Monday, September 21, 2009

Bow 80 insanity

This is a long one but worth the read... the pic is actually from last year at Keystone in much nicer conditions than this year`s race.

So, for some reason I decided to race the bow 80, an epic loop in Kananskis country, near Calgary.

The day started out wrong, with a 4:50 wake up, an hour drive out there in the rain and darkness, and the car thermometer reading 6deg C. I drove out with co-worker Kate Scallion, and we had her sister, Magi's bike in the car too, as Magi had just flown in from NS visiting her mom. When Kate and I pulled into the parking lot at 6:40am, it was raining very hard and still dark. We sort of looked at each other and said, "we could just turn around and go home".

Anyway, we kept getting ready, and I headed out in the rain and blackness into the woods for an early morning bathroom stop. It took me a long time to get all layered up, followed by a 5min ride up to sign in. At registration just as I was leaving Brian Bain (who drove Magi out) rushed in and said Magi couldn't find us. Kate was already looking for her, and I pedaled off looking too. I went down to the car and couldn't find her, and while I was there I quickly strapped my booties on, and then sprinted back to the start at race pace.

I got to the start and the `potential delay` had not happened, and I missed the start by 5min. Anyway, it wasn`t the end of the world and I took off and caught the first stragglers in about 2km. The next 20min was spent with explosive efforts passing tons of people, then slow behind them in singletrack. Then I stopped to take off my headband and a winter jacket (it had stopped raining, was semi day-light now and I was hot). A bunch of people passed me back, but then I re-passed them in a few min. After about 1:20 of riding I had passed about 150 of the 230 racers, and it was much easier going. I had some awesome passes, as in sliding through grass on the inside of corners with one foot out...

Eventually I settled into a slow and steady race pace, just passing a few people here and there. At feed zone 1 I was doing quite well, I ate a bunch of food, and changed from my orange rubber fisherman`s gloves to a winter Louis garneau pair (people were making fun of my orange ones, but they were warm until water ran down the cuff`s)!

Just after FZ1 I knew there was a super steep 1hr granny ring climb, so I stopped in a small creek and pedaled a bunch to clean the mud off my chain (a dude passed me there and got chainsuck while I was cleaning mine, it was kind of funny). So I rode this climb forever, and because I was way back in the field my goal was to ride it clean, which I did. This was quite a feat, as it is super long, very technical, in a race, and wet. Oh, did I mention that from 1900 to 2205m it was snowing! Yep, we had sideways sleeting snow, and 2cm on the ground. It was pretty neat riding, up in the alpine with 5m visibility and snow everywhere except on the trail where it had melted.

Eventually I got to the top of Cox Hill (with only walking the last 10m) said hi to the volunteers (who had inflatable palm trees coated in snow, and gummy bears) zipped up my layers, and blasted down the descent. Now the descent is super fun, pretty fast, rocky, and technical, I had a blast. However, after 5min my metal brake leavers got my wet snow coated hands very cold, and soon they were numb. Another 5min and I got to another volunteer station where I got them to get my coat out of my camel back, put it on me, and zip it up, as my fingers couldn`t do it.

Another 10min of descending and I reached the bottom and blew by a sign that said `last chance to drop our`. I rode by it to fast to really process the info, as I had been contemplating dropping out as I was only at 40km and my body was getting cold. The only reason I did not stop was I was afraid I would have to wait 3hrs or so, and just freeze, besides, I was dreaming of sitting in my car with the heater cranked, (I figured I could get someone else to turn the key as my fingers couldn`t). So I rode, and rode, and rode as hard as I could just to try and warm up. At the lower elevation it was now raining and there was about 4cm of standing water on the trail. By FZ2 I was cold.

I decided to keep going, as I couldn`t really stop. I figure if I stopped and wasn`t in a vehicle I had about 5min before hypothermia set in. So to try and get warm I would swing my arms in circles and run up hills pushing my bike with my forearms. About at this point I got to trail that had all the trees coated in snow, and bent over from the weight of it. So I had to push my way through them and get all the slushy snow dumped on me. Eventually my core temperature was still dropping, and in desperation I stopped and saw that my zipper would pull up another 5cm (with my teeth). After 5 tries I got my head band out of my pocket, and had to push my wrists together to undo the buckle on my helmet. I tried to pick a gel out of my pocket but was unable to at this point. I could have stuck my jackknife into my hand and not felt it, I was numb clear up my forearm. Somehow I hung on and was able to brake a bit when really necessary.

