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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St Felicien Canada Cup Recap

On Saturday July 23rd the 5th round of Cycling Canada’s national series – The Canada Cup – took place in St Felicien (St Fe), Quebec. St Fe has hosted multiple National Championship events and a World Cup in 2007. This race followed the National Championships last weekend in Baie-St-Paul (BSP), Quebec. The Norco Factory team has been having a great year and Nationals was a major target for the team. Peter Disera came away with the under-23 National Title. The team also took home the Team Relay National Title. Some of us elite guys and Haley struggled a bit and weren’t entirely satisfied with our races.

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St Felicien was our weekend to get redemption and that we did. Something very special happened in the race. Before getting in too far here’s a quick recap of the week: the team stayed in BSP for a few extra days to train in the Charlevoix region. Team caption Kevin Haviland headed west to the 2017 Norco product launch. Us athletes were sad to miss the event. Big congratulations to Ryan Leech who celebrated 20 years with Norco! He’s a huge role model to us all. The team headed north with assistant caption Josh Toohill and arrived in St Fe a few days early to prepare on course and sharpen our swords for the weekend. The great thing about having a mechanic, assistant caption and all around helper extraordinaire who races DH like Josh is that he can come out on pre ride and scope lines with us.

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Here’s short video of the team riding the race course: LINK

 

By race morning everyone was itching to toe the line. Haley put together a strong race and came from 6th after the start loop to finish 2nd. She fought off local Quebec national champions and medallists from the national championships. It’s only her first year in the senior category as well!

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L-R: Catherine Fleury, Haley Smith, Sandra Walter, Cindy Montebault, Rebecca Beaumont Photo: Caroline Gautier

The guys squad started off with our team warm up, which turned into a 4-man pace line and  got our adrenaline going. We could all see that it was going to be a good day. Coming into this race 3 of the 4 guys have each won one of the last three Canada Cups. It’s quite incredible to have depth like this on a team. We kept saying all week that it was Andrews turn to win here. He rose to the occasion and attacked early to get out front. The pace strung out the field and caused some chaos in the chase. Evan Mcneely and I were able to capitalize on this and bridge up to Andrew.

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Photo: Aiden Brown

By lap 2 Andrew, Evan and I were off the front riding as a unit and building the gap. I think I can speak for the other guys when I say that riding in this position created energy, drive and the desire to win. We didn’t need to communicate much, we just took turns pulling in the windy sections and rode smart and efficient. We all knew without saying a word that what was going on was unexplainably special and that we could go 1-2-3. These guys aren’t just my teammates, they’re my friends. One of Canada’s Rio Olympians – Leandre Bouchard – was racing and we all have incredible respect for this guy. He’s been consistently top-20 in all the World Cups this year, so it was an honour to be on the podium spraying Champaign with this Rio-bound athlete.

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Photo: Caroline Gautier

In the end were crossed the line with Andrew taking his first Canada Cup win, myself in second and Mcneely in third. Peter followed up with a strong ride to finish 7th.  Mcneely is still leading the Canada Cup series as we approach the finals on August 19th at Crankworx. Andrew is in second and I moved into third spot overall. Norco also continues to lead the overall team ranking.

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Photo: Caroline Gautier

I may need to research this more but it’s either been an incredibly long time or it’s never happened where a team has finished 1-2-3 at a Canada Cup and won 4 races with 4 different athletes in the same year. We have an incredible team right now and I can’t thank everyone enough for what they bring to the program. Everyone at Norco Bicycles and Live to Play Sports who supports this program, our team sponsors who provide us the best and most reliable equipment, and our team captains Kevin Haviland, Jonathan Duncan and Josh Toohill who drive us around, work on our bikes, and keep us in line.

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L-R: Jeremy Martin, Evan Guthrie, Andrew L’esperance, Evan Mcneely, Leandre Bouchard Photo: Caroline Gautier

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Post-race group ride L-R: Andew, Kevin, Evan G, Evan M, Haley, Josh, and Peter

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The team is now dispersing back to their homes until we gather back up in Mont-Sainte-Anne for the World Cup on August 7th.

