Broncos and bulls aren’t the only things ridden in Calgary. There’s also BMX, and Cumberland’s Aleasha Wiebe was in Cowtown for the 2016 Canadian BMX Championships.
Battling a knee injury, shifting weather conditions and an unfamiliar track, Wiebe proved why she is the top rider in her class in Canada by winning National #1 plates on both her her 20-inch bike and Cruiser.
“It was a good weekend,” she understated. “I didn’t know what to expect going in,” she said, adding, “It was fun. I did better than I expected.”
The Canadian Championships and Canada Cup #7 were held Aug. 26-28. Wiebe made the trip east with another Comox Valley rider, Adicus Bird (who finished first in the 14 Female age division in a field of 13 riders), and Bird’s mom.
After a day of practice on Aug. 26, Wiebe ran both her races on Aug. 27. “It was a long day,” she acknowledged.
First up was the Cruiser 30+ Female age class race. There were 21 riders, and Wiebe won the three preliminary races then finished third in the final. “I was racing up an age group, and since I was the first one from my age category to cross I still technically won it,” she explained.
Next was the 17+ Female 20-inch class race, where the only thing the other eight riders saw was Wiebe’s rear wheel. “I never lost a lap,” she said. “I won all three qualifiers and the final.” That gave Wiebe her second gold medal and National #1 plate of the day.
Wiebe said the Calgary track was long and technical with difficult obstacles. Both final races consisted of four laps (which took just under 40 seconds each to complete), and Wiebe said the weather was weird. “It was hot, then windy, then raining. It was all over the place.”
Wiebe remained focused through it all, even with her injured knee which she was having scoped the week after the nationals. “There’s some possible ACL damage. I had a bad crash over a year ago. I’ve learned to deal with it.
“When I’m riding I don’t really feel it. I’m in the zone. It’s usually after the fact that I notice it. It was definitely difficult racing two events in one day,” she said of Calgary.
The knee has not prevented her from having a great season. “I’ve won more races than I’ve lost,” she notes.
Due to lack of competition in her age group, Wiebe has skipped the Provincial series this year. She has raced eight or nine nationals all over North America, the farthest stop being Salt Lake City, Utah. She has done well at three Canadian national events, most recently winning five of six races at the Vancouver Island Nationals in Victoria.
With the race season winding down, Wiebe is at or near the top in National Age Group rankings on both sides of the 49th parallel. “I’m #1 in Canada in Cruiser and 20-inch, and in the U.S. I’m #6 in Cruiser and #11 on 20-inch.” The U.S. finals are at the end of November in Tulsa, Okla. and Wiebe says she will go if finances permit.
The Canadian Grands go Oct. 7-9 in Chilliwack, and while she will attend, her knee surgery will prevent her from racing. “I’m not expecting to be out too long. I’ll be at the Chilliwack race. I have to at least show up to qualify for finals and get my NAG plate again. I’ve just got to sign up.”
The Calgary races were qualifiers for the World championships next July in Rock Hill, South Carolina. “I’m expecting to do better at these Worlds than the last time I went in 2014,” said Wiebe.
In Rotterdam that year, Wiebe made quarter-finals on her 20-inch bike and finished top 20 in a field of 70 in the Challenge class, and in Cruiser made semifinal mains, finishing top 12 in a field of 40 riders.
After the 2017 Worlds, Wiebe plans to shift gears and turn Elite Pro. The 19-year-old G.P. Vanier grad, who began BMX racing at the age of three at the Coal Hills track across the street from her family home in Cumberland, is hoping to catch on with a big team when she goes pro and takes her talents to the world stage.
She is also working on getting sponsorships. “The Worlds isn’t going to be cheap,” she notes, adding she is grateful for the help she has received this year from Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick GMC and the Cumberland Hospital and Laundry Association.