Oh yeah, I couldn`t blink right, I don`t know if my eyelids were frozen, or if there was just so much snow and water in them. My Oakleys were super dirty but I kept them on just to keep the big chunks of snow and mud out.

With 15km to go I stopped at a checkpoint and begged for gloves or mitts of any sort. A volunteer, Graham, gave me his bike gloves (which he had to put on my hands) and he got a gel out of my pocket. I weaved off, and the only reason I kept racing was because I couldn`t stop without freezing.

For the last 15k it had stopped raining, and with the head band and dry gloves I came around a bit and was able to finish.

From the finish I dropped my bike, and Mrs Bain took me to the first aid trailer, where I stripped down (my clothes looked like I rolled in a mud lagoon) and sat in a blanket and a sleeping bag for an hr with a bunch of other near hypothermia cases. Brian Bain looked especially bad, and would convulsively shake every 10min or so. The first-aiders were excellent, and even gave us hot chocolate.

After I recovered and a volunteer found my car and drove it up, I got some dry clothes on and went out into the bright sunny day. It turns out Kate and made a very smart decision and stopped at FZ1 when she was too cold to peel a banana, Magi never found her bike and went to work instead (very smart!!!), and 50 or so people finished. I ended up 5th overall and 3rd in my category, and won a big belt buckle. I also won a big Dakine hydration pack, which I gave to the volunteer who lent me his gloves. I am very thankful for his gloves, that I got my booties even if I missed my start, and for all the incredible volunteers that were on the side of the trail covered in snow.

So, the moral of the story is, don`t do a race that you have to wake up before 5am for, and don`t race in the mountains if it is below 10deg with any precipitation.

I am now alive and warm, with the furnace going in my house in Canmore...just me and the mice.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

my house

Oh yeah, my house here in Camore has a ton of mice, I caught one eating a power gel, and another one eating my granola!!! The granola was just too much, so I rigged up a live trap with a peanut in the jaws of a pair of pliers, and then a bucket balanced on the plyers, so the mouse ate the peanut and the plyers fell over, and the bucket fell on the mouse. I caught 6 this way and had to drive them at least 2km away so they wouldn't return, that was getting tedious (although I did let a few go downtown - suckers...) So now I finally got some snap traps. Here is a picture of one of the mice getting ready for the snap trap.

Where's Waldo now...

So post Hadley Challenge bike race I spent a few more days at home. I got put to work clearing trees and cutting firewood, in 3 days we did 20 big hardwoods.

Eventually I flew out west to Kamloops, unpacked, repacked, and headed for Canmore. I am now in Canmore getting paid to build bike trails! Yes, you read that right, I'm finally making money to build trails. There are 4 of us on the crew building IMBA style trails (read wide and easy) with 2 mini excavators (I operated one a few days ago for a few hrs, it was scary how tippy it was going down hills). I am getting to flag and design most of the trails, and layout a new race course for nationals next year.

In my spare time I went for a hike to the top of 2600m Mt Lady McDonald with co-worker Kate Scallion. Then last weekend I did a road race hill climb time trial up Mt Revelstoke. It is a 27km paved road with a very nice grade, and an elevation gain of 1600m. I was super tired the day before the race, but had a decent time trial and was able to hold onto 1st by 30sec or so for a time of 1:15:44.

Tomorrow I race the Bow 80, an 80km mtb race through epic trails in Kanaskis country, lots of it up into the alpine.


Catherine, Adam, Sarah and I all piled into Sarah's truck and drove 12hrs from Windham to Fredericton. It was a miserable drive, and my legs were super cramped from the race, and then sitting on a bench seat in the back of the pickup, but, we got there all in one piece.

The 4 of us hung out with my parents for a few days, and ate great veggies from the amazing garden. We went over to Grand Manan, one of my favorite places anywhere, and had a great time hiking the coastal trails there.

