World Championships 2017. Cairns, Australia

Well the end of the season has finally come and gone. World Championships down under in Cairns, Australia was a blast and an amazing experience. Big thanks to everyone who made this possible.

The Team – Photo: Rob Jones – Canadian Cyclist

Our time down under started with some R&R. We arrived earlier than usual to combat the travel fatigue and adapt to the time-change and weather. It was lovely living on the water down in Trinity Beach where there were dozens of things waiting to kill you. Luckily the poisonous jellyfish about the size of a nickel, aren’t “in season” right now and therefore it was apparently safe to swim, and swim we did! After some great riding in the local area, we had to explore a little further to find some mountain biking, as the course was not yet open. Atherton was a lovely little spot with some super sick rough, loose trails. As the race approached, the rest of Team Canada arrived, the Wifi slowed down, and we learned that the course wasn’t scheduled to open until the day before the relay. That is right folks, I would get one day on a course I’ve never ridden to prepare for an all-out effort the next day. Not ideal, but I figured I just run my Revolver FS with Kenda Kozmiks at 20.5 & 23 psi because I wouldn’t have enough time to test my HT or other tires. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but it was definitely not ideal. That is the conclusion of my rant and pre-race adversity. Now for the main event, let’s take a walk through the race.

The dust was thick – Photo: Disera Racing

Things had been looking up. After a dull race at MSA a month prior, I took some time off to really make it pop at Worlds. I got some good training in, things were coming around, I felt mentally refreshed, and I was focused to make my last U23 race a great one. However, unfortunately it didn’t quite go down like that.

Berms – Photo: Disera Racing

The legs were feeling better as I was starting to freshen up, and I knew I would get a good test with the Relay race. I had the honour of riding first in the relay for Team Canada, and the start was a very critical one. It was going to require some horsepower and some guts, but unfortunately, the horses didn’t show up. After a lousy start I had to fight tooth and nail to gain only a handful of spots. I came in 42 seconds down, unfortunately putting Canada at a major deficit early in the relay. The rest of the team did a great job and were able to pull us into the lead. Then as our U23 lady Anne Julie Tremblay lined up against many multi-time Olympic Elite Men medalists with only a minute gap, we slipped back a few places. Although a disappointing ride on my part, it was a great event early in the week to prep for the race.

Sending it – Photo: Rob Jones – Canadian Cyclist

Now onto the main, main event (no more foreplay I promise) the U23 Men’s Cross Country World Championship. For this race, unlike every other World Cup, I would be starting with a plate number in the teens. This is because World Cup Points don’t count at Worlds for call up, only mass amounts of UCI points do. Therefore, because I didn’t ride in some of the HC races, I had a few bad races, and since Canada didn’t send anyone to Pan Ams etc. etc., I was lacking some UCI points to put me on that front row. Nevertheless, I’ve always considered myself to be a good starter so I figured it wouldn’t be an issue. Well, I used to think I was a good starter up until this terrible start at Worlds, and I can now confirm that I’ve found a spot to improve. Moving around a pack in a mountain bike race is way more difficult than moving around a pack in a road race. Whether it was because of all the rocks flying everywhere, the other noises, or the fact that everyone is sprinting full tilt, I didn’t move up successfully. I got pinched into a slow lane around the first corner and ate dust, literally and figuratively, for the rest of the race because of it. Heading out on the first lap in dusty terrain, I didn’t really know how far back I was, and all I knew is that Quinton had somehow made the front group. Wild! I pinned it, shaked and baked. By this point I was really starting to claw back some ground, even with subpar legs. I was managing to pull myself into the Top 15, but just as I was about to tag Quinton’s group (I think riding for 7th?) I punctured my front tire. Now this is a pain, we can all agree, but it was much, much better than what could have been. The tire managed to reseal itself shortly thereafter but I lost 2, maybe 3psi. The downhill in Cairns is super long, very fast, and crashing on it would be like crashing on concrete. I rode lightly. Got a change out in the pits and was on my way. I didn’t lose a ton of positions, but the time I lost put me wayyyy out of touch with Quinton’s group. The remainder of the race was a combination of trying not to die on the climb and pulling guys in or opening gaps on the DH. In the end I was pretty defeated but feeling ok. I finished 24th – a horrible result if you look at my World Cup season so far, but a solid result if you look at my past U23 Worlds and a reasonable result when you take into account that it has been a long season, I was in school all winter, and I flatted. So, I’m ok.

Quinton & I post race – Rob Jones – Canadian Cyclist

Big thanks to everyone below who helped make this season one to remember.

Keith Wilson (Pendrel Racing) came on board in November as my coach. Besides the fact that sometimes we talk more physics than bike racing, I’d say things have gone pretty well and I thank you, Keith, for a great season.

Kevin Haviland, for dialed bikes and all-around fantastic support. Making the step up to the World Cup level Norco Factory Team was a huge deal for Havi and I’m so glad we could do the team justice on the world stage. A lot of work and sacrifices went into it. Sacrifices such as Havi no longer travels in his animal face shirts as he now has to look ‘pro’. Thanks for a great year Havi.

That’s an easy lead-in to Norco Bicycles. Thanks to Norco for backing the program and giving us phenomenal bikes to ride and race. I wouldn’t want it any other way. The Norco Factory Team has some great support from SRAM, Kenda, Jakaroo, Smith, HT, DT Swiss, RockShox, WTB, Cane Creek and Live to Play Sports as well. Big thanks to those sponsors for putting us on the best!

Snow Valley Resort came on board with Disera Racing mid-season. Their support is greatly appreciated and has been very helpful when it came to making this big trek down under. If you’re in the Barrie, ON area this winter, be sure to hit the slopes at Snow Valley.

The Canadian National Mountain Bike Team has always been an intricate part of athlete development and success. Thank you for all of their support and the amazing staff that come along with the program, in particular Tara Lazarski, probably the best damn physiotherapist you’ll ever get the pleasure of working with.

Disera Racing, a funny little name we started using to refer to the family, but it seems to be catching on. Whether this name applies to the athletes, the staff (parents) or both, it’s pretty safe to say that without the support at home we might not be where we are now. Mom goes to Costco 3-4 times a week when Quinton and I are both home and training hard. Dad registers us for races and helps with logistics/airport runs and so much more.

Nicola Wenn has been a huge part of my training especially while I’m at school. This Veterinarian-to-be also acts as a little bit of a good luck charm, a kick-ass photographer and blog editor, and I’m happy she was at Nationals in Canmore, AB this year.

There are heaps more people to mention but my fingers are getting sore and I’m not sure if people even read this far. Thank you to everyone for all the support throughout this season. It has been a great one looking back and I can’t wait to start looking forward to bigger and better things to come!

The Boys (-Raph) – Photo: Rob Jones – Canadian Cyclist