Leadville 100

13202The Leadville 100 is historically the biggest marathon race in North America with past winners such as Alban Lakata, Todd Wells, Dave Wiens and drug cheats Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer.  The race starts in the the old mining town of Leadville Colorado up at 10 200 feet and heads 50 miles out to the top of the Columbine climb at 13 000 ft and then turns around and backtracks itself to the finish.  Course wise its a road race on mountain bikes with just 1 mile of single track, about 25 miles of pavement and the rest fire road.  What makes this event is the history and the organization which has done wonders in making it a must do which sells out its 1800 spots within minutes of opening registration.

Getting a chance to race Leadville was a nice opportunity so I tried to acclimatize a little by racing the first 3 days of Breck Epic and then resting before the big show.  Arriving in Leadville the day before d-day was an event in itself as the whole town was buzzing with activity.  After getting my start number, and attending a portion of the commercialized pre-race meeting it was off to the woods to get a way from the chaos.  The country up here was great with high alpine meadows flowing forever and 13 000- 14 000 ft mountains towering above.  There was a nice free camp zone near Turquoise lake which had a perfect rock to camp beside.  I had only packed a thermorest and a summer weight sleeping bag for airport sleeping so I went back to town to buy a blanket at the thrift store.  3$ later I was set for the night and headed back to camp. IMG_0579

Thunderstorms rolled through the area throughout the afternoon but thankfully the skies cleared in the evening for a good nights rest.  It was an early morning at 4:45 am as the night chill had sunk into my bones and I awoke shivering.  It was the perfect wake up call as the start gun would be going off bright and early at 6:30am.  The pre-race rituals went to routine, except at the start line when I lined up near the front I got escorted away by a race official and told to line up at the back of the gold start corral with nearly 200 riders in there.  I was crossing my fingers my National Champions jersey would get me close to the other fast riders but no dice.  bazu-6768293 copy

When the pistol went off we had 2 miles of road descent, followed with a couple miles of flat before hitting the first climb in which the early race selections would be made.  Starting 200th is a lot harder then it sounds and by the time we got rolling I was a long ways back from the Team Ergon Train setting the pace at the front.  Sprinting like it was a World cup I caught the lead group just before the climb, and according to strava set a new record for this first part of the course.  The problem was the boys charged up the next hill as soon as I joined them and I couldn’t match the pace and thus missed the train with the 6 terminators (Lakata, Hynek, Bishop, Nissen, Sauser and Wells)

I was bummed to miss this as that was the race.  Demoralized I settled into a chase group of 20 or so riders for a long day ahead. Then the whole day changed when we passed Todd Wells fixing a flat tire.  One mans bad luck is another mans good luck somedays.  I knew once he came back through it was a chance to save the day and try to catch his wheel and work with him.  He caught us near the top of the power line descent and nearly 10 riders hopped on his wheel.  One sketchy guy from Tokyo Joes, cut me off into the woods and I lost some time. I would’ve love to jersey this Latino but there was not time.   With adrenaline rushing I got back on and went to my limit passing all 10 of those riders on the rough descent and closed within seconds of Wells before sprinting up the first climb off the hill to catch his wheel.  My mom wouldn’t of been proud of the risks I took on this descent but there are times you gotta let it all go.01

The next 30 miles would be spent riding with a possessed Todd Wells all decked out with aero gear including road aero bars.  He did 75 % of the work, I did what I could and we managed to keep the gap to the lead 5 to around 4 minutes.    Going through the feed zone at twin lakes was a madhouse.  There were a thousand people there all looking for there racers to feed.  Luckily my friend Peter Butt and teammates Sneddon and Wicks were feeding me and they did a great job standing out and passing off bottles as we cruised by.  Soon after we hit the 10 km Columbine climb where Wells would slowly ride away from me.  bazu-6767784 copy