After a few days and an oncoming hurricane, we headed back to Fredericton to help flag the race course for "the Hadley Challenge". This was a 26km point to point race that my dad Eric organised on the trails that Adam and I had build while living at home. The race turned out very well, it was raining a bit, but no one got lost or hurt too badly, and everyone had fun. I won and so did Catherine. For awards, friends of ours made ginger bread men as medals, so they were the best tasting medals of the year!

US Cups

From Bromont Keith, Kika, and I headed to Mount Snow Vermont. We had a great ride at the kingdom trails on the way. I stayed in a bed and breakfast called the Grey Ghost, which was good, but it had maybe 40 seniors living there, who would have sermons and play bridge (in a very serious way) all day, so I felt a bit like I was in an old folks home. Luckily mid week Sandra came and bailed me out and we got a different place.

After Bromont I had completly worn through my brand new pads, and half way through the back plate of the brake pads, so I replaced them, and somehow in the process I got some air in the system. So I took my bike to the shop there in Mt Snow, and the mechanic worked on them for a bit, then said he didn't have the right syringe, took my bike off the stand, said he couldn't fix it and he squeezed the back brake...SQUIRT!!! A massive jet of fluid shot out and coated my pads and rotor... 3hrs later and a few calls to sram he figured out that he had opened the wrong screw, and broken a seal. Eventually he bled my brake, and it seemed fine, but the next day during the race I got air in it again.

So, my race kind of sucked, I had to pump the brake maybe 15times to get any stopping power, and then keep it dragging to maintain that force. I finished well back in the field.

Post race Peter Glassford and I went to hang out with a good buddy of mine, Ben Moody, in Plymouth NH. Ben used to race xc, but now places top 3 at some of the US DH races. We rode amazing trails at Bens, and had a great time, until I got sick with fod poising. It started at 3am with stomach cramps, and I thought, "oh why did I eat so much" then I went to the bathroom and had explosive direaha, annd at that point figured out that there was more to the situation than met the eye. Another 2hrs of trips to the bathroom, and then finally I puked a few times, and by 6am I was ready for bed. The next day was miserable, Peter drove me 5hrs to Windham NY, and I just sat there with my eyes closed and head in hand not saying much for the whole drive. I think I ate a banana by mid afternoon.

Fortunately I recovered fairly well, and was ready to race 2 days later. I had a good race and steadily moved up through the pack, 2 riders/lap to finish 14th. I rode really well, and had a lot of fun, so I was happy to finish off the last important race of my season this way.
Catherine fed me for this race, and I think she bonked, got heat stroke, and sun burn doing it, so thanks for feeding me! Also, Adam and Sara were there cheering like crazy, so that was good too.

Bromont World Cup

Bromont World Cup: I had a good race here, not my best of the season but a good one none the less. My knee had been bothering me ever since I crashed on it at Mount Ste Anne, so my training and confidence had both suffered.

Off the gun it was super muddy and there was so much mud flying through the air from everyone's tires that I basically closed my eyes/squinted and rode super hard to get to the climb. I moved well up through the traffic, and had a decent first lap for around 70th place. The race was super muddy, and I consistently moved up a few places each lap. I quite enjoyed riding in the mud, it was super technical, and very hard just to be able to climb many of the features. I finished 45, and was happy with my race. Afterwards I ate watermelon for about 10min, and then hosed off buck naked in front of the first aid building (I had about 1/2 a cm of mud caked everywhere, and there was no way I could get clean otherwise!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The cottage

Catherine and I went to her cottage by Ottawa for the middle of the week, and had a great time hanging out with her parents. Duncan and I built a shed, and last week when Dan and Brian were there we built a sweet bike jump off a dock into the lake. It was tons of fun.

Mount Sainte Anne World Cup

Hi All. Well the Mount Sainte Anne World cup was pretty crazy. It was fairly difficult conditions, with rain in the womens race in the morning (which my house mate Catharine Pendrel won!!!), and then drying up during the men's race. This meant that there was mud drug by our tires out onto previously clean surfaces, and lots of slick roots in the woods.

