PHOTOS: Victoria’s only off-road cycling event brings on the mud and mess

A biker gets wetter than expected while crossing a water-filled ditch during the Tripleshot Crossfondo race on Oct. 20. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)A biker gets wetter than expected while crossing a water-filled ditch during the Tripleshot Crossfondo race on Oct. 20. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
First place winner Dave Vunic, right, with runner-up Andy Pitre, after completing the Tripleshot Crossfondo 43.5k course. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)First place winner Dave Vunic, right, with runner-up Andy Pitre, after completing the Tripleshot Crossfondo 43.5k course. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Participant Andy Pitre quickly wades through a water-filled ditch while completing the Tripleshot Crossfondo course. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Participant Andy Pitre quickly wades through a water-filled ditch while completing the Tripleshot Crossfondo course. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
First place winner Henry Sherry, right, with friend Jimi Voss, after completing the Doubleshot Crossfondo 25k course. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)First place winner Henry Sherry, right, with friend Jimi Voss, after completing the Doubleshot Crossfondo 25k course. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Participants attempt to keep themselves dry by crossing a water-filled ditch on a small plank. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Participants attempt to keep themselves dry by crossing a water-filled ditch on a small plank. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
A biker races through a greenhouse on the property of a Saanich home along Old West Saanich Rd. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)A biker races through a greenhouse on the property of a Saanich home along Old West Saanich Rd. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Homeowner Ronda Stansfield watches riders breeze through her greenhouse on her property on Old West Saanich Rd. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Homeowner Ronda Stansfield watches riders breeze through her greenhouse on her property on Old West Saanich Rd. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Nearly 300 participants took part in the Tripleshot Crossfondo, a race through the backcountry of Saanich and Highlands. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)Nearly 300 participants took part in the Tripleshot Crossfondo, a race through the backcountry of Saanich and Highlands. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

If you finish this bike ride completely clean, you’re doing it wrong.

Mud, puddles, and rain made for the perfect day for the 4th annual Tripleshot Crossfondo, Victoria’s only off-road cycling event in the Saanich and Highlands backcountry.

“When I hit the farmers fields, I really slowed down,” says Dave Vunic, first-place finisher of the longer 43.5k route.

He has mud speckles on his face, biking shorts and jersey.

“I was seeing colours in my eyes like a rave party! There was almost a foot of mud for a solid kilometre. I definitely killed a couple of minutes there.”

READ MORE: How to bike from Victoria to Vancouver

Vunic, finishing at 2:08:59, had no idea what to expect from the race, as did nearly 300 bikers taking part — that’s because the trail isn’t revealed until you ride it.

Every year, their route changes. Weeks before, organizers go door-to-door, asking homeowners if they can place the route through their private property.

“This is the first time the riders have come this far [in Saanich] and I couldn’t be happier,” says Ronda Stansfield, a homeowner along Old West Saanich Rd.

She offered her greenhouse as a pathway along the route. Riders approach her property with astonishment as they pedal directly through. She cheers loudly, eagerly hands out pieces of a chocolate for an energy boost.

“My husband and girlfriend have both ridden in this race before. I love the way this ties our community together.”

ALSO READ: ‘We need to talk’: Fraser Valley mountain biking group addresses rogue trail builders

But Stansfield property isn’t the only interesting pitstop along the race.

About halfway, riders come face to face with a ditch filled with thigh-high rainwater.

“My bike got really wet, but I didn’t because I jumped on a piece of wood that was stretched across the water,” says Henry Sherry, who took first place in the shorter 25k event. “The Highlands had some great downhills, but the beginning had some slow bottlenecks.”

Sherry, 14, finished at 1:31:09. His best friend, Jimi Voss, came in fourth.

“The route was pretty tough. I got two flat tires,” says Voss. “Luckily, my dad ran over and gave me his bike.”

The Tripleshot Crossfondo is a play on words for Gran Fondo, a type of long-distance road cycling that began in Italy. But this event is a far cry from the original definition.

“This is a crazy and wacky event,” says Joana Fox, Tripleshot Youth Team Manager. “It’s the perfect way to showcase Victoria’s natural beauty that you wouldn’t see if you didn’t take part.”

All funds from the event help the Tripleshot Cycling Club youth racing team, to assist with year-round training for nine to 19-year-olds.

In turn, they donate a portion of their funds to the Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society and South Island Mountain Bike Society, non-profits that advocate for more trails around Greater Victoria.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
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