Ride #5 in my 50-in-50 rides was down in Port Colborne, Ontario on Sunday February 21, 2016 for the 7th Annual Frostbike mountain bike race. The organizers, Shorthills Cycling Club, have run this event since 2010, but this was my first time entering. They cap the number of riders at 100, and registration sold out in less than two days back in January. I was late, and didn’t get registered, but thankfully, I was able to find someone who couldn’t make it, and got in. (thanks Michelle…. missed you at the race!)
I drove to the event with a riding buddy Steve, and we got to Port Colborne about an hour before the 11am start time. The event was run as a time-trial, with a circuit of about 8 km and the option of doing one or two laps (with the fastest lap counting towards the final rankings). Racers started in groups of about 6 at a time. Faster racers went out first, while I started near the back with some of my local mountain biking friends, Bob, Will, Raf, Jenn and one other guy who joined our group.
As the name implies, “Frostbike” is meant to be a winter ride on snowy trails. I’d heard stories about the 2015 event, with temperatures below -20C and deep snow. This year, I kept an eye on the weather leading up to the event, and a few days beforehand, it became clear that temperatures would be above zero for a few days leading up to race day.
I was able to preride a few km’s of the course before the race and quickly learned that snow and ice weren’t going to be an issue. Instead, it was going to be slick with mud. The course started with some muddy singletrack, followed by an old quarry, then more muddy singletrack! Most of it was rideable (with the exception of a couple of steep little hike-a-bike hills).
My first (and only) lap took about 50 minutes (winning time was about 30 minutes!). It was a tough ride and the weather was mild. The quarry was fun, the mud was… an adventure! The great thing about this kind of event is the camaraderie. Everyone is there for a good time, and despite getting covered in mud, everyone was smiling. Riders passing me were courteous (and there were quite a few of them!), and riders that I passed were friendly as well (there wasn’t many!). Kudos to Jeff K. and the gang from Shorthills Cycling Club for organizing a fantastic event. And kudos to my local riding friends Bob, Sandra, Jenn, Raf, SteveB and Will. Congrats to SteveB and my bro Jeff for winning their categories and Will for finishing 3rd in his. And NathanP who won the singlespeed category.
Note: Having a front fender REALLY helped. See pic below: Me (on the left) had a fender and reasonably clean (at least from the waist up). My buddy SteveB (on the right) had no fender and is covered! (also… he won his category so he was moving a lot faster than me… that might have something to do with it as well!)