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. 

 

Northwave Shoes

Proud to be supported by Northwave this season. Over the past two years I was indirectly supported by Northwave (Cycling Lambert – Canadian Distributor) and was fortunate to wear their stylish and comfortable, slipper-like shoes. It’s an honour to officially be with Northwave from the Italian headquarters.  For this season I will be wearing the Extreme XC, Enduro Mid, and Extreme RR models for cross-country, enduro and road. Thank you for the support, Northwave. 

 

Race Face

It’s with great pleasure to announce that RACE FACE and I will be teaming up for 2017. 

 

XC bikes will have RF:

-Next SL bars

-Turbine dropper post

-Turbine stem

-Love handle grips

-Aeffect SL wheels

-NEXT SL G4 cranks and chain rings

 

Trail/Enduro bike with have RF:

-SIXC cranks and rings

-SIXC bar

-Turbine stem

-Turbine Rally wheelset

-Half Nelson grips

 

Clothing and Protection:

-Podium jersey for XC

-Indy shorts for XC

-Ruxton shorts and jersey for Enduro

-Stash Bibs and vest for XC and Enduro

-Chute jacket for all weather conditions

-All types of gloves

-Charge and Indy knee/elbow pads for Enduro racing

Stark Onesie for sitting in front of my wood stove at home and eating cookies

Check out the Race Face website HERE.

I will be aboard the Aeffect SL wheels

Honoured to be running the worlds most versatile cranks on my XC bikes: Next SL G4

I will running the NEXT xc bar and Turbine stem, love handle grips, and Turbine dropper post on my xc bikes.

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. 

 

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

 

DCIM999GOPRO

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. 

 

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03zPL9AADo4[/embedyt]

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.

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.

img_4180

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.