Bonelli US Cup #2 Recap

Saturday marked the first “big” cross-country race of the year at stop two of the US Cup #2. North America’s finest lined up and the field included riders from Spain, Mexico, Columbia, Australia, and New Zealand. This race was much larger, deeper in the talent pool and the first “big” race of 2017 for most people in North/South America. For myself, it was the first real target of the year. 

Before we get too far, I will add that Friday was “officially” my last day of school (ever!). Handed in the final essay Friday before pre-ride after five years of working hard and that was it. I now earned that piece of paper saying I graduated college! 

Race Report: An off start and mediocre first lap didn’t start things off on the page that I had drafted up, but sometime the final isn’t always as planned. I don’t know what happened but kept it going and soon enough was moving forward and picking guys off. One by one until I moved from outside the top-20 to 10th. It was a battle and I was able to take my best-ever finish in a race of this class (HC level). Happy with how it ended after the start seemed like it was headed for an off-day. I’ve learned now that the fitness is so good that an “off-day” can still be a good day by suffering more than others. Luckily I had a ton of supporters out there cheering and helping me keep the gas pedal down. 

There was a great Canuck presence out there with 4 Canadian riders for men and women in top-10. Big ride by previous teammate of mine, Andrew L’esperance, in the mens with a 5th and a Junior win by Gunnar Holmgren. 

Big thank you to everyone helping me out these days. It’s another challenge running a solo program at the races and I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people who keeping offering help. The Quebec team helped me out for feeds and technical support this weekend (Thank-you, Serge!). 

Enjoyed a fine weekend staying with Stephen Ettinger and Payson Mcelveen

XC Results

STXC Results

Photo gallery by Chris Vezina from the Saturday XC race: https://cndkids.smugmug.com/Sports/Cycling/2017-April-Bonelli-Park-XC-Race/n-JCdQBS/

Fontana US Cup article on Pinkbike HERE

All Photos below by Chris Vezina:

Fontana US Cup #1 Recap

The Fontana US Cup marked my fourth visit to the venue with the first time being seven years ago. It also started a four-race stretch through April in the US. The race started well and I lead a group of 5 riders off and we distanced ourselves from the rest of the field (video HERE). After coming into this season with the best shape in years and a big few weeks of training, I raced under a lot of load and was happy with the performance. After being solidly in 2nd place going into the final 5 minutes, I heard that hissing from the rear tire that you never want to hear – a flat. Glass was the culprit that put two holes in the rear tire. This course I think holds a world record for most glass per capita (I swear!). Luckily I race with tire plugs now and put one in and stopped three times to C02 the tire and make it across the line to salvage the day with third. 
 
Unfortunate to have issues the first two races but both were totally out of my control. Getting my first US Cup podium was a great confirmation of all the changes made this year and support I’ve received. Hoping all that “bad luck” has been topped up and the rest of season is smooth sailing! Thanks for those supporting me and helping shape this season into a good one so far. 
 
 
Very grateful for the amazing people who always offer help at these races. Now that I’m on my own at these races it can be challenging to find someone for feeding, support, and so as I don’t have a hired support person for all the races. For example, in warm up I was offered feed zone support by Serge the QC team coach, Grant and Drew of the Giant Factory Team for taking my spare wheels to and from the tech zone, Gareth Feldstein for feeding me, Maghalie Rochette offering help, and Kenny Wehn of Stan’s NoTubes. The bike community is filled with wonderful people. 
 

What do you think of my new Race Face kits to match the Giro helmet and SMITH glasses!??

The name Team Solo Evan is catching on!

Here’s what a tire plug looks like. These are something I would recommend riding/racing with for everyone running a tubeless system.

All the spray from the tire sealant after the glass “incident”. 

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. 

 

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

Mont-Sainte-Anne: The legend

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Recovery coffee rides with Sandra Walter Catharine Pendrel.

MSA is a legendary course and the most memorable venue on the circuit. It’s the only venue to hold a World Cup and World Championship since the inception of the events. This marked my 7th appearance in 8 years. The only one missed was the World Championships in 2010 when I was out with mono.

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XC laps with our DH teammate Sam Blenkinsop 

This course is my favourite in the world, hands down. It holds some of my most significant race memories and best results I’ve ever achieved. This year was no different; I achieved my best-ever world cup finish in Elite Men. Improving by only 1 position from my previous best, which was also in MSA two years ago.

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Team tent set up with Havy giving our bikes some love.

Leading into this race I had my sights set high. Ten positions better is where I wanted to be. After the first lap I moved from 58th to 27th and fought in the top-30 for 4 laps. Eventually fading and loosing four positions in the final 1/4 lap. Not disappointed because I left it all out there. It was great to finally see what it’s like to fight in 20’s. HUGE motivation with that being that last big XC race of the year.

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One of the “features” on course – a steep rock roll with steps.

The team rode strong. Peter threw down a 14th in the under-23 men while flying the new National Champion kit. Haley battled out there and finished 36th, while Mcneely also battled to a 50th. Lespy had a very unfortunate flat very far from the tech zone while him and I were riding together. It was gutting to hear that hissing behind me while we were moving forward. It’s incredibly motivating to have my buddy racing with me so it could have been even better if him and I stayed together and pushed forward.

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Our team was exceptional over the weekend. The boys make it fun for us and keep up rollin’ along.

It was back home for one and half days before making the trip up to Whistler for two weeks where I am dabbling in all disciplines and racing Enduro, DH and the XC Canada Cup finals. More info to come.

Look at what the fans: https://vimeo.com/174401050

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Below Photos: Jonathan Duncan

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