Settling into a good tempo things were going alright before my bike started to skip gears.  Unable to figure out what the problem was I struggled to keep going to the Columbine turnaround near 13 000 ft.  From here it was the sketchiest part of the race as we descend back down the same climb only with 1800 other riders still riding up it.  There were blown bikers all over the road but thankfully all crashes were averted.  Off the kamikaze descent there were about 8 km to the twin lakes feed zone.  I barely made it as my bike was now skipping gears all over the place and nearly unrideable.  In the feed zone we swapped wheels, checked the hanger, checked the chain and finally determined the rear shifter cable was frayed and ready to snap.   Our friend Damo was there and he put a new cable in my bike in a flash and after a 10 min + pit stop it was back on the road, now in 20th place or so with 40 miles to go.

It was a good test of spirit to keep fighting as the race was all but over so I tried to refocus my energy on beating the Canadian record at Leadville.  Life was alright until we hit the power line ascent which was a kick in the head after 5.5 hours of racing as it shot straight up.  I was ready to get off and walk but a girl showing some nice cleavage kept me motivated for a bit.  Once she was out of sight I was ready to walk but then caught glimpse of my friends from New Zealand and Australia a bit farther up the climb and I couldn’t consider walking the only place they were watching so I kept pushing over the cadence at 30 rpm.bazu-6778439 copy

Getting over this climb was a bastard, then we had a fast road descent before one final road climb.  This was turning into a real humdinger of a ride and very European with its lack of trail.  Still having a real shot at the Canadian Record of 6:54 I dropped my ri
ding buddies and neared the top 10 again but on the last descent slashed my rear tire.  Argh, it was a gaping whole I wasn’t sure I could fix.  Eating 3 gels so I could use there wrappers as patches, and putting my sunglass case in for good measure I managed to get a tube in there and continued on.  Now there was a 30-45 minute time limit on my day as once the gels ran through the system there would be no fuel left to save a massive meltdown.  The last bit of race went by with no more bad luck and I got to the finish line, 7 hours after starting and out sprinted a couple guys to claim 15th.

Leadville was a good experience, it’s a big scene but overall a great day out on the bike with the town and its surroundings being the highlight of it all.  Without the mechanicals I think sub 6:30 would’ve been doable but that will have to wait for another time.  Rincon-de-la-Vieja-Challenge-logo

This night my teammates headed off to Denver to fly home while I headed to Boulder with my old high school friend Jana to stay with her and her husband Kent.  It was a nice couple days of relaxing and re supplying before heading off to Costa Rica.  It was a last minute decision to head south to race the 100 mile Rincon De La Vieja MTB challenge but I figured I was already half way down there so might as well giver a go!logo_12

Breck Epic

The Breck Epic is onBreckEpic_Logoe of the North American classic stage races right up there with Single track 6 (aka TransRockies) and the BC Bike Race.  The 6 day event takes part in the Rocky mountain town of Breckenridge Colorado with a base elevation of 9 500 feet and goes up from there, a couple stages touching 12 000 feet!  It’s a humdinger to deal with the altitude but the race more then makes up for it with its easy logistics being based out of the same town all week and the 100% pure mountain biking with a perfect mix of flowing alpine single track, quad trails and some forestry roads mixed in.   The days are a bit longer then its Canadian cousins with the leaders coming in around 2.5- 3 hours which seems like a nice balance which keeps everyone content.

In 2009 I lucked out and raced in the inaugural Breck Epic, showing up solo and camping in a ball diamond all week.  Returning this year was a real treat as Kona booked us a nice palace with my teammates Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks along for the journey.  They were both racing the full 6 day version while I was doing the 3 day as a warmup to the Leadville 100 mile race on the following Saturday.IMG_0544

Getting to Breck from Canada was easy, one flight from Vancouver-Denver, then a 1.5 hr shuttle ride up to the mountain retreat.  Getting there Thursday a couple nights ahead of my teammates I had no accommodation figured out so headed to the forest.  A friend (Zeke) of a friend (Dax Massey), picked me up from the bus terminal and dropped me at the edge of town where a little hike into the woods later I found a rad little fort to spend the night in.  The sleep in the forest was awesome so I kept this as a little hideaway for the rest of the week and would use it as a recovery hut.  Once my teammates arrived Saturday the real fun started and we prepped for the week ahead!

