The lead group of nearly 100 cyclists make their way up the steep grade of Smythe Drive on the first day of competition in the Hayman Classic Friday. The event continues at different venues through Sunday. Mark Brett/Western News

Hayman Classic opens to rave reviews

Nearly 100 cyclists registered for the Hayman Classic taking place in the South Okanagan

Under blue skies and a fresh wind, the 2017 edition of the Hayman Classic opened Friday to rave reviews from cyclists and coaches.

The first event, a mass start hill climb, saw the 96 registered riders work their way through 10

kilometres of relatively easy roadway before turning sharply onto a twisting ascent with grades

of 15 to 20 per cent over 650-metres (younger riders) and 900 metres (older riders).

Giuseppe Carone, of Hamilton, Ont.-based NCCH, finished first in the under-17 category but

conceded that he suffered for his victory.

“That hill was pretty tough,” said the 16-year-old from Ancaster, Ont. “At first I was with a few

other guys and then the pace went up and my heart rate went through the roof. It was steep.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Isabelle Orsler, who described the climb as difficult but noted

that the overall event presented an unusual challenge for her – it was her first road race.

Orsler, 13, from Bragg Creek, Alta, can normally be found on a mountain bike, but on Friday she

was part of race peloton taking turns at the front. She described the experience as a “bit

confusing,” though it ended well and now she’s looking forward to the remainder of the

competition.

“I just need to make sure I keep calm and don’t slow down,” said Orsler, who rides for Synergy

Racing.

Trina Irving, coach of the U-Kon Echelon Team faced an usual challenge too. Irving travelled to

the Okanagan from Whitehorse with a team of four riders, but it wasn’t until 1 a.m. Friday that

they finally got into bed.

Still, she was pleased with her team’s performance on only six hours of sleep and was effusive

in her praise for the Hayman Classic and its contribution to building young minds and bodies.

“I want people to be healthy. I want people to have goals and I want people to have confidence.

So as much as it’s about cycling, it’s about developing the whole person.”

Also on hand for the hill climb was local cycling great Evan Guthrie, a road racer as well as a

mountain bike champion. He is currently the points leader in the Canada Cup Mountain Bike

series.

Growing up in Peachland, he said, there were no events like the Hayman Classic to

promote the development of young talent.

“It’s pretty inspiring to see this,” he said of Friday’s event. “This looks like a pro race here and

this is for kids … and hopefully we see a lot of these kids grow up and become the next

generation of racers for Canada.”

The Hayman Classic continues through Sunday. For details and full results, go to www.haymanclassic.ca.