My “first” gravel ride

Ok, let’s be honest here, this was not my first ride on gravel but it was my first on a newly set up “gravel bike”, which is just my ‘cross bike with some 38c Schwalbe G-One All-Around tires set up tubeless. 

I must say that these bikes are a lot more capable than one would think. Basically I ride my mountain bike when I want to be on dirt, and never even think of exploring the thousands of kilometres of forest service roads (FSR) that start behind my place. For some reason I always felt that why ride gravel when there is sweet single track to be shredded? Well, there is and it adds another element to the already diverse nature of cycling. 

Moo’ving along

Today I had a new excitement rise over me as I rode this rigid bike, over questionable terrain, in the mountains, having only just quickly looked at google maps the day before. A sense of exploration and freedom came over me as I pedalled into the mountaisn and around lakes that I fished at over 20 years ago. 

The route went up Princeton Avenue in Peachland and toward Headwaters Lake. Once reaching the lake the trick was going to be finding the correct and small FSR that led over to Peachland Lake before continuing on to Brenda Mine Rd. After getting onto a questionable “road” that slowly became washed out and turned into a nothing more than a quad trail, I kept exploring on and eventually rounded a corner and was overlooking Peachland lake. 

Mission accomplished. Sometimes I don’t realize  the routine of rides I’ve built until planning a totally different one like this. Within 20 minutes of setting off I almost talked myself out of doing it, but once making that turn and starting this ride, there was no turning back. I foresee more of these happening in the near future to explore the backyard more and keep that sense of freedom alive. This whole ‘gravel bike’ bug might just be worth catching for a while. 

It doesn’t look steep, but was it ever! Need smaller gears.

Brenda Mine Rd

Canada Cup Series overall win in Whistler

Well, it was another weekend of bike racing but on the west coast this weekend. For the second time in my career I was able to clinch the Canada Cup series overall title for Elite men. Over the 6 race series, that covered provinces on either side of the country, it was nice to have consistency and win the series again after first taking it in 2014. 

Seaton Lake, Lillooet BC. 

Picnic with mom and gramma.

This marked the seventh time I’ve finished top-3 overall in the last eight years for the Canada Cup Series and I’m happy to continue the consistency even though I’ve only once completed every race of the series in a year and that was in 2014. 

Evening spin around Lost Lake upon arrival.

This past weekend has always been a special race for me because I get to drive to it, my parents and gramma usually make it out to watch, and , well, Whistler is an incredible place. This year was no different, as I road tripped out with mom and gramma on the Thursday – unfortunately my dad was unable to get the time off work. It’s always a fun event when you get to socialize and spend some quality time with racer friends and their families/supporters after the race. Sitting around and telling tales of the day over snacks is a great way to end a bike race. It’s how I remember the beginning of it all when I was 13 years old and travelling the BC Cup Series. 

Photo: Scott Roberts

It was a more low-key event than most with attendance being lower than a usual Canada Cup because most racers don’t make the travel over.. I understand the poor timing of the race date this year and it’s “only one race” as most say. I don’t count the 2, 3, sometimes 4 trips made out east each season.. Having a national series does mean races will be spread across the country, and I know Canada is quite large. It’s tough for high school kids and I fully disagree with the whole series being held before the summer this year when juniors are still in high school or graduating, and the overlap with World Cup races. I just wish there was more planning and a series that everyone was able to attend. We just need better support and communication between racers, venues, and our governing body so we can continue to grow the sport and give the opportunities to our youth. The younger racers need a platform to build from and I believe these Canada Cups are incredibly important in that development (even though we have some people saying they don’t matter). I hope to see this series live long and prosper for our developing riders. 

My cheering squad Photo: Scott Roberts

We did have some world-class racers with multi-time Olympians Geoff Kabush and Catharine Pendrel leading the way and previous American National Champ Stephen Ettinger.  

