"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T.S. Eliot

Indian Adventures (MTB Himalaya)

After one of the strongest kick offs to a season ever, the summer racing season hit a large speed bump fighting through a long period of high fever and lethargy.  After some blood tests it showed up positive that I had contracted 2 rare Mosquito born viruses (Jamestown Canyon & Snowshoe Hair) in early July.  Taking 5 weeks pretty much off the bike at the end of August the body turned around and although out of shape I felt blessed to be healthy again.  It was tempting to call off the rest of the season but the opportunity to head over to India and Nepal for a couple of late season races was too good to pass up so I put together a 6 day training block to try and salvage some fitness and started packing the bags! 

It was a bit of a gongshow getting ready for the trip with a couple hospital trips to make sure I was virus free, a thief stealing all my race supplies out of my van and re-supplies not showing up in time.  Nothing money couldn’t fix so after a shopping spree to replace all the lost goods and some help from Kona the journey began.

Eventually I ended up at the Vancouver airport after an8 hour drive from Jasper, 75 minutes before my flight but somehow overshooting the baggage allowance of 2 x 23 kg bags by over double with 85-90 kg.   The charges would’ve been astronomical, so the check in lady gave me 10 minutes to reorganize my bags in which I loaded up the bike box to 40 kg +, jammed the carry on up to 25 kg, downsized the duffel to 23kg and then crossed my fingers they wouldn’t weigh the bike box again.  Going to India for 8 days of racing would’ve been easy to pack for, but adding in one extra month of training and 11 days of racing in Nepal made it interesting.  Running to the gate I realized my yearly travel insurance was expired so it was on the phone getting a new plan set up.  To top it off the airport security found the C02’s in my bike box so they called my name on the intercom to give me a bit of shit but in the end I made it on a jet plane to India!

The MTB Himalaya in India is one of my favourite races as Ashish Sood and the other organizers have created an adventurous bike race across the foothills of the Himalayas.  The family atmosphere is great amongst the 90+ racers and 90 + Indian support staff as we create a giant moving circus across one of the craziest countries in the World.  The whole race we’re laughing and joking with each other as the Indian way of life is a little  different then what we are accustomed to in the Western World.  They make fun of us for taking life so seriously while we get our kicks out of their loose way of living and disregard to time. When you have 1.3 billion people in your country it creates a level of chaos and confusion which is 2nd to none and a real unique cultural experience.

The Race:

Knowing the fitness wasn’t solid I opted to bluff everyone on Stage 1 and be the first into the sketchy single track out of the start gate.  The Norwegian freight train Thomas Engelsgjerd latched  onto my wheel as we’d open up a small gap before being joined by a couple fast Spaniards on the first climb.  The three Euros would put the hammer down as I’d chase 45 seconds behind them for the next 2 hours before flatting and losing a pile of time hand pumping the tire since the airlines took all my gas canisters, eventually coming in 4th, nearly 12 minutes down.  The camp this night was rad, set up in a small alpine meadow surrounded by thick forests as we aquainted ourselves to our home for the next 8 nights.  It’s impressive how fast the Indians can put up a camp, complete with endless Indian food, annoying loud speakers, warm showers, sketchy toilets and lots of places to lounge in the shade.  The camplife is a highlight of the week as there’s loads of time to get to know each other and entertain ourselves in the surrounding communities.

Stage 2 was another sufferfest as I opted to attack into the first sketchy singletrack to put some pressure on the Euros.  The singletrack in India is legit, built for walkers and pretty gnarly as you never know what’s around the next corner.  Going way to fast I came around a corner onto a wet concrete patch, trying to turn away from the oncoming ditch for nearly 20 ft before ejecting off the bike into the bushes.  After this close call it was best to tone it down a notch as the next 1500 M vertical descent was nearly 30 minutes long and called the death enduro due to its nature of being full of unexpected holes, steep staircases and tall grass which you can’t see under.  Passing two Spaniards fixing flat tires halfway down was a morale booster before hitting the hell climb, a blistering hot 800 meters ascent. It was a good battle the last 1 hr with 4 of us coming within 2.5 minutes of each other for the stage win with my buddy Thomas Turner taking the W.