Stage 1 of any stage race is a bit nerve wracking as we all test our legs and figure out if it’s going to be a week of kicking ass or one of dragging ass.  With World Marathon Champion Alban Lakata, Czech champion Kristian Hynek, and there Topeak Ergon teammate, american stage race legend Jeremiah Bishop all racing the 3 day version we were in for a rough ride.  From the gun the 3 Topeak Ergon boys went to the front and set a tempo around 400 watts.  Feeling fast after taking out the Singletrack 6 race a week before I fought for there wheels and had to elbow one roadie out of the way to keep position before the road climb dumped us into the first single track.

Bishop and Hynek went off the front, Lakata and Belgium’s Marathon Champ, Franz Claes, stuck to my wheel and  20 minutes later we hit the next big climb where these two European climbing fanatics blasted away.     Racing at altitude is a tricky game, if you over do it you explode into a pile of ashes and end up in never never land.  I was on the ed11888093_10206137313366362_1887645557211783351_n copyge of this but managed to govern the legs just in time and held onto 5th for the day as we raced up and do11826027_817921968321903_3726347259221916638_n copywn a number of small climbs mixed in with some mid alpine single track.  The final flow trail into the finish put a smile on everyones face.  Barry had a nice ride testing out the new Kona carbon Honzo, while multi time BC Bike race and TransRockies champ Kris took one for the team and soaked up the bad luck with 2 flat tires.11864775_876854275735636_773242812810506456_o copy

Stage 2 started with Bishop going off the front just before the first fire road climb.  Not having anything to lose sitting 4th overall I through all my cards at the Topeak Ergon boys and went off the front, hoping to at least hurt Bishop a little.  Lakata and Hynek sat on for the next 15 minutes, breathing through there noises, while Bishop seemed to be hurting a little so I kept up the momentum.  Starting to hurt myself we crested the hill and had a long flat section in which I was crossing my fingers for a single track dh to appear to save the day.  Unfortunately we came around a corner to a wall of a climb where the 3 Terminators left me in the dust and pretty soon Franz Claes also cruised by as I gasped for air trying to avoid going to never never land..  The rest of the day was a challenge trying to bounce back but luckily the course kept my mind off my physical state as we cruised parts of the legendary Colorado trail through some Mongolian like mead
ows.  It was a perfect day of high alpine riding and definitely one of the coolest rides I’ve had all year.  Barry had a killer ride highlighted by a 15 minute switch back descent  leaving everyone in the dust and was sitting 6th overall for a bit of the stage.  Kris also rebounded after the rough luck on day 1 and had a lot of riders talking about his straightening descending style in which he bulldozes everything and anything in his way. IMG_0561

Stage 3 was the final day for us riders preparing for Leadville and it was a glorious one.  Again it started on a nice climb to sort out the 400 + riders.  The Terminators did a team time trial off the front not even breaking a sweat while I dangled at 15-20 seconds trying to keep from being sucked up into the atmosphere.  Just before the first feed zone we hit a rough rocky descent in which I let go of the brakes and road my Hei Hei to its limits bouncing off sharp stones and back onto the back of the Termo Train as they exited the feed zone.  From here Lakata sat on the front like a robot, Hynek glued to his wheel, Bishop dangling, and myself dangling a bit further back as we headed up the infamous French Pass.  It’s amusing as you can see riders just up ahead climbing up the steep alpine ascent over 12 000 feet, but with the altitude it takes forever to get anywhere and even riders you could through a rock to are likely over a minute ahead.

