Super Fun, All You Can Eat, Buffet of Bacon, Pain and Suffering

Over a hundred of Alberta’s finest mountain bikers gathered for the tenth year of the showdown at Stony Plain, otherwise known as the Super Fun, All You Can Eat, Buffet of Bacon, Pain and Suffering.

Held on the trails that twist their way around Fern and Harvey’s mountain bike farm, the Bacon Buffet is known for its fast course which challenges riders both physically and mentally. The highlight of the course is an 80 metre climb nick-named Houfalize. Much like its name sake in Belgium, the Houfalize climb in Stony Plain is a straight shot up the side of a steep hill where spectators gather to support their favourite rider as they grit their teeth and put their legs to the test.

Joining in on the festivities this year was avid mountain biker and Rogers Sportsnet Commentator Jamie Thomas, who entertained fans as he interviewed riders struggling up the hill. Joined on the microphone by race organizers Evan Sherman and Mike Sarnecki, there was no shortage of commentary and jeering.

Alberta Mountain Bike Coordinator Roddi Lega was on hand at the top of the climb to ensure that riders received an ample amount of bacon as they passed through the feed zone. Lega commented “In all my years of racing, I’ve found that body performs better when it you replenish it with the nutrients you sweat out during hard riding, my secret was never fancy Power Gels and performance drinks, but a couple of strips of bacon in the jersey pocket; its all the sodium you’ll ever need.” While Lega’s nutritional advice may be suspect, his enthusiasm wasn’t and riders were seen grabbing for their bottles with strips of bacon still hanging from their mouth.

The racing got underway in the morning under the threat of rain as the first two waves of riders, consisting of the Sport, Novice and Youth fields. They battled hard for wins and upgrade points in less then ideal trail conditions. In the first race of the day the real story was 14 year old Felix Wilberg (CMC/Bow Cycle). Wilberg took the lead from the gun and never looked back. He seemed so comfortable out in front, against riders twice his age, that he took time to wheelie for the cameras including an ill-fated attempt at nose wheeling the entire main descent. (yes he crashed at the bottom, but did it ever look cool while it lasted) Felix was the class of the field and will defintely be one to watch in the upcoming years. Ty Williams (CMC/Bow Cycle) another young up and comer finished second and Simon Williams rolled in to claim third place. Jon Benskin (Hardcore Cycles) rode a great race for forth place, on a borrowed bike no less. Benskin was pre-riding the day before the race and cracked his frame and unfortunately his shop didnt have any in his size. Luckily the ABA Road Coordinator Scott Kelly (and author of this rambling and nonsenseical little race report) happened to be at the race helping mark the trails and leant him his bike for the race. Benskin commented that the wheels were a bit big and the frame was a bit small, but otherwise all went well (Jon; twenty niners are where its at so you best get used to them now) Ed Garvin piloted his singlespeed to fifth place.

The second wave of the day is always the youth start and in part because of the muddy conditions and longer then normal lap times, the race was shortened one lap. The standout rider was the Flying Frenchman Sameul Beaudoin (Juventus/RVC/Kona). Young Samuel gunned it from the line instantly established a gap. Beaudoin is also an accomplished road rider and recently podiumed in the Youth category at the Velocity Stage race. Beaudoin took the win in the Novice Youth Men while Kevin Stafford (United Cycle) rolled across the line first in the Sport Youth Men field. Emily De Frietas (bicisport) rode well to take the win in the Sport Women Youth field and Sara Witzke (Juventus/RVC/Kona) claimed first in Novice Youth Women.

Fortunately the rain never materialized and when the elite riders took to the course in the afternoon they did

so under Sunny skies and light winds.

In the men’s race, the riders went hard from the gun, with Jon Nutbrown (Ridley’s Cycle) taking the holeshot and jumping out to the early lead. Right on his tail was the winner of the second stop of the ABA MTB series, Tim Heemskerk (United Cycle) and the series leader Shawn Bunnin (bicisport) By the first lap Heemskerk had caught and passed Nutbrown and established a comfortable lead. Nutbrown and Bunnin rode worked well together less then a minute back. Coming all the way from dead last after the start to sit comfortably in forth was Andre Sutton (Hardcore Bikes). This is the way the race would stay for the better part of the remaining four laps. Heemskerk never relinquished the lead and at one point even managed to give a short on the bike interview while ascending the Houfalize climb.

Entering into the final lap, the early efforts were beginning to take their toll and Nutbrown began to fall off the pace. Heemskerk retained a comfortable lead but Bunnin looked to be pulling closer, as Heemskerk came out of the forest to climb Houfalize for the final time the crowd looked to see how far back Bunnin would be, and to everyone’s surprise it wasn’t Bunnin but Andre Sutton who emerged from the woods in second. Sutton flew up the final climb as if it was the first time he rode it that day and charged hard for the line, finishing only 24 seconds behind Heemskerk. Less than a minute later Bunnin would cross the line. Following the race, Heemskerk commented that his strategy was to work hard enough to keep a comfortable gap over second and to make sure he kept an eye on Bunnin throughout the race. When Heemskerk looked back on the final lap and saw Sutton charging hard, he knew he really had to step on it. Bunnin had to finish second or better to keep the series lead and it was only in the final lap that his efforts began to show and Sutton was able to cap an amazing performance which saw him go from last place to almost taking the win.

In the Women’s race Pepper Harlton (Juventus/RVC/Kona) took the lead from the start and never looked back. Following the race, Harlton commented that she’d been battling food poisoning all week and during the ladder half of the race it was all she could do to finish. Krysten Ong (Juventus/RVC/Kona) benefited from Harlton’s misfortunes and was able to claw back time in the final two laps, but couldn’t bring it back quite quick enough; Ong rolled across the line 31 seconds back.

After two stops in the Greater Edmonton area, the Alberta Mountain Bike series heads south once more with a stop in Canmore for the Iron Lung XC in two weeks time. The Iron Lung will also see two new riders sporting the ABA leader plates as Bunnin’s third place finish saw Heemskerk take the series lead. Harlton’s win was good enough to take over the series lead from Mical Dyck who chose to contest the Mount Tremblant Canada Cup this weekend.

The results are in…and can be found [here]

Some amazing photos were taken on the day:

200+ photos taken by Scott Kelly can be seen [here] and check out even more awesome photos from LungShot [here]

Videos from the day of racing to be posted shortly…

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5 Responses to “Super Fun, All You Can Eat, Buffet of Bacon, Pain and Suffering”

  1. Here is a link to Sizzling Bacon Buffet photos..

    IMG_2282

    Best regards
    PND

  2. Craig Stappler Says:

    Thank’s for the great event guys. Evan, Mike and Roddi’s contibution are the type of thing that make this such a great sport.

  3. Alan Schietzsch Says:

    Here’s more pix, http://ul.photoshelter.com/gallery-show/G0000gwy1K2gE310

    Nice work, Patrick, you got some nice shots, good to see a fellow shooter out there!

    Props to everyone – great tunes, BTW, really added to the atmosphere!

  4. Tim Riess Says:

    Wicked awesome!
    The bacon was a great incentive to get get to the top of the Houfalize climb. Jamie Thomas’ commentary was incisive.

    Honestly, I was a lot of fun and I look forward to the next one.

    Thanks!

  5. Hot Sauce Says:

    Excellent work Evan and Mike. You guys are leading by example for all other organizers out there. Roddi, you are cool, and Scott, you’re not all that bad of a rider and personality. I think you’re polite, not nice though.

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