Stage 3 over Jaloria pass is a 45 km ascent to 10 000 ft before a sketchy road descent dodging the crazy Indian traffic to the valley below.  The Indian traffic is worth a blog post by itself as the roads here are obstacle courses full of everything and anything that moves. The drivers although skilled,  don’t stick to their side of the road and would rather blow their horn at something than try and steer around it.  Feeling good off the start I rode like I was in mid-season form up the climb for the first 1.5 hours, dropping everyone except race leader Thomas Engelsgjerd and Portuguese Pro roadie Micael Isidoro.  Having visions of riding myself back into the race, I instead rode my body into self-destruction as it was not happy with the effort.  From here it was a long cross eyed ride to the finish line losing a huge chunk of time and falling out of contention of defending my title from 2014.  

The next 3 stages were all pretty similar racing hard, dodging Indian chaos, and enjoying the adult boy/girl scout campouts.  Stage 7 was marked in my head as it contained a 5 km stretch of donkey trail that my Kona Hei Hei full suspension and I could hopefully put the hurt on the Euro climbing machines.  Going to bed early for a good rest, the Indian X factor hit hard with loud music across the town blasting out of blown out speakers until 2:30 am.  Next up were random trucks starting up at 3 am with sputtering engines and then after 1 hour of silence the local church turned its blown out loud speaker on to preach their story.  All in all in equated to under 2 hours of sleep.  It was rather amusing to see all the tired faces in the morning as it looked like we had all been to a rock show and drank way to many beers!  

This probably played into my hands as you are way more messed up at the tail end of a 24 Hour solo race so I stuck to my tactics and hit the donkey trail first after a pretty gentle 15 km road climb to start the day.  After dodging a couple grass people, I came around the first corner into a herd of 3 donkeys, 3 other riders caught up to the traffic jam as we had a standoff before one donkey sprinted past, catching Micaels bike with his pack  hauling it a few feet before luckily not destroying it.  Here I squeezed past the other 2 donkeys,  rode Canadian style over the next few km of trail and soon had a substantial 5 minute lead.  It was a long solo 70 km ride to the finish but the lead would stretch out to over 8 minutes. It was pretty rad to have a good ride again after such a long struggle this summer!

The final stage finished off with a sweet 45 km through the Indian countryside before a hard climb up to a paraglide launch where we had a fabulous view of the Kangra valley below and the Dhauladhar Range behind.  We must’ve stayed up there for over 4 hours, eating lunch and enjoying having completed one hell of a fun and tough race adventure across the southern ranges of the Himalayas.  Next up the organizers had set up an unexpected 12 km treasure hunt to the race hotel.  My team with Yak attack organizer Phil Evans, and Eve Conyers from Australia  ended up riding close to 20 km and came in near dead last as we made the mistake of asking the roadside Indians for directions, in which they made shit up and pointed us all over the countryside.  The post-race party turned into a bit of a gongshow as the hotel apparently knew nothing about hotel management or feeding a bunch of hungry bike racers.   Seeing the chaos of 90 hungry bike racers trying to deal with the confused Indian hotel staff made an amusing spectacle.  A few of us grabbed some ciders from a nearby liquor hut and sat back to enjoy the show.  

The next morning 6 of us decided to get the hell out of Hotel shitshow and headed up to the mountains to the hippie town of Dharmkot.  After sweet 3 day hike and a bonfire in the mountains, everyone changed their tickets for a couple weeks later and we created the Himalayan “A” team adventure squad.  Since then it’s been nearly 2 weeks of proper Indian adventures, climbing 4400 M passes, camping in the mountains, a few hippie rest days eating good food, some solid training days and a real good crash course on the cultural way of life up in the Indian mountains.    


We have another week up here before the others will head back to their homes in Norway and Australia while I’ll head off to Nepal to take on the World’s Highest Mountain Bike race, The Yak Attack !  Hopefully living and training up here at Altitude all these weeks will pay off 🙂  



Iceland- Glacier 360

Iceland “the land of fire and ice” is a small island nation lying just south of the Arctic circle  in the North Atlantic ocean.     It has become a tourist hotbed as people come in droves to see its extraordinary landscape full of Volcanic activity, geothermal energy,  glaciers, waterfalls and vast expanses of moon like rock fields.  When the opportunity came to visit this Nordic country and the  Glacier 360 mtb race which circumnavigates the countries 2nd biggest Glacier, we had to go!

