Off-Season Recap – Pinkbike

We’re already well into training again for 2017 and this past fall was one of the best off-seasons to date. With the season going late, school not starting until November and friends travelling out to Peachland from the east coast, it was a fall to remember. Full recap in a Rider Perspective piece on Pinkbike: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/rider-perspective-off-season-camp-guthrie-2016.html

 

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EWS video

Flashback to my last race in Finale Ligure, Italy. Enduro is a totally different animal to cross-country and I love them both for being very different. 

 

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Hardwood Hills Canada Cup

The fourth round of Cycling “Canada’s Canada Cup Series” took place yesterday at Hardwood Ski and Bike near Barrie, Ontario. This venue was the host of the 2015 Pan American Games MTB race and it’s one of the longest standing Canada Cup venues.  Pulse Racing puts on a great event and it shows what hard work and a good course can bring. Fields were filled with National champs, ex-national champs, Olympians and future Olympians.

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3 inches thick and that size, let’s just say they were really, really good. Thanks Marc-Antoine!

This was the end of a four week racing trip that covered Germany, France, Horseshoe Valley and then Hardwood Hills. I was aiming high for this race after pulling out one of my better races of the season last weekend. The past two weeks were filled with a ton of training hours to start building for the second half of the season and it just so happened that not only did I end up really needing those hours, it just helped improve the racing. Go figure, when you focus on the training and let off the racing stress a touch the improvement skyrockets.

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As always, the Trillium kids event kicked off the racing weekend on Saturday afternoon. Us “old” riders were doing the final race prep before taking the line on Sunday.

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We make great babysitters. Our business will be “Laying on bikes by EvanSquared daycare”

Sunday the crew showed up at Hardwood and everyone was in a good place. We did our new team Norco warm up as a group. It seemed to work last week so keeping the fun alive was once again important.

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1,2,3, let’s crush it! Team support, mentor and pal Andrew Watson leading the cheer

Our man Kevin took care of us after spending the previous day doing tech support at the Ride to Conquer Cancer in Toronto. His family was out in full cheer mode for the team after his wife Sue raced earlier and crushed it! Haley wasn’t racing this weekend but was also out in full cheering mode for us.

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Haley is cheering with Kevin and Sue’s girls: L – Nicole, R – Alexa

From the gun I tried to go for it and hit the front after about 30 seconds of racing. From then on I kept the pace up and established a little gap that held all the way to the finish. Derek Zandstra was breathing down my neck all day but I was comfortable and confident with how the body was rolling. I knew what I needed to do and rode smart. I also had my teammates (reinforcements) just behind.

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Start

Mcneely was following Derek for half the way race and Peter was Shake’n and Bake’n through the group after an issue on the first lap. Lespy was rolling just behind them.

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Mcneely following Derek for reinforcements.

In the end I was able to take my first Canada Cup win in 5 years. It felt like forever since that last one and this one was even sweeter feeling. I’ve had some tough luck this year (which is part of the process so no excuses) and wasn’t fully satisfied with my form after some sickness and off races but training and everything just clicked these last two weekends. It’s what you chase as an athlete.  Derek is a force and a racer I respect. I believe he will be, and should be, going to the Olympics for Canada this summer. I have big respect for him so it was an honour to finish ahead.

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Photo: Antoine Caron, Pinkbike 

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Photo: Antoine Caron, Pinkbike 

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Photo: Antoine Caron, Pinkbike 

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Mcneely came in with 3rd, Petey D came charging back to 4th, and our Norco teammate Andrew Watson’s athlete – Davis Ross – finished in 5th. Lespy rolled in with 8th. That marked the third Canada Cup win a row for the Norco men (all separate athletes have taken wins). Mcneely still leads the Men’s overall and we’ve again pushed forward in the Men’s Team ranking.

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This Pugsley climb hurt the big boy in me today. Steep climbs are tough on us Clydesdales

Emily Batty, our other Canadian speedster who will be going to Rio for the Olympics this year won the women’s race. BC’s Emily Hanford won the Junior women’s race and our boy Quinton Disera (Pete’s younger brother) won the Junior men ahead of BC’s Sean Finchman. It was great to see such a large group of  young BC athletes out with the provincial team. The first 4 times I raced Hardwood starting back in ’09 were all done with the BC Team.

I’m proud to be apart of such an amazing group of riders and staff from Norco Bicycles. More importantly they’re my friends and I wouldn’t be able to be doing this without all of their support. Our team has something special brewing right now and I’m excited to see where it leads.

