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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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

 

 

Crankworx Canada Cup

Crankworx is an amazing festival and one that always reminds me why I love to ride bikes. This year the Norco Factory XC team was represented by Evan “Mcsneaky” Mcneely and Andrew “Lespy” L’Esperance. After a very full two days of travel after the Windham World Cup, which consisted of flying from New York to Kelowna on Monday and driving to Whistler on Tuesday, myself and the boys settled in for a couple good sleeps and course preparations.

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Chris Vezina Photo

This was the last big xc race of the season, the last chance to race and show the form, and a chance to redeem after a poor World Cup only 4 days before. Norco came in with Peter Disera leading the overall Canada Cup series and Mcneely in second. The pressure was on for us to perform and take that leaders jersey home, again. We also brought 3 guys and knew we could put everyone on the podium.

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Chris Vezina Photo

Lespy blitzed the first lap and it took about 10 minutes for my legs to come around after they were a little slow-going in warm up. From there I knew it was going to be a good day. By midway through lap 2/5 I had a little gap and was pushing forward. I won my first Canada Cup here in 2006 as a U-17 Cadet Expert and I wanted to win this one, badly. I usually pride myself on not flatting or getting mechanicals because, in my opinion, it’s a reflection of how you’re riding that triggers those issues, unless you have a fat nail in your tire or a part fails.

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Chris Vezina Photo

And then it happened, the flat tire. While my back wheel slid out on a corner and a divot in the rock face caught the sidewall of my rim, it flattened so much the tire wasn’t able to stay beaded and the air was lost. Not a tire failure by any means but my fault for charging hard. I raced with a saddle bag and tube, as this was a rocky race. Changed the tube and fell to 9th or 10th. In the next half lap I picked up two spots before pulling into the pits and doing a wheel change. Back to 10th. The fire was fuelled and I took off, pulling all the way back to 3rd at the finish. It truly was a great day on the bike. Shit happens though and you make the best of it. I did get drug tested after and completed one of my life goals of giving a beer-coloured pee sample. Small wins.

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Chris Vezina Photo

It was important to finish the season racing the way I know I should be. The excitement continued with a couple days of riding trail bikes around Whistler, going out on the town and riding the lifts. Monday I did my first Grouse Grind before visiting Norco HQ and Jay Hoots’ bike park in Hope, BC.

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Norco’s Factory Racing DH team and Team Norco International were out in full force and making podium appearances in almost every event at Crankworx. It was a great time time to be part of the Norco family.

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Now, we switch bikes to bigger squishy ones for some Enduro racing this fall. I’m back over to Europe to take on the final two Enduro World Series races in Spain and Italy.

I can’t say thank you enough or show my appreciation for all the support I’ve received this year. The support network in key to success.

Norco News: http://www.norco.com/news/2015/08/team-news-crankworx/

Results: http://pedalmag.com/canada-mtb-cup-xc4-whistler-results-final-standings/

http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29979&title=canada-cup-xc-5-whistler

Chris Vezina photos: https://cndkids.smugmug.com/Sports/Cycling/2015-Whistler-Canada-Cup/n-Wh2cnh

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Riding the park with Jay Hoots

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Hoots Park

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Top of the World, Whistler peak chair.

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Blackcomb riding with Evan, Andrew, Geoff Kabush, Peter Glassford and Amanda Sin.

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Elite men and women podium.

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Happened to find a girl wit with same shirts as our team(not pictured in them).

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Chris Vezina 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/