East Timor- Singapore- India

After Bhutan it was back on a jet plane for a couple days to head over to the Worlds 2nd youngest country in East Timor.  This proud nation situated in South East Asia is just 14 years old and is full of an excited group of locals working hard to push there country forward.  In 2010 they hosted the first ever 5 day Tour of Timor MTB race to promote the country as a peaceful place for adventure tourism and ever since the race has been an annual event.flag_of_east_timor-svg

This year the Tour of Timor was on the International cycling calendar (UCI) and attracted 120 racers, many of them top riders from Thailand, Malaysia, Kzaksthan, Portugal, Australia, Singapore and one Canadian.  Home to a very hot climate and a crytsal clear blue ocean, the countryside makes a perfect place for a bike race. There is very little traffic and the rough dirt roads traversing all over the mountainous Island make for some tough but great courses.

In 2014 my UK friend Catherine Williamson and I came over for the Tour and were blown away at the rawness and roughness of the race. It was a long week rolling with the punches, sleeping 2-3 hours a  night, losing weight eating white rice and dulling our teeth on leather like beef. It took its toll on us but we both managed to come away with the overall titles. After a year of recovery we both opted to return in 2016, this time being blown away at the improvements which included proper food, huge police and army support shutting down all the roads to insure our safety and a pretty solid overall organization.  It was still a proper adventure given the grim living conditions at camp as we slept in dirty concrete rooms, showered with swamp water beside shitters and had little ways of cooling down after racing in the scorching heat.img_6272

Teaming up with 2015 winner, Craig Cooke from Australia, and Catherine, it looked like we had an unbeatable 3 person team for this years race.  We named ourselves “Team White Race” and proceeded to fry ourselves to a crisp over the first 2 stages as the course this year stuck down along the ocean in some scorching temperatures and maxxed out humidity.    Trying to race against heat resistant tiny Portuegues and Asian climbers was mission impossible for my Canadian Beef as I was overheating before we even started racing each stage at 7am.  By the time the sun really came up at 9am, i’d be in full meltdown mode .  Catherine being one of the toughest and most accomplished marathon racers in the world, looked at me after having a meltdown in stage 2 and said “i’m not sure about you but I’m getting to old for this stuff.”  Being mid thirties, that’s far from the truth.  The real truth is that 38-40 degrees is just to damn hot to ride a bike in!img_6326

The week would roll along with hot racing, rough living conditions, but an all round great time as we had a solid group travelling together to take in the crazy experience. My buddy Ben had organized a support car for the week with Belinda and Joane looking after 6 of us riders.  This made the week much more enjoyable then in 2014 and helped take the mind of the tough racing that was on hand.

Stage 3 looked easy on paper stating with a 20 km decent, a long flat stretch then a short climb to the finish.  Hell came to earth in Timor this day as the heat and humidity took out close to a third of the field.  Craig collapsed at the finish needing medical support and I had a bad case of heat exhaustion, unable to eat much of anything for the rest of the day and staying up most the night with a fever.  Stage 4 was a survival mission, and by stage 5 the body was somewhat back in the game. By the end of the week, Team Fried Rice would end up 2nd overall, with Catherine finishing 2nd in the Womans division, Craig finishing 4th in the mens, and myself 6th

After a couple post race days hanging out on the Island it was off to Singapore for a couple nights staying with my friends Ken and Laura.  They were amazing hosts, helping me run around picking up more supplies, preparing nutritious meals ,and finding a local shop to fix my Kona Honzo race bike.

Originally my flight was booked back to Canada for Sept 21st, but the organizers at MTB Himalaya were pretty persuasive and I now find myself up in the Northern mountains of India getting ready of another 8 days of racing as I will attempt to reclaim my title from 2014.

