Monday, May 11, 2009

Grand Beach 2009 Race Report

This Mothers Day weekend was the 2009 edition of the Grand Beach Mountain Bike Cup Race. It is a race which, if you took the time to look, has a fantastic few of the lake. At this time of year it’s beautiful views are of the spring breakup. We, however, were racing and saw none of it. Grand Beach, traditionally the first mountain bike race of the year, traditionally threatens rain, or snow or both. Early in the week the weather called for a 40% chance of rain or snow, but by Saturday the forecast was for sunny conditions with a possible high of 14 degrees. I think it was even better then that.

Sunday’s Cross Country race was round one of the Manitoba Cup Point Series and proved to be an exciting showdown between new, old and returning riders from all over the province. Despite talk of changing the traditional Grand Beach Course to comply with the UCI standards, the race organizers maintained the short-lap format with finishing times being ~20 minutes off the mark. The sport men completed 3 Laps, expert men did one more and the women one less then their counter parts in respective cats. New to this season, comp gained one lap. The purpose of this race, which is also new to 2009, was to determine places for staging in upcoming races.

In the men’s event, many of the faster riders were absent from the field but the Dynamic Duo of Greg and Carl (Brandon Bike Club) were spotted sporting brand new spiffy kits. Jason (Woodcock/Provincial Team) and Dylan (Olympia/Provincial Team) moved to the front of the start line replacing absent masters riders at the head of the pack. Dylan and Jason have been virtually unstoppable this spring. Hopefully they will continue their winning ways at Bike On Broadway this coming weekend. Good luck!

Who can provide competition for the Dynamic Duo? Look no further than Tinker Creek’s Kevin B who was a strong competitor in the 2008 Cup Series. Expect Kevin to challenge at the front in upcoming races this year.

Along with Bill B, other strong riders like Mike, Don, Nathan and Cory were absent from this weekend’s race which left riders like JP (Body Driven Sports) and Rob B (Alter Ego) to battle for the top spots and big points. Rob, for example, was very strong on the Grand Beach course picking off riders like a child plucking the wings off a fly. Alter Ego’s big man did not get off to his usual strong start however… perhaps an unfortunate flat just before the call-to-the-line stole some of his power. Interesting riders to watch later in the season will be Chris H (FGBC), DJ (Alter Ego), and Luk (Olympia) who is one of the youngest Expert racers in the Province, and has been competitive at every race he’s entered this spring.

The Expert men's race had whopping 18 men registered with 15 lining up to test their metal. That might not sound like a lot but consider that this was Mothers Day, and the Mothers Day Road Race was taking place at the same time in Birds Hill Park. The women’s race also featured fewer riders (many were also absent) but no less firepower at the front of the race.

Exhausting and exhilarating would be a good description Sunday’s ~35 km Cup race, most of which was double track winding along the Grand Beach Cross Country Ski Trails. At points along the trail racers could look down Frozen Lake Winnipeg below - those that where riding slow enough to see it (slackers). The trails consit of steady and sandy uphills, lots of sand on the flats, rocks with sand inbetween, and a couple of long awesome sandy downhills which will challenge even the most technically proficient rider when careening down at 45 km per hour.

The Grand Beach race starts uphill on wide, but rocky double track, before leveling off and feeding into sand single track. My race began 'after' hastily repairing a torn side wall and subsequent flat (thanks Rob!). While I was standing on the line looking up the first hill, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my tube would start to ever so slowly bulge through the rubber. I decided to start cautiously, and work my way up the line as the pack hammered up the first hill, along the autobahn, and fought for the first hole shot.

Jason and Dylan led out with authority and a determination born of youth and perhaps inexperience. By mid lap Jason had blow a gasket and Dylan’s charge was starting to fade. While enjoying a comfortable lead over Greg (BBB) in fourth, the three of us completed the first lap in just over 24-mins (thanks Hal ;). With Jason down for the count and Greg falling behind I focused on a methodical game plan aimed at destroying Dylan: attack every climb, push on all the flats and flow through the technical sections. Unfortunately we will never know weather I would have broken Strong Man Dylan, or if we were destine to have taken turns giving up the lead, or if we could have fought right down to the wire and a final sprint. I suffered a puncher – game over. I crossed the line ~10 minutes off the lead, Dylan was first, Jason finished a strong second and Greg rounded out the podium with a not so unexpected third place.

Grand Beach is a great race if you like it fast, with long flats (lots of sand) and not so much elevation. Any rider who is fit “roadie” style will do very well thank you… at least that is what everyone likes to say. Riders were greeted by sunshine warm weather and the best darn sandwiches I have ever had.

Next Race Brandon Hills.

Other Reports Here, Here and Here

Results Here and Here

Pic Here

Thanks to the all the volunteers, and officials who made this event possible! Thanks to Dave L for his kind words, and extra special thanks to Dylan’s mother for her most excellent feed zone work.


  1. One of the best race reports I've read. Good job, I actually think you could ride with real heavy tires (solid even) and still dominate... then no punctures!

  2. Great report too bad about the flat tire.Sounded like a great race.

  3. Brandon will be epic… especially if it rains!

  4. good report dave, flats suck (go tubeless man). good race, i really had fun. BTW, the ideal expert UCI race is 1:45, plus or minus 15 min. not the 2 hours MB has been doing.

    so times were right on for men's expert.