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The Disera bros grew up racing Hardwood and this section is called “Disera Drop”

This upcoming weekend I’m very excited to be back home in Kelowna racing a BC Cup! I haven’t done a BC Cup in a while, and we have not had a BC Cup in the Okanagan since my very first race in 2003 as a 12 year old. I came dead last then, let’s hope for better luck this time.

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No words needed.

Our racing pal and now writer/photographer/videographer Antoine Caron is recovering from an injury and covering some of the races now. Pinkbike article here.

Canadian Cyclist results, pictures, and interviews.

PedalMag results.

All results.

Strava

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L to R: Peter Disera, Derek Zandstra, myself, Evan Mcneely, and Davis Ross.

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Team

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Cooling down and laughing with our boss man Kevin last weekend.

 

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La Bresse World Cup Recap

World Cup racing is savage. No matter where you are in the field it’s a fight – sometimes literally. Not that I can account for racing anywhere near the front end of an elite men’s WC, I’ve just watched them and been beaten by them. Albstadt and La Bresse marked my twentieth and twenty-first WC races. I’ve raced multiples as a junior, under-23 and now elite; the races have only gotten harder and somehow that continues to lure you in more.

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There’s always a lure to come back and conquer when races don’t go well. The racing is crazy at the back of the field. Apart from from the speed there are bikes, fists, feet and people flying all the over the place.

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Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

A WC start goes something like this: gun goes off, front guys start, back guys wait about 5 sec to even clip in, 150 guys are sprinting around you, one guy brakes and a chain reaction begins and someone usually crashes, everyone come almost to a hault swerving around a wrecked person or stand-still, guys are sprinting into or over you, some guy always goes for a stupid pass and catches his bar in the fencing and eats $hit, hopefully you swerve around him, then comes the bottleneck at the first single-track. Now you’re walking, running if you’re lucky, bikes are above rider’s heads to tomahawk past everyone else, then you get in a pushing battle with some other racer (yes, aggression in spandex), and now you get back on your bike and start riding again. That’s only the first 5 minutes.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

If you’re like me, you get past by 125 lbs dudes floating up the climbs – only to then catch them on the descent and get held up. It’s ends up being an uphill battle both ways. Sometimes you get a clear trail for a bit and ride your rhythm, which is hopefully at your potential. Usually there’s 5-10 guys just up the road to chase and the same amount just behind chasing you down. Every inch is fought for in these races. In North America someone can crash, flat, mechanical, and dab all over and usually still be in the race. In Europe or at a WC you can be passed by 4 guys by simply dabbing. A flat tire can mean not finishing the lead lap. A chain break or a start crash, well I can tell you all about that.

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Congrats to Canadian Leandre Bouchard for 20th

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

The first finish of the day is making it through the start loop unscathed with a working bike. There isn’t any friendliness in the back of the field to other races, unless maybe you’re country mates or proper buds. I’ll always give riders the respect, as we’re chasing the same thing, but as soon as someone gets out of line and tries to get physical I’m confident my clydesdale weight and size will only backfire their plans.

At Albstadt I had the unique opportunity to, once again, be DFL after only 100 M when my chain broke. Whatever it was I was ready to take on the ‘how many people can I pass game’ again. I hate quitting and will do everything possible in a race to continue. This was just a test of that. It was a 400 M run to the pits while being cheered on by fans with pretzels in their hands (which I was jealous of). I was reminded with this scenario that the bike community is amazing. People from Scott/3Rox, the Canadian National Team, and Aaron Schooler (my personal helper for the day) all came to help once I ran into the pits. I set a new personal passing record of 53 riders. $hit happens sometimes and you just have to make the best of it. I really wanted to workup the appetite for my post-race schnitzel and Milka bar.

Bike racing is tough. Winning the personal battles for me means just as much on days like that.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

In La Bresse I just needed to get past 250 M without issues and that was a win. That happened. The legs didn’t show up this day but with one of the best courses to date. This course had people in, on, and around every nook and cranny yelling and screaming. It was only natural to to get buck wild on the descents with chains saws revving (Long live Chainsaw) and bells ringing. Make sure to check out the women’s race – it was incredible to watch those ladies throw down. The Frenchman – Julian Absalon – schooled the men’s field to win on home soil.

All smiles, Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing XC) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team)

Both Emily (L) and Catharine (R) had amazing races to finish 3rd and 2nd.