I’ve been lucky to have had such great support this trip and am actually still feeling alright considering all the travel and racing that has been going on. It will be an experiment to see how the body is going to handle this race but theres only one way of finding out its limits.  After 10 days of high altitude training in Bhutan, 1 week of high heat training in Timor, and some ok rest I have my fingers crossed for something to be left in the tank.  14409679_1273431502709456_7255668340358334668_o-copy

Huge thanks to my friend Ben Jones and Shimano Australia for sending over a bunch of replacement parts and for Walton @ Attitude Bikes in Singapore for giving my bike an overhaul as she has been hurting ever since riding 250 km across Bhutanese mud at the Tour of the Dragon. Of course without the huge support from my title sponsor Kona Bicycles this trip wouldn’t be possible as they have stood behind my adventures for over 7 years now 🙂

Off to find some more curry to fuel up the tank…

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Tour of the Dragon (Bhutan)

Bhutan is a mystical Kingdom about the size of Switzerland tucked into the Himalayas between the two giants of India and China. This stunning country has put Gross National Happiness (GNH) ahead of GNP (Gross National Product) which has created a culture in which the 750 000 residents live a peaceful lifestyle primary based around the Buddhist culture.  Coming here for the 7th edition of the 255 km Tour of the Dragon mtb race I was expecting something special, but was blown away.flag_of_bhutan_alternate

Travelling from Mongolia was a complete 3 day gongshow, landing a day late without my bike.  Those close to the Tour of the Dragon made some calls and had a different airline bring in my bike Thursday morning, just in time to catch a 20 minute flight to Bumthang in the centre of the country. This small village sitting at 2500 M would be the start of the race and is  surrounded by ancient temples  and sacred places which made for some very cool pre-rides before the race start at 2 am Saturday morning. Amankora 5 star Lodges hosted me throughout my trip and there first class treatment erased 4 days of travelling and jet lag in the blink of an eye.img_5943

The race itself was launched in 2010 by HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck and the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) as a way to promote adventure tourism in there country.  At the pre-race meeting we were treated to a freshly caught wild bore and local Bhutanese food such as buckwheat, potatoes and organic veggies. Not only did the countryside remind me of Canada but so did the food.

Having raced over 500 races in my life in countless different areas of the World its not often a race sparks my interest as much as this one did.  Heading out with headlamps at 2 am for the first 3 hours was cool but also sketchy as there were black cows laying randomly on the road. It was tough to see them against the dark mud or asphalt surfaces and were essentially black land minds just waiting to be hit.  The first couple hours were otherwise cruisy as we eased into the race, dodging cows and slowly climbing up to Yoton La pass (3430 M). From here the race turned into a survival experience at the blink of an eye.img_5903

Cresting the pass a rainstorm came in as we hit a horrendous descent for over an hour as the road is under construction and basically one big pile of mud and potholes.  We were warned the roads were bad but this was more like racing through a pig stye.   Arran a local expat took off on the decent while I hung back with my Nepalese buddies Roan and Rajkumar as they are both great bike handlers as our goal was to get down the mtn without any catastrophes.

The Prince had told us he would have all the construction machines out shining there lights on the tricky sections and the workers would have flashlights lighting up the bigger potholes.  This sounded to good to be true but it was as the Prince had a volunteer on nearly every corner shining a light and cheering us on. The amount of support out there was amazing, only a Prince could organize a whole country to come together like this for a race.

Daylight started to come in as we hit the bottom of the descent and started climbing up a narrow winding mountain road snaking through jungle vegetation with cliffs on either side.  The mud was brutal and at points we had to get off and walk through 6- 10 inches of it.  Being completely drenched, pushing our bikes through mud with over 180 km to the finish wasn’t what dreams are made of.  Eventually the road conditions improved to just being really shitty but at least we could ride our bikes and soon we caught up to Arran and had a nice group of 5 riders in the lead group as a local Bhutanese had also caught up.

From here the road continued to snake along a mountainside with patches of it looking more like a river bed as it was starting to flood over and get washed away from the constant rain.  I was concerned the race may be cancelled as it looked like the road would give way at any moment.  Apparently this is the National highway in Bhutan, but in parts it looked more like a wide goat trail.img_6141

It stayed a complete mess as we slowly started the gentle 50 km climb up to Pele La pass at (3430 M).  Here the other boys dropped back as I’d embark on a 9 hr solo ride to the finish in what was one of the most memorable rides of my life.

