2017 Cow Trail Classic a thing of beauty

By on June 15, 2017
Sev Nowak from Kelowna leads the group of 120-plus riders across the start line at the beginning of the 2017 Cow Trail Classic mountain bike race on Saturday. (Ian Webster/Herald).

Over 120 riders of all ages and from all across the province took to the line for the running of the 2017 Cow Trail Classic on June 10. The annual event, organized by the Merritt Mountain Bike Association, was held on the Coutlee Plateau, five kilometres south of Merritt on Midday Valley Road.

This year’s Cow Trail was actually comprised of three separate races, covering 39, 16 and 10.5 kilometre distances. While the latter two races were both single-lap affairs, the long course involved three different routes.

Eventual winner of the elite 39-kilometre race was Whistler’s Michael Robinson (right) in a time of 2:11.43. (Ian Webster/Herald).

The added challenge proved to be a blessing for race winner Michael Robinson from Whistler.

Results from the 2017 Cow Trail Classic. Click to enlarge.

“At the beginning, Rickie Federau (from Chilliwack) and Sev Nowak (Kelowna) both took off. They were really fast. I was part of the next group some ways behind,” said Robinson. “I didn’t learn until much later that Rickie and Sev both went off course and did the wrong first lap. It was kind of a double whammy for them. Rickie ended up blowing a shock and Sev flatted.”

The 40-year-old Robinson took full advantage of the situation and surged to the front on the second lap, ahead of Kelowna’s Peter Watson and Alex Schmidt from Vancouver. It was a lead he would never relinquish.

“My second lap was really good. I felt super strong,” said Robinson. “I used it to try and create as big a gap as I could.”

The transplanted Englishman, who has returned to competition after breaking his pelvis in 2008, finished the race in two hours, 11 minutes and 43 seconds, 50 seconds ahead of Watson and almost five minutes up on Schmidt.

As for Federau, a broken shock meant his day was over, while Nowak managed to find a tube, make the necessary repairs and complete the race, albeit in the wrong order. He was later disqualified.

The podium finishers in the 39-kilometre women’s race were (left to right) Emanuela Bandol from Kelowna (second), Annie Bergen from Kelowna (first) and Miranda Smith from Nanaimo (third). (Ian Webster/Herald).

The top female finisher in the 39-kilometre event was Kelowna’s Annie Bergen, who, like Robinson, was riding the Cow Trail for the first time. She finished in two hours, 39 minutes and 11 seconds.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I liked the fact that there were three laps and each one was a bit different.”

Bergen conceded that she was a bit lucky to have won.

“My teammate, Sandra Walter (from Coquitlam), was in the race, and she is an amazing athlete. Unfortunately, she crashed on the first lap and was unable to continue. I’m happy to have won, but would’ve been happier in second, and Sandra not to have crashed.”

Bergen, who competes in triathlons when she’s not mountain biking, said she’ll be back next year for sure, as will her son, Simon, who finished second overall in the 10.5-kilometre race.

Fifteen-year-old Hamish Graham from Kelowna, repeat overall winner of the 16-kilometre event. (Ian Webster/Herald).

The only repeat winner this year was 15-year-old Hamish Graham from Kelowna. The über-talented junior took top honours in the 16-kilometre race in a time of 59 minutes and 15 seconds, almost eight minutes faster than the next nearest competitor, and just 19 seconds off his time from last year.

Next up for the young Okanagan racing prodigy is the Canadian championships in Canmore, Alta. in July.

Cow Trail race director, Erika Doyon, said the feedback after this year’s races was all positive.

“The racers said the trails were in great shape, and the flagging and course marking were clear. People felt it was well-organized, with great prizes and food.

Race day included a kids’ camp, run by Ozmosis Training out of Vancouver/Penticton. A ladies’ skills camp was held on the Sunday. (Ian Webster/Herald).

“We had fantastic volunteers,” added Doyon. “Everyone worked well together to make this event happen.” 

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