Nov 4th: After humming and hawing about whether to listen to the doctor and keep my arm in a sling for 4-6 weeks after dislocating it in the Jungles of Australia and head back to Canadian soil I made a stubborn decision, to stay on course and head back to Timor for a 2 day MTB festival and then onwards to Sri Lanka for the inaugural 4 day “Rumble in the Jungle.” Thanks to some masseus work from my friend Kathi and some magical physio work by doctor Chet Collins in Timor, my shoulder was back to functioning form although rather unstable still.
After a nice 1 day break around Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia with my friend John Da Costa, it was off to Timor for a 2 day UCI trial race, a 60 km marathon on day one followed by a 24 km XCO on day two. With over $30 000 on the line a few big hitters showed up in the likes of both Japan and Kazaksthans National Champs as well Peter Pouly, former France national champion who has been banned for doping and then moved to Thailand to race there. On race day I awoke after a poor sleep as the stomach wasn’t happy after a fruit salad dinner the night before and required constant visits to the toilet. I’m not sure what I was thinking eating from a fruit salad bowl in a 3rd world country which had been sitting out all day, but when you stay in 4 star hotels you sometimes forget to put your guard up.
The race itself started in fine 3rd world style with the lead police car dusting us all out as it tried to set the pace up a dry river bed but instead got bounced around like a rag doll and caused us all to sit up and put the race on pause for a few minutes until the dust settled. Once the race continued we soon hit a big 14 km climb straight from sea level up to 1300 meters. It was a struggle as the pistons weren’t firing on this day as Peter Pouly and a couple Portuguese riders put the hammer downt. It was a beautiful race over ridge tops and down dusty descents back to the ocean through some of Timors rural populated areas with hundreds of locals out yelling at us aliens. I had one of those days where I questioned whether I could get to the finish in one piece without walking as I would’ve likely been better off in a bed for the day rather then a bike seat.
Day 2 in the XCO went much better as we raced around a 4 km ocean side circuit in +35 degree heat. Peter trounced us all again, while I fought back from 7th, up to 3rd on the last lap to claim at least part of the prize pot. It is always frustrating racing against x-dopers, especially losing to them. There’s scientific research showing there are adverse positive effects years after a rider has doped which makes me wonder why these guys are ever allowed to race again anywhere. Nonetheless it was great being back in Timor for another week and we had a great time hanging out with the local riders as they pushed themselves into the international cycling World. The Timorese Cycling Federation is doing a great job at promoting competitive cycling in there country and treated all us international riders like royalty for the week. I look forward to returning to this building country in the coming years as they are striving full steam ahead and its an honor to be part of.
This is where the trip got interesting as I had booked myself a start at the Rumble in the Jungle in Sri Lanka starting on Wednesday. If everything went perfect I figured I could perform well at both these races back to back but things went sour quickly. Feeling a bit off following all the travel, racing and shoulder injury I had another sleepless night the day before I took off from Timor. This was starting to become a problem since I wrecked my shoulder which I can’t seem to pinpoint a reason for as the shoulder no longer hurt. Getting up Monday morning with 36 hours of travel looming ahead I wanted to fire whoever made these travel plans but decided not to when I realized it was self inflicted.
Sometimes you start digging yourself a hole and you don’t realize how far down you are until it gets to dark to see back up. This was one of those moments as I limped into travel mode. After a short flight to Bali, there was a 9 hr break to head to the beach and get some Balinese food and massages before boarding a red eye flight to Malaysia. Landing at 2 am in KL airport I quickly found a perfect dark , quiet hide out for a sleep, but as soon as the thermarest and sleeping bag were pulled out a security officer wandered up and escorted me out of my gem spot and into a noisy lounge with 40 other lost travelers. After a pretty average 3 hour sleep it was back into travel mode catching a flight to Sri Lanka. Skipping the huge line up and heading to the first class counter with my cardboard bike box which was falling apart was rad as Sri Lankan airlines was the title sponsor of the Rumble in the Jungle and had hooked a bunch of us up with first class tickets. This part of the trip was top notch and soon I was on a 6 hour bus ride to the race start in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle.
The Rumble in the Jungle was one of the highlights of a highlight reel 2014 race season with 4 days of racing through Jungles and tea plantations with a great group if riders. Top notch hotels, great food, a true Sri Lanklan cultural immerssion, and some stunning geographical landscapes. This was all capped off with the ultimate beach party to end the season which is going to leave a smile across my face for the rest of the Canadian winter. The race itself was alright as I was a bit tired the first couple days and not in top form any longer but slowly came around to claim the Stage 3 victory and 2nd place overall in the GC. A full race report is cooking up on the fire right now and will be published soon!
After 90 days on the road my travel insurance was running out and it was finally time to head back to Canada! As much as I love traveling I’m always more excited then ever when the time comes to head home. Leaving Canada in late August on a one way ticket to Mongolia I had a few plans outlined but was pretty sure I’d be back home within the month. After stops in East Timor, Singapore, India and Bali, the trip just kept going with Australia, East Timor round 2, and Sri Lanka all tied in there to cap off what was a stellar 3 month journey. The energy reserves stayed really good for the first two months but the last month the engine was starting to sputter a bit but the races just kept piling up and left little time to recharge!
After 34 hours of travel I finally found myself at the Vancouver Airport getting picked up by my buddy Chris Ganeff. We headed straight down to the water to get some fresh Canadian Salmon and bacon for breakfast. Next up was a quick trip to Victoria to check on the pad, down some deer steak and YJ’s with my Bro and little cousin, and then it was off North to head to Work.
My Mom had met me in Victoria and spent a couple days sprucing my condo up before we took off together on a road trip up to Jasper. After an overnight pitstop at my Dads in Mcbride to pick up the work truck, quad and chainsaws it was off to Saskatchewan. On the way back through Valemount we picked up a puppy for my Mom. It’s a wicked little dog named Neve who grew up on a farm just outside of town and is going to be one tough dog!
It was a bugger leaving for work with a new puppy bouncing around but the trees (#banckaccount) were calling… Working in the seismic fields of northern Canada as a faller is the perfect off season break from the bike. The weather can be a real bastard sometimes but getting paid to rip around on quads and shred stuff apart with chainsaws for a while is a good gig. Mentally it is a great way to freshen up for another year on the bike. By the time race season hits it is like going back to heaven to leave the frozen North behind and hop back on my Kona.
This year things are looking really bright as my high school buddy from Jasper and current Canadian Ski Mountaineering champion Reiner Thoni is my work partner. We are already a week into our 12 hour shifts and it feels more like a high school reunion then physical labor. Off to continue the daily routine of eat, cut, quad, eat, sleep, repeat, that is until the body is fully recharged and ready to tackle another year on the race circuit!