This climb was a bastard, we all had to hike the bottom section then Lakata set the standard on the second pitch riding over the top so we all followed suit trying not to barf our breakfasts up.  In 2009 I believe only Bishop made it up this climb but this year I heard over a dozen guys did which says a lot about the speed of races these days.  The back side decent was fast as the single track laced between willow bushes before dropping into the tree line and hitting a  rougher descent all the way down tot he 2nd feed. Riding though I grabbed 3 gels from the feed station and dropped them all as my hands were still numb from the long descent.  The feed zone guys laughed, and then one guy picked 11873428_817922401655193_6433691785567748575_n copyup a gel and sprinted up to me.  This saved the day as I cracked the gel and used the energy to bridge up to Bishop.  Lakata and Hynek put it into overdrive and were no where to be scene.

Riding to the finish with Bishop was a good battle.  He would eventually gap me by 5 seconds over a 17 minute climb and then used his stealthy arrow position going over the false flat descent to extend his lead to 20-30 seconds which he’d hold to the finish.  I had a chance to take his 3rd spot on the podium this day but he knew the course and made sure to lead the long rough single track descent off french pass so he could block me as I was riding a bit better dowIMG_0556nhill than him on my duallie.   Live and learn, there’s a reason Bishop has won nearly every USA stage race in the past decade.  Next time I’ll make sure to lead the descent!

Stage 4 was a weird day watching my teammates lineup for the race while I tried to recover for Leadville.  Watching races is tough as its way more fun to be out there suffering!  This was the sufferriest day of the Breck Epic with the infamous Vomit hill mixed into the long 44 mile stage which balanced itself between awesome trails and some steep mother of climbs.   I think every stage race needs a day like this which hits the riders in the head with an iron frying pan.  After all if we wanted things easy we could just stay home on our couches with a bowl of ice cream.

Stage 5 was just 28 miles long but from listening to the stories it was not only the highlight of the week but also one of the rowdiest days.  It started out with a long climb on a goat trail into the alpine before cruising across the lush alpine meadows and onto a small path over Wheelers pass.  It was a hike a bike for the majority of the riders but being the rad race that Breck Epic is, they had bacon and beer feeds going over the high point.   It’s things like this which add a festival like atmosphere to what is already

11831763_10156004316975354_3541292325155637243_n copy a great event.   The views from up at 12 000 feet were  out of this world before the riders hit a gnarly descent back into tree line.

From this point my teammate Barry took control of the day on his Honzo hardtail with 2.3 inch Maxis Ikon tires and annihilated the bouldery rough descent to take a commanding stage win! I can’t wait to get on one of these bikes for next year!  The day took its toll on a lot of riders and again Kris soaked up all of the bad luck for the team, breaking off his derraiulure hanger just miles into the race.  Being a true Canadian hardman he ran his bike for the rest of the day finishing in nearly 5.5 hours, a very long run for a runner, let alone a bush man in non flexible biking shoes!

Stage 6 started a half hour before the actual start as Barry built up a 2016 prototype Kona Hei Hei DL in exactly 21 minutes.  It was impressive, after the bike building portion of the day, Kris and Barry tackled the final 30 miles of the Breck Epic on a fast rolling course up into the Boreas Pass alpine a couple times before landing back in town to cap off a stellar week on the bikes.   Barry would cap the week finishing 4th overall while Kris has e82459c6bac8bddbccb18f796390e5bdhis eyes set on coming back with a bit better luck next time as he had more bad luck this race then most of us have in a whole season.

While these guys were finishing off the Breck, I was headed to Leadville for registration, a pre-race meeting and the final preps for America’s biggest single day marathon the next morning.  It was a busy week for the Kona Endurance team as we put our sea level bodies through the ringers up at 1.5 to 2 miles high in the atmosphere.   The Breck Epic is a race we’ll hopefully get back to in the near fut13202ure as the fun laid back atmosphere which organizer Mike McCormack puts into the race is what this sport is all about and the riding is just awesome!

Leadville report is in the press..