It made for fun riding, however the start of the race was a bit of a gongshow, as the orginizers decided we didn't need a start lap, and sent all 105 of us directly into a piece of singletrack where we stood around for 3min or so waiting to ride our bikes. Finally about 1/2 way throught the first lap, and 5min down, we were able to race. I rode fairly well, not my best race of the year, but still decent. I had good legs, but had crashed the day before riding way too fast over a mud coated rock on a corner, and banged up my knee. It bothered me a bit whenever i had to walk (not run) my bike, so that was a bit of a bumber. I still had a decent race to finish one lap down in 56th place, 7th Canadian.

I got a sweet new prototype Xprezo at this World cup, it is bright green, with internal cable routing, 4 inches of travel, and lighter tubing and material removed in various places.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What I do with my spare time

As a rich bike racer, I decided to build a tower with my recent race winnings. You can see that I race for the money. No glue involved.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


This year nationals were held in St Felecien, Quebec, which is about 400km north of Quebec city.

The venue has amazing trails, and a very well designed race course, with 6 over-unders so a spectator can stand in one area and see racers maybe 8x/lap. The course also has a bermed up bike park section and a nice mix of technical singletrack climbing and descending.

I got plate #3, because at the start of nationals I was ranked 3rd overall in the country for UCI points! I had a good start, and was 4th coming through the start loop. I let a few people by and settled in at about 7th. I rode there for lap 1, about 30sec behind the leaders. On lap 2 the leaders opened up the gap a lot more, and I was riding with Jullien Fillion from Quebec. It was great to ride with him, because it really kept me on my game and racing really hard. We would pass each other and try to drop the other lots of times, and on lap 3 he got a bit of a gap on me. However there was a long rooty climb that I was able to catch him on, and then I drafted for a double track section. On lap 4 I attacked him and was feeling really good, and I rode super hard and got a decent gap. By the last lap I was cramping pretty badly and had to dig super deep to stay ahead. For the last descent I was so out of it I was seeing lights, I rode it super sketchily, and hit every rock, root, and tree out there before slowing down and focusing on just finishing the race. I rolled into the line in 6th place, very happy with the way I rode.

Many thanks to everyone for cheering, and to my parents, the Viponds, and XPREZO for support.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bromont Canada Cup July 6

Just a quick note here. . . For the Canada Cup here, it rained all week, enough that the ground was super saturated, and then on Sunday (race day) the sun came out turning 80% of the trail into 5 to 10cm thick peanut butter mud. And not peanut butter that has sat out in the sun either, but like it is after you pull it out of you fridge.

Within the first 300m of the course we were already pushing our bikes. I figure i pedaled enough to cover an extra 2 km, it just all went into spinning in the mud. I had a decent race to finish 3rd, so the Xprezo team was happy.

I race nationals next weekend in Saint Felecien Quebec, so that should be a good one.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Edmonton Canada Cup June 13

So I had a good race on the weekend at Edmonton. We were racing in the river valley smack in downtown, so it was a pretty cool venue with lots of spectators. The course was relatively flat, but lots of fun, with tons of singletrack and most of it was fairly rooty and technical.

I had a good start and never rode in worse than 2nd for the whole race. Tim Heemskerk led for part of the first lap, and then there was this technical root drop into an off camber corner that I thought he might run, and I was planning on riding, so I got in front for it and rode it. Tim ran it and that meant that I got about a 8sec gap on everyone behind me. This was actually a decisive move, as only Tim was able to catch back up and we rode lap 2, 3, and part of 4 together. There were times where we would attack each other to get into a section first or try and drop the other. Probably these efforts weren't the smartest thing, because by lap 4 even though I had dropped Tim, Watson caught me and attacked me super hard on the start climb. I kind of tried to go with him, but couldn't and just rode as smooth and steady as possible to finish 2nd, 1min back and 1min ahead of Tim.

It was a pretty fun race, and I am happy with my consistency and improvement in results compared to last year. I am now ranked 2nd overall in the Canada Cup Series.

