Wednesday, September 7, 2011

World Championships

Training ride with the team

So after the Val Di Sole world cup the Canadian team traveled to Champery Switzerland. We took the train there and it was neat going through the twisty mountain passes and lots of tunnels, and other times it was very hot and sweaty sitting on the train. Eventually we got to Champery and head coach Dan met us with pizza - which were very well received by everyone as we had mostly missed dinner.

Training in Champery went very well, I did quite a bit of riding with Derek, and one day we climbed mountain roads for 2hrs and more climbing on cow trail/singletrack and got clear up to the French border on the ridge of the mountains! It was pretty neat and we made sure to step across the cattle fence into France for a bit. From there I talked to some locals and we found an awesome singletrack descent that took us most of the way back the race course.

The french border

During the week I logged lots of time on the race course, and felt pretty comfortable with it. This race course started out with a gradual paved/gravel climb for about 3min, then a 4 foot drop/launch, followed by about 4min of flat double track and rooty singletrack, that kicked up into a very steep 2min gravel climb and a fun rooty descent to the finish.

All week it would rain on and off and the course was always somewhat wet, which was fine by me as I tend to do better in the wet. Race day the weather forecast was afternoon showers, so none of us really knew whether or not to run mud tires. I went with an intermediate tire and it seemed pretty good.

Saturday morning the girls raced, and it was very exciting to see my wife have her best international result finishing 31st, and to see fellow NB native Catharine Pendrel WIN World Champs!!!

The guys raced at 4:30, which is indeed pretty late but it put us closer to prime time TV, so I guess that is a good thing. I had a decent start this time, with 120 guys ripping up the pavement at 50km/hr. I avoided all the crashes and ripped around the start loop in about 80th place and then we went into the end of the lap up the steep gravel climb. This was ok, and I tried to hold my own position, at the top it was a complete bottle neck and we were all off our bikes as 100 of us tried to shove our way though basically a door-way sized space.

From there on it was typical world cup racing, meaning that you exit a piece of singletrack and then sprint as hard as you can to pass or hold off the other racers around you and then dive into the singletrack very blown and try and ride smooth, but really you bounce around everywhere because you can’t see straight. Really, if you just imagine monteal traffic that is how we race – floor it, brake hard – maybe crash into each other, floor it again. We would for sure go faster if we could just TT, but that is not what world cup racing is all about – unless you are winning. I did have a few sweet singletrack passes, there was one wide rooty flat section were 4 of us were riding, dude 1 went way right, and 2 and 3 went left and right and I found some really good traction and shot right up the middle and passed all 3 of them, it was kinda fun to do.

On lap 4 I had moved up a few positions and was in the 70’s somewhere and had just pulled off a sweet pass on a sketchy root drop downhill, I think I was having too much fun and got a bit out of control and BAM, I smoked a tree with my handlebar and head. I got up and kept moving and though I had broken the brake lever clean off but it was just twisted out of sight, so I was able to muscle it back up. I did however rip the hydraulic hose off my fork lockout which means that the fork was now rigid. Anyway, I figured I could still do it and rode the drop just fine, some of the singletrack was a bit rough and bumpy but I managed. Finishing that lap I got pulled by the commisare for being 80% back of the leaders. It was unfortunate as I was the guy 3sec in front of me made it though, and as it had started to rain I was actually riding better than earlier in the race.

Overall I was not super happy with my race, I always like to improve and I don’t feel like this Worlds was as good a race as last year, but I guess we can’t be our best all of the time.

It was a great trip though, awesome to have my brother and his wife show up, as Sarah is studying with a Swiss professor for 2 months and they were able to come cheer. Many thanks to the Canadian National team and Xprezo for all the race help and support.

Yes, the Subaru Justy still exists in Europe - lots of clearance and 4x4!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Val Di Sole

So yesterday I raced the Val Di Sole World Cup. It went way better than I expected considering my “wicked” (sarcasm intended) lead up during the week before.