BC Provincial XC podium. Photo: Scott Roberts

It was smokin’ warm in the valley of Whistler this year and we raced in 30+ degrees while the sun baked us alive. I don’t think anyone started too hard in efforts to not sizzle ourselves right away. Even though I will say I rode “within myself” those first few laps, it was still damn hard and the heat really played games because it was beyond uncomfortable and sick feeling almost. By the time Geoff made his move with 1.5 laps to go it was too much for my diesel pace on the day. Ettinger tried as well and stayed closer to him than I did , but in the end it was Geoff 1st, Ettinger 2nd, myself 3rd. I was eyeing the overall today, of course, but when I come to these races now I want to win. 

Canada Cup Overall win for me, 2nd overall Elite women was Jayne Rossworn, and 2nd overall in junior men was Holden Jones. Photo: Scott Roberts

Sunday I was able to get out for a couple quick laps on Backcomb with my new Pivot Firebird trail bike. Wow, that thing is fun!

My report written for Canadian Cyclist: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32675&title=meeuwisse-guthrie-win-canada-cup-xco-titles

XC Results: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32671&title=canada-cup-6-whistler-results

Canada Cup overall ranking: http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Elite-Men-2017-MTB-XCO-RANKINGS-FINAL.pdf

 

 

These two are pretty great.

Nothing like ending the day for a lake swim.

Blackomb laps on Sunday with this new Pivot Firebird

Hardwood Hills Canada Cup

After initially deciding to skip both the Ontario Canada Cup rounds I started to get withdrawals as they approached. I love the venues, the events themselves, and the thought of just giving away the Canada Cup overall title, after leading at the halfway mark of the series, was not what I wanted. A quick trip and last minute trip was booked for the Hardwood Hills race. Unfortunately it meant missing the Horseshoe Valley round last the prior weekend.

Photo: Adam Morka

I came into the race with a bit of unknown form, though I know the fitness is there, just unknown because these races aren’t “A” races. As the defending winner of Hardwood I was motivated to keep that streak alive. I did the classic Evan-misses-his-pedal in the start and had some ground to make up. It meant quite the effort in the first 3 minutes to get into the lead on that first lap. Luckily I’ve been working my a$$ off and was able to do that. Initially a small group of us got off the front on the first lap that consisted of Andrew L’esperance (Lespy), Derek Zandstra, Evan Mcneely and myself. By lap 2/5 Lespy and I got away and spent the next 2.5 laps together.

We grew our gap on the rest of the field to a sizeable one while Derek was hunting ~15-20 seconds behind us. Lespy was strong and eventually  attacked a short and steep climb with 1.5 laps to go and distanced me. Hats off, as he was strong. I did my best to limit the damages and keep on it but in that hot and humid weather that I haven’t spent much time in, it hit me. I tried to fake it but the fading was happening and Derek caught me with half a lap to go and it just wasn’t in the cards to stick with him. 

I rolled in 3rd on the day. Happy with how I was able to fight out there but, as always, I wanted to win and not be second or third. It’s a more satisfying to be out front at the pointy end of the race going for it, rather than playing it safer and riding in third all day. I would much rather have tried and fell back than played”safe”. I picked up many valuable points for the overall series as I lay in 2nd to Quinton Disera. still After missing one round that is a nice place to be going into the finals this weekend in Whistler. 

Rolling in solo on the last climb of the day.

I was fortunate to have the Disera family take me in for the weekend and they kept me fed before the race! Love this family. Again, fortunate to have so many helpful and supportive people at these events, like the Norco Factory Team and Trek Canada allowing me to stash bags, spare wheels, feed me, and give me shelter from the rains. Being solo has its difficulties in those regards, but everyone is so open to helping that it’s working out very, very well. So many selfless helpers out there!

Very great event for the Trillium Trailer Blazer’s on Saturday, where the elites come out and do skills with the kids for an hour before the race.

Trillium Trail Blazer’s youth race 

Peter Disera the “grill master”

 

Riding in solo for 3rd after fading in the final lap.

All from here down are by Nicola Wenn

Peter Glassford and I always go for a whip off contest..

Photos from here and down are by Faulds Photography

 

 

 

 

 

Home rides, graduation, and summer fitness

Last night in Quebec before travelling home.

BC is truly incredible. One of my favourite flights is arriving/departing Vancouver on a sunny day. 

This finally happened. 5 years later and I’ve graduated school, phew!