The race itself  is for pairs in which you ride with a teammate and you get the time of the slowest member.  Being classified as UCI S2 with  Intenational/Olympic ranking points, this drew a strong field of contenders, mostly from Scandinavia and Europe.  My partner, Andreas Hartmann, crashed the day we were suppose to fly out. I delayed my flight for 2 days and started searching for  a replacement.  Thankfully my buddy, Thomas Turner, (USA), stepped up at the last minute, with no preparation. He was on a plane within 48 hrs of the first call.  We named our team “Wallace and the Hitman Gromit” and jumped into the adventures of this far off land.  

From the moment we landed in Iceland it was rad as we soaked in the Nordic culture of its 330, 000 inhabitants.  Navigating around a very touristy Reykavik, (The Northern most Capitol City in the World), was more expensive then we’d imagined but the people were great and made us feel welcomed from the get go.

The Glacier 360 is in its 2nd year and is a 3 day, 280 km race around the Langjökull Glacier, starting at the world-famous Geysir in Haukadalur South Iceland. The finish was at the Gullfoss waterfall, known as the most beautiful waterfall in Europe.  Stage 1, nicknamed  “The Black and White Miles“,was  essentially a 90 km road race through a volcanic desert full of pitch black rock and sands.  The course was undulating and pretty scenic as we raced by the immense ice fields to the right of us. We could see plumes from the geothermal fields across the landscape. 

Seeing the lead teams from last year ditch their spare clothing at the start line, we did the same, but would regret this mid stage when the temperatures plummeted to + 2 degrees celsius, with strong frigid winds off the Glacier and a few spits of rain to make us really nervous.  Our hands froze solid and our jerseys and shorts didn’t protect us quite as much as we would’ve liked, but we made it to the finish line in a the lush glacial valley on the west side of the glacier.   Here we were treated to a warming tent full of food, highlighted by Iceland’s world famous Skyr Yogurt, which is made with three times the milk of most traditional yogurts. It is strained carefully to remove excess liquid, leaving a thick and creamy nutritious treat, high in protein and low in fat.

The terrain around camp resembled the high alpine in Canada with clear creeks, open meadows and a brisk chill in the air.  The parking lots were full of tourist vehicles which looked like they were ready for the moon. They had enormous tires on small little vans, apparently to provide flotation up on the glaciers and across the rough terrain.

Stage 2 was labelled “The WaterWorld Climbs” as it took us across a couple of large unbridged rivers and over the rough Icelandic highland to the northwest of the glacier.  The riding was rad as it was rough and full of sharp volcanic stones which required a fair bit of agility to weave through at high speed as they didn’t look too friendly to our bike tires! It was a solid 110 km ride which ended at the highest point of the race, in the dead centre of the highlands at Hveravellir “Oasis”. This Oasis is a tourist camp formed around a hot spring on the oldest coast-to-coast road in Iceland.  There were huge glaciers to either side of camp, a hot geothermal field full of pools, a small steam vent and a hot spring with 100 degree  Fahrenheit water coming in one end, and glacial water in the other.  The food up here, like everywhere in Iceland, was great, although paying upwards of $40 for a greasy burger, then seeing signs in the bathroom asking for $6.20 to use the toilet seemed a bit overkill.  In theory it would cost $46.20 to eat a greasy burger, turn it into shit, and then get rid of it down the toilet.  If there was ever good motivation to go on a diet this was it!

The first half of Stage 3 was one of the coolest bike rides I did all year. We climbed an old highland road through the alpine into Thjofadalir valley which is tucked away underneath huge glacier fields. Dropping into the valley we followed  an abandoned dirt path which apparently has only been used by horses and hikers for years. The 20 km trail was rough, rutted and braided in many spots which turned into a choose your own adventure type of race. My teammate Thomas had been struggling a bit the previous few days, battling jet lag and having only 2 days to prepare, but he was on fire in this section as he wound his way through the boulder gardens with last year’s winning team and myself in tow.  The fun would eventually stop as we hit a long gravel road to the finish line with Thomas casing a big rock to get his 2nd flat tire of the day and kill any momentum we had.  That’s racing though, and once we had air back in the tire we enjoyed the final 1.5 hr ride through the highlands to the Gullfoss waterfall. Here we were reminded that Iceland is in a tourist boom as the trail to the waterfall was packed with thousands of tourists as busloads were being dropped off by the minute. 

