National Championships

This past weekend was that time of year where the Canadians race for the coveted maple leaf jersey. The National Champions get to represent the title in their respective categories. This was the 12th year in a row I’ve raced Nationals and it dates back to my Under-17 days. This year we returned to Canmore, Alberta for the third time in my 12 years of this event, which makes it the most raced Nationals course for myself. Canmore is a place we all look forward to being in. The town exuberates sport and outdoor activities, and made us racers feel extremely special. 

The team running the event hit every detail and produced a world-class event. Hands down this was the best Nationals I’ve attended and am excited to be back next year! Thank you to everyone who spent the last year working, planning, digging, putting out fires (not literally), and jumping through hoops to make this event one to remember. We racers can’t do it without the volunteers and I hope every single one of them knows how much they’re appreciated. 

Photo: Caroline Gautier

After spending a nice little chunk of time at home preparing for this year, as my biggest goal of the year, I can’t help but be disappointed with how it played out. This year I’ve been overwhelmed with the support and help from others and really wished I could have repaid those efforts with a better race. It’s one thing if you have a race where everything is firing, no mistakes made and you finish knowing it was the best you gave, then that’s a win on the process side. The objective result is always hard because we place numbers on what we want to achieve but some days our competitors are just on another level, which I highly respect. So if I had finished 6th and had the race of my season then no disappointment is there. But this weekend I felt tapped out and unable to race at my capability and past races this year. It was a snail-like pace up the climbs and I only had the descents to help me out. Luckily there was enough trail and descending that I could salvage a 6th place is the always stacked Elite Men’s field. 

The “Eye Dropper” Photo: Caroline Gautier

Photo: Caroline Gautier

This race was one I put a star beside last October and have woken up every morning since that day and thought about it, planned for it, and trained for it. But it’s one day out of 365 and that can’t define the year if it doesn’t unfold how you visioned it. Unfortunately two weeks out I got hit with a body flu and spent 5 days on the couch, and missed about 10 days of ‘quality’ training. Not optimal but I was rested to a point. For some reason in the past my best races were after an injury, sickness, or even while on antibiotics for infection, so there was no doubt after this flu. I still believe that great day at Nationals is in the cards but another year will need to be waited for.

Photo: Nicola Wenn

The “Organ Grinder” Photo: Nicola Wenn

Though the race didn’t go the way I dreamed it would, I was riding well enough on the downhill to get win the “downhill” timed race within the cross-country race. It very unique and exciting that the event put on a prize for the fastest male and female of the day for both the uphill and the downhill sections on the course. I won a growler from Canmore Brewing and will accept that with a thirsty smile!

Photo: Aidan Brown

This year I was fortunate to stay with the Brown family in Canmore. A host family is always 100 times better than staying in a little hotel and this family is a special one!. As always, the cycling community is filled with wonderful people like this and as an athlete it is tough to explain how much of a difference this makes. 

Photo: Andy Wilson

Thee may have been whimper noises happening here as the last lap began. Photo: Caroline Gautier

As I write this it now becomes more realistic how the season for cross-country is already coming to a close for me. I was offered an incredible opportunity to race Singletrack 6 through Rossland, Nelson, and Kalso starting this Saturday July 29th. These areas are world-class and within four hours of where I live and never ridden them. Opportunities can be presented sometimes at a unexpected time and in the past I haven’t taken them, so this was a no brainer and I accepted it with a smile!

Staying low through the flow trail. Photo: John Gibson

Congratulations to all the racers this past weekend and the new National Champions of Canada. I think a special shoutout goes to Jenn Jackson who won the U23 women’s race in her first year racing!! Secondly, to Peter Disera – this guy is the future for Canada and I couldn’t me more proud of my buddy and past teammate for stepping up from the U23 race to ride with the Elite men and then putting the boots to us all. Proud of you pal. I’ll put a pretty penny on Petey D being at the next Olympics. 

Sunday after the XC race was the team relay. An event where 4 riders in a mixture of ages/categories each race a lap of the course and tag off to the next. I was on a team with BC Provincial squad and we came in 4th. After the relay a group of us, let’s call is team friendship, met up and went for our post-Nationals Canmore group ride. These are some of the best memories I keep from bike racing and this ride was no different. 

Riders: Kevin Haviland, Jonathan Duncan, Holden Jones, Peter Disera, Rhys Verner, and leader Aidan Brown.

I couldn’t quite get enough of Canmore and decided to stay an extra day and ride the ‘Highline’ trails with more friends on the Monday. I would highly recommend this trail is ever in the area.

Rider: Quinn Moberg

Canadian Cyclist report: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32816&title=batty-disera-take-canadian-elite-xc-titles

Cycling News report: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/canadian-cross-country-national-championships-2017/results/

Pedal Magazine Report: http://pedalmag.com/batty-and-disera-win-elite-titles-at-2017-mtb-xco-nationals-13-champions-crowned/

Canada Cup Series overall win in Whistler

Well, it was another weekend of bike racing but on the west coast this weekend. For the second time in my career I was able to clinch the Canada Cup series overall title for Elite men. Over the 6 race series, that covered provinces on either side of the country, it was nice to have consistency and win the series again after first taking it in 2014. 

Seaton Lake, Lillooet BC. 

Picnic with mom and gramma.

This marked the seventh time I’ve finished top-3 overall in the last eight years for the Canada Cup Series and I’m happy to continue the consistency even though I’ve only once completed every race of the series in a year and that was in 2014. 

Evening spin around Lost Lake upon arrival.

This past weekend has always been a special race for me because I get to drive to it, my parents and gramma usually make it out to watch, and , well, Whistler is an incredible place. This year was no different, as I road tripped out with mom and gramma on the Thursday – unfortunately my dad was unable to get the time off work. It’s always a fun event when you get to socialize and spend some quality time with racer friends and their families/supporters after the race. Sitting around and telling tales of the day over snacks is a great way to end a bike race. It’s how I remember the beginning of it all when I was 13 years old and travelling the BC Cup Series. 

Photo: Scott Roberts

It was a more low-key event than most with attendance being lower than a usual Canada Cup because most racers don’t make the travel over.. I understand the poor timing of the race date this year and it’s “only one race” as most say. I don’t count the 2, 3, sometimes 4 trips made out east each season.. Having a national series does mean races will be spread across the country, and I know Canada is quite large. It’s tough for high school kids and I fully disagree with the whole series being held before the summer this year when juniors are still in high school or graduating, and the overlap with World Cup races. I just wish there was more planning and a series that everyone was able to attend. We just need better support and communication between racers, venues, and our governing body so we can continue to grow the sport and give the opportunities to our youth. The younger racers need a platform to build from and I believe these Canada Cups are incredibly important in that development (even though we have some people saying they don’t matter). I hope to see this series live long and prosper for our developing riders. 

My cheering squad Photo: Scott Roberts

We did have some world-class racers with multi-time Olympians Geoff Kabush and Catharine Pendrel leading the way and previous American National Champ Stephen Ettinger.  

BC Provincial XC podium. Photo: Scott Roberts

It was smokin’ warm in the valley of Whistler this year and we raced in 30+ degrees while the sun baked us alive. I don’t think anyone started too hard in efforts to not sizzle ourselves right away. Even though I will say I rode “within myself” those first few laps, it was still damn hard and the heat really played games because it was beyond uncomfortable and sick feeling almost. By the time Geoff made his move with 1.5 laps to go it was too much for my diesel pace on the day. Ettinger tried as well and stayed closer to him than I did , but in the end it was Geoff 1st, Ettinger 2nd, myself 3rd. I was eyeing the overall today, of course, but when I come to these races now I want to win. 

Canada Cup Overall win for me, 2nd overall Elite women was Jayne Rossworn, and 2nd overall in junior men was Holden Jones. Photo: Scott Roberts

Sunday I was able to get out for a couple quick laps on Backcomb with my new Pivot Firebird trail bike. Wow, that thing is fun!

My report written for Canadian Cyclist: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32675&title=meeuwisse-guthrie-win-canada-cup-xco-titles

XC Results: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32671&title=canada-cup-6-whistler-results

Canada Cup overall ranking: http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Elite-Men-2017-MTB-XCO-RANKINGS-FINAL.pdf

 

 

These two are pretty great.

Nothing like ending the day for a lake swim.

Blackomb laps on Sunday with this new Pivot Firebird

Mont-Tremblant Canada Cup

I first visited Mont-Tremblant in 2008 as a first year junior. It was the second and last selection race for the World Championships in Val Di Sole, Italy that June. I came into the race after winning the previous weekends Canada Cup and wanted the same in Tremblant. It was a savage course and one to this day that was a favourite and one I wish still existed. 

Over the years the course has changed significantly from the iconic technical, single-track climb with a long and unrelenting descent that would eat away at the riders bodies and bikes before, finally, entering  the village and traversing up the cobbles. Now, we race arguably more gravel road and grassy ski slopes than single track. A let down for riders like myself who grew up racing the old Mont-Tremblant course and wish the new generation experienced proper mountain bike trails. 

One thing that had not changed was my desire to win a Canada Cup at this venue. It’s been seven times chasing that elusive top step. This season I pencilled in the two Canada Cup in Mont-Tremblant and Baie-St-Paul as races to win for world ranking points and to showcase my new team. That first win of 2017 finally came and at no other than the venue I’ve tried at seven times. Lucky number eight was the one for me. This race was for everyone supporting me this year that is helping the dreams and goals still be possible. 

I am very fortunate for all the supporters of my program this year and I head into this weekends Canada Cup as the series leader and will wear it with pride for everyone with me. 

Here are some photos below from the trip and race:

Rail trails in Quebec are just as good as BC!

Daily commute to the course

Thumbs up. Race photos below by Caroline Gautier

Surfing in the hurt locker

Hats off to Raphael Auclair – Pivot Cycles/On The Edge teammate – who pushed the pace hard the first half and rode very strong.

The young guys beat the old guy in the champagne opening

Representing the interior of BC with Jayne Rossworn! How cool is that!? Peachland and Kamloops are leading the Canada Cup series. Jayne is coached by Keith Wilson and I used to be. thank you Keith for helping us along!

The team at On The Edge Canada that is supporting me with Pivot Cycles this year. They jumped on board within minutes of chatting about this year and that sealed the deal for me for join teams. On the Edge has gone above and beyond for me this season and I can’t thank them enough for the support. Looking forward to the years ahead! 

 

A BC weekend of multi-discipline racing

This past weekend was what I would define as “mountain biking” in the dictionary. After being in Southern California and Arizona for the last 6 weeks it was shock to ride in the rain and mud, but it was an exciting and enjoyable shock! It turned out to be a perfect training weekend to take advantage of with two races in the Fraser Valley. 

Saturday the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association (FVMBA) held the iconic Vedder Mountain Classic. It’s a cross-country marathon event and is part of the BC Marathon series. It’s also a unique event that gives out prizes and awards to the fastest climber to the summit, the fastest descender to the bottom, and, of course, the overall finish for each category. 

There was quite the attendance from kids, parents, and racers. Catharine Pendrel was out on the women’s side and finished 10th overall among everyone! Sandra Walter followed up behind Pendrel and was 11th overall, while these two women finished 1-2 in the “Pro” race. On the men’s side it was Spencer Paxson – a really good friend – who took the mens title and the overall. I couldn’t stick with him on the climbs but would bring back time on the descent, which made it a fun battle. We were duking it out where he took the uphill timed competition and I took the downhill timed competition. In the end we went 1-2 with Rhys Verner taking third. 

Friday and Saturday night I was fortunate to stay with friend Will Routley and his wife Shoshauna. Always great when staying with friends during races instead of hotel rooms. Sunday came and it was the combined BC Enduro, North American Enduro Tour, and Canadian Enduro Championships round. I linked up with Spencer, other American friend Stephen Ettinger, and Donny. We were “Team XC” out there representing the small travel bikes and spandex racing we usually do. I decided to race both events on the weekend with the exact same bike and blind with no practice. I For us XC-focused athletes an enduro is a lot more relaxing for us. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and was very under-gunned with my bike (think showing up to gun fight with a stick, not even a knife) but the bike absolutely surprised me and made it through the day in 8th. Quite happy with pulling that out. 

Little bit of home time now before heading east to Canada Cups 2&3. 

