2014 Projected Race Schedule

  • March 3-11:  Yak Attack, Nepal (DNF)
  • March 22: Nepal XC Eliminator (1st)
  • March 29: Rocky Trail Entertainment 4hr Enduro, Awaba Australia
  • April 6: Australian Marathon Champs, Brisbane Oz
  • April 13: Australian Marathon Series, Melbourne  Oz
  • April 25: Australian Marathon Series, Atherton Oz
  • April 27: World Cup XC #2, Cairns Oz
  • May 3: Australian Marathon Series, NSW Oz
  • June 4-7: Bike 4 Peaks, Austria
  • June 12-15: Alpen Tour, Austria
  • June 21: Sellaronda Hero UCI Marathon, Italy
  • June 29: UCI Marathon World Championships, South Africa
  • July 26: Canadian Marathon Championships, Sun Peaks
  • Aug 9:  Leadville 100, Colorado USA
  • Sept 1-7: Mongolia Bike Challenge, Mongolia
  • Oct 18-26: Crocodile Trophy, Australia

Touchdown in Nepal

As a child the place I first dreamed of traveling too was Nepal.  Arriving here 20 years later was unreal as I stepped off a 20 hour flight from Canada and into a dream world.  Nepal is the home to the highest place on earth, the birth of Buddhism and over 25 million Nepalese people.  It is a gorgeous country, with tourism on the rise as people come from around the World to trek through the Himalayans, check out the rich cultural history, raft down rivers and go on jungle safaris.  It’s a very diverse country with a lot more to offer then just Mt Everest!

Driving through Kathmandu in the middle of the night up to my hotel perched on the Northern edge of the city was like driving through a warzone as people were wandering everywhere, street fires were blazing and the road looked like it had just been bombed. There’s something about travelling through 3rd world countries which sparks an interest in my head.  The chaos, the endless action and the unknowns of these countries keeps life interesting and the best part is the people are real.  No obsessions with being someone there not, no hiding behind fancy cars or clothes, just pure souls, people making what they can with whatever they have and doing it with a smile on there face.  This is something which never gets old.

Waking up at first light to start the Nepal adventures was like Christmas morning.  My travel partner, Yuki Ikeda from Japan, and I headed down for a buffet breakfast then waited for our Nepalese trail guide, Aayman to show up for a ride around the city.  Once he arrived we took off up the side of the city to the surrounding hills.  It was a normal 3rd world ride with sketchy roads, yappy dogs, downed electrical lines, barb wire fences crossing the path and the odd sight of seeing a cow tied up on a condo patio.   Heading up to a viewpoint over the city was pretty average as a foggy smog loomed over the city.

Next up we hit some dusty Nepalese single-track, zipping by an ancient buddhist temple, through a military checkpoint and down some steps through a slummy neighbourhood.  Once back into the city it was like a video game trying to maneuver around the traffic consisting of walkers, drivers, motorbikes, more wandering dogs, busses pumping out black plumes of smoke and the odd policeman trying to contain the chaos.  Gaps would open up in the traffic which we would have to fully commit to making before it got pinched off.  At times the hole would get pinched off and we’d jump up on the sidewalk or skid into the gutter.  Sketchier then it sounds and a good way to add some excitement to the normal training routine.

Eventually we hit the tourist central of Kathmandu, the district of Thamel.  A network of narrow streets full of Trekking Guides, Cafes,  a variety of touristy goods and countless North Face replica stores.  We rolled into the Nepalese Singletrack bike shop to fix some bikes and met up with a bunch of the Nepalese riders getting ready for the Yak Attack.   It’s pretty cool to see the desire and motivation these guys have to rip there bikes around there Himalayans.  There is a deep respect for the Yak Attack and the challenges it has provided its riders in the past.  We really can’t wait to get out there and see what it’s all about!

After a couple hours being a tourist in Thamel it was back on the bikes to head up to the hotel for some R&R.  Feeling a little zealous I took off up into the mountains for another hour of riding before being turned around at a police gate guarding a national park.  From here it was back to the hotel for a shower and to put the feet up to end the first day out in Nepal. I have a feeling 4 weeks here isn’t going to be long enough to fulfill what this stunning country has to offer.