PS

Big thanks to Tina Brusker for feeding us all week and also for finding time to take pictures on top of that!

 

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Singletrack 6

TransRockies-Bike-LogoTransRockies was arguably North Americas premier stage race for a number of years and went over a major overhaul last year as it transformed into SingleTrack 6.  The format is great with 6 days of riding some of the Worlds best trails in a different iconic Canadian town everyday and new region each year.  Last year we tackled 6 days through the Rockies between Canmore and Revelstoke, and this year we got to race trails in Canada’s summer playground of the Okanagan.

After getting smashed around to no mercy in Europe this spring trying to bounce back from injury I was more then keen to do some smashing myself on what I consider the closest thing I have to a hometown race!

Day 0 in Salmon Arm was spent shuttling up the first climb of the course and pre-riding the last 25 km to the finish with my team Kris Sneddon, his girlfriend Kate and my good buddy Anderl Hartmann (Rocky Mountain) from Germany.  My Dad who is a real cowboy drove us up the shuttle portion of the ride and then told us to cowboy up and get our game faces on for the week ahead of us.11046569_10101189315604601_4937995726381328865_o

The pre-ride and pep talk payed off in dividends as we finished 1-3 on the opening stage.  At the start I was feeling rough but had some built up anger from the beat down I received in Euroland and went off the front and stayed there for the race.  It was a close battle but I received some outside help when 3rd place rider Greg Day (Rocky Mountain) crashed into a hornet nest getting stung 12 times and creating a hornet storm which attacked pretty much every rider in the pack that rode by after.

Day 2 we drove up to Silver Start resort sitting at 1700 M above Vernon.  It was a trip down memory lane as we use to race Canada Cups and National Championships up here over a decade ago.  Since then they’ve done a nice job at creating new trails and we had a great 40 km race around the loamy trails.  Leading just over a half hour into the race with my teammate Sneddon, we came around a corner to see a couple riders up ahead.  We figured they were a couple dudes just out for a easy morning spin and were surprised when they didn’t acknowledge us when we told them there was a race on and we wanted to pass.  Eventually they piped back that they were racing too and we better be patient.  WTF?  For the next 20 minutes we passed over 30 riders who had accidentally gone the wrong way but were convinced they were on course and kept asking what we were doing back there.  We did our best to stay focused and eventually got through the traffic and back into the lead.  The race was close this day with Sneddon, Anderl and myself in a slim lead over a chase group of 4 before Sneddon opened up fire and got us a nice gap on some flowing trail.  Near the finish Anderl and I would break away on a firewood climb and would work together for a while before I would gap him for a slim 1 minute W.

location: Silver Star Mountain Resort, Vernon, B.C., Canada

Day 3 we hit some rowdy trails up in Kalamalka lake park.  It was a pure Canadian style course with a technical 1 hour switchback climb through the forest followed with a small traverse through the sub alpine.  The traverse was on fire road but required attention as there were loads of rabbits and chipmunks blindly crossing the course everywhere.   These little guys got to get there heads up and possibly consider using some sort of birth control!   After riding across a rough cut block the trail hit the infamous Big Ed descent.  It was a ass behind the saddle slide down sort of ride at the top before hitting some steep loamy switchbacks down below.  There were also a load of sketchy jumps which the Europeans thought were hilarious and didn’t believe anyone would ever launch themselves off them.    My solid lead over the top of the climb shrunk to 30 seconds by the bottom as BC Bike Race champ Tristan Uhl let it all hang out.  Luckily there was a small climb before the finish in which I could extend the lead back up to 1.5 min and add a bit of padding to the GC lead.  Kris rolled in soon after us to claim the ST3 title for the year and was soon headed off to the states for the Downiville Enduro starting a couple days later.