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

Now I’m back in Horseshoe Valley, Ontario for the nest two weeks for some Canada Cup races. More updates to follow.

 

Photo essay from the trip:

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Victoria Canada Cup Recap

The 2016 racing season has officially begun. This past weekend the first Canada Cup took place at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, BC. In the two weeks leading in I was staying at my brothers in town and doing some training rides with the National Team.

It was a special race for me because my parents, brother, and friends were out to watch. Many fellow racers and their families were also out, my Norco family was there as well and it meant that I had a ton of support on this day – something I cherish. Not often do that many of my friends and family make it out to a bike race and even though this is a “home” province race it still takes 7-8 hours to Victoria from Kelowna area.

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Steven, Lucy, Tomas – bro, myself, Kim – mother, Owen – one of best friends, and Erika. Father missing from Picture!

The Norco Factory Team with Evan McneelyAndrew L’esperanceHaley SmithPeter Disera, Jonathan Duncan, Kevin Havilland, and Pete Stace-Smith were out.

Haley rode impressively through the field to a 4th place in her first official year as an elite. Evan and Andrew took two podium spots in 4th and 5th, while Peter and I followed up with an 8th and 10th.

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My bros

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been 5.5 months since my last race and I had only been “full-time” training on the bike for two weeks leading into this race, which was noticeable in the end results. I finished in 10th; my worst Canada Cup result in 5 years. The field was arguably more stacked than usual but it was still a poor performance, though many positives were taken. Things can definitely only go up and that’s all the motivation I need as of now.

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Photo: Jay Wallace – Island Images 

Racing is something we do a lot and always have the opportunity to do, so leading into the camp and having Canada’s best riders all on the island and doing workouts together is something I take more from. I’m fortunate to call these riders my friends and I’m always looking forward to riding and hanging out with them all. I have unique stories and experiences with each of these riders.

Someone like Catharine Pendrel who I met riding in 2006 when we were sponsored by the same bike shop; Derek Zandstra who took me under his wing a bit in 2008 at the World Championships and rode me as a 17 yr old; Emily Batty who also hung out with me and I think pushed one of my first cups of espresso on me in Italy at the 2008 World Champs; Raphael Gagne who hung out and rode with my as a junior and was also my teammate in the team relay – along with Catharine and Geoff – World Champs in Australia where we won a silver medal.

That’s just the beginning, each of the riders these past couple weeks brought something to the training, they’ve brought a lot to the racing over the years and I’m looking forward to hanging out with all these fellow Canadian racers in the years to come!

This year it was the first fundraiser gala for Cycling Canada MTB as the “Road to Rio” gala took place the evening after the race at Bear Mountain. Many supporters and racers showed up to celebrate mountain biking and support the National Team’s quest for Olympic glory. It was an honour to sit at the table with Cycling BC – who have been instrumental in my cycling development – along with my family. Thank-you Cycling BC for bring my family and I.

Big thank you to Bear Mountain Resort  and everyone involved for bringing a Canada Cup to the west coast. It’s a start to a bright future for mountain biking in Canada with Victoria to home to Cycling Canada’s National Mountain Bike Team.

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Photo: Jay Wallace – Island Images 

Evan Guthrie

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Fisherman’s Wharf

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Big baby bro and I 

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Post-bike race fun in the boardgames cafe. 3 hrs of Risk has be buying the game now. Photo: Catherine Fleury

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First time seeing a seal..what a weird mammal/animal/creature thing

 

 

Season opener this weekend

With the first race of the season approaching this Saturday March 5th, its been crunch time on the bike in Victoria this past week. I’ve been down training while at my brothers place and joining the national team on some rides. After an amazing winter at home it feels good to be back on the bike. Its been rewarding feeling the benefits of all the winter cross-training on the bike so soon.

With only 3 days on the MTB this year, before last week, it was great to sharpen the skills and get used to going hard again(race pace) – something I haven’t done since last October at the final Enduro World Series. Not saying I haven’t been training hard, because I’ve been training really hard since November, but not having done that race-specific high end work yet.

The whole Norco Factory Team is in town and we’re on our new Revolvers and looking to shake things up at this Canada Cup. We’re excited to be showcasing our new bikes, new sponsors and long-standing sponsors to start off this 2016 Olympic season.

Here’s a few photos below from the past weeks training:

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Ross Durance rd is in my top-5 best roads to road ride
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Legs are out of winter hibernation. Leg hair replaces leg warmers here.