Tree Brewing held a Pre-Fondo training ride for the Granfondo Axel Merckx

Following Axel himself and Tree Brewing owner, Tod Melnyk.

The mountains above home never get old. This is a summer spot I like to enjoy and in the winter it’s traded for an XC ski route on the Telemark Nordic trails.

Some days you just need to casually cruise.

The Naramata Bench in Penticton is something I can’t explain. It NEEDS to be seen in real life to take in. 

Baie-St-Paul Canada Cup

Course description:

Baie-St-Paul is located in the Charlevoix region of Quebec and continues to support Canadian mountain bike racing. In 2016 the event held the cross-country National Championships and for this season Velo Charlevoix was back hosting round three of the Canada Cup series.

The course is known for its raw and natural terrain, littered with roots, rocks and undulating trails that make it one of the most physically demanding courses on the circuit. Without precise line choices and efficient use of energy, the course can deal out mechanicals and leave riders utterly exhausted.

The Canada Cup pre-race meeting is usually the most anticipated of the season for coaches, managers and mechanics, with the local craft beer and cheese selections.

The course was exactly the same as the National Championships last season and the conditions were dry as can be, barring one puddle in the course. The organizers always go the extra mile to add a UCI race on the Sunday, giving athletes more than once chance to snag world ranking points, and for non-UCI racers to chase Quebec Cup points.

The XCT time trial format that took place on Sunday is one discipline we’re not too familiar with outside of the Quebec Cup series, as this event has featured the better-known STXC short track race in the past few editions. The course was a 9 km loop that saw riders start in 30 second intervals based on the previous day’s Canada Cup and Quebec Cup finishes.

Baie-St-Paul is another fantastic event in Quebec that always has first-class organization. At this race I saw my first elite Canada Cup podium in 2011, so it’s always a special one to me and this weekend was my first time toeing the line in the Canada Cup leader’s jersey – I wanted to do that jersey proud.

Unlike last week, I started harder and tried to get out of the group early and just ride my rhythm. Things were going fantastic and I was coming through with one lap to go and heard that hissing out of the front tire that we all dread. A quick tire plug allowed me to milk it to the pits and get a fast wheel change, but not without loosing the lead. I chased Quinton Disera and just couldn’t get those precious seconds back and ended second. Hats off to Q, he was strong!

It was incredibly frustrating as I came to win both these races but we did have a “second chance” in the UCI race Sunday. I know the fitness is there and I’ve been working harder than ever with my new coach Richard Wooles from Peak & Valley Coaching, so Sunday was just a matter of taking out the frustration in watts, using the fitness and having a little luck, which worked out and I was able to snag the win.

Proud to be a Canadian racer this weekend. We shared success is many disciplines that were highlighted with Peter Disera’s third at the U23 World Cup in Germany and Leandre Bouchard’s career-best 16th in the Elite men, plus Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau’s third in the Ireland EWS and Michael Woods’ thrilling Giro completion.

All photos below by Caroline Gautier

Phil St-Laurent finished 5th in the Junior men. He’s part of the Pivot-On The Edge team.

Elite men start line just before the gun went off

Rubbin’ is racin’ as they say. Started beside Felix Burke.

Maghalie Rochette took the weekend by storm and won both the races.

This week I wanted to get out in the lead early and ride my own rhythm.

One of the longest open climbs to check where the other racers were.

Hats off to this young man. Quinton Disera rode very strong and took his first elite Canada Cup win as a first-year Under-23.

Sidney Mcgill won the junior womens race.

Elite women podium.

Elite mens XC podium

West coast representing for the second week in a row with three BC riders and one Alberta rider leading the Canada Cup series.

Waiting at the start for Sunday’s UCI TT race. Waiting with my fellow Pivot/On The Edge riders Raphael Auclair and Felix Belhumeur.

Back-to-back racing isn’t usual for an MTB’er and it hurts!

Warming the hot seat as the current leader of the TT. Sun was out and it was hot!

Luckily had some friends to join me! L to R: Stephen Hyde, Quinton Disera, and Raph Auclair

Elite Mens XC TT podium 

 

Mont-Tremblant Canada Cup

I first visited Mont-Tremblant in 2008 as a first year junior. It was the second and last selection race for the World Championships in Val Di Sole, Italy that June. I came into the race after winning the previous weekends Canada Cup and wanted the same in Tremblant. It was a savage course and one to this day that was a favourite and one I wish still existed. 

