They came from near and far, some bearing nicknames like Cookie Monster and Hurricane, The Snake and Duchess of Dirt. They pedaled, cruised, jumped and jockeyed for the elusive “hole shot.”
Hundreds of bicycle motocross (BMX) riders from as far away as Arizona and yes, a large number from the Sea to Sky Corridor, descended on Squamish last Friday through Sunday (Sept. 13 to 15) for the Sea to Sky BMX Nationals, hosted for the second time in three years by the Squamish BMX Racing Club.
A world No. 1 — Expert 15 points leader Alex Tougas, from Pitt Meadows — even tested his talents against other top competitors from Alberta, B.C. and the western U.S. When it was over, a few nursed bumps and bruises, but nearly all first-time visitors, it seemed, had gained a new appreciation for the little ol’ loggin’ town at the head of Howe Sound.
“On my personal Facebook page I’ve had lots of people say, ‘Thanks; had a great time,’” said lead organizer and racer Vicki Schenk, Squamish club president, said on Monday (Sept. 16).
“One guy broke his clavicle and drove back, with friends, 19 hours to Fresno, Calif. He just left a message saying what his injury was, but he added, ‘Such a beautiful place. I’ll be back, for sure.’”
Mother Nature even cooperated in spades: sunny skies and temperatures in the mid- to upper-20s. The track near Brennan Park had to be sprinkled with water periodically to keep the dust down. A couple hours after the last moto, though, it started to rain and didn’t stop until the next morning.
When Squamish first landed a BMX Nationals series event in 2011, the intention was for it to host such an event at least every four years. The first one went so well that BMX Canada chose to come back two years later. It’s not known how soon it’ll return, but it likely will come back, Schenk said.
“Afterward we [Schenk and BMX Canada officials] were talking about the chance of having the events on a more regular basis. They said, ‘Well Chilliwack is closer to the border,’ but I said, ‘but look at the thousands of people who go to Whistler every year.’ They just look at it from a different perspective, I guess.”
Chilliwack is to be one of the next big meets for many of those who raced in Squamish on the weekend. An indoor venue there is to be the site of the 2013 Canadian Grand Nationals on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
Tougas did, by the way, win his two main-event finals on Saturday and Sunday. Sean Fincham, a member of the Team Squamish mountain bike team, managed to make the final both days, finishing sixth and fifth, respectively.
Making the finals both days and racing against the best was a feather in Fincham’s cap, Schenk said. “He [Fincham] does the mountain biking as well, and he has — not necessarily the bike-handling skills — but certainly the training and the stamina to be a strong racer,” she said.
Squamish riders Teigen Pascual and Robyn Schenk finished first and second, respectively, both days in the 9-year-old Girls class. Maja Woolley, known more for her skiing than her biking, finished first and third, respectively, in the 12 Girls class. Byron Jackson placed fifth and first, respectively, in the 8 Novice class.
Other Squamish athletes who reached the main-event finals included: Alexandra McLeod (second, Pit Bike); Allison Smart (third and second, Pit Bike); Hanna Beatty (third and third, 4 Strider); Reese Escott (fifth and fourth, 4 Strider); Griffin Tulk (second, 9-10 Mixed Open; sixth and sixth, 7 Intermediate); Bryn Harvey (fourth and seventh, 7 Girls); Spencer Pascual (fifth and sixth, 7 Girls); Nicole McLeod (seventh, 7 girls); Lynnette Conn (sixth, 8 Girls); Bailey “Bandit” Goldstone (second and fifth, 11 Girls); Mark Bunyan (third, 36-40 Cruiser); Peter Poburan (sixth, 46-50 Cruiser); Vicki Schenk (first and first, 41-45 Girls Cruiser); Kaila Murray (fourth and sixth, 5 and Under Novice); Sean MacLeod (fifth, 5 and Under Novice); Braxton Donner (third, 6 Novice); Jacob Donner (fourth, 7 Novice); Tess McNamara (third and third, 8 Novice); Dane Jewett (fourth and second, 7 Intermediate); Sam Beatty (fifth and fifth, 7 Intermediate); Levi Friesen (seventh and eighth, 7 Intermediate); Adrian Conn (fourth, 10 Intermediate); Andrew Fielding (sixth and fifth, 10 Intermediate); MacKenzie “Hurricane” Hanwell, fifth and sixth, 7 Expert); Jakob Jewett (fourth and second, 10 Expert); Jordan Tulk (eighth and fifth, 10 Expert); Izaak Berrisford (eighth, 12 Expert; third, 11-12 Open); Jacob Murray (sixth, 13 Expert); Kasper Woolley (eighth, 14 Expert); Nolan Fielding (second, 7 Novice); Zach Coltman-Jewett (fifth, 7 Novice); Jeremy Pope (eighth, 11 Expert).
For complete results, visit www.usabmx.com and click on “events, then “nationals.”