured on Race the Ridge in past years. Four years ago the town core criterium was a virtual washout, as the loop in front of the Leisure Centre was flooded.
But the weekend’s sun showed the potential of Race the Ridge, which organizer Barry Lyster said has grown to the stage where it is one of the most popular races in the province with cyclists.
The annual race featured a time trial on Barnston Island on Friday, a road race through Hatzic Valley on Saturday, and then the town core criterium through Maple Ridge on Sunday.
There were more than 200 cyclists in Saturday’s Road Race.
Lyster said the return to Barnston Island, just south of Pitt Meadows in the Fraser River, was a popular choice. There used to be racing there, 30 years ago, and he said it is a hidden jewel of a circuit – almost exactly 10 kilometres of paved dike, bordered by farms on the sparsely populated island – about 35 people, members of Katzie First Nation, live there.
“It is a really unique time trial course,” said Lyster.
Race the Ridge is best known locally for the town core course that takes riders through the loop around Memorial Peace Park, down McIntosh Avenue to 223rd Street, and back along 199th Avenue.
Spectators in the park can watch about half of the race, and Lyster said it was a perfect day for hundreds of cycling fans to take in the event.
“It was the best weather we’ve ever had for the event,” he said.
The top local rider was Lyster’s world class daughter Maggie Coles-Lyster, who placed second overall in the women’s omnium (overall). The 17-year-old lost to a national team member, Sara Bergen of Vancouver, who is 28. Over the 34 laps of the town core course, they both averaged over 40 km-h.
There was a Maple Ridge cheering section for Brett Wakefield, a former Ridge resident now with Team Giant of Vancouver, who finished 21st in the criterium, 12th in the road race and eighth in the time trail. He was competing “against some pretty heavy hitters,” said Lyster.
Overall, considering his results in all three events, Wakefield finished 16th. For more results click here.
Local realtor Paul Craik challenged himself by joining the race in his home town.
“He’s fairly new to this level of racing, but he hung in there,” said Lyster.
The top overall racer for the men was Kyle Buckosky of the Trek Red Truck Racing team.
Isaac Leblanc of Victoria was the fastest man on the town core criterium, winning the Cat 1/2 class by finishing 46 laps of the one kilometer course in a time of 58:15, averaging almost 47 km/h.
Ryan Jones of Vancouver won the Cat 1/2 men road race by covering 111km, six laps of the 18.5 km course, in a time of 2:52.17, averaging 38 km/h.
Coles-Lyster will now have two weeks off racing before beginning a routine of almost weekly cycling races, highlighted by the road nationals in Ottawa at the end of June, and then the world track championships in Switzerland on July 20-24.
Coles-Lyster has already competed internationally, and last year was in Belgium for the cyclocross world championships.
For a schedule of Local Ride Racing events and other information see the site http://www.localride.ca/