The scenery was stunning as Bhutan has kept a huge focus on preserving there environment and have succeeded with the majority of the country still untouched and in its natural state. Sadly enough this isn’t something often found over in this part of the World and is something the surrounding countries could learn alot from.

Heading over the 2nd big mountain pass (Pele La) a muddy 75 km descent dropped us nearly 2000 M to the valley below. Thinking it was going to be a fast race I opted to run semi slicks. This made the descents rather squirrly and ended with a big crash over the handlebars as the front wheel was engulfed in some thi
k mud. A little winded I straightened the handlebars and continued on thankful to still have the bike and body in one piece.   Usually descending is fun but this one was rough and required a lot of concentration with many open cliff faces, huge mud bogs and a few close calls with vehicles and random dogs.  The scenery to the open valleys below were stellar but there as little time to take in the views!14242214_1219373381454758_6744153736178823726_o-copy

Eventually off the descent the course was actually flat as the road followed a river valley for a while and the temperature hit the low 30’s before the final 40 km climb up to Dochula pass.

Throughout my racing career I can’t remember having to take a dump during a race except during the Yak Attack in Nepal when no amount of diapers could’ve  solved that problem.  On this day my stomach started exploding at the base of Dochula climb. Fighting it off for a while I eventually had to run into the ditch to unload.  Getting my shorts down just in time, something that looked like mud and didn’t smell that bad came out.  After eating mud for the past 9 hours I guess the body needed to eventually get rid of it.

Some little kids ran over to see if I was ok and started laughing as they saw what was going on and put there hands over there eyes.  Not having any toiler paper I used some vegetation then opened a Mongolian granola bar as they had a nice paper packaging which came in handy at this critical moment.

Crawling out of the ditch, the kids had ran over to my bike and started wiping the mud off and had it standing upright ready to roll.  “Don’t give up mister!”.  It was pretty inspiring although I had no thoughts of giving up, just needed little toilet break.

The last 4 hours of the race were a struggle as the 40 km climb went on for ages with the stomach still rumbling. At one point a pit stop was needed at a corner store to buy some black tape to fix my foam grip which had ripped off my bike as a result from the earlier crash.  Picking img_6245up some oil as well for the chain I offered the store owner some money but was declined as they cheered me on.

Only able to down half a pack of cliff blocks (100 calories) and 1 Mongolian granola bar (90 calories) over the last 4 hours of the race left my body in a state of dizziness, fighting off a solid meltdown.  Thankfully the last 30 km was mostly downhill as the course hit Bhutan’s capitol city of Thimpu, with 4 cops leading the way in.   The adrenaline fired up sensing the finish line which eventually came into sight with hundreds of fans surrounding the  Clock tower plaza in the middle of town.  It’s hard to say if it was the hardest day of my life on a bike but it’s certainly in the top 5 and right up there with a couple of  24 hour solo races.

255 km over 3, 10 000 ft passes would be hard enough on a good day.  Toss in pig stye type mud, rain and a 2am start and it makes for a big day out.

The finish area was a huge celebration with the Prime Minister on hand to congratulate us which was a great honour.  He is a tough man and has finished the race 3 times himself, once with a 12:48 finish.  Pretty smashed after racing for 13 hours and 2 minutes I was escorted into a massage tent and taken care of before heading back up to the AmanKora lodge to check in and relax like a King.  I’ve never really had 5 star service like this but I tell you there’s no better way to end a hard ass day on the bike.14247886_1224516430912408_1000094434_o-copy

The days following the race were a bonus as the Prince had opened the door to extend my Visa so I could stick around to host some clinics for the locals and tour around.  AmanKora extended there hospitality for a few days with my friend Uygen lining up a stay at Khangu Resort for the last 2 nights.  The Bhutan Olympic Committee extended my escort DJ and we had an unreal week touring around together.

Hiking up to Monasteries, relaxing at Amankora, sightseeing, biking around the countryside, sharing experiences and knowledge with the locals and meeting new friends.
As far as I’m concerned Bhutan is heaven on earth and comparable to the natural beauty of western Canada, with the added religious aspect of Monasteries hanging off cliff sides and prayer flags and wheels dotting the countryside.  They call it “The Land of Happiness,” and I sure can’t argue that as the people are the real highlight of the country.