We left Canmore in a torrential downpour and drove to the Calgary airport Monday afternoon, hopped on the plane after the lightning left and flew to Toronto and then Zurich. From Zurich we took the train towards Val di Sole Italy and finished off our 36hrs of travel with a van ride to our accommodations. We had a sweet hotel about 200m from the race course, with really cool blackout blinds on the windows so I can sleep in, and windows that are hinged in a way to switch between doors and open (but locked) window.

So it seemed like Tuesday just did not even exist, and Wednesday we went for a ride. Catherine and I did a warmup on the bike path and I was talking to her ( I think she was listening) and a bee or wasp flew into my mouth and stung me between my teeth and lip. I kept riding and did a lap of the race course, but during the lap I basically started drooling. The right side of my face went numb and then started to swell up quite a bit. Eventually I found some Benadryl and ice and the swelling stopped.

This is me with the fat lip, fat face, swolled eye, and a "bird beak", yeah, I felt awesome...

The next day I woke up with a tight throat and wasn’t sure if it was a further reaction to the sting or a cold. I went training and had a decent day but the then the cold got worse. Friday I felt pretty bad at times and Saturday was race day. For my warmup I started a hard effort and promptly went to the side of the road and hacked up some nice lung butter, after that I was ok and felt a bit better for the next warmup efforts.

I had a decent call up for the race in 67/120 guys, so I was pretty excited about that. However, right after the gun went off Bury Stander who was on the front line broke his chain and caused a massive crash, so basically I came to a dead stop because I decided not to run over this guy’s head that was in my way, so I got through the crash and then was off. Anyway, I rallied together and rode a pretty slow first lap because there were so many people trying to get into the singletrack at the same time, we would do max effort sprints and then stand still until we could fit through. Then on lap 2 I was able to open it up a bit more and I felt pretty good. This course consisted of about 5 climbs of 20sec to 1min that were super steep and I was able to stand and power up them and pick off a 1 ride on most of them, so it was fun to move up and pass people all race. I consistently passed about 10 riders per lap to finish 76th, so it was an ok day. I am actually happy with my race all things considered, and am looking forward to world champs in 2 weeks, knowing that I can be way faster than right now by just getting healthy, - and I hear it is a fun race course that should suit me well technically.

Catherine had a great race, she rode really well for the first 4 laps and then blew up a bit and lost 7 spots, finishing 39 – which is still her best European world cup ever so that is exciting for her too. We are off to Champery Switzerland Tuesday to prep on the Worlds course.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This year I raced TR3, the three day version of TransRockies. It was a super competitive field with top racers from Canada and the USA. And best of all it was all on sweet Fernie Singletrack.

Steff, Magi, Catherine, and I all stayed with Marni and Andre's place - many thanks for putting up with our mess and smelly bike clothes.

Day 1 was a time trial and I went out second. I had decent legs but nothing amazing, Barry Wicks was my 2 min man and he caught up to me, so then I stuck with him and finished up 4th. Day 2 was a much better day, I had way better legs and felt pretty good. We were in a lead group of 6 and were directed the wrong way by a course marshall, we rode up the hill for about 6min and then blasted back down, apparently another 20 people did the same thing but did a loop, so it didn't really matter since all of the top 30 got lost. From there we had to pass a ton of people and eventually caught my wife who was leading everybody at that point! On the big climb Neal attacked and Max went with him, and Steff and I rode our own pace. We did a good climb and then bombed down Porky Blue, a crazy steep 1000m vertical descent down into the valley. Steff and I then worked together until the finish where we had decided to wait until the end to sprint. I lead out and the finish straight was longer then I expected, so I started too early and he came around to get 3rd and I was 4th. Catherine had a great day and won the women's, by enough to take the overall.

Today for day 3 I had good legs again and pushed pretty hard. The group split up on the first climb and I was in 3rd in no-mans land. I rode there all day for the 5x350m climbs and descents of the day. At one point I caught Neal who was fixing a flat and I passed him, he was about 30sec behind me and then I put some decent time into him before the finish to finish up 2nd on the day and 3rd overall.

