Raiding the River Raid XC

With all of our varying lifestyles and commitments, bringing the Kokanee Redbike squad all together for races is a challenge. So, with this in mind, we decided early in the spring to pick a couple of “key” events to which we could all attend and show are team colours. Being one of our favourite cycling event destinations, the team unanimously decided that the River Raid XC race in Devon would highlight as a key team participation event. It’s earned the name Bike Town for a reason; the community is always fantastic and very supportive of anything and everything bike that rolls into town.

Mark J 1

Dr. Jung Taking the Plung (Photo: Matthew Clark Stirl and Rae Photo)

I will admit upfront my vote for Devon was solely based upon the “people” factor and not the trail factor – I raced the Devon XC a few times years back, and my memories were of a course primarily composed of multi-use gravel trails linked together by short sections of not the greatest singletrack. With positive reports from last year’s racers and rumours of new trail additions to the course though, I approached the race with a clean slate of expectations.

Chantel

Shanny Drops In (Photo: Matthew Clark Stirl and Rae Photo)

Mark and I decided a pre-ride would be a good idea, and it’s never a bad idea to hit the trails with a local, so we met up Saturday evening with cycling guru/legend/local shop owner/hostess-with-the-mostest Pepper Harlton to get in a couple laps. The first half of the course was mostly as I remembered it, using the double track to get you quickly to the bottom of the valley, across to the campground, and up and around to the second half of the course. You had to keep on your toes though; a descent followed by a tight turn and a punchy climb was a common theme that could easily result in an overspeed crash into the bushes or in a snapped chain from being in too hard a gear. It was clear early on that momentum and being able to carry your speed through to the punchy climbs were integral to do well, especially for those on an overweight, overgunned full suspension bike. Without much for roots or bumps, full lockout engaged! also quickly became a goto strategy to increase efficiency.

Mike 1

Sarns Danglin’ (Photo: Matthew Clark Stirl and Rae Photo)

The second half of the course was the highlight for me as it featured a shwack of new, very well-built singletrack that traversed back towards the start/finish and a super fun, techy descent. The descent really highlighted the trail-building chops that the Devon Bicycling Association has – well thought out and challenging lines with quality built berms and bridges that will stand the test of time from both a sustainability and enjoyment point of view. All in all a very fun yet demanding course; while I certainly enjoyed the loop, I was quite relieved when race morning the ABA lowered the lap count of my race by one to equal that of the Expert men.

Mark 2

Game Face (Photo: Matthew Clark Stirl and Rae Photo)

Race day was a success on all fronts. 130 racers spanning the spectrum of ages and abilities came out to participate. James gets extra props for racing his fatbike on that physically demanding course, although his bike is actually lighter than mine, so I take that back. Mike had an excellent race finishing second in Elite men and had the cutest podium accessory. Mark had a very solid top ten finish in Expert men, and I did okay too.

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Mike with Myla’s First Podium

Poor Brad is still on the injured list, but was a top notch support crew, and Sheldon was there to provide moral support and raucous cheering. Once again the folks of Devon came through with an action-packed and fun-filled day. Truly committed to the cycling and racing experience, they are already talking about how to make next year better and how to build and integrate even more singletrack into the race loop. There’s even talk of trying to incorporate some of the bike park trails and features, which would hopefully entice more riders from Southern Alberta (Calgary I’m looking in your direction) to come up to support the race.

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Shanny’s #1!

We challenge other clubs to also select Devon races for their focus races or key club events since the DBA and town are committed to growing the cycling lifestyle in their community. Once again, big thanks to the Devon Bicycle Association and the folks of Town of Devon for a great day!

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Greazy Panda and Chicken Wing

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Shanny Photo Bomb!

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Shanny is a ‘Leader’!

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