Over the years the course has changed significantly from the iconic technical, single-track climb with a long and unrelenting descent that would eat away at the riders bodies and bikes before, finally, entering  the village and traversing up the cobbles. Now, we race arguably more gravel road and grassy ski slopes than single track. A let down for riders like myself who grew up racing the old Mont-Tremblant course and wish the new generation experienced proper mountain bike trails. 

One thing that had not changed was my desire to win a Canada Cup at this venue. It’s been seven times chasing that elusive top step. This season I pencilled in the two Canada Cup in Mont-Tremblant and Baie-St-Paul as races to win for world ranking points and to showcase my new team. That first win of 2017 finally came and at no other than the venue I’ve tried at seven times. Lucky number eight was the one for me. This race was for everyone supporting me this year that is helping the dreams and goals still be possible. 

I am very fortunate for all the supporters of my program this year and I head into this weekends Canada Cup as the series leader and will wear it with pride for everyone with me. 

Here are some photos below from the trip and race:

Rail trails in Quebec are just as good as BC!

Daily commute to the course

Thumbs up. Race photos below by Caroline Gautier

Surfing in the hurt locker

Hats off to Raphael Auclair – Pivot Cycles/On The Edge teammate – who pushed the pace hard the first half and rode very strong.

The young guys beat the old guy in the champagne opening

Representing the interior of BC with Jayne Rossworn! How cool is that!? Peachland and Kamloops are leading the Canada Cup series. Jayne is coached by Keith Wilson and I used to be. thank you Keith for helping us along!

The team at On The Edge Canada that is supporting me with Pivot Cycles this year. They jumped on board within minutes of chatting about this year and that sealed the deal for me for join teams. On the Edge has gone above and beyond for me this season and I can’t thank them enough for the support. Looking forward to the years ahead! 

 

A BC weekend of multi-discipline racing

This past weekend was what I would define as “mountain biking” in the dictionary. After being in Southern California and Arizona for the last 6 weeks it was shock to ride in the rain and mud, but it was an exciting and enjoyable shock! It turned out to be a perfect training weekend to take advantage of with two races in the Fraser Valley. 

Saturday the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association (FVMBA) held the iconic Vedder Mountain Classic. It’s a cross-country marathon event and is part of the BC Marathon series. It’s also a unique event that gives out prizes and awards to the fastest climber to the summit, the fastest descender to the bottom, and, of course, the overall finish for each category. 

There was quite the attendance from kids, parents, and racers. Catharine Pendrel was out on the women’s side and finished 10th overall among everyone! Sandra Walter followed up behind Pendrel and was 11th overall, while these two women finished 1-2 in the “Pro” race. On the men’s side it was Spencer Paxson – a really good friend – who took the mens title and the overall. I couldn’t stick with him on the climbs but would bring back time on the descent, which made it a fun battle. We were duking it out where he took the uphill timed competition and I took the downhill timed competition. In the end we went 1-2 with Rhys Verner taking third. 

Friday and Saturday night I was fortunate to stay with friend Will Routley and his wife Shoshauna. Always great when staying with friends during races instead of hotel rooms. Sunday came and it was the combined BC Enduro, North American Enduro Tour, and Canadian Enduro Championships round. I linked up with Spencer, other American friend Stephen Ettinger, and Donny. We were “Team XC” out there representing the small travel bikes and spandex racing we usually do. I decided to race both events on the weekend with the exact same bike and blind with no practice. I For us XC-focused athletes an enduro is a lot more relaxing for us. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and was very under-gunned with my bike (think showing up to gun fight with a stick, not even a knife) but the bike absolutely surprised me and made it through the day in 8th. Quite happy with pulling that out. 

Little bit of home time now before heading east to Canada Cups 2&3. 

GoPro footage with some of stage 1 and 2 from the BC Enduro/North American Enduro Tour race

Post-race smiles after 2.5 hours of BC singletrack

Shared the podium with my pals on Kona. Spencer for the win, Rhys in 3rd. 

