We have something very special here in Ottawa – it is the Eastern Ontario Cyclo-Cross Series. This cyclo-cross series has been running for over 20 years and is operated on a pure volunteer basis. Thanks to some very dedicated volunteers (Bob, Cheryl, Ian, and Rosemary) this cyclo-cross series has grown to have some of the largest fields in the country.
I remember way back in 1994 there were maybe five women out racing (on a good day) – this year we had 87 women racing. Yes, 87 women – how awesome is that. We had little girls racing in the under 11 category and even had someone racing in the 60 plus category. So very impressive. This year there were 291 people who registered for the 10 race series. The categories range from Under 11 to the 70 plus category.
This season racers traveled to Almonte, Renfrew, North Gower, Perth, Cobden, Kingston, Calabogie Peaks, and Cornwall. The diversity of courses and venues ensures that the series remains interesting and it gives different racers a chance to shine depending on the course and the conditions. This year, the organizers and racers were lucky to avoid racing in the snow – though there was some slippery mud in Almonte.
The Eastern Ontario Cyclo-Cross Series is unique in that it brings together cyclists from a range of backgrounds and abilities. What this does is fosters a tight community of racers and supporters. It was rare to have a race this year that did not have a large group of fans out watching – yes the racers stick around to watch the later races or come early to watch the races beforehand.
This year I was purely a spectator and fan – at first it was hard to stand out there watching my friends race. But I benefited tremendously by seeing the racing from the other side of the tape – this allowed me to meet so many different people and through the few cyclo-cross clinics I held, I was able to meet people I would have otherwise never have met. I’m looking forward to being out there racing next season – there is just something special about the Eastern Ontario Cyclo-Cross Series, that once you try it, you want more of it.
(If you live in or around Ottawa and are curious about cyclo-cross, I highly recommend you come on out and race. New people come out every year and you don’t have to be a serious “racer” to race – this is all about participation and having some fun.)