I won’t be the only person saying this, but I have to start out with Saturday’s Iron Lung XC course was THE BEST AND MOST FUN COURSE I’VE EVER RIDDEN!

The Canmore Nordic Centre always offers up incredible single-track riding, but the way this course was put together was nothing short of inspired. The 6km+ loop mixed in seriously hard climbs with twisty, fast single-track decents, including the Laundy Chutes, the ever famous and Devonian Drop, and new this year was the sketchy Eye Dropper (a short, super steep section of single track that finshed with about a 3 foot vert drop at the end) PLUS an amazing, perfectly bermed downhill pump-truck. It was a blast! And, this was just the first day of an epic two day double header XC mountian bike race weekend in beautiful Canmore, Alberta…

For an Edmonton prairie boy like myself, trips to race in the mountains are always something to look forward to. This past weekend was a big one, with both the Iron Lung XC on the Saturday, and then the Organ Grinder 5 Hour Enduro on the Sunday. I drove up with Mike and Liesje Sarnecki (Berkly & Bella) and stayed with the rest of the RVC team at Kirk’s, which was ideal. Lots of space, hot showers and comfy beds. What more can you ask for.

Saturday’s race had a massive field. I think right around 260 racers all together. Strangely though, the Novice Men’s category was the second smallest at around 27. I thought this was a bit weird because normally it’s one of the largest. After my disappointing finish at last weeks Tuesday night race, I had tried to get a little more rest, and to get a few more glasses of water into me each day in hopes of putting in a better performance, so once the race started, I was relieved to find my legs were good go. There was a lot of back in forth. I’d pass a few guys, and then get past by a few others, but all in all I felt great the entire race and was able to push the pace, for really the first time all season.  Final result was 12th, so not too, too shabby. I admit, I was really hoping to finally break into the top ten on this one, but no dice.

After the race that night, we were went to Magi Scallion’s place for some BBQ (thank you!). This was great because not only was there lots of food and ice cream, I got to sit and talk with some serious MTB cycling elite like Matt Hadley, Stefan Widmer, and Cathrine Vipond. It was cool just listing to them talk about riding and racing. All really great folks. I was just trying to soak it all in. It was a really good night and could have easily gone late, but we packed it in around 11pm to get some shut-eye because Sunday was still the Organ Grinder 5 Hour Enduro!

Once again, the weather was stellar – maybe even too hot. I know I got burned, nicely. The field was huge, and I always find it so interesting how it’s almost a completely different group of racers at the enduro race. Broadly speaking, it an older (as in older than me) crowd, and all tough as nails… The course was essentially the same as it was for the Iron Long, except they threw in a few extra km with the lower section, introducing the crazy ‘Ass-whipper’ decent and the evil Geargetown Trail climb to make the course 11.5km for good measure. For me this was a much more chill day. I rode hard, but enjoyed the time hangin’ around the camp. My partner Jason Redfern from Pedalhead shouldered the team well, clicking off around 45 min laps all day, and then with me turning down the chance to roll out another ‘hero lap’ (like in the Trans Stoney), Jason grabbed another water bottle and banged out another one, back to back. He’s a fit dude, what can I say, haha… Thanks, Jason.

Double headers in Canmore, you don’t have to ask me twice. I’m in!