National Championships

This past weekend was that time of year where the Canadians race for the coveted maple leaf jersey. The National Champions get to represent the title in their respective categories. This was the 12th year in a row I’ve raced Nationals and it dates back to my Under-17 days. This year we returned to Canmore, Alberta for the third time in my 12 years of this event, which makes it the most raced Nationals course for myself. Canmore is a place we all look forward to being in. The town exuberates sport and outdoor activities, and made us racers feel extremely special. 

The team running the event hit every detail and produced a world-class event. Hands down this was the best Nationals I’ve attended and am excited to be back next year! Thank you to everyone who spent the last year working, planning, digging, putting out fires (not literally), and jumping through hoops to make this event one to remember. We racers can’t do it without the volunteers and I hope every single one of them knows how much they’re appreciated. 

Photo: Caroline Gautier

After spending a nice little chunk of time at home preparing for this year, as my biggest goal of the year, I can’t help but be disappointed with how it played out. This year I’ve been overwhelmed with the support and help from others and really wished I could have repaid those efforts with a better race. It’s one thing if you have a race where everything is firing, no mistakes made and you finish knowing it was the best you gave, then that’s a win on the process side. The objective result is always hard because we place numbers on what we want to achieve but some days our competitors are just on another level, which I highly respect. So if I had finished 6th and had the race of my season then no disappointment is there. But this weekend I felt tapped out and unable to race at my capability and past races this year. It was a snail-like pace up the climbs and I only had the descents to help me out. Luckily there was enough trail and descending that I could salvage a 6th place is the always stacked Elite Men’s field. 

The “Eye Dropper” Photo: Caroline Gautier

Photo: Caroline Gautier

This race was one I put a star beside last October and have woken up every morning since that day and thought about it, planned for it, and trained for it. But it’s one day out of 365 and that can’t define the year if it doesn’t unfold how you visioned it. Unfortunately two weeks out I got hit with a body flu and spent 5 days on the couch, and missed about 10 days of ‘quality’ training. Not optimal but I was rested to a point. For some reason in the past my best races were after an injury, sickness, or even while on antibiotics for infection, so there was no doubt after this flu. I still believe that great day at Nationals is in the cards but another year will need to be waited for.

Photo: Nicola Wenn

The “Organ Grinder” Photo: Nicola Wenn

Though the race didn’t go the way I dreamed it would, I was riding well enough on the downhill to get win the “downhill” timed race within the cross-country race. It very unique and exciting that the event put on a prize for the fastest male and female of the day for both the uphill and the downhill sections on the course. I won a growler from Canmore Brewing and will accept that with a thirsty smile!

Photo: Aidan Brown

This year I was fortunate to stay with the Brown family in Canmore. A host family is always 100 times better than staying in a little hotel and this family is a special one!. As always, the cycling community is filled with wonderful people like this and as an athlete it is tough to explain how much of a difference this makes. 

Photo: Andy Wilson

Thee may have been whimper noises happening here as the last lap began. Photo: Caroline Gautier

As I write this it now becomes more realistic how the season for cross-country is already coming to a close for me. I was offered an incredible opportunity to race Singletrack 6 through Rossland, Nelson, and Kalso starting this Saturday July 29th. These areas are world-class and within four hours of where I live and never ridden them. Opportunities can be presented sometimes at a unexpected time and in the past I haven’t taken them, so this was a no brainer and I accepted it with a smile!

Staying low through the flow trail. Photo: John Gibson

Congratulations to all the racers this past weekend and the new National Champions of Canada. I think a special shoutout goes to Jenn Jackson who won the U23 women’s race in her first year racing!! Secondly, to Peter Disera – this guy is the future for Canada and I couldn’t be more proud of my buddy and past teammate for stepping up from the U23 race to ride with the Elite men and then putting the boots to us all. Proud of you pal. I’ll put a pretty penny on Petey D being at the next Olympics. 

Sunday after the XC race was the team relay. An event where 4 riders in a mixture of ages/categories each race a lap of the course and tag off to the next. I was on a team with BC Provincial squad and we came in 4th. After the relay a group of us, let’s call is team friendship, met up and went for our post-Nationals Canmore group ride. These are some of the best memories I keep from bike racing and this ride was no different. 

Riders: Kevin Haviland, Jonathan Duncan, Holden Jones, Peter Disera, Rhys Verner, and leader Aidan Brown.

I couldn’t quite get enough of Canmore and decided to stay an extra day and ride the ‘Highline’ trails with more friends on the Monday. I would highly recommend this trail is ever in the area.

