CANMORE – Halloween is two months away, but things got a little spooky for Aida Mills at Canmore Nordic Centre during the sophomore Canadian Rockies 24 event.
In the middle of the night, in darkness, the U17 mountain biker found herself riding all alone during the second annual 24-hour endurance race on Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 26-27).
“It was so scary out there. It was so dark,” said Mills of Salmon Arm, B.C.
“I saw about one or two people, but it’s so spaced out that you can’t hear or see anybody and you’re like 'am I even on the right trail right now.' Everyone is either sleeping or just so spaced out that you don’t even know if anyone else is out there.”
However, as stated on Canadian Rockies 24’s social media, these riders aren’t made of marshmallows.
So Mills armed herself with bear spray – a mandatory action – and flicked on the flashlights on her helmet and bike and gave it her all in the looping 15.5-kilometre course with a 420-metre elevation gain through some of the best biking trails in the Rockies.
From noon to noon, solo riders and teams of the Canadian Rockies 24 complete as many laps as they can, which were described as “challenging, flowy, and fun.” There are also four-hour races.
Riding solo, Mills was the only U40 female in the 24-hour and completed 10 laps in that time. Pacing herself and staying fuelled, Mills gave it everything she had in her final lap.
“The last lap was kind of miserable, but it was also my best because it was actually my fastest lap, surprisingly,” said Mills. “I was just kind of pushing myself, like, I knew it was going to end soon.”
Travelling from across the country, Nicholas Emsley was victorious in the men’s solo under 40 category.
After finishing in second one year ago in the inaugural event, the biker from Haliburton, Ont. “came back this year to win.”
“Anything can happen in 24 hours,” said Emsley, who's competed in five 24-hour races. “It’s hard to get a set in stone strategy because everything changes. The only thing you can really do is set up a bit of a nutrition plan so you don’t deplete too badly and have somewhat of a goal for how many laps you want. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t."
Co-founded by Cory Wallace and Bow Valley biking legend Leighton Poidevin, Canadian Rockies 24 aims to make 24-hour racing an annual event in Canmore since 24 Hours of Adrenalin.
Winners of this year’s other 24-hour races include David Percy in the over 60 men (15 laps), Thomas Lane in the over 40 men (16 laps), Edna Gonzalez in the over 40 women (13 laps).
In the four to five rider team 24-hour races, Men of Character won the men’s under 200 years category, Green Machine won the mixed under 200 years, and Kuma Outdoor when the over 200 years.
In the six to 10 rider 24-hour race, Team Progressives was victorious.
Cameron Vos and Chris Warnke won the 24 hour two-man team, and Sydney Sikora and Greg Sikora won the two-person mixed team.
For full results, visit www.zone4.ca.