For the second year in a row, The Forks will host the Shimano Canadian Cyclocross Championships, presented by Volvo this weekend. And it’s the volunteers who can take credit for this.
Local individuals sacrificed untold hours of home life and free time to put this event together. Spectators and participants last year would most likely have thought this event was organized by a group who did this as a full-time career, but in actuality, the people involved are as regular as the people next door.
“First thing to say is that it was a team that actually did the work to bid on/secure the National Championships” says 38-year-old race co-director Ian Hall. “Chris Huebner, Jaron Friesen and myself, with lots of help from Mark Reimer and Andrea Tetrault.”
“Last year’s event probably took most of my evenings and weekends for about four months – and I would only be one of a dozen people who made similar contributions,” adds Hall.
This regular band of brothers and sisters managed to pull off an event with the magnitude that no one in the cycling industry would ever have expected.
Steve Scoles, Twila Cruickshank from the Manitoba Cycling Association, Paul Jordan from the Forks Development, and Rob Kristjansson of the Special Events Office at the City of Winnipeg, are just a few of the names in this bicycle gang.
Hall doesn’t look at his work as a sacrifice, but more as a trade for local sport development. “To see Manitobans on the podium last year made it worthwhile!”
Hall remembers looking at a photo taken of local young racer Katherine Peters and World Champion Catharine Pendrel who was here last year.
“That picture” Hall says “and what it means, made all of the effort, and sacrifice, if you want to call it that, worthwhile. Geez, even just thinking about now makes me emotional.”
Nine-year-old Katherine (Kat) Peters, the daughter of local cyclists John Paul (JP) Peters and Vanessa Peters, wanted to meet Pendrel, so she did what any determined young girl would do: she went right up to her and introduced herself.
Now, young Kat doesn’t know everything about Pendrel, her numerous world titles, but she could understand that this woman is a champion.
Pendrel was so happy to meet Kat that she offered to go for a ride with her after her race. Pendrel raced, unsurprisingly won, and was then surrounded by media and fans alike. Pendrel disappeared into the crowd.
“I explained to her [daughter Kat] that she just finished her race, [she will now] do interviews, change kit [clothes], stand on the podium, so just don’t be disappointed – she probably just won’t want to do it” said JP.
Heeding her father’s advice, Kat went out and found the multi-world champion.
“Pendrel could have just taken her on a two minute ride, but instead she took her on a 25 minute personal bike ride (a cool-down ride), over the Provencher Bridge, down Tache, and they talked and talked,” explains JP.
“It was so beautiful” he adds. “Pendrel cared enough about a young girl of whom she just met. Pendrel signed Kat’s helmet before they parted. I get teary eyed just talking about it.”
Vanessa Peters adds, “I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter. Kat looks to Pendrel as a role model and proved she is worthy that day!”
The combination of Pendrel’s kindness and JP’s daughter’s courage to ask, resulted in a meeting that will last in each of their minds for an eternity. These are the kind of champions young women will meet on the Nationals weekend.
Kim Mitchell from Sanford, MB has been working silently in the background for both of these events. As the volunteer coordinator, her team consists of Moni Robertson and Karin McSherry, and they have a huge task ahead of them: they need to fill 400 volunteer shifts with 200 volunteers who are formally scheduled.
“I created a self-scheduling method, so volunteers who sign up are sent access to a spreadsheet for the various jobs and they pick a shift that suits their life (first come first serve)” Mitchell says.
“The racing is exciting so volunteering is more of a party than a job. You can cheer racers from around the country as you volunteer. You even may get to meet some of the pros. If you have ever dreamed of trying out a bike race this is place to start,” says Mitchell.
“You can’t help but want to be out there and be a part of it,” she adds.
Any volunteers from all walks of life are welcome and can sign up here.
So, if you attend the festivities on Oct. 23 – 25, be sure to thank a volunteer. Maybe shake their hand. They could very well be one of the finest people you have ever met. They could even be your neighbor.
Also, remember to support your local bike shop. Without their continuous support for the regular races throughout the year, cycling in Manitoba would be non-existent. Manitoba would have no world class stars like Clara Hughes, Tanya Dubnicoff, and Leah Kirchmann.