Cory Wallace leads the race at the first singletrack climb/location: Vernon, B.C., Canada

Stage 4 in Kelowna was the Queens stage of the race and a good chance to do some solid damage.   It was a good battle with Sev from Switzerland.  He’s been living in Kelowna for a couple months and had the rough descents dialled, managing to take advantage of my conservative no risk style to get leads on the descents while I’d regain control on the climbs.  Knowing the course ended on a nice little climb I saved a few matches to overtake Sev for the last time with about 5 km to go and put a nice dent into the other riders in the overall GC.  This day took its toll on the field as a number of riders had nice duke of hazard type crashes on the loose descents.  The courses may have been short this year but the crew at ST6 sure jammed a lot of hard riding into them day in and day out.Gibson.S6.4.1DX.3478_1

Stage 5 in Penticton turned into a gong show as the tight windy course up on Campbell mountain overlapped itself in a few spots and caused some mass confusion behind.  Building a nice lead in the opening climb things got interesting as Tristan Uhl was ripping the sketchy side hill riding.  The gap got really close when I had to slam on the brakes ripping down a 40 km/hr decent, to open a gate.  Being polite I left the gate open for the other riders which allowed them to bomb through it at mock speed and pretty soon the gap was down to 10 seconds before I had a chance to extend it over the next climb. Gibson.S6.5.5D.4329

 

None of us in the top 10 really new the course so we just followed the flagging which was great, all the way back to the finish line in downtown Penticton.  The confusion happened behind us as riders that knew the route, started to realize that the course had been flagged differently then it was suppose to be and then started asking volunteers what was up which further added to the confusion and pretty soon riders were riding every which way.  Unfortunately this caused the stage to be neutralized.    The post ride swim in Lake Okanagan looking for the Ogopogo monster helped us forget about the day and cool off the engines.

Going into the final stage was nerve racking.  Ever since I flatted 3 times and lost the Mongolia Bike Challenge in 2011 after leading for the first 8 stages I’ve had a ghost in my closet.  Knowing the final stage was short and rough with a lot of sharp rocks the head went into red alert seeing the potential for tire problems.  Thus instead of cruising the last stage and enjoying my 15 minute lead in G
C I opted to attack and get a gap over the climb.  Tristan was riding great this day and kept it together for the first half of the subtle technical climb before I could open up a slim 1 minute lead towards the top.  Here we hit a faded, often overgrown rocky descent back down to Okanagan lake for the finish.   The trail was hard to follow in spots as it snaked around sharp rock outcrops in overgrown grass.

location: Vernon, B.C., Canada

Settling into a conservative mode things started to go sideways as I punctured a slow leak in the back tire.  Not wanting to stop and risk trying to get a tube to work it was a gentle ride down the long last decent.  Tristan would blow by about 1/4 of the way down, grinning in a weird way as he told me how he just nearly escaped killing himself on the top of the dh trying to catch up.  I told him to taker easy as it was now his stage to lose.  It was a weird way to finish the race as once I slowed the dh down I fell out of the zone I had been in all week and started to really struggle, clipping pedals, missing obvious lines and battling little climbs.  It was a good lesson to remember to rip it to the final finish line as its a fine line between kicking ass and getting your ass kicked!  Even with the few blunders on the last stage the overall GC lead stuck around 12 minutes which was plenty fine for me as I captured my first overall North American Stage race victory!  Wendy Simms and her husband Norm continued the Kona dominance of the race finishing third overall in the mixed team category, with Wendy also being the fastest overall girl in the timed descents!

location: Penticton, B.C., Canada

Penticton was a perfect town for post race activities with wine tasting, tubing, lake swimming and a rowdy young crowd.   A couple new friends, Aart,  and his wife Carey had opened there house in Summerland to Anderl and I for the weekend and were a great host.  Also Jess Merrill and her Mom opened there door in Kalamalka lake for a good nights rest.  This meant a lot to us.  Thanks guys!  Also a big thanks to the Bike Barn in Penticton for supporting the ST6 and building up my nice new 2016 Kona King Kahuna DDL race bike :)

After 3 days at the 2016 Kona Launch in Bellingham Washington, a night camping in Tswassan, and a ferry ride back to Victoria I had a nice 30 hour block at home before heading off to Colorado for 10 days.  First up is the Breck Epic followed with the historical Leadville 100 mile race at 10 000 ft +.  It’s gonna be some sort of rad adventure guaranteed!

