Teen titans thrill 24 Hours crowd
The usual rabble of iron-calved monsters on the 24 Hours of Adrenalin podium is a familiar sight. Muddy locals, slick matching-jersey Calgarians and hardcore trail shredders from across the West often accept top prizes with bleary eyes and shaky hands.
However, this year, amongst the grizzled veterans, three shy teenagers meekly stood atop the podium trying to contain bursting smiles.
Led by Liah Harvie, 14, Robin Pollard, 13, and Sara Poidevin, 16, the all-girls team crushed their competition by two full laps, winning the five-person open women’s category with 19 laps finished on Sunday (June 22) at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin race at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
The teens joined up with locals Megan Dalrymple and Marie Grenon to win the event as the Summit Café Ride Like a Girl team. The teenaged girls needed special permission to enter the race, and performed when given the chance.
“The top bit was slow, but I made up time on the bottom,” said Harvie, who finished four laps, including a team-leading time of 1:02 for the 18 km loop.
There is a dearth of strong female mountain bikers and only four teams entered the women’s open team competition – down from previous years. But the young Canmorites are reversing that trend, hoping to attract more of their friends to the sport. Canadian national team coaches have scouted the trio and entering the 24 Hours race was just another way to have fun mountain biking, they said.
“For me, I liked that there were so many people riding together, all through the night. It was really fun,” Pollard said.
Riding at night is new for the girls, and they all took turns braving the twilight single track.
“It’s scary at first, because you’re all alone and there were reports there was a bear and a cougar on the course. But you get used to it through the night,” Pollard said.
Poidevin specializes in long climbs, so she was happy with the course. “I thought it was a really cool experience. It was a really positive atmosphere.”
Poidevin’s father Leighton has won the event twice. She said she got a few tips from him during the race to guide her night riding, as the race was only the second time she’s ridden after dark.
“He gave me lots of advice, especially for night riding and told me to stay relaxed on the downhills,” Poidevin said.
All three teenagers are off to the Alberta Summer Games this weekend to compete in the mountain bike competition and are favoured to return with medals. They also plan to return to the race next year, and didn’t rule out solo turns in the race either.
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