“It’s an incredible thing to see,” said the race director. “When else can you see a sport of this level in your backyard?”
Hardwood Ski & Bike will host the Canadian Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships later this month.
Race director Glenn Meeuwisse said the event will host more than 500 of the best cyclists from across the country.
“Part of our goal is to host these international and national level races to increase exposure to the sport in our region,” he said.
Hardwood celebrates 25 years of hosting international races this year. In 2015, the facility hosted the mountain bike championship component of the Pan American Games and created its legacy course, which is up to world-class standards.
“If people can race here successfully and be challenged by the course, then when they go to Europe they will be ready for these kinds of professional journeys,” Meeuwisse said.
A number of local cyclists will be competing over the championship weekend, Meeuwisse said.
“We have a number of amazing local riders who are very competitive on the World Cup circuit,” he said. “We have former Olympians and former world champions here.”
Local competitors will have an edge over the competition, says Meeuwisse.
“The home course advantage is a huge advantage,” he said. “They’ve been riding this (legacy) course anytime since 2015 and they’ve been training there for two weeks.”
Meeuwisse says the event has a huge touristic impact on the whole region.
“There are people who stay in hotels for up to a week,” he said. “They eat out and pump gas into their cars.”
The short track races will start on Thursday, July 21. The championship races will take place on Saturday July 23. The event is free to spectators other than the local Hardwood cross-country team who will ask for a parking donation.
“It’s an amazing thing to see,” Meeuwisse said. “When else can you see a sport of this level in your backyard?”
The legacy course is shaped in a cloverleaf pattern that allows spectators to see the runners five times per lap in the stadium area.
“You don’t have to go back to the bush,” he said. “All the teams are set up like a Formula 1 team with their pitches, their bikes and their mechanics. It’s quite a spectacle.
Meeuwisse says the event has a carnival-like atmosphere with cyclists and food vendors. For more information, click here.