The post race party was in an open field beside another geothermal pool. A hot bbq was cooking up burgers and sausages for the riders before we were to be transferred back to Reykjaviik to start our journeys home.  My younger cousin, Ali, was a volunteer at the race so we stuck around for the night to party with her and the rest of the volunteers.  The plan in the morning was to hitchhike back to Reykjavik, but after helping clean up camp, the Glacier 360 organization offered to take us on a tour of the Southern Coast, with the volunteers. The highlight was a pretty cool glacial walk on one of the Countries many large but retreating ice fields.  It was a fitting cap to our short time in Iceland, which somehow felt like a month, with all that we experienced in the short 6 days we were there.

Here’s a few interesting facts on Iceland.

  • Between geothermal and hydropower, 100% of the countries electricity is from renewable resources and 80% of its primary energy is also renewable with fossil fuels making up the other 20%.
  • Iceland’s capital Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city in the World.
  • The only native mammal is the Arctic Fox.
  • Geologically, Iceland is the youngest country in the World.
  • I’d estimate that to travel like a normal person, it would cost $400 dollars a day in this tourist Mecca.
  • Bike touring around the country with a tent and buying food at a grocery store could lower this coast to somewhere around $80 to $100 a day.


Off to the Backcountry near Jasper Alberta with my Dad and Eileen and 7 horses for 2 weeks  to clear some trail and recharge the mind an body after a busy race year 🙂    

Over and out!

Singletrack 6 (TransRockies)

The Singletrack 6 was born when the legendary TransRockies went dormant a few years back and is turning into one of North Americas premier races.  Each year the host communities change as the organization seeks out new riding areas to showcase 6 days of the best of what Western Canadian singletrack has to offer.  The days are typically around 40 km (3-5 hours for the average racer) as the riders navigate a great brew of single track riding which includes big climbs into the alpine, panoramic views and epic timed descents.  In the evenings we all come together for post race bbq’s, slideshows, and story telling from the days racing. Often some locals are on hand to give us some history of the riding areas and how they became what they are today over years of hardwork and ingenuity.

This year the race ventured into the Kootenay towns of Rossland, Nelson and Kaslo in South Central BC.  It’s a riding area few of us had ever ridden as it’s tucked away from the rest of the province. It is a well known as being the hippie outpost of Canada, especially the town of Nelson which you can smell from miles away.

Stages 1-3 took place in Rossland, the self proclaimed “Mountain bike Capital of Canada.”  There are a number of towns that could claim this and Rossland certainly didn’t dissapoint as there is an extensive trail network surrounding the town 360 degrees which offers some exciting riding.  Coming off a racing hangover after winning the World Solo 24 HR Champs in Italy back in June I was fired up for an intense week of racing and used the first steep climbs of Stage 1 to spread out the field and kick off the bike tournament in style.  Leading half way through the stage and still well within normal operating levels the body disturbingly started to show signs of the past few weeks as the watts started to plummet and the system overheated.  From here a couple USA boys, Justin Lindine, Taylor Lideen,former French Marathon Champ Frederic Gombert and one of Canada’s rising XC stars Evan Guthrie  took over and set a blistering pace down the rough timed descent on the day.  It was a short day of racing at just over 2 hours but we all felt the mid 30 degree heat and 1500 M of climbing.


The next two days were pretty similar as I’d kick off the racing to make sure the tempo stayed high then would settle into my 24hr hangover pace while the boys off the front through haymakers at each other in the Canadian wilderness.  On day 3 we apparently rode one of the most beautiful trails in Canada as we hit the high alpine 7 summits trail.  They say there are 360 degree panoramic views up there and some beautiful wild flowers but we’ll have to go back another day as our attention was 100% focused on the rocky trail so we wouldn’t end over the bars and eating alpine dirt for breakfast.

Stage 4 in Nelson was another beauty as we climbed for nearly 15 km off the start on a great mixture of fire roads, overgrown quad trails and singeltrack.  Eventually we topped out in the high alpine before hitting a series of sweet descents back to the start.  Every stage had a timed descent which was great as even if you were having snail legs on the climbs you could still fight for something and rail the downhills.

