With WORCA’s all-women race returning this year with a James Bond theme, the rider taking home the title on Saturday (Aug. 24) was Paquette, Fanny Paquette.
The Battle For Bond took on an enduro format with 156 riders turning out for a day of social climbing and downhill racing. The course began in Cheakamus Crossing and had timed sections down Tunnel Vision and Big Timber before crossing the highway to ride Lower Sproatt, 99er and Danimal North.
“I was really a surprised to be honest,” said Paquette, who got word of her victory at the Casino Royale after party.
“There were a lot of good girls riding out there. I knew I was going to do well but didn't know I would take the win. The course suited me really well, having some uphills as well as downhills. Having the guys on course cheering us on was even better. It was really social, I had a lot of fun riding with girls I don't get to ride with usually.”
Paquette finished first on two of the five stages Saturday and finished with an overall time of 27 minutes, 28 seconds. Amy Price (28:01) edged Laura Odgen by just one second for the runner-up spot.
Some riders dressed up for the race itself but many chose to wait until the party to reveal their Bond girl-themed costumes. Brandi Heisterman raced the entire course in a bikini and was lucky to escape a crash with minor scrapes.
“I wanted (the course) to be a happy medium for most girls; not too hard, not too easy, not too short or long,” said Clark Lewis, WORCA's Director of Special Events. “People were challenged but not overly so. A bunch of people commented that it was the most fun race they've over done. It was a pretty good balance.”
A few logistical issues made for some longer waits to ride the timed sections, but the relaxed nature of the race meant there was plenty of fun and socializing being had at the start zones.
“There was big line up at the start of the first stage, some people were waiting for over an hour,” said Lewis. “I think in the future I'd do a bit of a staggered start to prevent that and have a bit more entertainment at the first stage as well.”
Sylvie Allen ran a set of skills camps leading up to the event to get girls comfortable with the technical trails of the course and managed fifth place on race day.
“I had to ride kind of conservatively because I've been dealing with some knee issues,” said Allen.
“I was just happy to ride really smooth and have a great time. Sometimes you forget that you're racing because you do these trails so often, I had to tell myself to hurry up a few times.”
Allen said she is keen to see the annual all-girl race event return next year as it helps the female ridership raise the bar.
“I'm not sure you could get (this size of turnout) in any other town on with such technical trails,” she said. “I think it's amazing the pool of riders we have that are signing up to do these races. It's definitely an asset to keep the motivation and drive to tackle harder trails and increase the level for the women.”
The annual women-only race is now attracting riders from as far as Oregon, but plans to bring back a similar enduro event for next year are still up in the air.
“I'm kind of toying with the idea of doing a couples race next year, we've never done that before and I know Tony (Horn) has had that in the back of his brain for a while,” said Clark.
“But anything could happen. Some women would be disappointed not to have a specific women's race so maybe we'll do both.”