Many thanks to the support of Terry and Dianne Jones for the great accommodations and meals during the week. Also thanks to my sponsor XPREZO for making great mountain bikes. Check out more Xprezo news at

Race the Ranch June 6

So I did the BC cup #2, only because it was 800m from my door. Yep, that's right, I got off my couch 30min before the start and rolled up to the line. It was pretty sweet not to have to travel at all.

The race was 10deg cooler than last year, which means it was only 32deg! I made sure I went hard at the start, because last year I got caught up in a dust cloud and did a somersault into the sage brush. I lead the first lap by about 10sec, and then just kept opening up the gap from there. My dualie was awesome on this course, as there are tons of little bumps from pedaling, almost like washboard from cars. There were some pretty fun sections that I had helped build, one was this near vertical run down into a compression that then sling shot you right back up the hill on the other side. If you hit it too hard your legs would collapse and you'd get all squirrely on the bike. I do believe there were a few crashes there on the weekend.

The course did get super rutted out and dusty. It is just so dry there and a very silty soil. The course actually became a lot more technical as the race went on. It was awesome having some of the local crowd out to cheer us on. Mike, Aaron, and Pete all had me laughing so hard I almost fell off my bike while racing with some of their antics.

Anyway I had a good race here and ended up getting my first win of the season. This is a photo of Evan, who was 2nd. I just wanted to show all the dust.

Back in the Loops

So I flew back out to kamloops the monday after Hardwood, and it turns out I was on the same flight from Vancouver back as my housemate Catherine Pendrel, so that was nice to have someone to hang out with for part of the trip.

Flying over the mountains reminded me 100% why I moved out west, as they were all snow capped and beautiful. The weather was also gorgeous at 25 to 30deg with sun, unlike 3 to 18 and rain in Onterrible (no Ontario really isn't that bad).

I spent most of the week weeding our garden and playing fetch with our cat Oly (who can now open drawers to find earplugs to play fetch with!!!). The garden had this super nasty vine-type weed that has roots about 45cm under the surface, so I think I'll be dealing with this bugger for a while. I started to bonk a few times while I was weeding, I just got so frustrated at the vine and wanted to get it out that I didn't want to go inside and eat. Maybe I should have drunk more, as it was 35deg and direct sun.

The rest of the time I went riding, and did a wicked ride up on Harper with Keith, Kika, and Evan Guthrie that ended with a swim. The next day I did big 3hr epic with Evan, we had to start at 9 AM as it was so hot that day.

Here is a video of Oly playing fetch

Hardwood Hills Canada Cup May 31

This was a tough race. It was super flat and not very technical, both of which are my strong points. For race day it was really cold, at 3deg in the morning. I warmed up with my xprezo cycling jacket and then a hoodie on top.

For the race I had a good start in 3rd after a bit, then I slid out on a corner and lost a position, and then a little gap opened up. Hardwood is a hard one to race, as more than anywhere else, every second counts as you really can't close gaps. I rode fairly well for lap 1-3, got caught by Peter Glassford on lap 3-4 and rode with him (which was a good pain train), and then for lap 4-5 I rode with Steff Widmer. Riding with Steff was super fun, as we were railing the singletrack at mach speed (as in 45km/hr) in places, and I was trying to drop Steff or at least not let him pass me, so it was fun to be racing him.

I ended up 7th, and I had rode a good race, it just wasn't my best day or course. Afterwards I indulged in 3 helpings of ice cream, a sausage, a hamburger, a salad, and some pork at a barbecue hosted by Liz Ross and her landlords. It was a pretty fun time.

Mount Tremblant, May 23rd

The Canada Cups: For the Canada Cups this year the level of competition seems higher than ever. Basically all but 3 of the best riders in Canada were at these early season Canada Cups, and there were quite a few US riders, and even a guy from Germany. The Canada Cups this year also attracted the attention of the producers from a new website called They do lots of video interviews and even a video clip of us racing.

Tremblant May 23rd
The most recent race I did was Tremblant Canada Cup last weekend . The weather was atypical for Quebec in the spring, with no rain and mid twenty (Deg C) weather. Consequently the course was the driest I’ve raced it in the past 5 years or so. The organisers had also added quite a bit of gravel, which made it a lot faster but also less technical (and I like technical courses).

