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

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

 

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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.

La Bresse World Cup Recap

World Cup racing is savage. No matter where you are in the field it’s a fight – sometimes literally. Not that I can account for racing anywhere near the front end of an elite men’s WC, I’ve just watched them and been beaten by them. Albstadt and La Bresse marked my twentieth and twenty-first WC races. I’ve raced multiples as a junior, under-23 and now elite; the races have only gotten harder and somehow that continues to lure you in more.

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There’s always a lure to come back and conquer when races don’t go well. The racing is crazy at the back of the field. Apart from from the speed there are bikes, fists, feet and people flying all the over the place.

Start

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

A WC start goes something like this: gun goes off, front guys start, back guys wait about 5 sec to even clip in, 150 guys are sprinting around you, one guy brakes and a chain reaction begins and someone usually crashes, everyone come almost to a hault swerving around a wrecked person or stand-still, guys are sprinting into or over you, some guy always goes for a stupid pass and catches his bar in the fencing and eats $hit, hopefully you swerve around him, then comes the bottleneck at the first single-track. Now you’re walking, running if you’re lucky, bikes are above rider’s heads to tomahawk past everyone else, then you get in a pushing battle with some other racer (yes, aggression in spandex), and now you get back on your bike and start riding again. That’s only the first 5 minutes.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

If you’re like me, you get past by 125 lbs dudes floating up the climbs – only to then catch them on the descent and get held up. It’s ends up being an uphill battle both ways. Sometimes you get a clear trail for a bit and ride your rhythm, which is hopefully at your potential. Usually there’s 5-10 guys just up the road to chase and the same amount just behind chasing you down. Every inch is fought for in these races. In North America someone can crash, flat, mechanical, and dab all over and usually still be in the race. In Europe or at a WC you can be passed by 4 guys by simply dabbing. A flat tire can mean not finishing the lead lap. A chain break or a start crash, well I can tell you all about that.

Bouchard beats Vogel for 20th

Congrats to Canadian Leandre Bouchard for 20th

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

The first finish of the day is making it through the start loop unscathed with a working bike. There isn’t any friendliness in the back of the field to other races, unless maybe you’re country mates or proper buds. I’ll always give riders the respect, as we’re chasing the same thing, but as soon as someone gets out of line and tries to get physical I’m confident my clydesdale weight and size will only backfire their plans.

At Albstadt I had the unique opportunity to, once again, be DFL after only 100 M when my chain broke. Whatever it was I was ready to take on the ‘how many people can I pass game’ again. I hate quitting and will do everything possible in a race to continue. This was just a test of that. It was a 400 M run to the pits while being cheered on by fans with pretzels in their hands (which I was jealous of). I was reminded with this scenario that the bike community is amazing. People from Scott/3Rox, the Canadian National Team, and Aaron Schooler (my personal helper for the day) all came to help once I ran into the pits. I set a new personal passing record of 53 riders. $hit happens sometimes and you just have to make the best of it. I really wanted to workup the appetite for my post-race schnitzel and Milka bar.

Bike racing is tough. Winning the personal battles for me means just as much on days like that.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

In La Bresse I just needed to get past 250 M without issues and that was a win. That happened. The legs didn’t show up this day but with one of the best courses to date. This course had people in, on, and around every nook and cranny yelling and screaming. It was only natural to to get buck wild on the descents with chains saws revving (Long live Chainsaw) and bells ringing. Make sure to check out the women’s race – it was incredible to watch those ladies throw down. The Frenchman – Julian Absalon – schooled the men’s field to win on home soil.

All smiles, Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing XC) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team)

Both Emily (L) and Catharine (R) had amazing races to finish 3rd and 2nd.

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

Now I’m back in Horseshoe Valley, Ontario for the nest two weeks for some Canada Cup races. More updates to follow.

 

Photo essay from the trip:

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Life at home in-between the races

After getting home from the Cairns World Cup I caught a head cold and spent the first 1.5/2 weeks at home sick. It was unfortunate timing, as all colds are, but it was nice at home and every minute was enjoyed. The two weeks flew by as usual and now I’m in Albstadt, Germany preparing for the second round of the World Cup series this Sunday.