I'm very happy with my ride and now am excited to head to Europe to race world cup finals in Italy and World Champs in Switzerland. Thanks a lot to Xprezo Boraso for the great bikes and support for this year.


So, I've been racing my bike all over the place these last few weeks.

After Ste Anne was Windham World cup, I had a great race there and finished 9min back from the leader and 41st, 3rd canadian. From there we flew out of Albany NY on a tiny plane and all our bikes were lost for 4 days.

The next weekend was Nationals, and I had another good ride, not as good as at the world cup but decent none the less. I felt pretty good and duked it out with Morka for the last 3 laps. It was super fun because we went so hard and fast, but he got me at the end and I was 6th.

Next up was Edmonton Canada Cup, this one was a bit crazy. It had poured rain all week and then the sun came out the day of the race, so we had the worst of all worlds. The mud was so thick and sticky that we had to run about 1km per 6km lap. The running was so slippery that you had to dig the toe spikes or heel spikes in to run on flat. I had a good race and finished up 3rd, with enough points to win the overall Canada Cup series!!! Catherine won her race and won the overall- so we are the fastest married mtb couple in Canada! Big thanks to Terry and Dianne who let us stay at their place, fed us great food, and brought the whole family out to cheer us on!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hot racing!

So this last weekend I raced the Mount Saint Anne world cup. I've often had good races here as it is a nice technical course and I like technical, however this year it was not to be. I have been working trail building in Canmore at the Nordic Centre, and it has been cold there all spring. We had snow 2 weeks ago, and consequently I have zero heat adaptaition. I was hoping that I would be fine - since the forecast for Quebec was for rain and cold weather, but race day was beautiful and sunny - and cooking like a wet sauna.

I had a good start to the race with 3rd Canadian call up, and made use of it to hold my position up the first climb. Then in the woods there were a few sections of trail were there were two singletrack options, and I made a few good choices and passed a ton of people (I rode down the chicken line beside Beatrice and passed about 10 folks who were walking it). So first lap was in the books as a good one and I was happy because it felt like i really hadn't gone that hard but was in a great position, then on lap 2 I let a few people past and headed up the gravel climb and WHAM! That is where I felt like death, it felt like I had lighter fluid poured on my arms and lit on fire - I wasn't even sweating - just burning up. Eventually I got back into the shade and felt a little better and the rest of the lap was ok. Then lap 3 and 4 I just felt terrible and really wanted to lie in the creek at the top of the race course, I savoured the few drops of cold water that splashed up on my legs - indeed the memory of it is still glorious! Anyway, I kept going and dumped lots of water on myself at the feed/tech zone and eventually I got pulled by the commisaire for riding too slowly, but I was happy about it because that was enough suffering for one day.

So this week I have been trying to ride at the hottest time of the day to get adapted for the Windham world cup next weekend. Hopefully that one goes better!

Can you see the flames on my arms?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Running Scared

So today I raced the Baie Saint Paul Canada Cup. It was a real mud race - I'd actually call it a running race.

I had first call up again which was kind of cool, and then hung out in the rain for a while until the gun went off. I had a good start and got into the singletrack 1st, with Marty Lazarski on my wheel. It was technical muddy rocky singletrack right off the bat, and we were able to ride it and everyone else ran it so we got a gap immediately. Marty and I pushed pretty hard right then and got a 10 sec gap. Marty led for a bit and then I passed him back halfway up the singletrack climb. By the top I had at least 5sec on Marty, and rode the descent fairly well and came through the lap with about a 20sec lead.

On the second lap it was getting harder to ride - all the 350 or so riders on the race course were just churning the mud into pig slop, in some places it was 6inch deep peanut butter thickness mud, and in other areas it was thin soupy mud that was hub deep. As the race went on the course got more and more destroyed and it got slower. I was being stubborn and riding as much as possible but I was actually just spinning a lot. There was a lot of trail where I would grab the trees on either side of the trail and pull myself forward.

Catherine running through some sloppy mud.