Race day dawned bright and clear, I had a good warm up and rolled up to the start line feeling very relaxed (in fact there is a picture of me with a huge yawn happening). I had a good start and was third into the singletrack, following Derek Zandstra and Julien Fillinon. We rode together like this for half of the first lap (mostly a climb) and then I passed Julien at the top of the climb and closed the small gap that had opened up to Derek. At the bottom of the descent we worked together, trading pulls so each one could get a little rest. Mid way through the 2nd lap Derek put in a little surge and I decided not to go with it, as I didn’t think I could hold that pace for the whole race. I tried to catch him on the descent (which is a super fun rooty technical descent that takes about 5min), and by the bottom I was 10sec behind. I chased hard that lap, and was pretty close as we went through the feed zone for the start of the 3rd. On the 3rd and 4th, I rode well, I was by myself, and just tried to ride everything as fast as possible at a sustainable effort. On lap 5 I looked back at one point and saw Andrew Watson was about 35sec behind me. Last weekend he caught me at the end of the race, and I really didn’t want that to happen this time, so I put the hammer down and rode really well for the last 2 laps. By the time I crossed the finish line on lap 6 I was in 2nd 1.5min ahead of 3rd.

I was super happy with my race and how I am consistently riding a lot faster than last year. Here is a video interview from after the race in Tremblant.

Baie Saint Paul May 17th

This was the first Canada Cup of the year so all the racers want to see who trained extra well or smart (not hard) over the winter, hence there is usually a little nervous energy associated with the first Canada Cup. It was great to see everyone though, and meet up with those friends I hadn’t seen since last race season.

Baie Saint Paul is situated about 90km north east of Quebec City on the Saint Laurence River. I was a little worried as we were driving there and there was still about a foot of snow in the ditch by the ski hill Le Massif, but by the time we lost elevation to the race course it was all dry. The course at Baie was lots of fun, it is very well designed, in that a spectator can watch the riders about 6 times/lap with just walking 300m or so. It is a fairly rocky rooty course, with lots of singletrack climbing. The race organisers in Baie also are very enthusiastic about cycling, and get lots of spectators to come out from the community. They also make sure that all the small details are well organised, like their bike wash, which drained well and had a tent over top in case it was raining.

For the race I had a great start (first off the line) and rode a comfortable pace until we got to the singletrack, where I let a few riders go ahead. Derek rode off the front, and I was in a group of 5 for the first lap. I had a bit more pressure in my tires than I was used to, and on one very easy smooth flat corner that I was railing my front end slid out and I had a light crash. I got up super quick , turned my bars around and chased hard to get back on the group. It was pretty fun actually because it meant that I was racing super hard to catch the group in front of me. Lap 2 I couldn’t see them at a corner, lap 3 I could see them at the corner, and by lap 4 I had closed the gap. As soon as I caught up, Steff Widmer from Rocky Mountain caught a stick in his derailleur and broke it, so unfortunately for him he was out. Then I caught Raphael Gagne and immediately passed him and tried to chase down Julien Fillion who was in 2nd at that point. I put in a big effort on the end of the 4th lap and caught him and rode with him for the end of the 4th and start of 5th. I should have gone by, but sat in, and he dabbed on a technical climb and because I was following so close I lost my momentum and he got away. Shortly after that Andrew Watson caught me, he was riding super well and put a gap into me almost immediately. I think I might have worked a little too hard too early, and faded a bit lap 5. On lap 6 Leni caught me and I had to refocus and dig deep to stay ahead of him. I got a bit of a gap on him at the crucial point at the top of the descent, and rode it into the finish line for 4th place. I was quite happy with my race, but felt I made a few mistakes that cost me some time and positions.

My parents had driven up to Baie, and they were very excited to see me have a good race. It was also great to see them since the last time was in February.

Many thanks for the great support of my team Xprezo, which has been super supportive and helpful at all these races.

Here are some more links to interesting videos from Baie Saint Paul.

Pan Ams, Chile March 21

Hey All,

I just got back from competing in the Pan Am Championships in Santiago, Chile for the Canadian National team.