Stage 5 in Kaslo was the highlight in my books as we road high up on the mountain slopes above the sleepy little lake side town before hitting a great sidehill trail traversing across the slopes and eventually leading down another single track gem to the glacial river below.  The racing at the front was great with 10-12 guys jostling for position everyday.  My friend Ian Murray and I had a nice battle going on the last riverside decent as the trail rolled up and down the banks of the Kaslo river.  I opened up a gap but was clobbered by a weird overhanging tree that caught me in the back, digging into the right Kidney.  It was like being blind sided into the boards at a hockey game as I tried to keep riding but had to get off for a minute or two to let the odd numbing feeling pass through the body. Oddly enough Ian never passed by which I couldn’t figure out but later heard he also got clobbered by a overhanging tree and ended up on the side of the trail with a charlie horse.   We both limped across the line and then headed straight to the Kootenay lake to chill the bodies and provide some relief to our aching bodies.  

Stage 6 was back in the Hippie capitol of Canada as we raced another short but challenging stage high up on mountain slopes above Nelson.  It was a hard morning as  we hit a mixture of fast flowy trails and some real brain rattlers which really put our xc bikes to the test. It was a nice cap to cap a great week as the rest of the day was spent like the other days, cooling off in the fresh mountain lakes and hanging out with our riding buddies sharing stories from the days action.

Compared to alot of the other racing around the World, the ST6 really feels like a biking holiday as there is alot of time to chill after the stages as we’re often done by around 10 am and have the rest of they day to soak in the culture of the surrounding communities.  For someone who wants to have some adventurous and challenging days on a bike but still have loads of time to hang out with family or friends then the ST6 is tough to beat.  Next year it will be back towards the Rockies as the race will tackle 3 days in Golden BC then head over to the Okanagan for some riding in Revelstoke, and Vernon.  I’ll be looking for a chance to return again as these weeks stand out in the memory books every year!  


Photo Credits for the two race shots + the high alpine:  John Gibson @gibsonpictures 

Hitting a Wall and Bouncing back up

The past 3 weeks have been a bit of a lull as the body seemed to need a bit of R&R after hitting one of the strongest stretches in my racing career.  In hindsight a few weeks of proper recovery was probably needed after digging as deep as I did to win the World Solo 24 HR Champs in Italy.  Testing the limits of the body is a favourite pastime of mine and I certainly found the limits this time.  Apparently trying to race a World Marathon Champs in Europe, a 4 day stage race in the jungles of Sri Lanka, the 7 stage BC Bike Race, and then a Marathon Champs on the other side of the country all within a 1 month period while fighting jet lag, the flu and the built up fatigue from 24 Hr Worlds was a bit much.  

If everything went perfect the race schedule could have worked out but that isn’t how life often goes when your travelling around the World as wrenches generally get tossed into the plans. A few too many got tossed in this time which lead to a weak immune system and ultimately the body catching a flu the week before BCBR.   The body came around for the first 3 days of BCBR battling a high flying Geoff Kabush and Stephen Ettinger but it was skating on thin ice and I paid for it. Mid week another flu went through the BCBR camp hitting a few of the top racers including myself.  The proper decision would’ve been to pull the pin on Stage 6 in Squamish but my stubborn mind decided to try and ride through the high fever/sickness to try and finish off the week.  Things got worse and after sinking nearly a a half hour behind the leaders in the first hour of racing in Whistler it was time to stop the damage.  There are times to push through the pain and suffering but also times to look after your health and body as you only get one of them in this life.  

A much needed break was in need but with my final big goal of the season, the Canadian Marathon Champs taking place in Quebec just 3 days after BCBR finished I tried to wind it up one more time to bring home the National jersey for a 3rd time.  My team Kona was great and suggested resting instead and told me there was no pressure but after training all year for the Marathon Champs I had to at least give it a shot.  Getting on a plane friday morning, run down, and with a high fever was a stubborn and sketchy call but all the travel plans, plane tickets etc had been arranged beforehand. Figuring if I used every trick in the book and slept until the race on sunday there was an outside chance of a miracle.   Worst case I’d not be able to start the race but still get in a small visit with my good friends out there. So, my buddy Simon and his girlfriend Mari Eve picked me up at the Montreal airport and we had a perfect 2 day lead up to the race with over 24 hours of sleep in that time period and miraculously I awoke feeling somewhat alright sunday morning for Nationals.  