Huge thanks to the Bhutan Olympic Committee, John Reed and Amankora resorts, Jigme Thinley, my escort and buddy DJ, Uygen, Drukair for the business class leaving the country, and everyone else that made this unreal trip a reality.  It was a struggle getting here and I I almost pulled the pin a couple times but sometimes the best adventures in life come when you’re least expecting them.14249124_1444544828894387_500753541_n-copy

Off to Singapore tonight and East Timor tomorrow for the next round at the Tour of Timor.

Over and Out!

 

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Mongolian Racing- Onwards to Bhutan

 

KhanhorseThe 7th Mongolia Bike Challenge started with a bang as 5 of us had an epic battle going from the gun tackling 6 days of racing across the high plateaus (1400-1700 M) of the Worlds least densely populated country.  During the 13th century, Ghengis Khaan and his horseman conquered much of Asia and Europe in becoming the Worlds largest ever continuous empire   We may not have been fighting for an empire but there was a pink jersey on the line!

Stage 1 kicked off with an off roading Toyota Prius with a hot headed driver trying to overtake our lead group on the rough roads before bottoming out on a big rut and losing the battle.  From there American young gun, Payson Mcelveen went on to take the W sneaking away while last years winner, Nicholas Pettina (Italy) and I watched each other.  Stage 2 Payson, Nicholas and I had a solid battle over the 122 km course.  Payson took the first KOM, I took the 2nd one and went on to win the stage in a wild sprint finish with an oncoming jeep nearly taking us out on a blind corner heading into the finish arch.

On paper the 120 km Stage 3 looked to be the decisive day in the race with substantial climbs and numerous river crossings.   Nicholas is a top Euro World Cup racer and has had a podium at the U23 level.  He showed off his high octane engine attacking early on with only Payson able to follow.  By the 40 km mark they already had a 5 minute lead on myself, with the Japanese duo of Yuki and Hiroyuki another 5 minutes back.    I figured the leaders were going a bit too hard and would eventually tire out, also crossing my fingers my diesel engine would eventually fire up.  During the chase a couple defensive dogs came after me for getting to close to there owners Ger.  Jumping off the bike I used it as a shield as one dog bounced off of it, hucking a water bottleIMG_5716 at the other one before the owners finally called the hounds off.  This helped fire up the adrenaline as the time gap started coming down. At the 60 km mark it was 3.5 minutes, 90 km mark down to 1.5 minutes and with just over 20 km to the finish it was down to 30 seconds

The 3 of us were all within under a minute in the overall classification and things were looking good as the two young guns seemed to be running out of steam.  Closing in I saw the 2 leaders take off in what looked like the wrong direction as from years past I remembered going a different way.  The problem was the direction signs clearly pointed the way they were going.

Cresting the next hill I could see the leaders looking confused as they descended a hill and started cutting off into the middle of  a pasture.  It was evident they were lost, I knew where to go from years past and thought about taking off for an easy stage win but my mind wouldn’t let me do it.  Having won the race 3 times already, I had no desire to win it in this sort of fashion as it wouldn’t be legit.  The longer I race the more I’m starting to value the good competition and the battles that go with it.   Thus the decision was made too ride over to Nicholas and Payson, who were now stopped near a Gher in a lost state and lead them 3-4 km back onto course.IMG_5706

In the past when courses are sabotaged and racers take all different routes to the finish line the race is neutralized and you line up again the next day on a clean slate. On this day we were split up at a feed zone 15 km from the finish as a few more racers caught up to us and we casually road into the finish in different groups.    Shockingly the organizers decided to keep the times from this stage giving the stage win to Hans, a Master 2 rider and giving Payson over a 5 minute lead on Nicholas and myself. With the tightness of racing going on and the flat, shorter stages to come this was going to be a big deficit to try and overcome.

