“I apologize in advance for having no riding pics, I am not a photog and there will be oodles of shots flooding the web as there are a ton of real photogs out here”
As some or none of you may know, I have been coaching a lot of DH racers over the years. As of last year I decided to crank it up a notch and see if I could make a lasting impact on the careers of up and coming DH racers. Things have been going very well and the C4 athletes have done me proud more times than I can count.
Team BC, has been working for years to reach this same goal, and even though Cycling BC had been trying to develop a program to coach/support up and coming DH racers it really ramped up when Shaums March of Mad March Racing got involved. It has continued after he moved on and is now headed up by long time Whistler ripper and all around good guy Chad Hendren. As well as Chad there have been a couple of other coaches namely Dave Hord, and Mark Bunyan. I have always wanted to help. After a successful trip with team BC athlete Tyler Allison this spring to Bootleg Canyon, it seemed my window of opportunity might be opening up with Team BC. The chance to work with athletes beyond my existing crew of C4 Team riders and clients was exciting for me as I am always seeking new material and love scraping the brains of fast racers.
Needless to say I was pretty pumped to hear that Richard Wooles, Cycling BC bigwig and serious supporter of DH racing in Canada was seeking me out for reasons unknown. After a long awaited phone call from Rich it seemed that Cycling BC was interested in sending me to the World Cups in Fort William Scotland, and Leogang Austria to assist the Canadian Elites.
Being a long timer in the Canadian DH scene, I have to be honest and say that there was a time when I never thought that the powers that be would be this serious about assisting our athletes in achieving their dreams of World Cup hardware. Its been a couple good years in the DH scene for the Canucks with the likes of riders like Miranda Miller winning the US Open in 2009, Lauren Rosser bagging the 2010 World Junior Title, and some guy named Steve Smith absolutely crushing the World Cups for the last couple seasons. The Canadians now had more talent than ever, and a group of dedicated parents, and volunteers helping to keep them moving up the ranks.
So long story short, I was off to Europe with the support of Cycling BC, and the hard work of Tamsin Miller backing me up. This is history folks. I am proud to be a part of it after all these years, and I thank all those that helped me get here. As happy and proud as I am, I am seriously missing my friend and inspiration Nick Geddes on this trip as he is about to undergo and bone marrow transplant due to his recently discovered cancer. He will be here next year and I hope that I will be too.
The riders all managed to meet up at the airport in Glasgow, and everyone was tired but in good spirits. The riders I was here to assist were, Miranda Miller of Squamish, Drew Mitchell of Victoria, Remi Gauvin of Nanoose Bay, Dean Tennant also from Vic, and Micayla Gatto of West Vancouver. This is a serious van load of Canadian DH talent and I was pretty excited to spend the next 2 weeks picking their brains, and hopefully give them stuff from mine in exchange.
Upon arrival we picked up our rental car and van that Cycling BC generously provided for us, and after 30 hours of no sleep attempted to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road. The road to Fort Bill was a mirror scraper and slow and windy. Needless to say when we made it I was stoked and exhausted. After a recovery and bike build day, we headed up the track Weds am to have a look.
The weather was bucknasty and when the crew posse’d up to hit the track it was cold and dank, everything you would expect from the legendary Fort Bill. We walked up about 75% and the wind was blowing so hard I thought I was gonna see sheep flying by.
Fortunately Thursday brought the sun and we headed up for our first official track walk. This time from the top down as we had lift passes this round. As expected she is a long and tricky track with few places to make time up, and a zillion places to lose it. Loose gravel and nasty rocks at mach speed is the order of the day on this track. The upper section is a long exposed bit where every turn looks like the next one and the last one. There is a definite advantage for those that have raced here for the last 10 years that’s for sure. Memorization and clean riding is the key up top, and boyo its rough. After a solid couple minutes you blast into some slippery ass woods sections and a sweet new road gap that takes you through to the very fast and fun looking bottom section. The riders put in their work and we all headed to the World Premier of 3 Minute Gaps by Clay Porter. The movie was a great way to lose the World Cup jitters and get straight up stoked to go really really fast in Fridays practice session. If you wanna know hw good the movie was, as an indication the Ontario kid to my right was literally vibrating, and the generally reserved Dean Tennant wanted to listen to Rob Zombies “Dragula” in the am Friday( used in Sam Who’s section), while he put on his compression socks.
The riders all looked great in practice and it was time to head home and prepare for Saturday. This is a big day for new racers, as the quali run will determine whether they came to Europe to watch a World Cup or race in it. I am proud of them all so far. There are 185 men trying for the top 80 tmrw and it will not be an easy task to complete. They all have what it takes but will the inexperience of limited WC experience get the best of them………
See you in Part 2.