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.

Schwalbe Tires

It’s with great pleasure that I announce a relationship with Schwalbe Tires for 2017. A huge part of the bike, and the only part of the bike touching the ground, is tires. I’m confident in Schwalbe and excited to be part of their team for this season. Reliability and performance are key when racing a mountain bike and Schwalbe will have me covered. 

Thank you to everyone involved at Schwalbe for the support. 

 

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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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.

 

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Quad and motorbikes were used some afternoons

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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.

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

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

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This view point in Rose Valley will never get old.

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

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Views on the Myra Canyon Trestles on breathtaking.

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It’s the people around that make the journey.

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Reason 235,746 why I ride bikes.

Finale Ligure EWS

And just like that the 2016 season has come to a close. Every year it feels like the lead-in takes quite sometime and then once the season hits, it all flashes by. For the third year in a row I travelled over to Finale Ligure, Italy to attend the final Enduro World Series race for my final race of the year. With school classes not starting until November it was the first time I didn’t have to be doing homework and handing in projects or essays early on race mornings in a cafe – phew!

The day before I attended a fundraiser event for the Okanagan Rail Trail initiative. This group has been created to help speed up the process and help fund the rail trail corridor from Kelowna to Vernon. This is a massive opportunity for showcasing more of the Okanagan’s beauty. Tree Brewing hosted the event and we walked part of the already paved sections in downtown before heading back to enjoy beer, pizza and fundraise!

I met up with Squamish ripper and current mens Eliminator national champ – Rhys Verner – and his buddy Arnau in Finale. The first day we cruised some some ancient olive growing terraces turned bike trails. The pavement mountain roads and views in Finale are incredible. We enjoyed the trails before heading down to the beach for an evening swim.

Day two was the first day of practice where Arnau graciously shuttled Rhys and I up to the top of the ~2 hr start climb so we could save the energy to ride it on race day and get in two laps on each of the stages. Day one practice included two laps of stages 1-3. In the evening we did a bonus ocean front cruise over the sunset. With this not being a focus discipline I’ll do a little extra sightseeing and riding to soak it all in. That said, I’m still there to do the best I can and I had high expectations.

Day three was more practice and another 4 hours on the bike pedalling. This enduro practice is hard and tiring!

Day four was race day 1 that saw us ride 4 hours with three major climbs – the first taking 2 hours. As a kid I grew reading magazines and loving DH racing. Reading about Greg Minnaar and Steve Peat was regular as they are legends of the DH world. This weekend I was seated right near them, Loic Bruni (2015 world champ) and Sam Dale (world cup racer). I can’t explain how amazing it was to ride with them all weekend in-between race stages. They great, genuine lads and made my weekend one to remember. We relied on each other to joke around and help speed up the time while we climbed some tough mountains in the transfers.

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On the racing side it was a poor day. My worst Enduro racing day actually. I have one rule in mountain biking: don’t crash. It’s very simple and it’s very important. In my opinion most crashes stem from yourself. You rode off line, outside of your ability, or misread the terrain or the trail. Sometimes it’s not totally your fault though, but in this racing most of the time it is. I hate crashing, it hurts physically and I find it embarrassing. On stages 1 and 2 I crashed. The first two stages were brutal, steep, loose, dusty, blowout, and tough on the body. I misread a corner on stage 1 and when exciting the berm that used to be there was blown out from so many riders skidding through and also blowing the turn. I then blew the turn, skidded the front wheel out and went over the edge onto my head and hit my neck on a tree while flipping over the bars. Very, very lucky to get back on quick and keep going. One of those situations when it’s happening you think “oh $hit I’m in trouble” but once I stood up it was surprising that nothing hurt and everything moved. Just a stiff neck.

Stage 2 crash was just dumb. Rhys actually texted me some updates throughout the day as he was ahead and said it was very rutted out. I tried to stay inside of a rut through a turn and just slid into with my front wheel and turned my bars, went down in slow motion where my feet were still clipped in and it took a while to unclip while laying on my side. Back up and luckily everything was good again. Pushed on and loved the rest. Felt like the first two stages were great except for the crashes. It left me in 55th for the day. Long out of my worst @ 35th on a day 1.

Day five was race day 2. The body was tired but in a good way. I was pissed from the day before and pulled it back together. All stages were in the top-32. Back to where I belong and feel capable of. I had a big goal of going in for a top-20 at this race. Day two was solid on all stages except for the most pedally stage all weekend where I overcooked a corner and had the bike sliding on the edge of a bank and saved it with one foot but came to a stop in a fast section. Could have been worse but in this racing seconds count and you can’t afford a mess up, especially after all the ones yesterday. Last year I dabbed my foot once all weekend and ended in 25th.

I pulled back time and moved up to 39th overall. Decent but not what I know I’m capable of. The season ended on a good note though as the second day was a lot better and the last burly DH called I pulled off a 23rd on it. Best of the weekend on a tough trail.

