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Race Recall: Coaster 50

By Cory Ostertag, Member and Event Services Manager for Cycling BC

It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago I was booking hotels and mapping out a summer of crisscrossing the province to attend races. As Cycling BC’s events guy, I was looking forward to another season of servicing our amazing event organizers, meeting members and even jumping into a few races myself. Of course these plans have been put on hold for the time being. Our “return to play” timeline remains foggy as health authorities carefully plot a strategy for reopening the province’s more critical sectors. As of today, Cycling BC has recommended that all events scheduled until July 6th be either cancelled or postponed. While I am looking forward to seeing racers rolling up to the start line and hanging medals on the necks of smiling champions, I know that there are more important things to be focussing on right now including the health of my family and neighbours. After all, competing in cycling has taught me that racers should always look beyond the uncontrollable and do their best at managing those things which they can control. The lessons learned in training, and the hurdles we endure during a race all go into making us better athletes. But our ability to overcome struggles in competition also help us to endure significant challenges in life that extend beyond sport.

Bike races provide more than just a few hours of type-2 fun followed by a beer and a burger. They are testing grounds to see what type of mental and physical effort we have grown to endure. They serve as community hubs, where like-minded friends and acquaintances meet to connect and catch up.  They also function as important mechanisms for place marketing by attracting folks to far-flung locations where they otherwise wouldn’t have ventured to ride their bike. The seeds of place attachment are sewn as we experience the pristine roads or local trails of our neighbouring communities. 

For select racers, missing out on race results and critical development milestones will be the biggest impact of losing part of the 2020 season. However, for the vast majority of us, it will be the ritual of travel, the experience of learning a new race course and the social connection that will be missed most. 

This weekend would have marked the 21st edition of the Coaster 50, the oldest continuous cross-country race in BC. The event has adapted throughout its history; the principal organizer, race name (it was originally known as the Rat Race) and location have all changed but the Coaster’s central tenet has remained consistent; showcase the amazing trail system of the Sunshine Coast and honour the builders and community that support it. The race continues to be a major catalyst for building new trails in the area, therefore the locals ultimately reap the rewards. 

Sue Duxbury took over from the original organizers in 2009 and somewhere along the way Warren Hansen was brought in as co-director. When asked why she got involved, Sue jokes that it was for totally selfish reasons. Her three sons all rode mountain bikes and she wanted to carry on the legacy of the race so that they had a local event to look forward to. “It’s not just the physical fitness but planning, organizing, travel, wrenching, and camaraderie,” said Sue. Some of Western Canada’s top Pros like Catharine Pendrel,  Andreas Hestler, and Cory Wallace have raced the Coaster. The event has also been a stepping stone for BC’s younger cohort of up and coming XC racers like Emilly Johnstone, Carter Woods and Quinn Moberg. 

Given the circumstances we face in 2020, nobody would fault the folks behind the Coaster for simply deciding to cancel and waiting for 2021, but Sue Duxbury and Warren Hansen aren’t the type to kick back and reflect on their accomplishments. They are committed to hosting the race later in 2020 and will be announcing a rescheduled date soon. 

While you ride your home trainer or head out for your solo ride, take a moment to reflect on your favourite events and recall that feeling of crossing the finish line. Don’t forget about the many volunteers and countless hours that go into hosting events. Look out for more Race Recalls in the weeks and months to come as the staff at Cycling BC look back at our favourite events from years past.