The first of the Triple Crown of Gravels Series, the sixth annual Cowichan Crusher Gravel Fondo went off without a hitch under mainly sunny skies on Sunday in Lake Cowichan.
“We lucked out for sure. It was not supposed to be that nice,” said race director Dean Stanton. “It was good weather.”
Roughly 250 racers took part, including no fewer than 14 Cowichan Valley-based riders, a welcome sight following less than ideal registrations since 2020’s cancellation due to the pandemic.
The event, which was actually three races — the 25 km piccolo, the 55 km medio, and the 100 km full fondo — kicked off at about 8 a.m.
Lake Cowichan had two riders in the fondo. Rick Hill placed 49th with a time of 3:53:59. Fellow Laker Cody Graham was 100th in the event, and the 87th man to finish the race, with a time of 5:05:52.
The piccolo division featured just 28 racers and none hailed from the Cowichan Valley region.
There were 81 racers in the medio race, with Shawnigan Lake’s Kevin Turenne the top local, placing 11th with a time of 2:13:22, which was good for fifth in his division.
Duncan’s Robert Wright placed 21st overall, 10th in his division with a time of 2:20:49, while fellow Duncan resident Glenn Morris placed 24th overall, 12th in his division with a time of 2:22:20.
Cowichan Bay’s Darren Combs raced to a time of 2:48:35, which placed him 57th overall and 21st in his division while Cobble Hill rider Monika Csiszar placed 65th overall with a time of 3:09:19, good for 13th in her division.
Duncan’s Jesse Schrik and Remko Shrik were 76th and 77th overall respectively, with Jesse finishing four seconds ahead of Remko with a time of 3:35:45. Jesse was 18th in her group while Remko was 28th in his.
Stanton said he was surprised at how fast the top riders were.
“Everybody on all the courses seemed to be faster,” he said, noting the fondo winner’s time was just under four hours.
“That means he was averaging 34 km an hour so he was riding even faster than that at points with the hills,” Stanton added. “That’s crazy.”
First place in the fondo was Colin Eriks of Vancouver, whose chip time was just under three hours at 2:59:12.
There were 111 riders in the fondo event and the Cowichan Valley’s top fondo individual male finisher was Duncan’s Ander Monro, who finished 12th with a time of 3:22:45.
Duncan’s Alex Mann and Kai Vander Veen were 25th (3:32:50) and 35th (3:47:31) respectively.
Mill Bay rider Ryan Truant placed 60th in the fondo, but fifth in his division with a time of 4:04:18.
Amanda McArthur was the first Cowichan woman to cross the fondo finish line, placing 90th in the event and 11th in her division with a time of 4:43:47.
Other races in the Triple Crown of Gravel Series include the Kettle Mettle Dirty Fondo in Penticton and the Sea 2 Sky Gravel Fondo in Squamish, both in September.