Local Roubaix becoming a classic

Ryan Newsome (centre) competes in Category Men’s 3 for Local Ride Racing during the annual Barry’s Roubaix cycling rac. - Colleen Flanagan
Ryan Newsome (centre) competes in Category Men’s 3 for Local Ride Racing during the annual Barry’s Roubaix cycling rac.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan

On Sunday in France, the 112-year-old Paris-Roubaix saw 199 riders bike 257 km in an event billed as the most brutal one-day race in the world.

In Pitt Meadows, cyclists celebrated a growing B.C. race, with the 13th running of Barry’s Roubaix.

Local cycling event promoter Barry Lyster loaned the local Roubaix his given name for purposes of a tongue-in-cheek rhyme, and has given the event his considerable expertise in hosting a bike race. The result is that competitive cyclists in the area have had April 13 circled on their calendars all year.

The Paris-Roubaix features cobblestone streets that are notoriously unforgiving to technical mistakes. The same can be said for the challenging surface on the dikes of Pitt Meadows, which Lyster says “add a whole different element” to a road race.

The local course is not as long as Paris’ famous L’enfer du nord (the hell of the north) race, but the pro men faced a robust challenge in the 120 km event.

“There’s a reason we call it a Roubaix,” said Lyster.

The last variable is the weather. In 2013, Barry’s Roubaix competitors cycled through rain and mud, and each emerged looking like they had been dipped in paint.

“It was epic. We couldn’t even see their numbers,” recalled Lyster.

But on Sunday, people in Pitt were more worried about sunburn.

“It made for a really fast road race,” said Lyster.

With shorts and short sleeves, and lots of race fans watching, the sunshine “made for a very special day.”

Local racers posted some good results.

Sandra Walter, a Port Coquitlam resident who competes internationally in mountain bike events, won the pro class.

“She was ecstatic, because she beat some good road racers,” noted Lyster.

Kelsey MacDonald, a 17-year-old Local Ride competitor, won the 3/4 category.

His daughter Maggie, who just turned 15, crashed in a corner, but still took third in her class.

And another team member, Brett Wakefield, took third in the heavily contested category 3 men’s class. Wakefield is a former SFU track star with the athleticism and training habits that will bring him success in cycling.

“He’s on his way up,” Lyster predicts. “He’s a natural athlete, and one of the best up-and-comers in B.C.”

Lyster opened the weekend with a time trial on Saturday, and his daughter Maggie, won the open women’s event, as she averaged 38 km/h over 12 km. The riders started at the BMX track, and raced six kilometers along Woolridge and Ford Roads, to the airport and back.

The top male, Curtis Dearden, set the pace at 47 km/h.

“He’s the fastest time trial rider in Canada,” noted Lyster.

Olympic bronze medalist Jasmine Glasser, a national team cyclist won the women’s pro class, with an average speed of 43 km/h.

Lyster tipped his cap to city staff.

“It’s getting hard and harder for us to put on races, with population growth and more traffic. But the city of Pitt Meadows goes above and beyond.”

Next up for the Local Ride team is hosting Race the Ridge on the April 26-27 weekend. Pedal Magazine voted it the best race event of 2013, and it features a criterium course through downtown Maple Ridge.

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