Over the weekend, I kicked off the 2017 racing season with what's becoming one of my favorite UCI races in North America; the Bear Mountain Canada Cup. It's great to kick things off so close to home, and I had a blast jumping into my first Enduro race!
It's the beginning of March, and I've had a really fun winter filled with adventures around the World, loads of great ski days and long rides, but I'm hardly feeling 'sharp'. I knew coming into the season that I needed a bit slower start, particularly with so many of my biggest goals laying in wait later this summer. I had strong legs, and I was excited about being on the starting line, but I wasn't quick, and thats OK. After a fast start, and watching Gagne ride away from all of us, I found myself in the chase group with familiar faces including Geoff, Zanstra, and Keegan Swenson. I felt like I was riding the technical, wet course well, and that was probably my saving grace. A year ago I would have wasted huge amounts of energy in those conditions. The PNW will change a man.... The new Kenda Honey Badger Pro XC tires were game changing, and I felt like I had the Focus 01E bike set up just perfectly. Its good to have confidence in your equipment. As we entered that last lap, the familiar sting in the legs felt good, but I couldn't quite pick the pace up enough to hang when the sparks started to fly. Turns out ski touring will make you strong, but not fast. I rounded the final corner with a smile; finishing 7th on the day. Maybe not "satisfied" but ok with where I am at, and having something to work towards is motivating.
I jumped into my first Enduro on Sunday, and just had a riot! I'm not sure why more of Saturday's XC nerds didn't jump in too, the winner ended up riding his XC bike after all. Lots of pedaling on relatively flat stages after the tough effort on Saturday made for some of the most painful moments of the weekend, but I think the refreshing format and hitting some big air's kinda took the edge off the pain a bit. Pretty psyched to be doing more of these in the coming months. Its such a cool format; I totally understand why so many people have gravitated towards this over the past few years. Its incredibly accessible, and you get to spend A LOT more time hanging out riding with your friends over the course of the day. It was incredibly refreshing, and just a perfect way to cap off the weekend.
Victoria is such a great city. If you haven't been, please put Vancouver Island on the bucket list. The food is excellent (I'd recommend you check out Pizzeria Prima Strada), the riding up and down the Island from Cumberland to Victoria and over into Tofino is among the best in the NW, and it has an incredible atmosphere. The people are phenomenal (who doesn't love Canadians?)! Corrine and I found great food and drink around every corner, and things feel like they slow down a little bit on the Island which made the re-entry into race mode a little easier to wrap my head around. Success this weekend was not measured in number of podium stairs climbed, but in the amount of fun I had. And knowing that I have work to look forward to in the coming months is satisfying. I can't wait to get back onto Vancouver Island for BC Bike Race later this summer.
Photos courtesy of Corrine Malcolm