Season Wrap and Training for 2017
In 2016, all eyes were on the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, and it had been my lifelong goal to make it there! It was a dream come true to race my first Olympics, with all the hard work and the highs and lows in getting there. I was disappointed with the end result, taking 40th on a day that I didn't feel at my best, but I was proud to race at the Olympics for Canada and to be part of such a successful team, with our MTB (mountain-bike) girls taking amazing third- and fourth-place finishes.
My 2016 season featured a second place in the US Cup overall as well as winning the USA Cycling Pro XCT Series. My best World Cup result was 12th place in Australia, which granted me my spot in Rio. It's been a great season and I'm thankful for all the support this year from my new team, Cannondale.
Now I'm hungry for much more in the future and I'm very motivated to work toward Tokyo in four years. I enjoyed an approximately two-month-long, well-deserved, needed recovery phase in the early fall, a lot longer than usual, in order to ensure I began the next season on solid footing. I still stayed active, riding very easy or enjoying some great hiking at a walking pace – something I'm not used to.
Then I slowly picked up training and started racing cyclocross, but this fall was much different. I raced only for fun because I genuinely love racing cyclocross and because I missed it. I didn't have the training and strength in my legs to back up such a high-intensity discipline, but I still enjoyed being out there and racing to sixth at Nationals as well as capturing the Provincial title. I had a fun fall, enjoying more MTB rides, as well as lots of gravel rides on my cyclocross bike, finding myself exploring the backcountry at home and a maze of fire-roads.
I will be traveling to three short training camps this winter, as I like to keep them short and productive. It's the time of the year for some time at home and, most of all, to enjoy my cross-country-skiing and fatbike training set-up. The first camp will be one week in Cuba beginning Dec. 10, complete with my girlfriend, base-mile focus and four-hours-a-day low-intensity training.
Then I'm off to Santa Monica in California on Dec. 27 with the Quebec Provincial team for two and a half weeks of road and MTB, base miles with lots of elevation, good training partners and friends and great times, plus keeping in touch with the younger up-and-coming athletes.
Mid-January, I'm back home for a good month and will usually be out cross-country skiing three days a week, then three days a week on the bike, either on my fatbike or on my rollers. Speaking about indoor bikes, my roller had 14 years on it, so it was time for a change. I'm upgrading to a more fluid and realistic roller this winter: I just ordered my E-Motion rollers from InsideRide. It's still a three-roller system, but it has forward and backward balance plus bumper features, so you can do easy rides as well as maximal sprints out of the saddle. I've tried it out a few times at indoor bike centres and loved it – it's pretty addictive. I've wanted one for the past couple of years and thought it was time to invest in my indoor-bike set-up. I've been using a Stages powermeter on my bikes for the past three years, so it allows me to use the rollers with precise training intensity.
For me, rollers are the best type of platform to improve your pedaling efficiency and velocity, something many cyclists, especially mountain bikers could work on a little more. On the other hand, when I'm on the fatbike, it's definitely similar to the MTB in terms of lower cadence, higher torque and technical skills work. My fatbike is set up like my MTB race bike – I even use a Lefty suspension. It's really easy to put in the hours on a fatbike. It's such fun and always challenging to pedal up the hills and maintain control on snowy, sometimes icy descents.
A warning about fatbikes though – because it's so much fun, it's easy to overdo it. You need to realize it's not designed for recovery or endurance rides. The bike is heavier, the conditions are slow and you'll always find yourself torque'ing. If you are a serious racer, you'll need to find a balance between the indoor bike for fitness/measured training and the fatbike for the fun, technical training.
I will likely race one weekend on the fat bike over the winter, around end of January, and may try to defend my Quebec Provincial champion title. The discipline is growing so much, lots of fatbike centres are opening up in my area and many festivals or races are on the schedule. Fat biking is pretty new to me, as I only took it up last January. Key things necessary to have fun on a fatbike are warm shoes and tires with very good traction, so this winter I'm upgrading to the Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR.
Last but not least, your hands will freeze if you don't have handlebar mittens, so wear thin summer gloves inside them to retain all the feel and control in the cockpit. It's my greatest upgrade –I've hooked up my Fat Caad to CE UNIK compak bar mittens and my hands are happy now.
My last camp will take me to Victoria, B.C. for two weeks with the Canadian National team at the end of February. It's great that we have the opportunity to train together as a team and to push ourselves. The end of this camp will feature the start of the 2017 racing season, with the first Canada Cup in Bear Mountain, B.C. on March 6. Happy winter.
Find a balance between indoor training and activities such as fatbiking which remains popular with more races and festivals each year.