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.

IMG_3619

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.

IMG_3620

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.

IMG_3630

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.

13445707_10157070474225055_8295737559978614390_n

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.

13394046_10157070476750055_7535482513684004243_n

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.

13418686_10157070480350055_1867859149283132484_n

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.

13434721_10157070515645055_9062610656061118487_n

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.

p5pb13600116

Photo: Antoine Caron, Pinkbike 

p5pb13600141

Photo: Antoine Caron, Pinkbike 

p5pb13600151

Photo: Antoine Caron, Pinkbike 

13418704_10157070568400055_8195140005341135267_n

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.

13435469_10157070522820055_4702872083691365191_n

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.

13450155_10157070498155055_6367391306463428337_n

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.

Faulds9

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

13406883_10157070643430055_6296318492261150630_n

L to R: Peter Disera, Derek Zandstra, myself, Evan Mcneely, and Davis Ross.

13407271_10157070474060055_1145728690452722090_n

Team

Faulds8

Cooling down and laughing with our boss man Kevin last weekend.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 6.39.19 AM

 

Fontana US Cup Recap

Ouch. Fontana was yet another tough race and one I felt quite a lot better in than last weekends Bonelli US Cup, though I only placed one spot better – 25th – it was a much better execution both physically and mentally.

Bike racing never seems to get any easier, it just seems to get funner and the ability to dig deeper into the pain cave becomes more and more each race. These US Cups were big races and I had hoped to be pretty good for them, and it’s hard to be disappointed because nothing bad happened but nothing spectacular happened either. They were what I call “steady-solid” races. They weren’t an aim for the season, though you always aim to be the best you can be on the day.

The first weekend in Bonelli was quite a shock to the body with such a world-class field it became apparent you needed your A-game to have a good result. Not that I would call my results good, I just wanted more. Both weekend 70-75% of the field didn’t even get to finish the race because the leader were so quick and began catching the stragglers.

In Fontana I had a much more enjoyable race. It still hurt, a lot. The course had much more of a mountain bike feel and it seemed to motivate me more than riding on gravel roads and grass. Another slow start had me quite far back in the field and it seems like my motor is just a diesel engine right now, so I just put it in drive and started to pick guys off. A quick glance at the outcome didn’t have me excited, but when I looked at the picture and executed my race plan, stuck to my goals and accomplished it’s hard not be proud. I raced hard and there was just 24 faster guys, some of which are the fastest in the world and some who are peaking right now.

Teammates Haley and Peter rode strong. Haley, yet again, proved to be riding quick with a 18th in the XC and 7th in the STXC. She is off to Columbia for the Pan Am Championships this weekend with the National team. Peter rode to 19th in the mens XC.

It was another great weekend of training and put me closer to my focus on the World Cups in May and the summer racing with our National Champs, World Cups and World Champs.

Another stellar weekend for Canada with multiple podiums in the men’s and women’s pro cross-country and short track races. My training buddy Mckay Vezina threw down and took a second in pro men’s Super D on Saturday and 4th in pro mens DH Sunday after a bobble. The Vezina family was taking great care of me as my support team for the weekend again. Cycling BC took over as my pit crew with feeds and support as well, thank you to all those people who make the racing life easier for me!

Results:

Men – http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29187&title=us-cup-fontana-mens-results

Women – http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=29184&title=us-cup-fontana-womens-results

Thanks to Sho-Air for making these races possible!!! http://uscup.net

Race video from the men and women: http://uscup.net/us-cup-tv/

All photos below from Papa Chris Vezina:

i-HHn2jzX-L

 

Dusty? nah…

i-RPr8K7D-L

 

Live video streaming by the chopper.

 

i-nz44C8w-XL

Teammate Peter Disera rode strong to 19th.

i-8LHmjTv-XL

i-Ntm8ZMC-L

i-cNzXDp2-XL

Short track cross-country race

i-63pQCpt-XL

Mckay on the Super D podium

i-CdX7dBs-XL

i-ph7L6R9-XL

i-3MLZSnv-XL

Post race hose showers are key when getting into the car and driving two hours.

Interior CX Finals “School of Hard Knox”

It’s crazy how fast the fall season comes and goes. Every year I write down a list of things I want to do, explore or adventure to, and this season was fairly full, although I didn’t tick off everything I hoped for.

Fitting in at least one cyclo-cross race had to be done. It wasn’t more fitting than to do Chainline Cycle’s “School of Hard Knox” race. The guys put on a great event and are pushing for all cycling events in the valley. Well done, gentleman. Of course thank you from all the racers for the effort and allowing us to have a good time.

It was a tough day, not going to sugarcoat it. Fun day with a four and half hour hike on Saturday, early morning riding in the negatives before the races and then the “School of Hard Knox” at Knox mountain began.

