Cyclocross Race Report: North Gower

OBC Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series #3 – North Gower

In 2014, the Senior/Master 1 men’s race at North Gower was the most fun and exciting of the series. While on paper, the nearly flat park with one bump of a hill wouldn’t look like a great cyclocross venue. But it is. At only 30 minutes from Ottawa centre, it’s a gem. And thanks to everyone who got up early to set up the course on Sunday, it was even better than 2014. A few key changes were made:

1) barriers were moved to more flowing positions, one before a climb that one could get back on their bike for

2) the sand pit was a 180-degree affair, exiting to grass, which was rideable during race 1 and 2, less for for race 3.

3) the spiral Bruno Cyr built was outstanding

Here’s how I will rank the course on www.crossresults.com once the results are up:


With a large number of turns, many of which required significant acceleration out of, the course was a tough one. Mistakes were difficult to make up, but interestingly, the spiral was one place I was able to make ground by not braking, and pedaling as much as possible. Fun. I switched from Clement LAS file treads to a PDX and MXP combo after some inspection, as I found I needed lots of bite to do all the turns at full speed. On the sidehill descent I was happy to have them; I almost slid right out once!

Photos by Jill Donak.

Evan McNeely took the holeshot, and I was happy to get onto his wheel right away, thinking: “Great, this speed is comfortable.” Evidently a few of the guys behind had other ideas, and attacked, seemingly infuriating Evan and prompting him to counter and ride away! Osmond Bakker, Doug Van den Ham and I followed, soon to be caught up by Matteo Dal Cin and Ben Andrew. I’d ultimately get dropped, while the others made contact with Evan after he crashed, opening the door for Matteo to turn the screw. In the end, Evan would finish alone for the win, followed by Matteo, then Ben Andrew, who managed to separate himself from the other two late in the race. I wish I’d been at 100% and able to hang in, but after 20 minutes, I was going backwards. Live to fight another day!

Congrats to our own Marcel Voutour on taking the win in the Master A category, Richard Grieve for his 3rd in Master B, and Mia Grieve for her 2nd in the U13 girls race! All the results can be found here. And thanks to The Cyclery for supporting the series; the cloth numbers this year are FANTASTIC!

The lesson of the day for me was to be more adaptive during the races. Each lap I tried to ride the sand as I’d practiced successfully during course inspection. What I didn’t know was that Bob had added a stake to the inside of the turn, reducing the space available to turn. This was imperceptible to me, so the first time I rode it I took the same line and started turning in the same spot as before. But I just wound up in the tape on the outside. Each lap I tried to do it ‘better,’ but it only ‘worked’ once, and it wasn’t fast. Fixed in my brain was the memory of doing it fast before the race, so I doggedly kept trying to nail it. It wasn’t nailable! I was trying to save energy, but really, it’d have been smarter to jump off and run the turn. Lesson learned. Hopefully in the future we’ll be informed of changes like that….

Photo Galleries:

Alain Villeneuve

This week, it’s off to Ma-te-way Park, Renfrew. This one’s got a few technical features, and perhaps the most climbing of the regular stops. File tread tires can work here, as there don’t tend to be really difficult turns, but if you only have one option on the day, knobs. Here’s how the course was rated last year (totals).


If you’re coming out on Sunday for your first time, remember that Wednesday night is the registration deadline. And if you’d like to get in some cyclocross practice during the week, David Bilenky leads a session you are all free to join. Check Ottawa’s cylocross-specific FaceBook group for info and updates.

See y’all on Sunday!