On Sunday, February 7, 2021, Cycling BC had its first high performance mountain bike training camp of the year on Vancouver Island.
Mount Tzouhalem near North Cowichan was once again the training ground for the camp. With its central location and the amazing variety of terrain, it proved to be an excellent venue for mountain bike athletes of all disciplines.
It was an all-female roster of athletes this time around as female riders from Victoria to the Comox Valley were in attendance for the camp. As High Performance athletes, the athletes fall within the high performance exemption under the current province-wide restrictions for sport.
The day began on the field at Maple Bay School with a review of the body position and the fundamental skills covered in the last training camp in December just before the holidays. In contrast to the last camp which was a long, challenging day with damp air, cold temps, and snow, this day was quite the opposite! With a chilly start, the mercury quickly rose to a balmy 9 degrees celsius by late morning – not bad for February.
Some cornering drills were followed by stoppies and nose pick turns. It was awesome to see that the athletes had been practising since the last camp and their skills were dialled.
After lunch, we climbed up the road and eventually to the trailhead where we were greeted with absolutely perfect dirt (hero dirt!). We are talking about the kind of dirt that you dream of. The dirt you see in videos. The dirt that people would travel from anywhere and everywhere to come and ride. Yes, that BC dirt!
After that long climb, we sessioned sections of Twist and Shout and Finality, working on the skills we had mastered on the field in the morning. The riders dialled in their cornering, leaning the bikes into the perfect dirt. They worked on looking ahead and entering slow and exiting fast. They gapped from root to root to avoid the chunder and ruts.
The smiles got bigger and the speed became faster as they really started to discover that being supple and strong through their full range of motion was the key on descents.
We headed over to Rocky Mountain Ridge and Danalyzer where the techy downs are blended with some steep punchy XC climbing.
Call it Enduro, call it XC, or just call it mountain biking, this zone of the mountain is spectacular as it follows the Tzouhalem ridgeline, dipping in and out through groves of arbutus and open rocky cliff sides. The views are a feast for the eyes, but you’d better focus on the trail here as there are a few tricky sections with some exposure. Not a place to let the eyes wander unless you are stopped for a break.
Then it was over to Bisecticon (or Bisection). This is likely one of the best cornering tracks around.
The dirt was like velcro. So tacky! We hollered and laughed our way through the beautiful berms all the way to the janky rock roll at the bottom. Everyone noticed all of the day’s skills coming together here on this run and it was very satisfying for all the athletes (and their coach!).
Now it was time for some pure fun…
With time for one more lap before the end of the 6-hour day, we headed up to a little gem of an unnamed trail. This loamer had it all! Berms, fade-away rollers that dropped to near-vert chutes, gaps, step downs, and trail gaps galore.
Dirt was flying everywhere as the six athletes and I railed this section. The trail was raw. The dirt was perfect. And the grins were huge as we ended the day buzzing from this final descent.
When we returned to the parking lot, we had a great discussion about the day, the things each athlete learned, and how they will implement those skills into their daily riding.
With a camp scheduled each month this year, our BC athletes will certainly be on top of their game when racing returns!
Submitted by MTB Provincial Coach Adam Walker
Cycling BC’s High Performance Programs provide opportunities for athletes to optimize their potential in sport through Cycling BC training camps, coaching, race projects, educational opportunities, grants, and enhanced services. Learn more about High Performance.