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Norco demo day for the new Optic trail bike

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Sunday Dinner with the gramma, mother, and father are always cherished.

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Peachland, you’re too beautiful. 

Although I wasn’t able to ride as much as I would hoped at home I still picked off riding my favourite routes, saw my favourite people, and did some of my favourite things. I love riding my bike but I also love many other things. Racing my bike around the world is a gift I can’t put into words, though being home is always special. The Red Devils Cycling Academy also started up their 2016 practices. Joining the all the young rippers is always inspiring and takes me right back to those early days.

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Riding with the Red Devils crew and Coach Axel Merckx.

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Road riding in the Okanagan is world-class, as it the mountain biking. 

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The Kettle Valley Railway always gives jaw-dropping views.

The first official application process and deadline for the athletic fund I’ve created with the Central Okanagan Foundation also happened in the past month. Its been an exciting process and one I’m really looking forward to building upon. My goal is to support student-athletes of the central Okanagan in the their post-secondary and athletic pursuits. The chosen applicant for 2016 will be released in the coming month.

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My new Norco Factory Team spec’d Enduro race bike; the Norco Range.

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Home trails always give that extra smile.

After finishing school in early April I said to myself “no summer courses so you can focus on racing”. Then after three weeks of debating I signed up for a summer course.. I’m far too close to finishing school and this keeps my goal of finishing my Business Marketing program at Okanagan College in 2016 on track.

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Had more than a few mulligans on the course, but more in the ball-loosing form. 

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Along with starting up school I was picking up some home projects with some continued wood work for furnishing my place with reclaimed wood. One mans scrap wood is another mans pile of gold. Over the course of the past year I’ve build TV stands, wine racks, clothing racks and open face shelves for my little cabin. Another project was restoring and making my dads old motorbike street legal again, which has been off to a slow start but signal lights were installed and the old seat is getting reupholstered for my return home in June.

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Before the fire bans were put into effect there was a big gathering of the Guthrie family, family friends and friends for a big cook out over the fire – all enjoyed with some adult beverages. In the days leading up to this last departure the amazing and classic Okanagan weather was creating paradise. A few beach days were enjoyed along with a couple days on the boat.

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Celebrated little bro Tom’s birthday a whole 6 weeks early as an excuse to have an extra chocolate cake. 

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Giving Back


SPORTS – From the Kelowna Capital News (http://www.kelownacapnews.com/sports/378293971.html)

Guthrie funds young athletes

Cross country mountain biker Evan Guthrie has set up a scholarship fund for high school athletes - Keith Valentine

Cross country mountain biker Evan Guthrie has set up a scholarship fund for high school athletes

— Image Credit: Keith Valentine

Evan Guthrie decided it was time to give back.

The national-class mountain bike racer from Peachland has introduced the Evan Guthrie Fund, designed to assist young athletes in further pursuing opportunities in their chosen sport.

With the support of the Central Okanagan Foundation, the Evan Guthrie Fund will be presented this year to a graduating student at Mt. Boucherie Secondary School.

In the future, Guthrie plans to include all high schools in the Central Okanagan.

In Grade 10, Guthrie received a bursary in the name of Summerland freestyle skier Kristie Richards, the main inspiration for the creation of the new scholarship fund.

“It’s the first money I was ever given towards my sport and I’ll never forget that,” said Guthrie. “Then the Kelsey Serwa Bursary came along and I thought I can do something helpful, too. I feel I can give back more, to help graduating athletes who might not otherwise continue their sport for financial reasons.”

Guthrie said the fund is available to individuals competing in any sport, not just those offered in high schools.

In addition, applicants don’t necessarily have to excel in their classes.

“It’s not weighted heavily in academics, people don’t have to be straight-A students, but it will be for someone who is deserving and works hard,” said Guthrie. “I wasn’t really good in school and not everyone is.

“I want people to have the same opportunities I had. It’s tough when you hear people have to leave their sport when they don’t really want to.”

The application deadline for this year’s fund for one Mt. Boucherie student is Friday, May 13.