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Team Norco: Peter “Petey D” Disera, Evan “Mcsneaky” Mcneely, and Andrew “Lespy” L’esperance. Missing our gal Haley “Hunter” Smith in this photo.

 

Windham World Cup

Windham, New York is a unique place in the Catskill mountains, some two hours north of New York City. After making a couple day stop in East Burke, Vermont to ride Kingdom trails with the team, we arrived in Windham on the Wednesday for some course prep.

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Kingdom Trails, Vermont.

This was a classic style course with one steady, long climb and one descent. Quite fun in my opinion, but that eight minutes of climbing to the top really hurt the body. The 5 minutes of descending was wonderful and played great favours in my hang, though I wasn’t able to capitalize on the climbs as on the body just wasn’t ‘going’ today. There was more suffering and less power, which equalled a poor race in my books. I never gave up fighting and pushed it right to the end. 57th isn’t anywhere near what I was shooting for, especially after a 45th in St Anne following a good cold I had..

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Windham’s famous red dust.

Right from the bat with a few brake checks and scary moments to avoid crashes I was then at the back in the cloud of dust and just praying you wouldn’t be riding and plow into something you couldn’t see.

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St Anne’s ‘La Beatrice’ rock line. 

That said, World Cup racing is as hard as it comes and if you’re not on you’re A games then it’s not going to be a pretty day. Every weakness is exposed and that included my climbing. Luckily, in the descents, I was able to tell people in and leap frog through some groups still but just not enough to be moving forward at a good enough rate for a good result.

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That was by far the weirdest start I’ve encountered with so must dust it was really tough to breath.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory)

Starting Lap 2

It was a quick pack up and off to the airport for a 4 am wake up on Monday to fly back west. I managed to be at home for a touch over 24 hours. Just enough to squeak in a ride, do some laundry and pack the vehicle for Crankworx in Whistler. Friday is the final race of the Canada Cup series and I’m looking to end the season with a bang there. Last year was a close battle with Geoff Kabush and I came out in 2nd and locked up the overall series, this year other Evan has come to take on the series overall, though our teammate Peter Disera is a currently leading but he’s not making the trip out for this race.

Yes that is Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory) through all the dust

Yes that is Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory) through all the dust

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Mcneely showing off the dust.

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Spent some of the day battling with Geoff Kabush.

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The crowds were fantastic. I could hear them start to wind up the cheers as I approached the rock garden.

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This is a picture that says a 1000 words. I couldn’t be in this without the support of my team, Norco Bicycles, on days like this. They keep me trucking forward and our team is something special. 

The team did a fantastic job these past two weeks and the help, as always, from Kevin Haviland, Jonathan Duncan and Josh Toohill was amazing. Massive shoutout to Haley Smith who scored her first World Cup top 5 with a 5th on the weekend. I don’t know what to say other than holy shit! Raphael Gagne also deserves a round of applause for this 6th place in pro men. That is beyond legit and shows his upward trend to the top. Proud of this guy and wish him the best of luck at the Olympic next year! He spent a lot of time hanging out with me at my first World Championships back in 2008 where he took 7th in the under-23 race there.

After this weeks XC race in Whistler I will be transitioning over to Enduro racing for the rest of the year with some BC Enduro and Enduro World Series races on the calendar.

Pinkbike Photo Epic: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/iron-lung-windham-xc-world-cup-2015.html

Results: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29960&title=windham-world-cup-elite-men-xc-results

Photos: http://canadiancyclist.com/photos.php?cc_event_id=529&title=windham-world-cup

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/365386135

Trailforks: http://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/192153/

 

Fontana US Cup Recap

Ouch. Fontana was yet another tough race and one I felt quite a lot better in than last weekends Bonelli US Cup, though I only placed one spot better – 25th – it was a much better execution both physically and mentally.

Bike racing never seems to get any easier, it just seems to get funner and the ability to dig deeper into the pain cave becomes more and more each race. These US Cups were big races and I had hoped to be pretty good for them, and it’s hard to be disappointed because nothing bad happened but nothing spectacular happened either. They were what I call “steady-solid” races. They weren’t an aim for the season, though you always aim to be the best you can be on the day.

The first weekend in Bonelli was quite a shock to the body with such a world-class field it became apparent you needed your A-game to have a good result. Not that I would call my results good, I just wanted more. Both weekend 70-75% of the field didn’t even get to finish the race because the leader were so quick and began catching the stragglers.