So eventually when I heard the split times and the chasers were getting closer I knew I had to pick it up. So for lap 3-4-5 I ended up running a ridiculous amount. Now anyone who knows me knows I don't like running, but I had to get'er done and just ran. I was able to stay out front for the whole race and hold on for the win.

Very excited about it and now it is 2 for 2. Catherine wore out her brake pads pretty early on and didn't have the best race to finish 3rd - still a respectable result though.

My mom and I at the end- muddy and happy.

Last weekend I raced Tremblant - it was a great race as well. I had a good start and entered the single 2nd wheel. There was a big group of us and we rode together for the first lap and then Kris Sneddon took the lead and I hopped on his wheel, and Cam joined us. I had good climbing legs and got into the singletrack first and with my Xprezo Sub 5 full suspension I was able to open up a good gap on the downhill. I soft pedaled the pavement at the bottom though, as I didn't want to work too hard yet, and then attacked when I got into the singletrack and on the final climb I was able to open up my gap and then open it up even more on the downhill. This time I pedaled really hard across the open road section and held my gap and grew it until the finish - coming in for the win!

So what was really cool about this race is that Catherine also won, so that meant we were both the Canada Cup leaders, so we got up on the podium together with our red leaders jerseys. At this point Ricky yelled KISS, we want a KISS so Catherine obliged and gave me a quick one right on the podium!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pan Ams

So I had a great trip to Colombia for the weekend. Everything was great except for my race.

I flew down on thursday - had a nice early start at 3:20 AM, and got into Bogota Colombia at 10PM. There we were met by one of the organizers with a big cube van and a bus. We headed off to our hotel by Chia with an armed escort at our side. Got into the hotel at midnight and had a great sleep.

Friday we build our bikes in the sun. It was amazing! We could stand around in shorts and a T shirt and soak up the warmth and energy from the sun. So nice after a rainy winter in Victoria. Friday was a bit of a long day - we rode over to the race course but weren't allowed to pre-ride until 4pm. When we did get on the race course it was really fun. Basically it had a long climb/long descent, with a few variations in between. Some of the climbing was super steep, and pre-riding it was difficult not to go too hard. The trails more technical than most south american race courses and were lots of fun to ride. After the pre-ride we rode home with a police escort (we followed him but he didn't know where our hotel was so we ended up riding around quite a bit extra).

Saturday a few of us rode over, did a lap, and then rode back. This time we had the route dialed and it only took 30min.

Sunday was race day and it dawned bright and sunny. This was supposed to be the rainy season in Colombia, with temperatures from 10 - 20 deg C, so it was mostly a nice surprise to have 28deg and sun. I say mostly because I did not do any heat adaptation before flying down, and preforming at my best when going from 5deg to 20 and rain is no problem, but 30deg is hard to adapt to. But, on the plus side it sure makes clean up and travel home a lot easier to not have muddy clothes!

For the race we had a pretty good field of competitors - with all the top South Americans on their best form, and a full squad from the US. I had a great start and was in about 10th going through the start loop, then we went up a short hill and past the feed tech zone, then up another short steep hill. I thought that I would be able to handle this effort, but in these first 5mins of racing I completely did myself in. I guess I forgot to mention that we were racing at 2550meters of elevation, and this means one can not recover nearly as well from anaerobic efforts. For the rest of the lap, and then the next 3 I crawled around the race course. I think I would have been better off to stop on the side and take a breather for 10min and then get back in the race. Put it this way - my race laps were slower than some of my pre-ride laps, when I just relaxed up the climbs. I guess I only just stuck it out because I don't quit races and wanted to finish. By lap 5 and 6 I had a little bit of speed back and was able to pass a few people.

In general I was pretty disappointed with my race, I don't feel that I came anywhere close to what I was capable of, and am annoyed that I had to relearn all about pacing at altitude. It was amazing just how slow I went. I guess the lessons learned are that I was too eager just to "pin it to win it"I need to remember to race with "brain over brawn".

Post race some of us rode back to the hotel, and that monsoon that was supposed to happen all week hit. It was incredible how hard it rained for about 10 min, enough so that we couldn't see more than 100m and was bouncing up off the pavement thick enough to look like a fountain.

