Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea cyclocross leg gets a new name, refined course to fit

Mary Janell Metzger carries her bike over an obstacle in what is now known as the cyclocross leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race.
Mary Janell Metzger carries her bike over an obstacle in what is now known as the cyclocross leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race. For The Bellingham Herald

THE COURSE

Year leg added to the race: 1991.

Where: From Hovander Homestead Park outside Ferndale to Squalicum Harbor.

Course length: About 13 miles.

Approximate time to complete: About 45 minutes for top competitors, more than an hour for everybody else.

Course description: Riders take the hand off from the canoeists at Hovander Homestead Park, ride through some cyclocross obstacles in Hovander Park and follow the river upstream into Ferndale. Riders will then take to the back roads and trails to cross Smith and Slater roads, cut through some Bellingham International Airport property before taking riders down to Squalicum Harbor. Along the way, there will be multiple off-road features, including barricades to climb over, bridges to cross and other obstacles for riders.

Cyclocross chair: John Burley.

Pre-race meeting: 10:30 a.m. at Hovander Homestead Park at the sandbar on the river.

Recommended departure time from Bellingham: 9:45 a.m.

Timing chip: The cyclocross biker receives the timing chip from the canoeist, swipes the chip to record the finish time for the canoe leg, rides to Squalicum Harbor and passes the chip to the kayaker. The kayaker will swipe the chip to record the finish time for the leg.

0 Major hills on what was previously called the mountain biking leg of Ski to Sea. The leg will be more properly named the cyclocross leg this year.

7Years since Ski to Sea was forced to move the leg off a dike along the Nooksack River in 2009. Part of the course will return to a portion of the dike this year after leaving Hovander Park.

0 Railroad ties riders will now have to bounce across after course modifications in 2016.

What’s new in 2016

A fitting name: Previously known as the mountain biking leg even though it didn’t climb any mountains, the leg was called the cross-country biking leg last year when there was a more legitimate mountain biking leg later in the race. This year the race committee decided to call the leg what it is: cyclocross. “It’s cyclocross, and we’re going to make a cyclocross course,” Ski to Sea Executive Director Mike Trowbridge said.

Course tweaks: While the course will stay predominantly the same to what it’s been the past seven years, Trowbridge said there would be some minor modifications. The first was the addition of some cyclocross features in a field at Hovander Park that Trowbridge said he hoped would make for a “spectator friendly” portion of the race. After the obstacles, the course heads back by the canoe transition area and then up and out on the dike to Main Street in Ferndale, Trowbridge said. The course then follows a similar route to what it has in the past, but Trowbridge said it will be simplified. “We’re making it more point to point — not trying to make it hard for the sake of making it hard,” he said. “No more railroad tracks, like we’ve done in the past. We’re just making it a true cyclocross course.”

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE

With some of the course on roads, there are sure to be some roads that cross the race course. Watch for competitors and follow instructions from police and volunteers to maximize safety for everyone.

Best place to watch the leg: There are plenty of places to watch along the mountain biking course. Perhaps the best place is along the Marine Drive trail system as riders near the end of their leg or take in the spectator-friendly cyclocross obstacle course in Hovander Park.

TIPS FOR THE RACE

▪ Be ready as your teammate approaches. Cyclocross bikers are responsible for swiping the timing chip to record the finish time for the canoeing leg.

▪ Cyclocross bikers should help canoeists carry the canoe from the river to the finish line.

▪ Riders are responsible for knowing the course, which will be marked and well-staffed with volunteers on race day. Much of the course is on private property. Pre-runs will be allowed only from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 28.

▪ Helmets are mandatory.

▪ Ride low on the bike, much like a road biker, to help increase speed.

▪ Bikes should be cleaned, lubed and otherwise readied for the race. Tires should be inflated to the correct pressure. Bike inspections will be available on race day.

2015 Top Finishers

Men: Shawn Mitchell (Aeromech / Sensible.Technology) 39:24

Women: Kristen Kelsey (Jack's Bicycle Center) 46:00

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