Longtime friend Catharine Pendrel and I took the “downtime” timed downhill within the marathon race.

Venue. The Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association knows how to hold a bike race!

All ages and abilities were out to enjoy the Vedder Mountain Classic. LOVE seeing the young and fierce riders take on such a savage course. 

Soaking in the west coast landscape after 6 weeks in Southern California and Arizona.

First ride on the new Mach 429SL. Impressed with the climbing to descending capabilities. Incredible combo!

The third ride on this bike was a classic wet Vancouver day!

Team XC post-enduro race! L to R: Stephen Ettinger, myself, Donny, and Spencer Paxson

Proper end to a bike race. If only every venue had this landscape within spitting distance.

New bike day

First ride on the new Pivot Mach 429SL. 

 

Whiskey 50 Off-Road

On the Monday after Sea Otter I teamed up with Canadian friends Rebecca Beaumont, Raphael Auclair and Anne-Julie Tremblay in Phoenix, Arizona before heading up to the city of Prescott. Our accommodation was way up at 2,000 meters near the top of a mountain in a cabin. This area felt just like home in the Okanagan. 

Prescott is home to one of  the three-event Epic Rides series that spans across Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Epic Rides has built a massive following and after attending this race I know exactly why this series is quickly becoming the most popular among North American mountain bikers. The city was fully on board and shut down their main street to have companies set up their expo booths, stages for evening concerts and large start/finish area in the city centre. The weekend featured a criterium on mountain bikes with slick tires late Friday evening for the Pro Women and Men. Saturday the amateur racers took part in multiple distances based on their preference from 15, 30, and 50 miles. Sunday is the Professional Women and Men races to cap the weekend. This series also offers the most prize money in North America with equal payment between men and women with $30 k distributed between each event and $100 k over the three events and overall. This is big for the pro athletes to continue being a “pro”. 

After spending a quiet week in the mountains exploring the local roads, lookouts and climbing forest service stations, it was time to put skinny tires on the mountain bike and race under the Friday night sun.

Our group of eight was fully settled into the cabin by this point with Greg Day, Mathieu Belanger-Barrette, Quinn Moberg and Felix Burke arriving on the Wednesday. Our cabin had a big deck that we spent time hanging out on and telling each days’ stories. 

The criterium on mountain bikes was a very unique event to have in the main square downtown and the spectators were amazing. This whole weekend brings me back to those early days with events that kept me in the mountain bike scene and showed me the community in mountain biking. The crowds were no different during this crit. Personally, it was a weird start being up at altitude for the first time in about 5 years. It took about half the race to get really “warmed up” lets call it, then I was able to be fighting up front and maybe some tentativeness in the last couple laps kept me from finishing near the podium. It was 11th in the end and there were many thoughts of safety going through my head after getting pushed wide in a turn on the first lap and having my foot go into another guys front wheel. Luckily neither of us went down but my shoe buckle ripped off. It was a very fun evening to say the least.

Saturday the cabin Haus mates went on a fun group ride on some local trails and enjoyed a relatively mellow day of recovering before Sunday’s 50 miler. Our little mountain cabin provided the absolute best location to mellow out, train hard and enjoy the social times with everyone. Not having much internet or cell service was a nice way to spend the week. 

Sunday morning was early with an 8:30 race start. We lucked out and had the best weather in years according to the organizer and racers. We set off with a furious pace that I thought might ease off eventually but it continued for the 3+ hours of the leading riders. This is a massive loop with a long, 1 hour climb in the middle up a fire road. Early efforts kept me up in the lead group but slowly I lost contact as the first long climb continued up in the high elevations. Eventually I was in the main second group and on the first descent when following a line of riders down this dry and dusty descent I hit a rather large sized rock that was knocked onto the trail by the rider in front of me and couldn’t see it until it was too late. A flat tire was the outcome. I quickly put in a tire plug (my new favour gadget that ever rider should own) but the plug was ripped out on the next step descent when there was some tire skidding. Luckily I had another plug ready in my back pocket but I cut some in half hoping to have more plugs for the future, but it turns out they’re too short and just get pushed right into the tire. I pulled out the pack of plugs and reloaded the tool to finally plug it for good. Put some c02 in there and off we went. Lots of spots were lost in this long standing break on the side of the trail.