Rider: Quinn Moberg

Canadian Cyclist report: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32816&title=batty-disera-take-canadian-elite-xc-titles

Cycling News report: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/canadian-cross-country-national-championships-2017/results/

Pedal Magazine Report: http://pedalmag.com/batty-and-disera-win-elite-titles-at-2017-mtb-xco-nationals-13-champions-crowned/

National Championships recap

This past Saturday the Canadian National Championships took place in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. This race happens once a year and it always a very important race to any Canadian. Having the chance to wear the maple leaf jersey for the year to signify you’re the champion if the country is something special. Our team came into this race with the chance to podium in every category that we have a rider in; the elite mens, elite women, under-23 men and the team relay. I flew into Quebec City early and stayed with my racing pal Jeremy Martin for a couple days of training.

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We stay in the “farm house” every year for this race and it has become our little oasis. This area of the country is beautiful. Located some 1.5 hours down the St Lawrence river from Quebec City, the bay area is filled with farm fields, mountains and, more importantly, produces great beer and cheese.

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Photo: Antoine Caron

Come race day everything was in place and going smoothly. Our team was reunited for this race after having not all been together for a full month. Spirits were high and the minds were fiery. The memories from this race goes back many years and it’s one course that I love. The natural trails, rocky, rooty and plain old technical riding is just the kind of riding I like – real mountain biking. Over the years the weather has been all over the map and this year all types of weather threatened. Days with high humidity, rains storms, and sunny weather had us wondering which way it would go.

Nats

Photo: Jon Barnes

By the time it was race day the mud had dried up and the humidity had gone down; it was now the perfect day for a bike race. By this time in my racing days there are a few things that I need to do and a wide-range of feelings that I’ve experienced which will produce a “solid” or stellar day. On warm up this day I could feel things weren’t as fresh or spicy feeling as I would have liked, but I’ve got such a large platform of fitness built up that even an “off” feeling days will still be good because I can still push myself and I have that desire.

Evan Guthrie

Photo: Rob Jones @ www.canadiancyclist.com

This day turned out to be one of those average ones where I had one speed and just didn’t have that extra zip needed to be in the fight up front. In the end a 7th isn’t horrible but it’s the sensations behind the result that make it a little disappointing. Right from the gun the lead group took off and I was fighting tooth and nail while watching them ride off. The race was good where no mistakes were made and I finished absolutely gassed, where turning the pedals over was becoming near impossible. The same feelings I would get no matter what the placing is. That extra fire to be competitive up front lacked. After being top-5 the past two years I wanted a lot more.

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Photo: Rob Jones @ www.canadiancyclist.com

Our team walked away with two National Titles. Peter Disera took the under-23 mens and Lespy, Haley, Petey and his little bro Quinton took the team relay title. It’s just as exciting for me when my teammates and friends have good rides. Haley finished 4th in the elite women’s race, Lespy finished 8th and Mcneely 10th in the elite men’s race. For the team relay I joined one of the three BC teams and also finished 7th.

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Norco Factory Team Relay National Champs!

Baia-Saint-Paul put on an amazing race and, as always, keeps one of the best venues exciting for all racers and spectators.

There were some amazing rides out there. My teammate Peters was amazing and it’s extra special to have been around him while he’s chased that title. BC continues to produce phenomenal abilities with the youth and came away with Emily Hanford winning the junior women’s race and Sean Fincham winning the junior mens race. Congrats to all the other BC racers. Another big one was Derek Zandstra winning the elite mens title. Leandre Bouchard has been on fire this year and those two battled hard but Derek was able to solidify his power and throw down. It’s been a big year with Olympic selection happening and in the mens battle there was essentially 3 riders fighting for 2 spots. Those 3 riders are incredibly deserving and I wish all of them could be going but it came down to the wire and Derek was left off the team for some unfortunate reasons. I’m very happy for the riders who are going but also very sad for one rider who isn’t.

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The U23 women this year are world class and World Cup #1 silver medallist Catherine Fleury took a well deserved win that would have put her in 4th in the elite women! Emily Batty took the elite women’s crown as she heads to Rio in just one months time.

This race was a big goal for the year and it’s already come and gone. Onwards and upwards to next weekends Canada Cup in St Felicien, Quebec before returning home for a week to prep for the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup.

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Video from Geoff Kabush on the course: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH5l58tDWKB/

Pinkbike article by Antoine Caron: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/canadian-xc-national-championship-2016.html

Full results: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=31454&title=mtb-xc-championships-full-results-all-categories

Photos on CanadianCyclist: http://canadiancyclist.com/photos.php?cc_event_id=581&cc_event_subcategory_id=403443&category=mtb-xco-championships_elite-u23-men-part-1

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