The weekend was filled with fun, laughs, amazing riding, in one of the best places I’ve ever been for a race. Year after year the EWS puts on an incredible event here. The organization is top-notch. That makes it very easy and enjoyable for us racers.

Riding with Minnaar, Peat, Bruni, and Dale all weekend was unforgettable. Friendships were created and the smack talk flowed. The afterparty in the centre square once again was very fun.

For one of the first times in my life I added two days onto the trip to stay in Nice and explore. Usually we’re in and out so quick that being a tourist never happens. Now that the season was done it meant two bike-free days of being a full tourist. Seeing the old town, eating baguettes and swimming on the mediterranian coast was just the perfect time. The following day I rented a scooter and spent the day driving the coast up to Monaco and Monte Carlo to see all the beauty and ridiculous amounts of money there.

Once again I am writing the last race report of the year while flying across the Atlantic. I’m looking forward to spending the next month at home and catching up on things. November I’ll head down to my pal Mckay Vezina’s in California to start training for 2017.

Thank you to everyone who followed, supported, and helped me this year. It’s been a damn good one and next year is going to be big.

 

North American Enduro Tour – Whistler

On Thursday I made the trip back down to Vancouver to visit a few friends before making my second trip to Whistler for the year – a new record. Whistler was hosting a round of the North American Enduro Tour race; The Whistler Fall Classic.

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I was really looking forward to racing another Enduro event after a sub-par race in Revelstoke last weekend at a Canadian Enduro Championship rounds. My only three crashes of the year happened in that race and I tied for third. If you know me at all you know how much I hate crashing. I feel it’s usually the riders mistake of being off line, going outside the ability or doing something you shouldn’t have. Most of the time a riders reaction time and skills can save. But stupid ones like sprinting at 40 kph through a twisty grass field and hooking a stump with your foot through the grass is just part of the game, though it’s my fault for pushing too much and being too close to the tall grass on the side.

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In Whistler I wanted some redemption and that mainly meant having clean runs with no mistakes and especially no crashes. I was lucky to have friends Yoann Barelli, Mckay Vezina and Spencer Wight to practice with. Yoann and Mckay were heading to Europe for the final two EWS rounds on race day so they practiced with us on Saturday – champs.

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On Saturdays practice day I watched the RBC Granfondo Whistler finish in the village before heading out for practice. Lots of friends racing that were both MTB and road athletes. Even ran into my California buddy Jesse Anthony and we traded bike for a bit. Almost had him convinced to race the Enduro… The best part was walking around the Fondo expo and people saying congratulations while I had a 6″ in trail bike in hard, baggie MTB clothes and a full face.. I just kept saying “Thank you, I worked hard to make it up here..”

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Watching Yoann get wild and nose wheelie rock slabs

I stayed at Bear Back Biking’s lodge for the weekend and that was incredible. They run a great show and treated us well. Having breakfast and dinners cooked was quite the treat. The social atmosphere there was top notch and allowed for a relaxed feeling weekend too. Highly recommend this place.

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It’s not often you get a #1 plate to start a bike race. First time ever for me and it felt pretty cool. 

On race day we started at Top of the World up the peak chair and then raced pretty all bike park trails for all the stages. So there was no pedalling for this day, which was not too enduro but at this time of year I’m keen to just ride and bikes and having it all lift accessed made it nice mellow day. Satisfied with coming away 2nd on the day and winning the last stage. Felt flat pedalling all day which just could have been from going so hard off stage one in the cold and at altitude but chances were it was some tired legs. The winner Chris Johnston is a great rider, hats off to him. We rode all the transitions together yesterday which made for quite the fun day.

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It’s back home for the week and there is chance of racing the Sun Peaks Canadian Championship Enduro round this weekend. I have a cousins wedding on the Saturday so if I race it will be blind and that makes racing even more fun.

Thanks to Whistler for putting on the event. Always love being at the mountain around the MTB atmosphere.

Results

Pinkbike Recap

Revelstoke Canadian Enduro

Full Pinkbike recap:

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/revelstoke-osprey-canadian-national-enduro-nobl-race-recap-2016.html

 

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Crankworx – EWS & Canada Cup Finals

Right after Mint-Sainte-Anne I was flying out of QC City at 5:30 AM on the Monday. Home for 1.5 days before heading over to Whistler to prep for the sixth round of the Enduro World Series. With three big days of practice on the mountain, in the bike park and around the valley, it was go time.

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Sunday morning we set out for an 80 km day with 5,000 meters of descending. Essentially, it was a dream for a mountain biker. The course was tough both physically and technically that had a great mix of everything for all the riders. It was my first Enduro race of the year and definitely not my last!

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A smooth and steady day brought me some top-25 stages and a 32nd overall. Just a little bit slow first and last stage unfortunately. I was satisfied with this result as I had only ridden my trail bike three times before coming to Whistler. Hoping to make some bigger gains before the next races.

