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Back to Where it Started

Summer has been anti-climatic in the bike race department - my last race was my podium at the 8 hour race in Golden in June, and ever since then, it's been a string of no racing, although not for lack of trying.

  • Rundle's Revenge in Canmore was cancelled due to torrential rain.

  • The Edmonton Alberta Cup XCO race in July was cancelled part-way through due to torrential rain (although I was living it up at the Valemount Bike Park at the time anyways with no plans to race that one).

  • Fernie Border Battle Race Weekend on August long-weekend cancelled due to low registration.

So with so little going on for bike racing, and with Coleman still MIA as far as the AB cycling scene goes, I thought it was time for a little bit of an update for the sake of a summer update on BikeRide.ca

In July, I took off on a last-minute, impromptu camping trip with my Dad and Brother to Canmore to do some mountain biking. This wasn't going the usual intervals-galore training camp or epic, all-day ride for the views. Instead it was a nostalgic dip back into the roots of what got me into this sport years and years ago. And it got me to reminiscing.

See, back when I was 12, it was my Dad and Canmore that got the wheels spinning in my head about trying out this crazy mountain-biking thing. Myself, my mother, and my very young brother went down to watch and cheer on my Dad, who was racing on a 5 person team at the sadly now-defunct 24 Hours of Adrenalin.

It was funny how fast I fell in love with the sport. The atmosphere at the 24 Hours sucked me in, and I already knew it was something I wanted to do. I didn't know at the time, but going to that race was going to make a big trajectory change in my life.

My first mountain bike race came the next year - the Down n' Dirty Alberta Cup MTB race, hosted in Terwillegar, Edmonton. In the days before the race it rained. And rained. And rained. And rained some more. Which meant it was a mudbowl. For those who know Edmonton soil conditions, a muddy race here is not like a muddy race elsewhere - the mud is a thick peanut-butter consistency, and I'm pretty confident I ran/walked over half the race.

Coming into the finish line at my first mountain bike race in 2005.

But I was hooked. The next year, I raced the entire Alberta Cup circuit around the Province. And that same year, as a 14 year old, I raced my first 24 Hours of Adrenalin on a 5 person team. The night laps were terrifying, but adrenalin got me through (the name makes sense now, doesn't it? #cheesyjoke)

As I worked my way through high-school, I continued racing the Alberta Cup series, even enjoying some marginal success in the form of a few Provincial Medals (caveat for these medals is that I generally only got them when the start lists for my age category were relatively short...)

At some point, even though all I had been racing were events under 2 hours, I got it in my head that I wanted to race the 24 Hours of Adrenalin as a Solo racer. Don't ask me why, I still can't explain why, but it was a goal I set for myself while in High School. After trying to register, I learned that to race solo, you had to be 18 years old. So my goal became to race the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Solo the year I turned 18.

It was a lofty goal - I'd never raced longer than 2 hours - so I made up for that lack of experience by adding a few endurance races (5-8 hours) into my schedule leading up to the 24 Hours of Adrenalin. Spoiler alert, that first attempt at a 24 Solo race ended in tears around hour 15, but I learned lots and was registered for the next year's event the day after!

That next year, I was lucky enough to get hooked up with Slime Tire Sealants for some support at races, and with that support, I found myself in Fernie for the Furious 3, my first 3 day stage race. It was a month before the 24 Hours of Adrenalin, so I thought it would be perfect training for my 2nd attempt at racing a 24 Solo.

And it was, up until the final 10 km of the third and final stage. Tragedy struck in the form of a crash and a broken collarbone. I stubbornly finished the race, riding to the finish line in denial that it was broken, but it was not to be. No 24 solo for me that year. On a sidenote, when searching for a place to go for physio on my collarbone, I discovered River Valley Health. Little did I know how much those connections would blossom into some amazing support in the future!

Finally, 2 years after my first crack at a 24 Solo, I raced AND finished it. Which I thought would bring the ultra-endurance chapter of my bike racing to a close. I got sucked into the world of Cyclocross racing, and spent some time in BC for schooling in Sports Tourism and Cycling Tourism. Endurance mountain biking always remained, even if my focus was on CX, and I raced some great events in BC, as well as one of my favorite 3 day stage races in Moab.

I didn't think I would ever find myself tackling any crazy endurance races again. 3 day races seemed reasonable, and 24 Hour Solo races seemed too miserable. Little did I know I'd win an entry into the Cape Epic in 2015. 8 days and 700+ km of mountain bike racing later, I thought the perfect use of that early-season fitness would be another crack at racing a 24 Solo in Canmore. Fully back into the realm of ultra-endurance, the next year myself and teammate, Coleman, entered 2-person teams into the 24 Hour of Light in Whitehorse and the 24 Hours of Adrenalin in Canmore. (2 person team felt harder than racing Solo if I'm being honest)

One more crack at the Cape Epic in 2017 ended in illness, which brings us to now. With such huge events in the rearview, every else seems a little anti-climatic, but myself and Coleman are working on a few angles for some cool events in 2019.

For now, I'll be at the 2018 Alberta XCM Provincial Championships in Bragg Creek at the beginning of September, and then it's all cyclocross for the fall!

Thanks for reading this little trip down memory lane!

#StageRacing #24HourBikeRacing