Day 2 was spent riding up to Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park  on the northern edge of Kathmandu city.  Locals pay 10 cents to enter, tourists pay $ 2.5.  That’s normal for 3rd World Countries and alright in my mind.  Cars cost 75 cents to enter, motorbikes 15 cents, and mountain bike 7 dollars..  That’s not normal and a perfect example of monkey business.  Some things in this world aren’t worth the effort trying to figure out, this is one of them.  Anyways, it was a wicked ride as it traversed a terrace at 1800 meters overlooking the city.  Unreal were the only words to come to mind.  After the traverse I road 15 minutes into the middle of the slums to find the depths of Nepals urban culture, bought some Bananas then headed back to the hotel to spend the rest of the day getting over the last of this jet lag and topping off the energy stores for Stage 1 of the Yak!   Over and out, time to roll the dice with some local cuisine..


PS  During the race results will be updated here, http://theyakattack.com/live/

Making the Bacon in the Offseason

Off season started January 2nd this year and was spent working in Northern Alberta for 37 days.   It was a nice break from the bike and a good chance to let out some redneck behavior.      My boss’s Lindsay and Daniel at IR S (Integrity Reclamation Seismic) have been great and have given free range to come and go from work to fit it into the racing calendar.   “Yeah Cory you need work?, alright get up here asap, bring your chainsaws and quad!”    37 days later I’m back here in Jasper,  with a broken quad, 3 broken chainsaws  and pockets full of Canadian bacon as well as a couple beaver tails.  Once I trade these in I should be financially free to roll for another season on the bike racing circuit.

Trying to make it as professional mountain bike racer isn’t as lucrative as one might hope for in Canada. If a person is on top of an Olympic sport they will more then likely receive government funding as well as financial support from there sporting association.  Marathon racing is yet to become an Olympic sport thus there are zero dollars from the government or Canadian Cycling association.  Luckily I have great sponsors who are able to provide both gear and financial support to help keep my career alive.  They provide the structure to keep this dream going while working up in Northern Alberta as a Slasher/Faller for 2-3 months in the winter keeps food in the jersey pockets.

Working up North was introduced  in the fall of 2011 when my friend Daniel Vanderswan from Valemount asked me to join him as a slasher for a seismic job in Whitecourt Alberta.    This was a crash course as Daniel was soon upgraded to supervisor and I was out buying a quad so I could get my own crew going for the winter.  From there life changed for the good as I now had a way of financing bike racing without having to plant trees in the prime racing months of May and June.

We work in teams of two and set out with a day plan (map) trying to slash as many km of drill lines possible  in the daylight provided as the job is production based.  Slashing requires us to clean up the mess the mulchers left, cutting pokers, falling any damaged trees and taking down the danger trees in the area which may fall when the drill rigs rumble by later. We basically get paid to make the lines safe and easily passible. Some guys choose to be paid a day rate as they find it less of a risk money wise, but this is a low baller move.  Once you and your buddy are on the same page and have the right motivation then you can double or tripple the production of your average day rater, and also your pay.  If your going to be up there freezing your nuts off you might as well bust some moves and make it worth the while.  This winter I had the chance to work with my younger cousin Sasha which was an added bonus to get in some bro time with him.

Slashing is mixed in with days of falling in which we  make the trails and roads where the mulchers cannot go due to steep or soft terrain.    Some days are pure joy as we rake in the bacon while getting  a great 8-10 hr full body workout as we race through the picturesque Alberta terrain swinging our chainsaws.  Other days slap you in the face and keep slapping you in the face all day with -30 to -40 C temps, broken saws, broken quads and bird crap in our lunches.  These days you have to put your head down and push through as there is always daylight at the end of the tunnel, although sometimes it can be a realy bugger to get there.  Being cold is just part of the job and something you adapt too.  You can dress up like frosty the snowman, but when you’re actively moving this much you overheat, get soaked in sweat and then are in real danger of freezing your ass off.  Thus we generally dress fairly lightly, start the day off cold and start busting through the trees to increase the body temperatures.  This is great motivation to work hard cause as soon as you slow down you start to freeze up again.