Over and Out!Bike-Barn-Logo-Header-2

 

PS  Big Thanks to John Gibson @ www.gibsonpictures.com for generously donating all these shots for this report!

World Marathon Championships

IMG_4261The 2014 World Marathon MTB Championships in South Africa started slowly with me hovering around the top 50 before I put in a top 10 time in the 2nd half of the race to finish 20th.  This year @ Worlds the goal was to improve my start and the overall result against a stiffer field.  This would be a big challenge on an epic course through the towering Dolomites of Northern Italy. Cory Wallace 2014 UCI XCM Worlds - 1

Having my best race in over two months was encouraging, but it was just enough to stay in the top half of the 140 rider field before dropping back towards the end of the race to finish 78th.

Riding in the mid pack at a World Championships is nothing to be ashamed of but it’s a far cry from what i’m capable of.    I will excuse myself for this one as getting injured in North Africa at the end of April took its toll on my bodies energy stores as I attempted to train through the recovery process.  Sometimes being stubborn isn’t the smartest move but you live and learn.CIMG0975

 

It was a blast to be part of this World class event with every rider dressed in there Nation’s colours as they came from all over the planet.      The course was built for mountain goats as we went up four major fire road climbs, often with 15-20% gradients which caused nearly everyone to walk at least parts of the climbs.   These were followed with some fast single track which for the first time in a couple months I had the strength and confidence in my shoulder to descend like a Canadian and leave everyone in the dust.  IMG_4256

2016 will be another year as the World Marathon Championships  move to a more all rounded course in southern France.   I’ll look forward to having another shot to represent my sponsors and Country at this event as it’s always an honour to be racing on the World stage.  There’s some unfinished business to take care of after this outing!

 

My buddy Yuki Ikeda from Japan and I were lucky to have great support from his wife Saya and our friend Tamy for this race.  Thanks girls!

Off to Munich, Germany this afternoon to catch a flight back to Canada and freshen up for the 2nd half of the race year :)11126437_10153459034106151_170024554_n

Lead up to World Marathon Champs

IMG_4112Heading into a hanging Austrian side valley at 1700 Meters was the perfect location to rest up from 4 days of climbing at the Alpen Tour.  It was also ideal to start acclimatizing to the medium altitude (1500M-2200M) which the World Marathon Championships will take place at.  There’s nothing like the power of nature to heal the body and after 3 days of relaxing it was back on the bike for 4 days of solid climbing practice in  the surrounding alpine.

The riding in the Otzal Alps was great as long fire roads  lead up to alpine huts where a guy could stop for a warm drink before searching out some single track for the return.    The weather was iffy with rain and temperatures hovering between +2 to +10 but when you grow up in the Rocky Mountains surrounding Jasper this feels fine and the crisp cool air sure brings one alive!IMG_4121

Heading into Italy the weather turned for the better at the border and with 5 days till race day we are busy checking out the 87 km course with 4700 Meters of climbing.  It’s a real monster and one of  the hardest sub 100 km race courses I’ve ever experienced.  It’s 80 % fireroad and snakes its way around the alpine under the towering Dolomite peaks with some nice single track descending mixed in.

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Last year I raced here in the UCI Marathon World Series with over 4000 other cyclists  and finished 15th in what is a pure climbers course.  This year will be even harder against the Worlds best but with 4 days left to pre-ride the course, the right bike in my Kona King Kahuna, and huge motivation to finish this Euro campaign on a high note I have a feeling it will  be a good one!

Previews of the race can be found at:   www.sellarondhero.com & Marathonmtb.com

 

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