Bikes and Bullets: The Debut of the Devon Bicycle Biathlon

By Lesley Baldwin

This happened last Saturday as part of the Devon Grand Prix road race, just before the men’s Criterium Provincials.  Emily Lynes proposed riding out on Saturday evening and trying it out and Travis was super keen.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about shooting a gun, but after 5 minutes of reflection I decided I needed some new and mildly crazy adventure to spice up what had been a long string of weekends spent working and studying.  I signed up.

And it was awesome.

Sharp shooter Lesley Baldwin, all smiles after blasting some targets at the bicycle biathlon.

The Race:  ride a lap of the 1km crit course, throw down your bike, get down on your belly, shoot 5 targets; repeat 2 more times and finish with a final 1 k lap.  Every target missed = 1 penalty lap (a super sketchy tour around 10 or so cars parked in the parking lot – a tight cornered circuit of ~ 150m).

We left a little behind schedule so we had a slightly faster-than-planned 40k ride out to Devon and arrived just as they were handing out bibs and giving a little demo with the air rifles.  I tried it out and was really happy with my first round – 4 out of 5 targets!  Buoyed with pride, I flubbed the next round – 1 out of 5!  Hmm….I may be riding a lot of penalty laps after all.

The field was divided into 5 heats – 4 of adults and one of kids.  Most of the ladies (including Emily) were in heat 1 – she put on an impressive show!  Some very serious guys went next and then Pepper, her mom and dad and a few others made up heat 3.  Laughter, heckling, and entertainment all the way!  Both Travis and I were seeded into heat 4 along with a bunch of other Devonites wearing t-shirts and shorts.  Clearly, Travis was going to be my main competition.  We shot side-by-side on the first round, but he was a sharper shooter than I and got a head start on the second lap.  I think I shot 2/5 so I had a few dizzying trips around the cars before heading back out.

Bicycle biathlon

The sharp shooters take aim…

I kept things under better control on the second time through (3/5), but Travis was no where in sight!  He was reportedly tossing around his beautiful Cervelo with wild abandon and maxing out his heart rate somewhere beyond 180 (a.k.a having the time of his life) and was on his way to lapping the rest of the field.  I shot 1/5 on the third round, got myself sketched out on the penalty laps and then rode As Fast As Possible for the last lap.  I nearly died as a frequent race organizer (who will not be named) carelessly rode his bike across the course at the last corner, but slamming on the breaks, skidding out and riding over the boulevard I finished the best race in a long time with a huge smile across my face.

Bicycle Biathlon: is the next big thing.  Everyone is doing it and so should you!


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