Hands are another issue as we still need some agility to run the saw safely and pick up the trees we’ve cut.  Wearing thinner gloves is key for this but they are often not enough for the cold temperatures.  To deal with this we must let our hands freeze really good, and then use an old ice climbers technique called the “screaming barfies.” This was introduced to me by Dale at Gravity Gear in Jasper. Once the hands are semi-frozen, you put down your saw and swing your arms as fast as you can, sending blood gushing into your finger tips, causing blood vessels to expand and a great deal of pain.  This soon relieves and our hands will magically be warm for the rest of the day as the blood will be flowing in there with ease.  If we make the mistake and don’t let the hands freeze enough before doing the screaming barfies, there wont be as much pain but the results will not be there either and we will continually have to deal with frozen hands for the day.  

The weather was unusual this winter with it starting out at -35 for the first week, then going up to +5 to 10 for a week which essentially shut the job down as all the ice roads melted.  Then we returned to work and the temps went straight back to around -25 to -30.  Luckily my cousin Sasha is a hardy soul from central Canada (Manitoba) and proved to be a real trooper.  The saws weren’t quiet up to the task and 3 of 5 bit the dust, along with the quad.   Once the quad tossed in the white flag, we were stuck with an argo for the rest of the shift.  It was a show driving an argo around in the -30 temps as we would often have a 20-30 minute drive back to our truck at the end of the day in typically wet and somewhat sweaty work clothes.  While driving this, the temp probably dipped towards -40 to -50 with the windchill requiring us to stop every 4-5 minutes and run around in the knee deep snow to warm up again.  After this we would defrost our hands with the heat from the muffler, then hop back in and rip towards the truck until we were frozen again, and then repeat.  It’s one time in the year I get pissed off at Canada for being a real pain in the ass.

Work provides solid cross training as it works out the upper body which is usually forgotten by bike racers.  It’s a full day gym workout packing around the 15lb saw, moving logs, and hiking through knee deep snow.   The challenges come with trying to keep training through the work season.  I will re-asses next year and try not to book into races right after work ends as it puts an added stress on the daily schedule.  With work running 84 hours a  week (7am-7pm X 7days a week) there is little downtime outside of sleeping and eating.  To keep some sort of training regime going it means awaking at 5:45am, putting in 30-45 minutes between the spirotiger and core excercises and then heading out for the day.  At work I have my eyes open for opportunities to get in some cardio, whether that’s running up the nearest hill or running back to the truck at the end of the day.  As for biking,  it is generally saved for every 3rd or 4th evening in which i’ll try to get in an intense 45 minutes to keep some sort of muscle memory.  I really dislike riding the trainer so this typically means bundling up and heading out on the Alberta Range roads for some miles in the dark.  Once the toes freeze its time to head back to the hotel.

Last winter work stretched out for nearly 3 months, all of it in camp, with loads of sketchy french camp food around.  This lead to a gain of nearly 10 lbs , which was really impressive given how many calories we were burning each day out in the bush.  This combined with little training on the bike and it was a slow start to the race year.  This season work went for just under a 1.5 months, with most of it hotel based, meaning we cooked our own food.  This worked out great with a small loss in body weight thanks to following a better food regime.  Still consuming over 4000 calories a day but this was of good nutritional value and clean burning.

The first race of the year is quickly approaching as I will head to Nepal for a 10 day stage race called the Yak Attack from March 3-14th.  With just over 2 weeks to properly train it is a race I am looking at as more of a pre-season adventure.  Hopefully it will  help kick start the year with a solid block of high altitude riding as we’ll be on some epic rides through some amazing countryside.  The Nepalese boys have never lost there race so I expect they will be pretty fired up once we hit there high Himalayans.  That being said I’m going to be pretty fired up as well to be back ripping around on my Kona after the past few months trudging around the oil patch.    Can’t wait  for the fun to began!

Here is a link to some 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge preview action.