Stage 4 I attacked from the gun as the best chance to get away would be through the swampy technical section in the first 10 km.  This was to no avail. With 120 km of flat riding across the Mongolian plains to the finish it turned into a roadie style day.  The day ended with a  sprint finish into a fence as we had a tough time navigating the home stretch.  Payson recovered the quickest to take the win ahead of myself. Nicholas decided to race neutral due to the questionable decision the day before.

Stage 5 we road in a large pack to the first feed zone. Apparently some of the racers were upset with my attacks at the start of stage 4 while they were still trying to digest there breakfasts and attacked through the feed zone while I was off my bike.stock-vector-a-cartoon-illustration-of-a-biker-woman-looking-confused-260682329

This caught me off guard as we had been waiting for each other all week at the feeds. I took this as a compliment they felt this was the best way too drop me.  I chased hard
but Nicholas and Payson were working well together battling the headwind and slowly extended there feed zone gap. I would settle in for a scenic ride to finish with my buddy Yuki.

The stage ended at a Ger camp reconstructed to imitate a 13th century war village complete with guard towers and a giant central Ger for eating and relaxing like Kings.  It’s a highlight of the trip as you feel like your living back in the time of Ghengis Khaan with nothing of the modern World within sight.  The dark sky at night topped it off with some stellar start gazing

Stage 6 was a 25 km time trial around the rocky outcrops of our camp.  Nicholas had a superhuman ride to take the win, I came in 2nd and Hiroyuki who had been battling hard all week finally got a podium place in 3rd.  Payson had gotten lost again and came in 4th, losing the overall to Nicholas.

Unknowingly to the rest of us, Nicholas showed some good sportsmanship and told the organizers he didn’t want to accept the Pink Jersey after all the controversy over the week and felt Payson deserved it.  They decided to adjust the times to put Payson back in Pink, dropping my self to 3rd and Hiroyuki off the podium on the stage.  Payson and Nicholas had ridden solid all week and one of them deserved the Pink as I was having an average week, but it was too bad to see Hiroyuki not getting credit for his efforts on the stage. In the end it was a weird end to a weird week of racing.

IMG_5727What I will take from this years event is a number of great new friendships and some stunning flashbacks to the amazing Mongolian countryside we road through.  This country never disappoints as the more you travel here the more it intrigues ones senses as you get to understand it better.
The simple nomadic life the Mongols live is something which is increasingly special as our lives are slowly overtaken by the chaos and electronics of the modern world.  I’ll be looking forward to returning to Mongolia again in the future, possibly one day travelling deeper into the countryside via the old school way on horseback.

The days after the race were spent relaxing and eating loads of home cooked free range organic protein with my Mongolian family, Hutch, Aagii and there two kids. Thanks for the place to recharge and get ready for the next round 🙂14191739_10154515872519066_1917004453_o copy

Yesterday morning I left Mongolia in an attempt to get to Bhutan for the next race, The Tour of the Dragon.  After 26 hours I have made 1/3 of the journey and am holed up in a sketchy Chinese hotel waiting out flight delays.  Both luggage bags are lost and apparently still in Mongolia.  The next flight to Bangkok leaves in a couple hours but I’ve already missed my flight from
there to Bhutan so things are a bit of a sh*t show right now.

Generally travelling goes pretty smoothly but when you toss Air China into the mix it generally turns into a gong show.  The last two times leaving Mongolia they smashed my bike, this time it just didn’t show up.  Right now I’m trying to deal with what I can control and crossing my fingers the lost bags show up in time for the 268 km 1 day race across Bhutan this Saturday.  Otherwise its onto plan B, a week holiday on the beaches of Thailand, or maybe Indonesia.

Over and out.

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Mongolia!

Logo-MongoliaBikeChallengeLeaving Canada behind in the peak of summer is never easy to do but there was a flight to catch to Mongolia for round # 5 at the Mongolia Bike Challenge!

