Aylmer youth riders do well in Ontario Cup races at Camp Fortune
Mo Laidlaw

Downhill mountain bikers at Camp Fortune take their bikes on the chair lift at Skyline to reach the top of the hill. Then they ride downhill on twisting trails through the woods, jumping their bikes down cliffs and over rocks, to reach the bottom in three minutes or less.

Last weekend the second of six parts of the Ontario Cup Provincial Downhill series was held at Camp Fortune, with practice runs on Friday and Saturday. The weekend was hot with the humidex reaching the low 40s. Many spectators climbed the hill to various vantage points to watch and cheer on the racers. Some riders and spectators made use of the beach at Meech Lake for a quick cool down.

MC Kris “Brown” Somers reminded everyone to drink lots of liquids and provided atmosphere with background music, as well as giving out the times as racers arrived at the finish line. The Camp Fortune staff were busy and the Ski Patrol were on hand to deal with injuries.

Racing started soon after 1 pm on Sunday (12 June 2005) with riders leaving the start at the top of the hill at 30 second intervals, on a “super-buffed” (upgraded) trail. Most racers were from Ontario. The first three classes were for beginners over 18 and “hardtail” (only front suspension): up to 18, and over 18. Next came the Cadet class (birth dates 1989 - 1990) and the Junior Sport (1987 - 1988).

Alex Conlon, age 16, of Aylmer won the Junior Sport category with a time of 2:56, also the fastest time of the day so far. “I didn’t pedal much near the end, because my derailleur disintegrated,” he said.

In the Junior Expert class (1987 - 1988), Derek Cowell of Brampton, Ontario won with a time of 2:42, three seconds faster than Lee Boeyen of Aylmer in 2nd place.

In the women’s race, Sheila Morris, a former national team member, won with a time of 3:09, a lead of 16 seconds over 2nd place finisher Geneviève Gagnon.

In the men’s Pro Elite class, Peter McLean, a member of Sweet Pete’s from Weston, Ontario, lost his chain near the end of the course but still managed to win with a time of 2:35, a 1.3 second lead over 2nd place finisher Charles Alexandre Dubé (Québec). Third place went to Justin Brown of Brampton, Ontario, one of the Norco factory team.

As a first-time spectator, this reporter was impressed by the friendly camaraderie between riders, encouragement to get back on and keep going after spills, and sympathy for a few who had to give up because of punctures or other problems. Despite the cost of these heavy-duty bikes, mechanical repairs are frequently needed because of the abuse the bikes receive.


Photo by Mo Laidlaw:

Alex Conlon of Aylmer relaxing before the race.