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High Performance MTB Camp Recap – Vancouver Island, March 23-27

Cycling BC’s High Performance MTB Athletes on Vancouver Island spent the last days of Spring Break with Coach Adam Walker working on their skills, endurance, and having fun on some of the best trails in BC.

Part 1 – Cumberland – March 23-25

The week began in Cumberland, BC, where a talented crop of young female riders are honing their skills on one of the best trail networks in the province. However, on Day 1, we headed to the grass fields to work on body position, braking, stoppies, and cornering. With easy access to a pump track and some jumps, the Cumberland Village Park is a great place to practice skills before heading out to the trails to practice in the real world.

Day 2 was structured much like the first day with skills practice on the grass then more trail time to follow. We worked on front wheel lifts, rear wheel lifts, bunny hops and manuals. When we took these skills to the trails, the athletes immediately noticed the benefits of the time spent on the field. Getting up and over obstacles and weighting the bike to gap sections of trail became easier for everyone after the bunny-hop long-jump competition.

Day 3 started with more cornering practice on the menu but this time we made things a bit more interesting. The cone drills kept changing to make the corners more challenging…some sand, some loose gravel, some mud, grass, and dirt…all at different angles and speeds. The riders had a blast and learned a ton as they experimented with line choice and entry and exit speeds.

Part 2 – South Island – March 26-27

The South Island portion of the camp began at Bear Mountain Bike Park. Cornering was further refined by doing laps on a challenging section of flow track that was designed by the late Jordie Lunn for dirt jumpers rather than XC or Enduro bikes. The girls kept improving lap after lap.

Later in the session, we hit some other sections of flow trail to help them improve their pressure control, manuals and trail gaps. Some pump track pursuit races rounded out the session.

Saturday was a big endurance day with a double mountain assault over Maple Mountain and Mount Tzouhalem – almost 45 km in length with 1600m of climbing and some hair-raising descents – this ride was serious business.

Beginning with a 30-minute pedal to the base of Maple Mountain, we felt fortunate to be under sunny skies and warm temperatures. The dirt was perfect as we wound our way up. It’s a solid hour of climbing to the top, but even on the fifth day of camp, the team was rock solid.

After a 700m climb, we were rewarded with an incredible descent. Beginning with Maple Syrup trail, we turned left down Chicken Monkey, which runs all the way to sea level in Maple Bay. The trail has a bit of everything, from fast-flowing sections to rock rolls, drops, steep chutes, and jumps. We snaked through all types of cedar, fir, maple, and arbutus forest as we twisted, dropped and jumped our way down.

Grins were big and brake rotors were hot as we reached the bottom. Every rider was buzzing from the top-to-bottom descent.

Now it was time to climb some more. With another solid hour of climbing from sea level to the summit, we rode through Maple Bay, into the trails, and up ‘A Grand Traverse’, Mt. Tzouhalem’s well-known climbing route.

After working our way to the top, we maximized our time by doing a few laps of Tzouhalem’s finest trails on the way down. At this point, we had been out for almost five hours, so it was time to head home. A nice spin down the road was a great way to finish the day.

The final day was shortened due to inclement weather and fried legs, but we still managed a solid day. We really saw the results of the skills we had practised over the week. The cornering, trail gaps, drops, and manuals looked awesome as we sessioned Double D, Showtime, and Bisecticon. Riders were starting to show signs of significant fatigue as the weather began to turn less favourable. The wind picked up and the sky darkened. With all of this considered, we were convinced it was time to call it a day.

Just as we finished, it began to pour, the wind started to snap branches off trees, and we were all happy to be out of the woods.

It was a great camp by all accounts and the athletes showed significant improvements in all areas of technical skills, with cornering at the forefront.

Submitted by Coach Adam Walker