The first cuople years the race was 10-12 days long, covered 1200-1400 km and would take us into the depths of Mongolia covering areas such as the Gobi dessert, the Altai mountain range and uninhabited valleys deep in the countries heart.   We were at the mercy of the land  battling dust storms, getting stranded by flooding rivers and riding are bikes over 9500 ft mountains in rainstorms. There is virtually no infrastructure outside the Capital city of Ulaanbaatar in what is the Worlds least densely populated country so when things go sideways out there they go all the way sideways.carterpack

Over the years the race has transformed and has found a winning formula with a more manageable 6 day course covering the popular tourist sites in the rolling and and pristine national park area just east of Ulaanbaatar. Taking advantage of the already built up tourist camps the racers are treated to relaxing in gers and a more hospitable environment to recover from are hard day of racing across the plateau.   Mongolia is already wild enough as it is so a little comfort doesn’t hurt and allows us racers to focus more on the racing part then the adventure side of things as that part seems to be in no shortage over here

Racing in Mongolia is one of my favourites places in the World as the local Mongols are down to earth and some of the hardiest souls you will ever meet. The majority still live a nomadic lifestyle and the peacefulness and beauty of racing across such a wide open and pristine environment is hard to match.   The history over here is some of the deepest in the World, highlighted by Ghengis Khaan as he and his warriors once had the biggest empire in the World. Part culture, part adventure, part racing, the Mongolia Bike Challenge has all the bases covered and is truly worth at least one visit in anyones lifetime as it’s a place like no other!

After triple flatting out of the lead on Stage 7 of my first MBC and having to settle for 2nd, I rallied back to take 3 consecutive titles from 2012-2014.  Last year I opted to switch it up to focus on races in Colorado and Costa Rica but Mongolia wasn’t forgotten.  I’ve been excited ever since at the opportunity of returning to Mongolia and will be looking forward to battling last years champ Nicholas Pettina from Italy and the other top riders from around the globe for the coveted Pink leaders jersey.IMG_1653

The journey over here has been solid in itself starting back in Jasper with some home cooked meals and big training days.   Meanwhile, Derrick and the crew at Freewheel cycle were building up my new Kona Honzo Carbon Hardtail  and Dave Macdowell at Wild Mountain who’s been supporting me for over 20 years was arranging a new light weight TNF jacket. One by one all the pieces were coming together!

After blowing up my first truck on route to Vancouver and getting rescued by my buddy Daniel on the side of the highway near Valmount it was back to my Dads ranch  in Mcbride to pick up the other truck which I had better luck with.  From there it was onwards to Kelowna to dial in the new bike with Luke Way at Balance Point Racing and some tweaks to the body with Shannon Snow at Valeo health clinic.

Next up was a 4 hour drive with the country music blasting in route to Vancouver for a couple comfy nights at Accent Inns near Vancouver airport. This was the perfect basecamp to rest, regroup and run around picking up gear with a stop at Kona Canada headquarters to fix a few things on the bike.  The boys there were great helping pull it all together with a full team effort.  Things still went a bit sideways but Dik and his son Seth made some last minute arrangements and did a drop off of a few key parts at Vancouver airport just hours before my flight out wednesday morning.  Thanks guys, those parts will make all the difference!

It’s weird how things always seem to come down to the line when accent-inns-logoheading out on these big trips.  When your headed to Mongolia and beyond you need to pack like your headed to the Moon so I guess a little running around can be expected!  I can’t thank the teamwork back in
Canada enough for all the support in getting this trip launched!

Off into the Mongolian Abyss.

Race Reports, Pictures and Results can be found starting tomorrow on the race website:  http://www.mongoliabikechallenge.com/home/ and on there Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mongoliabikechallenge/?fref=ts .

Gurvger

 

 

 

Canadian Marathon Championships

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The Canadian Marathon Champs took place in the boondocks of Quebec this year as racers travelled from around the country to battle it out for the coveted Maple Leaf jersey.  The host village of East Hereford tucked away in the rolling hills of South Eastern Quebec morphed from a sleepy farming community into a buzzing atmosphere as 400 + racers settled in for a weekend of camping and bike racing.  The course was a proper 82 km marathon distance and covered nearly 50 km of twisty, rocky trails with fire roads and quad paths mixed in to make it a complete race.