This Castle at the race course was owned by the drug lords of the area back in the day. Now it is a public museaum. Even though we had a police escort at times we all felt very safe traveling in Bogota.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Island Cup #1

So on Sunday I did the first race of the year. I had to travel all of 35min from my door, so I couldn't really turn it down. It is part of a great series here on the Island; they are very grass roots races, 10$ entry fee, draw prizes, and good times for all.

The race started out with a good climb and king of the mountain got a cookie, so I made sure to lead it out on lap one. By lap 2 I had a solid lead and was getting a little bored and made a mistake and flatted. I had some serious issues with trying to get the valve stem out (it was on my winter bike and had corroded on there after not being touched for 3 years or so), so I had the world's slowest flat change of about 5min (Thanks to the spectator for 'helping me find a pump' on the ground). By the time I was back in the race I was in 6th, however, this made the rest of the race super fun, as I was catching people and really got to pin it. On lap 3 I passed back up to 3rd, and at the start of lap 4 got up to 2nd. For the rest of the lap I chased super hard and almost caught Steve Noble. I ended up finishing 2nd, 3 seconds behind...

Now, the really sweet thing about this race is that Kate Scallion had made cookies for medals. Since I got 2, I did share one with the kid who had bonked and was standing next to me during awards and was drooling. I had to eat the other one to fuel my ride home. Not to worry though, I still got my cookie quota, as Catherine had a great race and won two cookies, and I ate most of hers when she was at work. Awww, tough life hunh?

Maybe I'll make her some cookies sometime...

How sharp are your knives?

So the other day I decided to sharpen our kitchen knives. To test how sharp they are I always try and cut a few hairs off my arm with them, but, since my legs were so hairy I just shaved my legs instead! Yep, the knives are nice and sharp now and my legs are smooth!

Don't try this at home, but if you do, you have to get the angle right and you just slide the knife along (like a razor) DON'T whatever you do saw back and forth with it!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011


So, yes it has been a long time since I have updated. It is not as if there was nothing to write about, indeed, it has been quite the opposite – I have been too busy doing exciting things to update – so here goes.

My Xprezo winter bike with full fenders - Jordan river road ride

Jan - Feb

For Jan and Feb we have been riding our bikes tons. It might be nice to be able to ride outside this much, but man is it hard on equipment with all the rain. I can go through a set of road brake pads in 5 rides (now I bought a different compound).

We had a national team training camp here in Feb. We had Sandra and Jean Ann (now my Xprezo team mates) and Catharine P all staying at our place, so it was a full house. I really enjoyed the camp, and did about 22hrs of riding with Max, Cory, and Sneddon.

When not riding our bikes we are probably eating food, but when we get to do something else, we have been having a lot of bonfires. Or, as Cater calls them, ‘burns’. This last weekend we had a big ‘burn’, since it had rained all week and we had a ton of brush we started it with the propane tiger torch, which works really well. At one point we even got out the leaf blower our and that really got the flames twice as high!

Ride food, mine is on the left, home made muffin, energy bar, rolled apple pastry, baked potato, and a sandwich, then I have a granola bar in my seat bag for emergencies.
Catherine, digging to the ground - 4meters and not there yet.


For our December “vacation”, Catherine and I went up to Mt Washington to play in the snow. They had the most snow anywhere in the world at that point – with 5 meters on the ground. We arrived in a blizzard and snowshoed out into the back country navigating on instinct (since we couldn’t see anything and there were no signs). We made it where we were planning, it was super hard going as the powder hadn’t settled at all yet, so each snowshoe step was HIP HEIGHT! We dug a snow cave to sleep in, and Catherine dug to timbuck two to try and find ground. She dug 4m (measured with my avy probe) and still didn’t hit ground.