Catharine Pendrel and I left snowy cold Kamloops after a week of preparing in our heat chamber. (For our heat chamber we rode the trainer in a plastic walled off area where we cranked the furnace and the space heater to get the temperature up to 33deg C, yeah it was as bad as it sounds). We flew for 18 hours of travel before arriving in Santiago with the rest of the team. There we went through customs, where apparently I had a small bag of raisins I had forgotten about. I guess it is a bad idea to bring any fruit, vegetable, or seed into the country, because the customs agents proceeded to take the raisins, my passport, and me into a back room where they weighed the raisins, and fined me that amount (200g) in US $! Those were the most expensive raisins that I have never eaten!

Following this hour long procedure I was finally able to get outside into the beautiful sunny, dry weather. We drove with all our bikes and gear out of Santiago and east up into the Andes to the small mountain village of Parve. The mountain road we were on was quite crazy. It tops anything I have been on in North America or Europe for the length (40km), number of switchbacks (46) and just how narrow, off camber, and tight those switchbacks were. It took us about 1hr to get up it, where we were then delivered to an awesome little house, complete with excellent hosts and cooks Alexis and Cathy.

The next few days were filled with figuring out the location, race course, and logistics of our area. Thank goodness that Catharine and Max could both speak Spanish! On Day 2 we drove down to the race course. It was about 40min down the mountain from the 2800m we were staying at, to the course at an elevation of 1000m, however, our 2hr ride took 5hrs just due to logistics and the nice “relaxed” South American pace of life.

The course was pretty good, it consisted of many 1min climbs and two longer 4min climbs, and then lots of off Camber singletrack, that was exceptionally loose with ruts in it. It was actually quite challenging to ride, and there was one downhill that I think maybe only one racer rode during the race, as it was steep, with corners, rutted, and you really couldn’t slow down with so much “loose over hardpack”. On my first practice lap I crashed here (went straight into a bush), and during the week just about every racer had a few scratches here and there from unexpected falls on the loose terrain.

Race day was a nice sunny 32deg, (just like every other day). We sent all the bikes with the team mechanic and manager Jerome Sanfracon and Steve Lund, as that way we knew they would get there safely and on time. However, it was not so easy for us, as our bus never showed up, and now we didn’t have bikes to ride down the hill. After a while though we were able to convince one of our hosts to drive us all the way down to the race course!!

The race was scheduled to be 7 laps, which we worked out to be around 2:15 for the winning time, which we all thought was too long for a race that early in the season in such a hot climate. However there was nothing we could do about it, so I just planned on racing a little slower to be able to last long enough. I had a good start and paced what I thought was maintainable for the first few laps. I was riding in the 30’s with 3 Chilean guys, and we were steadily moving up as people blew. The crowds and cheering (for the Chilean’s) were phenomenal, and the course was quite fun to race. From the one downhill that we ran, my shoes got filled with pea sized sharp rocks that went under the arch of my foot, and then there was another loose uphill that we ran where they really, really hurt. I also crashed into one thorn bush while avoiding a rider, and got my arm cut up with 100 or so scratches and 20 thorns left imbedded in it. I was able to brush most of them out with my gloves.

By about lap 4 I started to fade a bit, basically it is still very early in the season and I don’t have full race form yet. Lap 4 and 5 were a bit slower, and at the end of lap 6 I got pulled and finished in 19th place. Overall I was expecting a bit more, however it was still a success as I got a ton of UCI points.

Catharine had an excellent race and easily won by nearly 5min. Emily also won the U23 category, and Derek had a great race to place 6th in the men’s category.

The day after the race, a group of us did an amazing ride, on single track all the way to the bottom of switchback 1. It was 13km with 1300m of descending. Thankfully Steve (who was getting really good at driving the mountain road) picked us up at the bottom. We then proceeded to pack up and head to the airport for a 22hour travel day for me back to Kamloops, where it is now sunny and a manageable 10deg!

My next race will be Sea Otter Classic on April 18-19. Hope all is well! Many thanks to my sponsor Xprezo for providing great bikes hand made in Bromont, Canada.

Here is a link to some photos: