Singletrack 6 – Stages 5&6

As the final two days closed in the body was still hanging in strong and better than I thought it would. Doing a multi-day race for the first time had a lot of question marks, but I was having so much fun that those questions were never worried about. That week of racing, hanging out, and sharing the experience with others will be remembered forever. It was the other racers the event, and the volunteers that made it a highlight race of my year. 

Lining up with my Pivot Cycles crew before the final stage. Photo: Russ Baker

I will 100% be back for more stage races and to ST6 in the future. This event brought me back to my roots of racing and I think the most special part was the types of people who came together because of their passion for riding. It was contagious and I caught the bug!

Day 5 start in Kaslo. Photo: John Gibson

Day 5 we visited the Kaslo for what was, in my opinion, the best course of the week. We left with a Police escort and headed for the mountains. After a long firewood climb to split the field up we began the real climb on an exposed sidehill. It was so steep that if you fell down it, well, you would probably would never be heard of again. The uphill switchbacks were so tight that we had to run around then. Then came my favourite pat: the descent. It was exceptional and crafted in a such a way that the speed was kept up but the flow of trail maintained that speed to the absolute perfect amount. The trail weaved all types of terrain from the peak down to the valley bottom. It was the one unfortunate day I took a wrong turn and had to backtrack. I was pushing it on the descent and trying to get a gap and once I did I pretty much tossed it away. 

Bridging back up to Justin after he attacked the final days climb in Kaslo. Photo: John Gibson

Justin caught back up to be me and we rode the rest of the stage together and I took the win but wasn’t able to get anyway GC time on him. After we snacked on Party Mix, drank water and coke, it was time for a swim in Kootenay Lake. We then cruised back to basecamp in Nelson before the sixth and final stage. 

Day 6 Started in downtown Nelson with a police escort and we were led out with our Captain who was honouring Pilsner and Kokanee. Photo: John Gibson

Day 6 began and ended in downtown Nelson. The town welcomed us with open arms and shut down the main streets. We rolled out behind our “Beer Captain” and a Police escort. This start was the most mellow of them all and you could see riders feeling the previous five days. Eventually the fireworks went off. I went into the timed descent leading the GC for it and needed to be smart and not risk too much, but also not slack because Alex is quick! I also tailed 3 riders after the 1 hour climb to the top. I pushed hard in the descent and ended up catching all the riders and getting a gap on Justin. I had 3.5 minutes to make up if I wanted any chance for the overall. It was now or never. I climbed with everything I had and he closed it down after the next 45 min climb on the flat/downhill fire road. I burnt all the matches beforehand. Hats off to Justine. It was a pleasure to race against him all week and it sure was exciting. We each won 3 stages, and I was able to take 4 descent stages and the overall. So its not a bad week with 7 first places finishes and 5 second place finishes. I’ll take it. 

As much as Justine and I battled for the overall, we also raced like gentleman. Here he let me pass just before the timed descent so I could go for the seconds, and in return I waited for him at the bottom before we got back to racing. Photo: John Gibson

For my first stage race I was very satisfied. I kept wondering if a bad day or meltdown day would happen, as it’s a part of stage races I hear about. There was never a bad just day, just a little off day 4 but Justine I think was just that much stronger. Big thank you to Transrockies and the ST6 crew for having me and putting on a top-notch event. 

ST6 was a major accomplishment for every rider, volunteer and staff. It was a big week on all levels. Congrats to everyone who took part. Photo: John Gibson 

Spent the week going back and forth for the timed descent with Alex “Krunk Shox” McGuinnes. Photo: John Gibson

First stage race is now in the books. Photo: John Gibson

Day 6 in Nelson before the fireworks began. Photo: John Gibson

Fellow Pivot Cycles rider Taylor Lideen finished 3rd overall. Photo: John Gibson

On The Edge-Pivot rider Mathieu Belanger-Barrette finished in 5th overall and was the defending ST6 champion. Photo: John Gibson

 

Photo: John Gibson

Photos from here down by Russ Baker

 

Stage 2 podium at Red Mountain in Rossland. 

Stage 6’s final berm in the timed descent.

Opted for the “cooler” jersey in Stage 5’s 30 C heat. 

Singletrack 6 – Stages 3&4

Making it past day two of this race was an accomplishment itself after taking myself out on day two of the last stage race I attempted. This week has been incredible so far. I can’t explain the vibe, camaraderie, volunteer support, the faces of true grit and accomplishment. It’s been taxing on the whole body. Long, steep climbs and rugged sections of trail, where arm pump and numb hands are a given, seem to be the flavour of each day and the other parts of each stage vary with surprises. 

Day 1 neutral start with a police escort through the streets of Rossland.

After coming alive halfway through day 1 and making up a big amount of time it still meant chasing Justin Lindine in GC time. Day 2 I hardly squeaked out any time, but he did take a crash in the final descent with the time that I did gain. It was the first stage win of the race for me. I also came into this race looking to chase the the mini race within the big race, known as the “timed descent”. It’s just one downhill trail per day that we’re timed on and then like the overall race winner, a timed descent winner gets the downhill glory. On day 2 I was able to take the descent and move into the overall lead. 

Day 3 was the one I looked forward to most this race. 7 Summits is an iconic trail and we were the first group to ever race it by bike. It truly was an honour. This was also a stage I targeted for overall time, because it was a very hard climb to start, rolling ridges, then a long 15 km descent to finish. Again, Justin was too strong in every aspect he stayed glued to my wheel all day. I also won this stage and came 2nd in the descent, where Alex McGuinnis took the descent lead back over.

7 Summits. If you’re a mountain biker then this is a need-to-ride-ASAP trail.

Day 4 we transferred over to Nelson after spending first three in Rossland. This week is all new trails for me and Nelson has been on the bucket list for a while. Stage 4 may have been the hardest because it took 24+ km of climbing to finally reach the alpine summit before we descended (mostly) to the finish. I pushed hard in the timed descent after Justin had ridden away on the climb and was out of sight. Maybe too much effort on the descent as the cramps came on during the final firewood section. This day ended with the best descent of the week, so far. I finished 2nd on the stage and won the descent to take the lead back over. 

Valleluja trail summit in the alpine. 

Day 5 just finished but I’ll wait for more photos and do a recap with the sixth and final day. Photo report below.

If you’re interested in daily profiles you can check out my Strava profile and see each day: https://www.strava.com/pros/183904

 

All photos below by John Gibson

It’s been a pleasure watching fellow racers accomplish some bloody hard days.

 

Cheer squad was exceptional. 

 

Day 2 descended Red Mountain with stunning views of Rossland.

Swiss XC mafia friend, Nathalie Schneitter and her brother Michael. She is leading the timed descent category with me!

These volunteers are keeping us alive! I’ve never liked watermelon as much as I have this week!

 

Unique trails that we are all racing blind. Not knowing what the next corner holds is a large part of the excitement.

All photos by John Gibson

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 be 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.