The race was unfolding as planned with young U23 National champ Alex Vialle 30 seconds up the road and myself in a good rhythm behind waiting for the last big climb of the day to put in a late race surge. After that it would be a sweet 50 minute enduro type decent to the finish which I figured my trail skills could pull in the Maple Leaf Jersey for another year.  Unfortunately the reserves ran empty 2.5 hours into the 4 hour race and the body went into a full  shutdown.   It was survival at this point to finish the race which included walking a couple of the steep hills.  I managed to fight through it the best I could but lost a huge chunk of time to Alex in the final hour of racing and barely hung on for 2nd place.

After a feed of Quebec poutine it was back across the country to my buddy Leightons place in Canmore to get ready for XC Nationals.  It was just what the body needed with a week of good recovery and hanging out with some great friends including a 5 course protein feed with my friend Stephen and Debbie which definitely helped the recovery!  

It was also one of the roughest weeks I’ve had in a while trying to come back to life. Come race day the unfortunate decision was made to not start as the body was in no state to push its limits.  It was a race I had been looking forward to all season as its in my backyard and would be in front of loads of friends and families.   It was the right call though and heading up there to watch definitely lit a fire inside as it reminded me just how much I love racing and that now isn’t the time in my life that I want to be sitting on the sidelines!    If there was one quote to sum up the past few weeks it would be  “One can accomplish practically anything, but one may not be able to accomplish everything… choose wisely!”  


With the Canadian race season dwindling down I’m stoked to have the opportunity to be racing the Single Track 6 by TranRockies this coming week in the Kootenay region of BC.  My old work truck blew its transmission a few days before my buddy Anderl from Germany and I were to head out on our road trip. Looking into the options it was decided a last minute mini van shopping spree was the best solution so it was off to Calgary to purchase a $900 soccer Mom van to drive around for the week to keep this journey alive.  It’s a bit of a beater but the luggage storage is great and we figure the cops will leave us alone if were speeding as they’ll figure were just driving the kids to soccer practice.. 


 Along side BCBR, the ST6 is the other major stage race in Canada and consists of short but sweet single track riding as we’ll race 220 km over the course of 6 days.  It’s a real mountain bikers dream holiday but I can guarantee the racing will be hard at the front as we’ll be pushing our bodies to the max.  Shorter days just equals harder efforts!

Back in the saddle tomorrow as Stage 1 in Rossland will kick off at 8 am.  Race results and reports should be found here throughout the week:  Zone4.ca



To the Other Side and Back.

Heading down to Sri Lanka for two weeks of resting and racing the 4 day Rumble in the Jungle was a great wind down after the World 24HR Solo Championships in Italy early June.  Capturing a dream I’d been chasing for quite some time created a high which I managed to ride through the tough 4 days of racing across the jungles and mountains of Sri Lanka to take the Victory.  It was a nice redemption after coming up short in 2014 during my first attempt in this country which is as far away from Canada as I think you can go and interestingly produces 90% of the Worlds Cinnamon and some of the purest tea around.

The Rumble in the Jungle is put on by the same group of organizers as the Worlds Highest mountain bike race, The Yak Attack in Nepal.  Both these races are pretty low key with 40-60 riders which creates a family atmosphere although the racing is some of the wildest adventures one can have on a bike as we cross some very remote areas of the World.   Starting in the Southern Jungles of Sri Lanka where elephants and Leopards rome around, we soon climbed up 1500 M and spent the next 3 days riding in a pleasant climate under huge waterfalls, through spotless tea gardens and into the heart of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) is often called  the tear drop of India as its an island nation south of India.  It’s a small country with 20 million inhabitants but is one of the most diverse places on earth, famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, wildlife, beaches but most of all its welcoming locals which give the island a nice charm.

The race itself was harder then I was hoping for after racing the 24hr Worlds the week before as former UK National champion and double Olympian Nick Craig but the hammer down on day 1 taking the victory by nearly 8 minutes.  It was a rough day for everyone as the 35 degree heat plus jungle humidity caused everyone to melt down pretty good.  Twice on the 1.5 hr climb out of the Jungles I had to get off my bike to have a breather as the body was having a full meltdown.  It was a rough couple hours but thats racing and sometimes you have to put your head down and push through it.

Stages 2 the body came back to life but I had a bunch of time to make up on GC.  Sprinting off the line I gained a minute lead in the first 10 minutes of the race but would wreck a tire going over something sharp. Stopping 5-7 minutes to patch the tire and pop a tube in was a small hold up as I slowly sunk to the back of the race and now had a big gap to make up. Luckily the legs stayed on fire and after 20 minutes of going down one of the roughest descents I’ve ever done it was back to work to catch up to Nick.  I’m lucky Nick is 47 years old and past his prime as he made it tough enough on me as I had to dig deep to eventually catch him mid race and subsequently put 8-9 minutes into him to erase the deficit from day 1.