GoPro footage with some of stage 1 and 2 from the BC Enduro/North American Enduro Tour race

Post-race smiles after 2.5 hours of BC singletrack

Shared the podium with my pals on Kona. Spencer for the win, Rhys in 3rd. 

Longtime friend Catharine Pendrel and I took the “downtime” timed downhill within the marathon race.

Venue. The Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association knows how to hold a bike race!

All ages and abilities were out to enjoy the Vedder Mountain Classic. LOVE seeing the young and fierce riders take on such a savage course. 

Soaking in the west coast landscape after 6 weeks in Southern California and Arizona.

First ride on the new Mach 429SL. Impressed with the climbing to descending capabilities. Incredible combo!

The third ride on this bike was a classic wet Vancouver day!

Team XC post-enduro race! L to R: Stephen Ettinger, myself, Donny, and Spencer Paxson

Proper end to a bike race. If only every venue had this landscape within spitting distance.

Whiskey 50 Off-Road

On the Monday after Sea Otter I teamed up with Canadian friends Rebecca Beaumont, Raphael Auclair and Anne-Julie Tremblay in Phoenix, Arizona before heading up to the city of Prescott. Our accommodation was way up at 2,000 meters near the top of a mountain in a cabin. This area felt just like home in the Okanagan. 

Prescott is home to one of  the three-event Epic Rides series that spans across Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Epic Rides has built a massive following and after attending this race I know exactly why this series is quickly becoming the most popular among North American mountain bikers. The city was fully on board and shut down their main street to have companies set up their expo booths, stages for evening concerts and large start/finish area in the city centre. The weekend featured a criterium on mountain bikes with slick tires late Friday evening for the Pro Women and Men. Saturday the amateur racers took part in multiple distances based on their preference from 15, 30, and 50 miles. Sunday is the Professional Women and Men races to cap the weekend. This series also offers the most prize money in North America with equal payment between men and women with $30 k distributed between each event and $100 k over the three events and overall. This is big for the pro athletes to continue being a “pro”. 

After spending a quiet week in the mountains exploring the local roads, lookouts and climbing forest service stations, it was time to put skinny tires on the mountain bike and race under the Friday night sun.

Our group of eight was fully settled into the cabin by this point with Greg Day, Mathieu Belanger-Barrette, Quinn Moberg and Felix Burke arriving on the Wednesday. Our cabin had a big deck that we spent time hanging out on and telling each days’ stories. 

The criterium on mountain bikes was a very unique event to have in the main square downtown and the spectators were amazing. This whole weekend brings me back to those early days with events that kept me in the mountain bike scene and showed me the community in mountain biking. The crowds were no different during this crit. Personally, it was a weird start being up at altitude for the first time in about 5 years. It took about half the race to get really “warmed up” lets call it, then I was able to be fighting up front and maybe some tentativeness in the last couple laps kept me from finishing near the podium. It was 11th in the end and there were many thoughts of safety going through my head after getting pushed wide in a turn on the first lap and having my foot go into another guys front wheel. Luckily neither of us went down but my shoe buckle ripped off. It was a very fun evening to say the least.

Saturday the cabin Haus mates went on a fun group ride on some local trails and enjoyed a relatively mellow day of recovering before Sunday’s 50 miler. Our little mountain cabin provided the absolute best location to mellow out, train hard and enjoy the social times with everyone. Not having much internet or cell service was a nice way to spend the week. 

Sunday morning was early with an 8:30 race start. We lucked out and had the best weather in years according to the organizer and racers. We set off with a furious pace that I thought might ease off eventually but it continued for the 3+ hours of the leading riders. This is a massive loop with a long, 1 hour climb in the middle up a fire road. Early efforts kept me up in the lead group but slowly I lost contact as the first long climb continued up in the high elevations. Eventually I was in the main second group and on the first descent when following a line of riders down this dry and dusty descent I hit a rather large sized rock that was knocked onto the trail by the rider in front of me and couldn’t see it until it was too late. A flat tire was the outcome. I quickly put in a tire plug (my new favour gadget that ever rider should own) but the plug was ripped out on the next step descent when there was some tire skidding. Luckily I had another plug ready in my back pocket but I cut some in half hoping to have more plugs for the future, but it turns out they’re too short and just get pushed right into the tire. I pulled out the pack of plugs and reloaded the tool to finally plug it for good. Put some c02 in there and off we went. Lots of spots were lost in this long standing break on the side of the trail.

Eventually we were rolling again and making good time but the tire slowly leaked air. With no c02 left I was smart enough to carry a hand pump and pumped it up. Continued on until it lost air again and this time I realized I didn’t close the valve stem the last two times I pumped it up and that’s why it was loosing air again!!! Damn me. Finally I got the bottom of the long climb and decided to just switch wheels to make sure nothing happened further down the road. It was then 59 minutes of absolute suffering under the sun up a long fire road climb. Things were going well and many riders who had previously caught me were all coming back to me and after a great descent it was time for one last climb up “cramp hill”. I had the pleasure of getting the worst cramps I’ve ever experienced even before entering cramp hill. Standing on the side of the trail and screaming in pain is the best description I can give. It was not my day for racing by any means, but I left it all out there and raced to the end with everything I had left. 35th isn’t anything near what I wanted, but we don’t always get what we want. I had fun and that’s why we do this.

Scott Kelly of Cannonade-3Rox is a legend in the bike world and one of the most helpful guys you’ll ever come across. This team has lent me a lot of help this year. Thank you Scott, Kyle, Gersham and riders who helping me out.

 

Thanks for everyone who helped this weekend. I had support from non-industry sponsors, my personal sponsors, friends, and other teams. 

THANK YOU Epic Rides for all the hard work and incredible event that you’ve created.

Whiskey 50 backcountry results

Fat Tire Crit results

Visiting the Pivot Cycles head office in Phoenix on Monday after the race. Thanks Mary for the tour!

 

Sea Otter Classic

Quick update from the Sea Otter Classic this past weekend. It’s one of the largest cycling festivals in North America and this year it had very high-end race that fielded the current Olympic champions for men and women, many Olympians, current pro/elite and under-23 world champs, Italians, Australians, New Zealanders, Spanish, Columbian, Mexican, Swiss and the best North American riders.
 
 
This was a very important race on the calendar for sponsors, world ranking points, and personal goals to race against some of the worlds best. On Friday we had a “short track” race that was 30 minutes long and a shorter loop than our usual 4-6 km cross-country lap.
 
 
I found myself in the front group battling all race and after two riders got well out front, it was a race for 3rd. For some reason (very embarrassingly), I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the lap counter and thought we had one lap to go and when everyone started sprinting for the finish I stayed more relaxed thinking there was 5 more minutes.. By the time I realized this everyone I needed to be in front of for the sprint, I was now behind. Rookie mistake and I take full responsibility, but it’s hard to have given up a very likely shot for the podium. Can’t predict what could have been but I felt fantastic and had the fire power. Ended up 8th which is nothing to complain about!
 
 
 
Cross-country was the following day and the main event. We raced in and around the famous Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, California. This is not a usual ‘mountain’ bike race as most is on hard pack dirt and the race track. It’s all fitness and tactics with a bit of luck needed.
 
 
This was a personal best ride against a field of this caliber and class of race. 11th was the finish result with the Olympic and World Champ taking the win. I raced the final lap against my childhood hero and now friend, Geoff Kabush, a 3X Canadian Olympian. We sprinted it out at finish and I was able to beat him (thank you Geoff for towing me around that last lap!) Memorable day and a sign that things are moving along nicely. 
 
 
Next up: Whiskey 50 OFF-Road in Prescott, Arizona this coming weekend before racing in Chilliwack in early May. 
 
 
 
Interviews on Pedal Magazine
 
 
All photos above by Chris Vezina
 
Hanging out with my Canadian Pivot-On The Edge pals in Ventura, CA last week.
Last week I was fortunate to be in Santa Cruz with RaceFace for the launch of their new Next R products. We were treated to commuting in Fox’s Ford Raptor. 
Honoured to be working with Schwalbe Tires this year. Jeff Clarkson (pictured here) is the man who helped me get onboard and we go way back to the mid-2000’s with racing on the BC Team and he was Junior Nat’l MTB Champ in ’07. Thanks Jeff and all of Schwalbe North America for supporting me this year. 

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.

 

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.