Horseshoe and Hardwood: the hosts of Canada Cup rounds 2 and 3. Located a blistering 500m from my house, Horseshoe Valley and Horseshoe Resort would be the stomping grounds. The course designed to be like any good Ontario course with mass amounts of flow, tacky dirt and tight trees. The valley would pose a great threat to rider’s legs as we ascended it 6 times. The very rewarding downhill to follow featured some great jumps, berms and rocks. This ladies and gentlemen, was going to be a good race.
The week started off like most: tired, jet lagged from returning from Europe and kicking teammate Evan McNeely’s butt wrestling. My legs started to come around two days before the race. With some of the major competition missing this could be my time to shine I thought. And shine, mainly because I was covered in sweat, I did.
The race was awesome. I had a good start, avoiding a rambunctious Guatemalan (i.e the pinball), and settling in to 4th. From there I let the 3-Roxx boys set pace as Norco Factory Team rider Evan Guthrie was well established on his solo flyer. Upon catching Guthrie I launched an attack and got separation on the main climb. From this point on it became a very lonely race.
I established a gap and kept the pressure on to ensure I would get out of sight and therefore out of mind. I didn’t let up and my gap continued to grow. Now all I needed to do was ride safe and don’t do anything stupid. Nearing the end there was a small miscommunication as my mother told me I was on my last lap – although I was positive I had one more. This was quickly cleared up, and I was all set to light it up for one more lap. Cruising to victory with a gap of almost two minutes felt really good. I couldn’t have been more pleased to win on home soil. I was unbelievably happy with my bike choice for the day: 650B Norco Race Development (prototype) cushy in the rear – can’t say more but y’all know what I mean. Best bike for the day for sure!
Moving on to Hardwood was like walking out from underneath a tent during a torrential downpour – hint: it rained. But just like the differences in weather there were differences in the course too. Hardwood is punchier. Horseshoe has some snappers but a sustained section too. Hardwood the recovery is very limited. Horseshoe has a wicked downhill. Hardwood has many small, man made features. Horseshoe has more natural feeling features. I was not aware of the contrast between the courses until last week. It was interesting, for living so close to both you would have assumed I’d know they would be different courses, different feel, but I just hopped on my bike expecting the same thing.
Riding my hard-tail revolver this weekend was the best decision for me however some athletes felt that a full suspension was the way to go. The race was medium, I wouldn’t say I had it fully together in the mud but my legs seems to fire not too badly. I’m not going to dive into too many details but I found myself off the start chasing hard. I couldn’t close the gap to the 3Roxx leaders and settled into 4th after a Columbian scouting out the Pan Am course passed me. I was pleased with my race but I lost the leaders jersey. Kind of distressed about this I knew my focus would shift to Baie-Saint-Paul as that would be my next chance to seize that jersey.