Stage 3 started with a epic climb, first going under the highest free falling waterfall in Sri Lanka and slowly working our way up a rough cobbled path through the tea plantations, eventually topping out on the Hortons plateau at 2000 M.  It’s one of the hardest and coolest climbs I’ve done with epic views over the jungles as the local villagers were out working the plantations looking at us in confusion.  From here we ripped across the elephant habitat of the Hortons plateau, down a single track jungle descent then back up a nice climb over a secluded pass in the backwoods before dropping into the hill station of Nuwara Eliya for the night.   It was tough racing but every night was spent in a nice hotel and we would cruise around town on our bikes after the stages to feel the culture nd look for our favourite street snack, egg hoppers.  Hoppers are made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk and then cooked in a round pot to create crispy bowl like creation.  Sometimes they crack an egg in the middle making it an egg hopper.  Being a religious country it’s ok to eat hoppers anywhere but the egg hoppers are apparently dangerous to eat by a temple!  You learn something new every day when your travelling the world


Stage 4 was a sweet way to finish the race with a 30 minute climb out of the gate before hitting a rolling descent for the next 40 km into Sri Lankas 2nd biggest city of Kandy.  The diversity of the riding was awesome with everything from rough local paths, cobblestones, pavement and gravel mixed in as we’d skirt in and out of the jungle and through little villages.  There is never a dull moment racing in Sri Lanka as every corner had a surprise around it.  Post race we had a nice unwind with a traditional train trip back to Colombo for a banquet and some first class treatment from the races title sponsor Sri Lankan Airlines.

Heading back to Europe I had a 2 day layover in London and decided to ride around the city for the day.   This 21st century city and capitol of the UK exceeded my expectations with its rich history stretching back to Roman Times, it also stretched my energy thin as I didn’t realize how damn big the city was to ride across! Being a curious traveller I opted to fly into Italy so I could have a drive across Switzerland to check out the country on the way to the Industrial city of Singen in southern Germany for the UCI Marathon World Champs.   Switzerland looks alot like the Canadian Rockies although paying 9$ to fill my water bottle up with fizzy water at a gas station and seeing a burger cost 30-35$ I quickly put my wallet away
until crossing back out of there boarder and into reality again.  

The UCI Marathon Worlds was a tough race as the course was 50% on pavement and the rest on hay fields or gravel roads going around hayfields.  A Cross bike would’ve been perfect as the most technical part of the whole race were the barriers around the start finishing area which required a bit of maneuvering of the handlebars.  Otherwise it was a road race, going up pitchy 2-6 minute climbs then bombing straight down hay fields as fast as you’d let your bike go. Somewhere along the line somebody forgot this was the Mountain bike Worlds and not Road worlds.

 Getting called up 174 out of 188 meant I had some work to do to get up to the leaders as this race was all about position.  Unfortunately right off the gun I got taken into the barriers and was in dead last place trying to chase onto the peloton as it roared 50-60 km/hr down the highway to the first climb.   My 36T-11 chainring was fully spun out losing even more time on the peloton before it eventually hit a hill and I could start picking riders off.  The next 1.5 hours was spent chasing groups down, recovering then trying to bridge across to the next group.  

It was a form of island hopping as I worked my way up towards the top 60 but came up short trying to bridge across to a large group of 30 riders.  Having ridden over my limit trying to get back to the front of the race I ran out of matches and started going backwards for the rest of the day.  It was an experience to say the least and will certainly make me enjoy heading back to Canada to race on real mountain bike trails that much more!  One of the intriguing things about MTB racing that keeps me going every year is the huge variety in courses we come across as it can make it seem like a whole different sport at times.  

With the 24 HR Worlds being the season focus and coming so early in the year it through a wrench in the normal preps for the summer racing but it’s a new challenge to try and figure a solution too.  I figure it’s all doable if you treat your body right and have the mental focus to deal with the little challenges along the way. The last 10 days were spent in Victoria visiting with family and trying some new recovery techniques to get the body back on line as there’s no time to rest right now. With the BC Bike Race starting tomorrow it’s time to kick start the system as there’s a title from last year to try and defend!