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The day after the Canada Cup I came down with a bit of a cold. Pair that with some allergies and it turned into a bit of a savouring week on the fitness and resting side. That Enduro stuff is harder than you think! Come race day for XC I was ready to go but clearly lacked that zip I needed to be in the fight up front.

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This Canada Cup is one I’ve really wanted to win and this year was no different so getting 4th was not in the plans. I made the best of the day because it was not a very good one early on. Being back in 8th didn’t look too promising but I latched on with Geoff Kabush and we slowly picked out way through the field. Eventually with a lap and half to go his pace was too much and his final attack sealed the deal in dropping me. I was being chased by teammate Petey so it was still a fight to the line.

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That locked up third overall in the Canada Cup Series for me and also gave me the overall BC Cup series title! Something I haven’t had since I was a U17. Very cool to go back to those days.

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It was a special week in Whistler staying with the Vezina and Wallace families. Trips are always better when you’re surrounded by great people.

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My mom and gramma also made it out to this race. It’s not often my parents or gramma gets to make it out, so this one was a special one.

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Pinkbike report

Cairns WC recap

After a successful Sea Otter trip it was time to head down under. Cairns, Australia was host to the first World Cup of 2016. I travelled down with my Norco teammates Evan M and Andrew. Haley also came but was with the national team for this race.

Air New Zealand – fantastic airline and I highly recommend to anyone travelling down this way.

The temperatur in Cairns, well more the humidity, was the craziest I’ve ever experienced. I used to think the east coast was bad but this took it to a whole new level. I think I was sweaty the entire 9 days. No complaints of nice weather though. We experienced wind and rain storms that hardly seems like storms because it just felt like you were standing under a warm shower stream.

The course was unbelievably amazing. I love riding mountain bikes and I can hardly contain myself when the trails get that good, especially for a bike race. Not often do we race really fun trails. This one was hard with one main, long climb and one long descent with a flat loop at the bottom. The start would prove to be crucial in the race with the long single track climb.

In the days leading up we enjoyed riding the course, relaxing by our pool and sharing the excitement of being in this tropical paradise. We were full privateers at this face; supporting ourselves in everyday but also enjoying having just our races to focus on.

Come race day the teams spirit was high and on a personal level I was ready to rumble, in the jungle of course! My world ranking still isn’t quite where I want it to be and that means starting 71st of 90 riders – not great. I wasn’t worried about that as I felt good and the course was going to be a good one for me. Unfortunately after 250 meters of sprinting from the start a crash happened and after cruising through the dust I rode right into my teammate Evan who was on the ground and I went down too. Not the way anyone wants to start the fastest races in the world. After getting up, dead last with Evan, I got on the bike and was back at it. My bar was twisted sideways from the impact, so I stopped quick and forced it back into place. Once rolling again I caught the pack in the first bottleneck section and start the “let’s see how many people I can pass” game.

The adrenaline is pumping hard at that point and you’re just seeing the tunnel vision. IN the beginning you pass a lot of riders but as you get in to the field the riders are faster and faster, which means less passing and then finally you reach a point where you’re in with the pack. I didn’t know how far I could push back through, so to finish 57th is decent, but knowing that I did that after a crash and being way off the back and the field out-of-sight in the beginning is frustrating. I don’t know how the race would have played out otherwise but I do know the placing would have been a lot higher.

The race, once I got into my rhythm, was good. I was happy with how I rode, happy how the body felt and happy with my technical ability out there. That is what I take home for the next two weeks of training before heading to Europe for the next two World Cup races in Germany and France. To get some redemption.

Post race I decided to stay an extra 3 days for a mini vacation. Something we don’t usually do or even think about but after flying half way around the world for 5 days I felt like an extra 3 was necessary. On day 1 I did a Cairns exploration ride then went to a crocodile zoo in the afternoon with other friends who stayed. We watched crocs, pet koalas and wallabies, and learned about all the dangerous Australian animals and insects that don’t actually kill many people..

Day 2 was a 13 hour jungle tour and waterfall exploration with a friend. We rode the bus out into the old volcanic lands, swam in volcano lakes and waterfalls, saw the world largest fig tree and saw hundreds of kilometres of beautiful rainforests and jungles. Day 3 we took a boat out to a little island that backs on to the Great Barrier Reef and we snorkelled around. It was an action-packed few days and I am spent now. Playing tourist is hard! I did my last ride up the coast to Port Douglas. I’m not in the airport and heading home.

Thanks to everyone who made this trip happen and supported me along the way. It’s a big year and I’m looking forward to the races ahead. Here’s a few links to race reports, photos and results:

CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/fleury-pendrel-mountain-bike-world-cup-1.3550844

Pinkbike: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/rise-of-the-olympians-cairns-xc-world-cup-2016.html

Pedal Magazine interviews: http://pedalmag.com/uci-mtb-world-cup-xc-cairns-elite-mens-results/

Canadian Cyclist photo gallery: http://canadiancyclist.com/photos.php?cc_event_id=563&title=cairns-mtb-world-cup

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Mid race. Photo: Antoine Caron

Photo story from the trip

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