It was a proper battle this year with a field of Canada’s best riders including 13 time National Champ (8 XC, 5 CX) Geoff Kabush, Top XCO riders Alexander Vialle and Jeremy Martin, Singletrack 6 winner Mathieu Belanger-Barrette,  Test of Metal and BC Bike Race stage winner Quinn Moberg, endurance specialist Jamie Lamb and a big field of top Quebec riders.  It’s great to see the Marathon side of the sport continue to grow as riders discover how cool it is to race your bike for longer then just 1.5 hours around in xco circles.

After feeling near invincible during the BC Bike Race a couple weeks back, the body came back to reality a bit as the first half of the race was a struggle.    Somedays you have to make it work with whatever you got as I kept my fingers crossed the body would eventually come to life.   The boys kept attacking the small short climbs,  I’d drop back then diesel back on whenever the pace slowed.  After 3 or 4 episodes of this we hit the last climb of the race to the top of East Hereford Hill, a vertical gain of 300 meters.  From there it was a 20 km enduro style descent down to the finish line on a network of twisty trails. This seemed to play into Geoff Kabush’s hands perfectly as he’s been preparing for the Enduro World Series and has long been one of the top XC trail riders on the World Cup circuit.13909132_10153600335011193_7101129945045601789_o copy

The race heated up as Jeremy Martin used his power to breakaway from the lead group 4 km from the summit.  It took a pile of mental energy but thankfully my body finally came to life via forcing it out of its dormancy. Figuring I’d need a gap on Kabush heading into the last 20 km I sent everything to stay with Jeremy as we brokeaway from Kabush, Quinn and Vialle.  Jeremy would pull away a bit and 1 km from the top had a 10 second gap, with Kabush another 10 seconds back from my wheel.    Here it was a tactical gamble diving deep into the redzone sprinting past Jeremy to hit the single track 1st in hopes he might hold Kabush up a bit.  The descent was a fine balance of hauling ass but also not getting to crazy and risking everything with slashing a tire on the sharp rocks.  The speed I was going should’ve been sufficient to hold off anyone but Kabush is a bit of a monster and steadily closed the small 15 second gap and soon we were wheel to wheel.

We road together for a while and eventually with 10 km to go there were two options in my head.  Option A, stick with Kabush and then sprint it out in the end but the odds were heavily stacked in his favour as he was running a double chainring with a 38 T up front vs the 34 T single which I’d be spinning out on the finishing straight.  Therefor it was Option B which meant trying to drop him on the one and only little fireroad climb between trail sections.  Kabush attacked first, I found some energy stores to counter attack and could see he was nearing the end of his string. I likely was too but gambled the body could recover from one more attack and went for it again.  Kabush somehow managed to cover and came around to the hit the single track first.

Counter attacking he used his enduro skills to rail the descending trails a bit faster as I was buggered trying to regain composure from the efforts bouncing around off rocks and trees for a while.  With Kabush out of sight I stherefordarted sending voodoo energy his way in hopes he’d flat on the sharp rocks still to come but unfortunately this was to no avail.  With Kabush and I blowing each other up pretty good, Jeremy Martin came back into contention nearly catching my wheel for 2nd but one last burst would hold him off as I’d scrape in for the Silver medal, 56 seconds down from Kabush and 24  seconds ahead of Jeremy.

At the finish people were asking if I was disappointed with the result of not reclaiming the National Champs Jersey which was the goal.  When you leave it all out there and still finish 2nd in the country how can you be disappointed I thought?  Bike racing is a tough sport as there is only 1 winner and usually 100 + non-winners, nothing like a hockey game in which the odds are 50% as you either win or lose.

In this race I took some gambles, learned some lessons and will come back stronger and better prepared next time around.  Kabush is one of the top, if not the top clean  mountain bike racer this 13723990_10153595867586193_7692980911040517405_o copy
country has ever scene and deserved this one.  I’ll be back to try and make sure the Maple Leaf Jersey isn’t his for long.

Big thanks to my buddy Simon Tremblay for the support and helping bring home the Silver.   Looking forward to a couple more days out here taking in the French culture before heading back to the Rockies for the Alberta XC and Marathon Champs this weekend in Bragg Creek!

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Photo Credit, David Gagnon