National Championships recap

This past Saturday the Canadian National Championships took place in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. This race happens once a year and it always a very important race to any Canadian. Having the chance to wear the maple leaf jersey for the year to signify you’re the champion if the country is something special. Our team came into this race with the chance to podium in every category that we have a rider in; the elite mens, elite women, under-23 men and the team relay. I flew into Quebec City early and stayed with my racing pal Jeremy Martin for a couple days of training.

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We stay in the “farm house” every year for this race and it has become our little oasis. This area of the country is beautiful. Located some 1.5 hours down the St Lawrence river from Quebec City, the bay area is filled with farm fields, mountains and, more importantly, produces great beer and cheese.

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Photo: Antoine Caron

Come race day everything was in place and going smoothly. Our team was reunited for this race after having not all been together for a full month. Spirits were high and the minds were fiery. The memories from this race goes back many years and it’s one course that I love. The natural trails, rocky, rooty and plain old technical riding is just the kind of riding I like – real mountain biking. Over the years the weather has been all over the map and this year all types of weather threatened. Days with high humidity, rains storms, and sunny weather had us wondering which way it would go.

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Photo: Jon Barnes

By the time it was race day the mud had dried up and the humidity had gone down; it was now the perfect day for a bike race. By this time in my racing days there are a few things that I need to do and a wide-range of feelings that I’ve experienced which will produce a “solid” or stellar day. On warm up this day I could feel things weren’t as fresh or spicy feeling as I would have liked, but I’ve got such a large platform of fitness built up that even an “off” feeling days will still be good because I can still push myself and I have that desire.

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Photo: Rob Jones @ www.canadiancyclist.com

This day turned out to be one of those average ones where I had one speed and just didn’t have that extra zip needed to be in the fight up front. In the end a 7th isn’t horrible but it’s the sensations behind the result that make it a little disappointing. Right from the gun the lead group took off and I was fighting tooth and nail while watching them ride off. The race was good where no mistakes were made and I finished absolutely gassed, where turning the pedals over was becoming near impossible. The same feelings I would get no matter what the placing is. That extra fire to be competitive up front lacked. After being top-5 the past two years I wanted a lot more.

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Photo: Rob Jones @ www.canadiancyclist.com

Our team walked away with two National Titles. Peter Disera took the under-23 mens and Lespy, Haley, Petey and his little bro Quinton took the team relay title. It’s just as exciting for me when my teammates and friends have good rides. Haley finished 4th in the elite women’s race, Lespy finished 8th and Mcneely 10th in the elite men’s race. For the team relay I joined one of the three BC teams and also finished 7th.

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Norco Factory Team Relay National Champs!

Baia-Saint-Paul put on an amazing race and, as always, keeps one of the best venues exciting for all racers and spectators.

There were some amazing rides out there. My teammate Peters was amazing and it’s extra special to have been around him while he’s chased that title. BC continues to produce phenomenal abilities with the youth and came away with Emily Hanford winning the junior women’s race and Sean Fincham winning the junior mens race. Congrats to all the other BC racers. Another big one was Derek Zandstra winning the elite mens title. Leandre Bouchard has been on fire this year and those two battled hard but Derek was able to solidify his power and throw down. It’s been a big year with Olympic selection happening and in the mens battle there was essentially 3 riders fighting for 2 spots. Those 3 riders are incredibly deserving and I wish all of them could be going but it came down to the wire and Derek was left off the team for some unfortunate reasons. I’m very happy for the riders who are going but also very sad for one rider who isn’t.

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The U23 women this year are world class and World Cup #1 silver medallist Catherine Fleury took a well deserved win that would have put her in 4th in the elite women! Emily Batty took the elite women’s crown as she heads to Rio in just one months time.

This race was a big goal for the year and it’s already come and gone. Onwards and upwards to next weekends Canada Cup in St Felicien, Quebec before returning home for a week to prep for the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup.

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Video from Geoff Kabush on the course: https://www.instagram.com/p/BH5l58tDWKB/

Pinkbike article by Antoine Caron: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/canadian-xc-national-championship-2016.html

Full results: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=31454&title=mtb-xc-championships-full-results-all-categories

Photos on CanadianCyclist: http://canadiancyclist.com/photos.php?cc_event_id=581&cc_event_subcategory_id=403443&category=mtb-xco-championships_elite-u23-men-part-1

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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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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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