In Fontana I had a much more enjoyable race. It still hurt, a lot. The course had much more of a mountain bike feel and it seemed to motivate me more than riding on gravel roads and grass. Another slow start had me quite far back in the field and it seems like my motor is just a diesel engine right now, so I just put it in drive and started to pick guys off. A quick glance at the outcome didn’t have me excited, but when I looked at the picture and executed my race plan, stuck to my goals and accomplished it’s hard not be proud. I raced hard and there was just 24 faster guys, some of which are the fastest in the world and some who are peaking right now.

Teammates Haley and Peter rode strong. Haley, yet again, proved to be riding quick with a 18th in the XC and 7th in the STXC. She is off to Columbia for the Pan Am Championships this weekend with the National team. Peter rode to 19th in the mens XC.

It was another great weekend of training and put me closer to my focus on the World Cups in May and the summer racing with our National Champs, World Cups and World Champs.

Another stellar weekend for Canada with multiple podiums in the men’s and women’s pro cross-country and short track races. My training buddy Mckay Vezina threw down and took a second in pro men’s Super D on Saturday and 4th in pro mens DH Sunday after a bobble. The Vezina family was taking great care of me as my support team for the weekend again. Cycling BC took over as my pit crew with feeds and support as well, thank you to all those people who make the racing life easier for me!

Results:

Men – http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29187&title=us-cup-fontana-mens-results

Women – http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29184&title=us-cup-fontana-womens-results

Thanks to Sho-Air for making these races possible!!! http://uscup.net

Race video from the men and women: http://uscup.net/us-cup-tv/

All photos below from Papa Chris Vezina:

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Dusty? nah…

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Live video streaming by the chopper.

 

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Teammate Peter Disera rode strong to 19th.

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Short track cross-country race

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Mckay on the Super D podium

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Post race hose showers are key when getting into the car and driving two hours.

Bonelli US Cup Recap

The first big race of the season has come and gone and did it ever prove to be a tough one. Early last week when I was departing St George for Newbury Park I took on a pretty good case of food poisoning. Never experienced that before and I can say with confidence it put any sickness or flu I’ve had to shame. I have never felt so smashed and weak. After a sleepless night of bringing up bodily fluids I had to spend the day driving. Luckily Mrs. Catharine Pendrel drove me, in my car, to Vegas before she caught a flight and I snagged some shuteye. A few more interstate road side sleeps, a downtown LA detour and a few traffic jams later I was back at my favourite California location: Vezina Training Camps(My buddy Mckays families home).

The week was spent recovering and regaining strength. I had some excitement building up my new Norco Bicycles Revolver( top secret! ).

First off congrats to all the Canadians. It was a Canada-strong day with Emily Batty and Catharine Pendrel finishing 1-2 in the Pro women and Norco Factory teammate Haley Smith finished 12th. Raphael Gagne and Max Plaxton went 1-2 in the Pro men and teammate Peter Disera 30th.

Saturday came around quick and the first UCI(International Cycling Union) sanctioned race in the US was upon us. There were over fifteen nations represented and a field of over 100 men. It was a blistering hot day around ~35 C. People almost melted out there.

On a personal note it was an all right race, a very tough race.  With not being at full strength it is hard to know how much it affected me, though I was able to ride with everything I had on the day and turn it into a positive race. Not being able to go over the red zone on the first lap allowed me to settle in and ride a steady race while I picked off guys who may have paid for early efforts in the heat. Finishing 26th in far less than what I expect of myself, especially with my current form, but when I look at the big picture and how I rode the race, it was all I had, gave my all and its only March. It’s crazy to see how people didn’t even get to start the last lap because they were pulled after not racing within 80% of the winners time. It’s a positive to know that on a day when not at your current potential, you can still ride fairly strong.

Instead of taking part in the Sunday short track cross-country race, I opted to train and recover for better luck this coming weekend at the Fontana City US Cup. My buddy Mckay, who is probably the fittest downhill racer I know, took part in the Pro Men Super D on Saturday evening(which he won!) and his first cross-country race on Sunday morning. He raced category 2 19-24 age group cross-country race, which he also won(!) – a major accomplishment and something I was excited to have watched after training with him a lot this year. I think maybe a split DH/XC racer might be in order…

Report from CanadianCyclist.com: http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29150&title=us-cup-bonelli-park-report-photos-and-results

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All photos by: Chris Vezina – http://cndkids.smugmug.com/Sports/Cycling/2015-US-Cup-at-Bonelli-Park/n-jtMtHq