Sweeping out the cobwebs – NFR’s speedy September

Patrick Burnham
NFR women celebrate a second straight Cross on the Rock podium sweep.  Image: Patrick Burnham

Cross arrived suddenly this year, it seemed. When the start gun fired at Topaz GP, some of us were more ready than others. Here at Naked Factory Racing, we existed in various states from fit and focused (most of us) to disorganized-verging-on-chaos (Terry).

Leif Kiethley
Halldor up the stairs in Topaz Park. Image: Leif Keithley

The women of Naked Factory Racing were looking sharp and on top of their game, sweeping the podium in the first two round of Cross on the Rocks racing. New team addition Nicholas Kupiak added podiums on the men’s side before Carter Woods returned (from mountain bike world championships in Switzerland!) to start his own winning streak. Here’s a look back at how September unfolded at camp NFR.

Leif Kiethley
The dry before the storm. Sam and Mical warm up at Topaz Park. Image: Leif Keithley

As always, Cross on the Rocks director Norm Thibault has a special surprise planned for the Victoria season opener. Last year’s Hamstring searing Le Mans out-and-back was replaced with a new running start. 10 wide, we lined up … beside our bikes. Vague rules were established, the siren sounded and we were off. If you thought Le Mans was chaotic, this was a whole new level of excitement. A full field of 50-ish racers all keyed up for the first race of the year trying to remount simultaneously and within feet of each other! Feet flew in every direction, but somehow everyone made it on to their bikes and to – but not through – the first corner. NFR amigo Matt Hornland has the distinct honour of taking the year’s first fall in the first corner, opening up a gap for Terry and Sam to sqeeze through. Everyone made it through unscathed, and racing continued.

Leif Kiethley
Master Mechanic and general herder of riders, Regan Pringle putting final touches on pit bikes. Image: Leif Keithley

Things get foggy after that, but Mical and Emilly had the first round in their season long slug-fest. Mical came out on top, with Killer close behind in second. Danielle Hagen singlespeeded her way to the third step of the podium (and top singlespeeder), making for a NFR sweep at Topaz. Kupiak traded off with Terry and Sam at the front, taking his first podium of the year in 3rd place. Terry singlesped his way to fifth, and 6 beers from series sponsor Phillips.

Leif Kiethley
Carter was too fast for cameras in Coal Town, but Leif Kiethley caught him at Qualicum Beach.

Next up was Coal Cross in Cumberland, and Dodge City delivered the dirt! Mostly in liquid form, as those cold September rains made for the first proper mudder of 2018. Carter had returned from his international racing just for his hometown event (and because after crushing world championships, the mountain bike season was over) and promptly set to work crushing the field.

With both Emilly and Mical calling the Comox Valley home, Coal Cross was a hometown shakedown battle. Mical lives closer to the Cumberland course, and used that detailed knowledge of the local dirt to take the win. Emilly secured second and Danielle third (1st singlespeed!) for a second straight podium sweep. Nick Kupiak, Sam and Hallllllldoooooor Gunnarson all joined Carter in the top 10, while Brit Shalagan returned from the big apple to make four NFR ladies in the top 10 women.

Patrick Burnham
Kupiak crushing sand on the commons in Qualicum. Image: Patrick Burnham

The final September race in Cross on the Rock’s 13th season returned to the instantly-infamous Cross on the Commons course in Qualicum Beach. This year was significantly drier than last years epic mud fest, but there was enough precipitation to keep the sand sloggy and the corners slick. The bell sounded for Round 3 of the Expert Women’s battle between Mical and Emilly, with Killer closing to within 25 seconds.

Leif Kiethley
Mical keeping a close eye on Killer. Image: Leif Keithley

Danielle battled through the last lap to finish fourth, just 3 seconds off the podium on a very single-speed-unfriendly course (and, of course, top SS’er!). Terry, Kupiak, Halldor, and Sam arranged themselves quite nicely, finishing in that order from 10th-13th.

Leif Kiethley
Hup Hup Halldor. Image: Leif Kiethley

Along with Naked Factory Racing’s expanding team of Intermediate and Masters racers, the team sat at the top of Cross on The Rock’s rankings at the end of September. Tune in soon for Episode 2: Summer in October, which will hopefully arrive sometime before the squad heads east for Pan American Championships, which lands in Canada for the first time ever, then Canadian National Cyclocross Championships in Peterborough.

Patrick Burnham
Hup Hup – Carter leaping away from the field at Qualicum Commons. Image: Patrick Burnham

As always, we really appreciate our sponsors, Naked Bicycles, Industry Nine, Smith Optics, Wolf Tooth Components, Shimano, Horst Engineering, Study Build and Jakroo, as well as the fine photographers who take the time to point their cameras in our direction. Check out more from Patrick Leif online.

Leif Kiethley
Nicholas Kupiak dropping in on the Commons. Image: Leif Kiethley