Partners in life. Partners in bikes. Partners on the podium.
Coldstream mountain bikers Vaea Verbeeck and boyfriend Bas van Steenbergen won the final event of the women’s and men’s CLIF Crankworx Summer Series Sunday, Aug. 16, at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops.
The marathon multi-discipline mountain bike series brought together 25 of B.C.’s top cyclists for a three-week tour that featured 15 competition and practice days; 73 hours on the bikes; 167 kilometres raced; and 4,590 metres descended.
For the fastest woman, Verbeeck’s race run in the Sun Peaks Air Downhill (DH) was the ultimate victory lap. She both clocked the fastest time of the day amongst the women (6 minutes 42.593 seconds), and with it clinched the overall series title.
“It’s really sweet,” said Verbeeck, who earned seven first places finishes over the course of the series. “I love Air Downhill. So as much as I just wanted to enjoy it and not overcook it with the pedaling, because I’m too tired to want to give out so much energy right now, at the same time it’s hard not to. It’s just such a fun event to push on.”
The race saw racers descend 444 meters over 3.5 k.m. on Steam Shovel, the Sun Peaks Bike Park’s advanced jump trail.
“It’s quite long,” said Verbeeck of today’s track. “At the same time thankfully there’s only one or two sections where you’re actually cranking pedals. The rest is just gravity-fighting, berms, and that’s the challenge I really enjoy and I don’t mind if it’s longer. The pedaling is the hard part. So thankfully, there were one or two bits like that, and the rest of it was really fun.”
Sharing the top step of the podium was van Steenbergen.
“It’s so good to finish it off with a win,” he said, finishing his run in 6:05.746. “I figured it’d be a good track for me. It’s pretty technical and scrubby, so, yeah, I was definitely going for it on that one.”
Van Steenbergen also won the first Air DH of the series at SilverStar Mountain Resort in Week 1 of competition.
“It’s more extra motivation than anything, that I know that I can win if I put it together,” he said of the pressure to perform.
Van Steenbergen’s performance Sunday solidifies his second-place finish in the overall behind Whistler’s Finn Iles, whose points total mid-week secured him the title early. With the overall already in the bag, Iles opted to play it safe, focusing on style, ending in last place.
Vernon’s Casey Brown was third in the women’s Air Downhill in 6:53.850.
Verbeecl said her favourite moment of the last three weeks was racing Dual Slalom in Sun Peaks Wednesday, Aug. 12, an event she won over Whistler’s Georgia Astle. Brown was third.
“Seeing people that only focus on a discipline like Enduro or Downhill, and third week in, seeing them crush it in the start gate and just picking up news skills,” said Verbeeck. “Sharing progress with other people is kind of the highlight. It’s fun to better yourself, but to share it with other people is even better.”
Van Steenbergen won the men’s dual slalom, defeating Iles.
The week kicked off with the Enduro race. The men’s event was won by Iles in 26:55.370. Van Steenbergen was 10th in 28:44.520.
Andreane Lanthier Nadeau of Squamish took the women’s race in 31:47.770. Brown was third in 32:24.340 and Verbeeck was right behind in fourth place in 33:17.660.
Verbeeck also captured the Maxxis Sun Peaks Downhill race, covering the course in 5:12.466. Brown was third in 5:21.703.
In the men’s race, van Steenbergen placed ninth in 4:41.075. Iles captured the event in 4:28.355.