Cross on the Rock COTR Topaz

Oak Bay Bike’s Tom Skinner is chased by on of neighbouring VCXC series organizers Matt Hornland (Mighty Riders) Photo: Hung Mai Photography

“As a cyclist you know that if you are dealt the #13 race number you wear that number upside down on your jersey,” says Cross on the Rock series organizer Norm Thibault. “With that in mind, for our 13th race season we have turned a few courses ‘upside down.'”
Cross on the Rock COTR Topaz

Parker Bloom started the season off with a win at Topaz. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

Thibault is one of the lead organizers of  the Vancouver Island’s cyclocross series and, along with the mysterious “Council of Cross,” heads into the 13th year of bringing COTR to cities and towns across the Island.
Cross on the Rock COTR Topaz

Emilly Johnston ascends Topaz Park’s newly added stairs feature. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

To celebrate the ominous anniversary several returning race venues will be run backwards, or upside down, during the season. Starting with the series opener in Victoria’s Topaz park. 421 racers – a record turnout for the Cross on the Rock – showed up to work their way around Topaz Park in reverse. “Topaz worked great backwards,” said Thibault. “It added a stairs feature that we have not been able to use in the past. People loved the course.”
Cross on the Rock COTR Topaz

Natalia Mulekova (Steed Cycles) singlespeed’s her way to seventh in Expert Women. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

A perfect mix of rain in the days leading up to the race and scattered showers throughout the day kept racers on their toes with slick, constantly changing conditions. Two time Canadian cyclocross national champion Mical Dyck led out a Naked Factory Racing sweep of the Expert Women’s field. Reigning U17 national champ Emilly Johnston followed in second and Danielle Hagen in third. Broad Street Cycles Parker Bloom repeated his 2017 Topaz win in the Expert Men’s race, followed by young Canmore transplant Logan Sadesky (RMCC) in second and Nicholas Kupiak (Naked Factory Racing) in third.
Cross on the Rock COTR Topaz

Nicholas Kupiak lands third in Expert Men. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

COTR heads to the village of Cumberland for the series second round. Six venues return from the 2017 calendar, along with the series debut of a new venue at Lakeview Campground in Lake Cowichan. Port Alberni’s McLean Mill, a Canadian National historic site, makes its return to the series as well, for a total of eight race days in as many weekends.
Also new for 2018 is the addition of a masters women’s category. Previous season had seen the masters combined with other categories, with series points added separately. This season, they have their own separate race day category.
Cross on the Rock COTR Topaz

The first race of the year always hurts just a bit more. Trek Red Truck’s Erik Diertens recovers post race. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

As for other changes, Thibault says “We don’t mess with our format too much from year to year. Just small tweaks. Though we’re always looking for a better playlist – most of the crew are sick of our Gen 1 iPod.” Or maybe, sticking to the theme, there’s a way to play it backwards?
Follow the full Cross on the Rock 2018 calendar and race info, head to Crossontherock.com, and you can follow the series on Facebook and Instagram.

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