To apply, contact the career centre at MBSS.

To contact Evan Guthrie by email, visit his website: evanguthrie.com

 

Sea Otter Classic Recap

That marks the fourth year in a row I’ve attended the Sea Otter Classic, all of which have been with Norco Bicycles. Every year gets better in many ways. I think I’m learning the “how to” racing of The Sea Otter Classic. It’s a weird race and this year even more so with the fresh cut grass and pavement course. Essentially the course was half on the Laguna Seca raceway and the other half was on a side hill. One that would resemble a hay field where the farmer cut the grass but has yet to drive around to pick up the cuttings to make the hay. So we rode around on grass, dust and the odd rock that was thrown in.

Short track video highlight by Antoine Caron: https://vimeo.com/163086194

Cross-country video highlights by Dirtwire tv: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHwIRF8qRjk

It was fast and furious just like every race. Friday the short track race – a full on~30 minute, multi lap race – started off the weekend for us cross-country racers. It’s sometime a lottery with having 100+ guys all fighting to be at the front of the race. I got a decent start but being around 20th after lap one means a lot of work is ahead. Slowly I leap-frogged forward for the first 3/4 of the race until I finally made it to the front group of 6, which then became 7. Once making it there I was gassed from chasing and followed them for half a lap. Todd Wells slid out in front of me and I rode straight into him and laid my bike on the ground, not a wipeout just a slow speed set down on a corner. I was up quick, back on the bike (with a twister bar) and the lead group was now up the road and I didn’t have the juice to make it back up. I used those bullets originally to make contact.

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Photo: Jonathan Duncan

Three of us came together and chased the leaders for the final 5 laps. I made my move just before the final turn to sprint ahead for 7th, just within seconds of the leaders crossing the line. It was a great race and even harder when you’re 3 against 6 chasing into the wind. This was a great way to start off the weekend.

Short track recap on Pinkbike: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/short-track-xc-sea-otter-classic-2016.html

The team rested up that afternoon before coming into the XC race hot and heavy. The race start at Sea Otter is always crazy and it’s taken me four years to finally figure it out. Riding behind some slower guys through the “trails” and grassy corners opened a gap to the lead group which took me two laps to get get back to before they lit up some fireworks of attacks and after making a massive effort to bridge it wasn’t quite feasible to follow them.

All photos below are by Chris Vezina (Instagram: vezina11)

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The start is always on the famous Laguna Seca Raceway

From then it was another solo mission just behind the lead group. Each lap they were within spitting distance by the climb but once they starting all attacking each other to lead into the “trails” they would shot forward. I was like a yo-yo going back and forth behind that group. I’ll quickly explain the course as half pavement and half was on fresh cut grass. Imagine a farmer was about to hay his field, so he cut all the grass but before he picked up the hay into bails it was spread everywhere. That is what us mountain bikers dream of (insert sarcasm here).

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From 50 ft wide on the pavement track to single file. This is where the cluster happens in racing.

Slowly I bridged up to my teammate Andrew L’esperance by the last lap and was able to squeak by him to take 12th. He followed up in 13th and Peter Disera came in 14th. Evan Mcneely had a tough day and came in a bit further back. Haley Smith finished a solid 12th in the women’s race. Almost every one of the Norco riders pushed out a personal best results for US racing.

Cross-country recap and photos: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/xc-battle-sea-otter-2016.html

Now we head to Australia for the opening round of the World Cup series for April 24th.

Canadian rider interviews: http://pedalmag.com/sea-otter-interviews-with-pendrel-bouchard-smith-disera-fleury-beaumont-rochette-lesperance-glassford/

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First lap gunning.

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Following Mr Geoff Kabush. He won the short track and has many wins to his name at the Sea Otter Classic. Geoff is someone I look up to and have learnt a ton from over the years. Always a honour if I get to race near him.

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Andrew “Lespy” L’esperance represented the team up front all race.

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Deep in the pain cave.

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Peter Disera went on to finish 14th and the following day he won the road circuit race with his H&R Block (Norco associated) team. What a stud he is.

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There was dust…

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