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Northern British Columbia Games Cyclo-cross

Fort St. John, British Columbia, February 10, 2007

Silver medalist Gary Hilderman
Photo ©: Pat Ferris
(Click for larger image)

Racing a bicycle mid-winter is unusual in British Columbia, especially with three feet of snow and minus 21 degree temperatures. Cyclists in the city of Fort St. John, British Columbia (BC) on Mile 45 of the Alaska Highway met this challenge during the Northern BC Winter Games.

Organizers in this year's edition of the Games wanted something different and unusual. Preferably something that has never been tried in a 'Games' format in BC or anywhere in Canada. They chose cyclo-cross. Cyclo-cross is where bicycles meet the rigors and extremes of winter with an off-road, steeple chase flavor. Invented in Europe during the 1940's, it has been around as a way to keep in shape during the long winter months. The bikes are similar to their road cousins but with knobby tires and a heavier construction.

The local bicycle club, the 'Blizzards,' are no stranger to cycling in the north. Having been around since 1982, they have seen everything except tornadoes. Snow and cold can be dealt with.

This inaugural event was scheduled for Feb. 10, 2007. Organizers hoped for a break on the snow and cold. They did not get it. The snow fell and the temperatures dropped. The 2 km. local park circuit needed to be plowed by the City of Fort St. John crews, twice, with the largest machine available to clear drifts and deep snow. They were successful by race time.

Riders arrived up at the start, warmly dressed. Organizers shortened the event to four laps or thirty minutes, reducing risk of frostbite and exposure.

Initially, Matt Sparling lead for the first three-quarters of a lap, but Roger St. Jean of the local club came past and pulled away for the gold. Gary Hilderman eventually came second for silver and Matt Sparling nabbed bronze. Colter Young was 4th, Barb Polehoykie 5th, Richard Wood 6th, Floyd Polehoykie 7th and Adam Currie 8th.

Organizers were so impressed with spectator response they have plans for something similar in next years Northern BC Games in Dawson Creek for 2008. Hopefully there will be less snow and cold to deal with but then, that is part of the challenge.

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Pat Ferris


1 Roger St. Jean    27.07
2 Gary Hilderman     0.41
3 Matt Sparling      2.29
4 Colter Young       4.08
5 Barb Polehoykie    5.02
6 Richard Wood       7.48

One lap down

7 Floyd Polehoykie       
8 Adam Currie