Canada Cup #1 Recap

It has been months since the last cross-country race report in 2016 ( 7 months to be exact) This winter brought a lot of change and the fire is burning.
 
On Saturday the first race of the year kicked off with a Canada Cup in Victoria, BC. Every top rider in Canada and some of USA’s Olympic long-list riders as well. I’m working with a new coach (Richard Wooles) and we trained harder than I’ve ever experienced this winter, with a plan to be strong, not peaked, at this first event. After 1 lap I was out chasing Canadian Olympian Raphael Gagne by myself. For 5.5/6 laps I was chasing him solidly in second place and everything was seeming and feeling good to finish there, but mountain biking has the side where it’s hard on the bike and mechanicals can happen. Unfortunately, a mechanical had me running downhill for a few minutes in that last lap to the tech zone (no, I won’t be switching to running anytime soon). Falling from 2nd-7th before our National Team mechanic quickly got me rolling. In the end I made one more pass and it was a 6th place finish, outside the the podium, less world-ranking points, and a result that doesn’t tell the story, but the hard work is paying dividends thanks to a winter of the hardest work I’ve ever done with my new coach.

 

HUGE heartfelt and sincere thank you to everyone helping me this year to get this program off the ground. It’s a been a heavy winter and I couldn’t be more excited with how things turned out and it’s because I’m surrounded by so many wonderful and selfless people. I wanted to get that podium finish for everyone supporting me as a thank you, but I might have to wait for the next one now.

Pre-race media:

http://www.timescolonist.com/sports/olympians-ready-to-hit-the-trails-again-at-bear-mountain-1.10933456

Post-race report:

http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32216&title=pendrel-gagne-win-opening-round-of-canada-cup

 

Photo: http://www.canadiancyclist.com

Thanks to Mike Garrigan – Canada MTB team technical coach. He helped every rider over this two week camp refine and improve skills.

 

Behind the scenes

Here’s a great look from a different perspective as Kevin Light, 2008 Olympic Gold Medallist in Rowing, came out to shoot some amazing pictures of two training sessions at the recent National Team Camp in Victoria, BC. Link below:

Canadian Mountain Bike Training Camp

Canadian Mountain Bike Training Camp

Cycling Canada MTB Camp update

On Sunday Feb 19th I travelled down to Victoria to kick off the MTB race season. Firstly, I caught up with the brother for a day before arriving at Bear Mountain Resort for the Cycling Canada National MTB team camp on the 20th. This group is like a second family and I have many good friends here, so that makes this trip special. 

Training with a group of motivated, inspiring and like-minded riders is special. We’re fortunate to be staying at Bear Moutain and having accommodation and food supplied while we put in work on the bike and “classroom-style” learning and work each day. We were greeted with the snow the last three mornings and today it was actually quite fun to be sliding around in it. 

Saturday is when the season kicks off with a Canada Cup. I’m excited to see how well I did my homework this winter. Until then, we’ll keep on keepin’ on, and make snowmen of course. Photos below from the trip so far:

Love new bike day. New Pivot Mach 429SL showed up the other day and it felt fitting that its friends, NEXT crank and Turbine dropper by Race Face, kept it company. 

Bear Mountain Resort is embracing cycling quite heavily and making us feel at home

Those Schwalbe Tires are loving the Victoria trails, I mean mud, I mean hero dirt.

Photo: Kevin Light 

Photo: Kevin Light

Surprise snowstorm on Day 6 couldn’t keep us inside.

We’ve been given the “Player’s Lounge”

Our team room is in good company with Gretzky jersey on the wall.

Front door view at Bear Mountain

Team rock climbing evening. Booked in for 2 hours and all the weak upper bodied cyclists were tired in about 15 minutes. We pushed on and made the most of it watching the chameleon Evan Mcneely in the picture above. 

 

Camp Guthrie – Fall edition

This fall a couple of my teammates and friends from the east coast started a conversation about doing a week of training together somewhere. Victoria, Moab, and others came to the table but I suggested the Okanagan and my place for a free place. I didn’t have to try too hard to convince but hoped once they got here that seeing the Okanagan would bring them back.

Everyone is always biased to where they live and train. It’s no exception for me, I love the Okanagan and believe it’s one of the most underrated places in the world to be as an athlete. It provides four incredible seasons and many, many outdoor activities to choose from. A big part of my yearly training is the cross over to different sports. I’m a believer in not only being a good cyclist but a great multi-sport athlete.

 

Haley Smith, Andrew Lesperance and Catherine Fleury came to my place for one of mountain bike adventuring. We met plenty of other riders throughout the week, like Cathrine Pendrel, Sandra Walter, Anthony Evans, Ryan Newsome, and Keith Wilson. Riding with others who also love mountain biking is one of my favourite parts of the cycling world. Sharing a day with others and retelling the days adventures later on it always a riot.

I’ve never a full week of hard mountain biking before and it crushed me. Luckily we were all motivated, smiling and enjoying each day so we could push through. I did my best to ride different trails and networks each day to showcase the area.

I made sure to have other plans for the week to balance it all out. Wine tasting one, quad and dirt bike rides to uncles trapper cabin, pumpkin shooting, dinner out in downtown Kelowna, Bean Scene in Kelowna for proper espresso, the Bliss Bakery for our much desired tasty treats, and seeing some wineries for their amazing properties and views.

One day we’ll make #campguthrie a little more official and consistent! Thanks for coming out friends, it was an incredible week.

 

img_4236

Quad and motorbikes were used some afternoons

DCIM999GOPRO

Mega group in the Three Blind Mice network of Penticton. Riders: Keith Wilson, Catharine Pendrel, Sandra Walter, Ryan Newsmen, Haley Smith, Andrew Lesperance, and Catherine Fleury.

DCIM999GOPRO

The trails that it all started on for me; Smith Creek in Westbank.

DCIM999GOPRO

Showing Doctor Fleury one of my favourite places in the world: Rose Valley trails.

DCIM999GOPRO

This view point in Rose Valley will never get old.

DCIM999GOPRO

Riding the Kettle Valley Railway with the crew and guest Anthony Evans (wheelie man)

DCIM999GOPRO

Views on the Myra Canyon Trestles on breathtaking.

DCIM999GOPRO

It’s the people around that make the journey.

DCIM999GOPRO

Reason 235,746 why I ride bikes.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

12025697_237998609875399_461999607_o

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.

12810195_237998556542071_770471496_o

Photo: Jay Wallace – Island Images 

Evan Guthrie

IMG_3063

Fisherman’s Wharf

IMG_3061

IMG_3054

Big baby bro and I 

IMG_3052

IMG_0604

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

IMG_0606

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

 

 

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

i-f39HbSN-L

i-GQdzXBP-L

i-k2bxcjc-L

i-L6txHc6-L

i-LzCvFNg-L

i-mrgq47K-L

i-SnZ3QFn-L

i-SZGZ9c7-L

 

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