The Cobble Hill Classic XC mountain bike race late last month served as a showcase for South Cowichan’s impressive trail system.
"A lot of people from Victoria have no idea of the trail system in Cobble Hill," said Matt Grossnickle, who organized the event on behalf of Duncan bike shop Cycle Therapy.
Beyond the trails themselves, Grossnickle heard accolades for the Cleasby Bike Park and the tidy washroom facilities at the foot of Cobble Hill Mountain.
It was Grossnickle’s first time organizing the event, although it was the seventh year for the established race, part of the Island Cup series. This year’s race attracted 100 riders from all over Vancouver Island, up from 75 or 80 last year.
The event was the third stage of the Island Cup, and, in Grossnickle’s view, it was one of the more challenging stages.
"It was a gruelling course, and one of the longer ones," he said.
With categories for beginner, intermediate and expert riders, the Classic attracted athletes of all ages. This was the second year for the Vintage class for riders on older bikes – they have to meet two of three specifications to qualify as "vintage" – which again proved popular.
"Those guys had a lot of fun," Grossnickle said.
The top three finishers in the expert men division were Steve Noble (one hour, 36 minutes and 45 seconds), Thomas Skinner (1:37:22) and Justin Mark, while the top three expert women were Mical Dyck (1:48:19), Danelle Kabush (1:53:00) and Carey Mark (1:53:03).
John Webster (1:12:03), Max McCulloch (1:15:23) and Dave Jetz (1:15:47) led the way in the intermediate men division, while Karen Fedoruk (1:32:41), Roanne English (1:33:38) and Kiersten Epps (1:36:25) were the top intermediate women.
Top three beginner men were Evan Luksay (42:22), Kieran Nilsen (47:35) and Haiden Simpson (48:10), while the lone entry in the beginner women class was Anja Leikermoser (1:08:26).
The Island Cup consists of 11 cross-country, marathon and downhill races between March to September, with participants including some of Canada’s best riders.
"It’s very good because it’s grassroots and local, but if you want to do well, you have to beat the national champion," Grossnickle said.
Future Island Cup events in the Cowichan Valley include the Maple Mountain Marathon on May 18 and the Prevost Downhill on June 8. Visit islandcupseries.com for more information.