Wading through the snow on day 2

The next day we went for a hike to the top of Mt Brooks. Again, it was super hard snowshoeing, and took us 4hrs round trip. It was blizzard conditions so we couldn’t see anything from the top. Day 3 was super clear, and we decided to take an easy jaunt up to the ridge to get a view. The going was so easy in our packed track that we hiked clear back to the top, took in the amazing 360 views, and then hiked back down, all in 1.5hrs. Then we loaded up our gear and hauled it out back to the car.

At the top, for the 2nd time
Yes, that is snow, green trees and grass, ocean, green trees, and then Mountains on the mainland that you see - a whole lot of different Climates there.

Mt Brooks as we were leaving the area

The next 2 days we did a ton of xc skiing – had to get in our fix for the winter since there is no snow here in Vic.



A few days after our wedding I headed to Panorama to design an XC mountain bike race course. It was definitely challenging work, as they didn’t want to build too much new trail, wanted to keep most of the DH park trails open during the race, and I wanted it to be fun challenging singletrack with a double tech/feed zone that was appropriate speed and near the middle of the race course. But, I got it all figured out and am looking forward to racing the Canada Cup there in August.

A feature to be built in the new Canada Cup race course

After Panorama I packed up the last load of our belongings from Kamloops and headed to Vic to see my Wife. Yikes, yes it does sound crazy to say that word! She was already working (as an intern in the exercise physiology lab at the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific), so I decided it was time to get a real job too. My landlord and retired MTB racer Carter Hovey helped me find a job, and 2 weeks later I was a working man.

I think I was a bit disillusioned with what my work was going to be. The last 3 carpentry jobs I had were more skill related – I got to build and fix houses, even do finish carpentry, whereas on this job I mostly just carried wood! I was helping frame a super fancy house with 5 different angled roves, concrete floors upstairs and lots of other crazy details to it. The worst day was when I carried the rafters which were 24foot long 2x10`s that were wet Douglas fir up the hill and into the house. I calculated that each one weighed about 110lbs, and that day I carried about three thousand pounds, yes that is 3 tons.

I stuck the job out until late December, and then quit. I was getting super tired from the physical labour as well as training lots.

Our Wedding

Oct 16

So Catherine Vipond and I got married! It was pretty much a perfect wedding for us. We were up on Harper mountain at a rustic DH ski lodge in Kamloops BC. There was a very light dusting of snow on the ground and we had a bright sunny day so it was an incredible setting. We did our ceremony outside with a beautiful view out over the valley. Then we had dinner, the dance, and most importantly we roasted marshmellows over the fireplace inside. It was a great time, awesome to get to see all the friends and family who could make it, and just a super relaxed happy vibe from everyone.

Newly Wed's!
Where would we be without a bicycle?


This fall I also got addicted to salmon fishing. The Adams River had the largest salmon run of Sockeye salmon since 1913 – so there were tons of fish. Brad, a good friend of mine and owner of Taboo Cycles, took me out salmon fishing a few times. It is actual “sport” fishing, and the fish aren’t really biting at that time of year – they might strike from aggression. So how you catch them is you put a lead ball on your line, and then off that ball you tie a 10foot line with the hook on the end. You cast it way up the river and as the current bounces the ball down river on the bottom, your line passes through the mouth of the salmon that is breathing on the bottom of the river, and if you can feel it you give a big YANK and you’ve got the fish hooked! I caught a few on my own, but Brad was a real pro at it, and he let me reel in and keep some of his fish. They were delicious!
Cleaning and filleting a few fish!

These are the Sockeye just before spawning in the Adams river, we did not fish here


So this fall I had the most amazing Stag party, or we should really call it a “Ram”. A whole group of us from the cycling scene headed out to Hornby Island with a Ram Danny S had got from a farmer. We butchered it out there and roasted it on a spit over a massive fire. We also ate tons of oysters from the beach, and put in some good days of riding on the trails there.

There was a bulldozer pile of stumps and brush from clearing the land, and one evening we got the jeep out and drug some stumps from the pile and 8 of us picked up these massive Douglas fir stumps and threw them on the fire. It was an awesome fire , so big we could sit 15 feet back with our shirts off on a 5deg day!

Roasting the Ram over our small fire