Peter Watson from Balance Point Racing was going fast and unfortunately got a flat tire. It did allow me to relax a little and catch my breath. Going hard in that cold of weather after six weeks without anything hard, was damn hard! The kids races were great to watch and I couldn’t believe how many young rippers were out there.

Great way to end the competitive 2014 racing season with a win. Local events are always some of my favourite to attend and unfortunately I don’t get to participate in as many anymore, especially these fall cx races with my school schedule. Finishing that day off with a “cool down” over to Tree Brewing for a pint was just perfect.

 

 

Sudbury Canada Cup Recap

Round 3 of the Canada Cup series took place in Sudbury, ON yesterday. I finished up with my third podium over the three races, this time in 5th.  Ontario has a big cross-country cycling scene, which is one reason I love to race out here. The atmosphere is great, the support is great and you’re likely to have a pretty darn good time.

IMG_3874

Last Monday I flew into Sault St Marie, ON to spend a few days training and be there for my team, Norco Bicycles, annual demo at the Velorution bike shop. I did the same last year and was excited to make the trip once again. Jan Roubal, who runs the shop, is a animal on the bike and joined me for intervals while being my tour guide one of the days.

DCIM100GOPRO

A few days prior to the race were spent in Sudbury with the full Norco gang after we’ve spent the better part of 6-weeks without any gatherings.

DCIM100GOPRO

Race prep as usual was the recipe leading into the Sunday race. The course was interesting with hardly any climbing and continual bumps and rough riding through the rocky/rooty terrain of the Canadian Shield. The body feels quite beat up this morning, but totally worth it.

IMG_3908

Missing from the mens race were: Max Plaxton, Geoff Kabush, Raphael Gagne and Kris Sneddon. You could say the biggest names of the elite men in Canada. With many prepping for next weekends National Championships at home, this was my tune-up training after not racing for quite some time.

Elite Men podium

Photo: Rob Jones @ Canadiancyclist.com

It was a humid day out under cloudy skies with a chance of showers. Overnight rain helped make for some slick portions throughout the course, which caused some havoc throughout the race. Our field was slowly split up due to some riders mistakes and crashes in the conditions.

First lap teammate Evan Mcneely and myself were riding with the front group which also consisted of: Derek Zandstra, Cam Jette and Leandre Bouchard. I couldn’t quite hang onto this group with the how the body was working on the day.

Faded back and rode with Trek Canadas Mitch Bailey. This guy was fun to ride with! We worked well together, which kept me motivated and help me pull out the best effort I could for quite some time. Huge thanks to him for doing some monster pulls out there. Plus my Honey Stinger gels from Planet Foods were working wonders!

IMG_3889

Continued on and caught Leandre Bouchard with 1.5 laps to go in the 6 lap race. Leandre and I got away from Mitch going into the last lap. Leandre squeaked past a rider into one of the single track sections and a gap opened that was, at the time, unable to be closed back down. Fought tooth and nail, or cross-eyed with jello-like legs to get him.

Crossed the line in 5th, which is a massive improvement from a poor 14th place finish last year. This also marks the most consistent Canada Cup series for me.  Now time to focus on next weekends National Championships, where I will take on the elite mens race for the first time after graduating from the under-23 ranks.

IMG_3890

 

Norco Factory Team results below.

Elite Men:

Evan Mcneely – 3rd

Peter Disera – 9th

Andrew Watson – 10th

Andrew Lesperance – 18th

Elite Women:

Haley Smith – 6th

Cayley Brooks – 23rd

Report from CanadianCyclist: http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=28082

Photo Gallery from Canadiancyclist: http://www.canadiancyclist.com/photos.php?cc_event_id=452&cc_event_subcategory_id=402719

Massive thanks to my sponsors for their support:

Norco Bicycles

Granfondo Axel Merckx

Pro Source Irrigation Supply

Tree Brewing

The Bike Barn

Planet Foods

Dissent Labs

Along with the many others who support in a private way, family and friends. So many generous people help make this cycling lifestyle a reality. Thank you to them and everyone that is apart of this wonderful journey!

Special shout-out to Granfondo Axel Merckx which took place yesterday in Penticton, BC. A wonderful sponsor of mine and an event I was really looking forward to this year, but unfortunately there was a conflict with this Canada Cup. All the reports sounds the event went amazing and weather was hot at ~38 C. I missed the kids Piccolofondo the most though. Seeing a few hundred little ones riding around on run bikes, training wheels and streamers hanging off their bars is something special. I had the privilege of riding with those kids the previous two years and hope to be back out next year!

IMG_3903

‘McNeely the danish monster’

 

IMG_3900

Lori Bailey Photos below:

10462818_10152536307805979_5621814491916835347_n

10513336_10152536332645979_6535588321036637272_n