Eventually we were rolling again and making good time but the tire slowly leaked air. With no c02 left I was smart enough to carry a hand pump and pumped it up. Continued on until it lost air again and this time I realized I didn’t close the valve stem the last two times I pumped it up and that’s why it was loosing air again!!! Damn me. Finally I got the bottom of the long climb and decided to just switch wheels to make sure nothing happened further down the road. It was then 59 minutes of absolute suffering under the sun up a long fire road climb. Things were going well and many riders who had previously caught me were all coming back to me and after a great descent it was time for one last climb up “cramp hill”. I had the pleasure of getting the worst cramps I’ve ever experienced even before entering cramp hill. Standing on the side of the trail and screaming in pain is the best description I can give. It was not my day for racing by any means, but I left it all out there and raced to the end with everything I had left. 35th isn’t anything near what I wanted, but we don’t always get what we want. I had fun and that’s why we do this.

Scott Kelly of Cannonade-3Rox is a legend in the bike world and one of the most helpful guys you’ll ever come across. This team has lent me a lot of help this year. Thank you Scott, Kyle, Gersham and riders who helping me out.

 

Thanks for everyone who helped this weekend. I had support from non-industry sponsors, my personal sponsors, friends, and other teams. 

THANK YOU Epic Rides for all the hard work and incredible event that you’ve created.

Whiskey 50 backcountry results

Fat Tire Crit results

Visiting the Pivot Cycles head office in Phoenix on Monday after the race. Thanks Mary for the tour!

 

Sea Otter Classic

Quick update from the Sea Otter Classic this past weekend. It’s one of the largest cycling festivals in North America and this year it had very high-end race that fielded the current Olympic champions for men and women, many Olympians, current pro/elite and under-23 world champs, Italians, Australians, New Zealanders, Spanish, Columbian, Mexican, Swiss and the best North American riders.
 
 
This was a very important race on the calendar for sponsors, world ranking points, and personal goals to race against some of the worlds best. On Friday we had a “short track” race that was 30 minutes long and a shorter loop than our usual 4-6 km cross-country lap.
 
 
I found myself in the front group battling all race and after two riders got well out front, it was a race for 3rd. For some reason (very embarrassingly), I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the lap counter and thought we had one lap to go and when everyone started sprinting for the finish I stayed more relaxed thinking there was 5 more minutes.. By the time I realized this everyone I needed to be in front of for the sprint, I was now behind. Rookie mistake and I take full responsibility, but it’s hard to have given up a very likely shot for the podium. Can’t predict what could have been but I felt fantastic and had the fire power. Ended up 8th which is nothing to complain about!
 
 
 
Cross-country was the following day and the main event. We raced in and around the famous Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, California. This is not a usual ‘mountain’ bike race as most is on hard pack dirt and the race track. It’s all fitness and tactics with a bit of luck needed.
 
 
This was a personal best ride against a field of this caliber and class of race. 11th was the finish result with the Olympic and World Champ taking the win. I raced the final lap against my childhood hero and now friend, Geoff Kabush, a 3X Canadian Olympian. We sprinted it out at finish and I was able to beat him (thank you Geoff for towing me around that last lap!) Memorable day and a sign that things are moving along nicely. 
 
 
Next up: Whiskey 50 OFF-Road in Prescott, Arizona this coming weekend before racing in Chilliwack in early May. 
 
 
 
Interviews on Pedal Magazine
 
 
All photos above by Chris Vezina
 
Hanging out with my Canadian Pivot-On The Edge pals in Ventura, CA last week.
Last week I was fortunate to be in Santa Cruz with RaceFace for the launch of their new Next R products. We were treated to commuting in Fox’s Ford Raptor. 
Honoured to be working with Schwalbe Tires this year. Jeff Clarkson (pictured here) is the man who helped me get onboard and we go way back to the mid-2000’s with racing on the BC Team and he was Junior Nat’l MTB Champ in ’07. Thanks Jeff and all of Schwalbe North America for supporting me this year.