Around 150 mountain bike enthusiasts across Canada and the U.S. crossed the finish line at Kinsmen Park in Hiawatha this afternoon, marking a successful finish of this year’s edition of Crank the Shield.
The three-day course was a true test of endurance, agility, and technique as bikers rode close to 200 km through everchanging trails and unique conditions.
The first day alone was a 75 km spectacular ride from Batchawana Station to Stokely Creek Lodge, followed by muddier conditions on a more technically skilled second day, finished off with additional climbing and a newly renovated single-track on the final day.
Leslie Greene, a former professional racer who travelled for the event from Toronto, says Crank the Shield was a healthy mix of difficulty and enjoyment.
“While racing world cups is a totally different animal, managing for a three-day stage race was definitely a challenge,” she says. “The second day was super muddy; I think it was one of the craziest days I’ve ever biked, but a super fun event all around.”
While Karen Duff from Burlington agrees that day two was the toughest, she was beyond impressed with the single-track conditions on today’s final leg of the race that the city had recently invested in.
“Out of the three days, this was the best single-track ever,” she says. “They’ve done a lot of improvements here since 2019. The trails were awesome. It was so much fun, just a great experience.”
Guelph resident Tim Morrison, who has participated in every Crank the Shield since its inception in 2008, says the natural scenery throughout the race was stunning.
“The views were absolutely beautiful,” he says. “You could see for miles and miles in some parts. Clear skies and sunny. But you couldn’t admire it for too long – you had to stay focused.”
Some participants were recognized with awards for their finishing times in their age, gender, speed, and pairs categories. A full list of winners will be posted soon.
To cap off an eventful three days, bikers are gathering at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre tonight for an afterparty which includes free food, Outspoken beer, and live entertainment.