Words by Evan McNeely.
I am not very good at golf, and it took me until this weekend to realize that. It’s a good thing Horseshoe Resort was hosting the 2nd
round of the Canada Cup series this weekend because hitting a ball with a stick into a hole isn’t going to work out for me. Horseshoe Valley is a beautifully scenic area of Ontario located just east of Barrie and home to Horseshoe Resort ski hill and golf course. This is the first time that Horseshoe has hosted a Canada Cup, in my time as a mountain bike racer, and the course was a perfect mix of every element of mountain biking. Lots of fun to race on.
This weekend was a huge success for our Norco XC team. Team riders Peter Disera and Haley Smith won both elite men’s and women’s categories as well as taking the overall series lead. You could say it was a breakthrough weekend for these riders and our team. I don’t think it was special though, because everybody raced exactly the way I knew they were capable of. The real break-throughs will start happening soon.
I can certainly say that the Norco bikes currently in Race Development Testing had a major influence on the success of the team this weekend. Some Kenda prototype tires on Stans Notubes rims also helped accelerate Peter to his first elite Canada Cup win.
We’ll start things off with the women’s race. Haley put in a gutsy race, overcoming a tough result at a World Cup in Germany the weekend before. This was Haley first ever elite Canada Cup win, a big victory for an “Under 23” rider. Haley’s race in her own words:
"Coming off of both my best race ever (World Cup #1 in Nove Mesto) and my worst race ever (World Cup #2 in Albstadt), I was unsure of what to expect for this race. After spending the week finding some mental recovery, I felt ready to race my bike come Sunday. The first two laps were a bit of a struggle, but I managed to stay with the leaders for the first half. 45 minutes into the race, I realized that if I’d hung that long, I could hang until the end. On the final pitch of the final climb of the last lap, I gave it everything I had and managed to open a gap between myself and Fudge that would stick through the descent and across the line. I managed to pull of my first Elite Canada Cup win and couldn’t be happier!"
The men’s race saw Peter Disera, who lives 200m from the start line, take charge in the first half of the race and carry it on to the end. Peters race in his own words:
“What a wonderful event! Well done by Superfly Racing and Horseshoe Resort. The course was superb and incorporated some of my favourite local trails. The race reminded me of when I was a junior - riding away but still feeling the heat of the competitors behind me. After a lap and a half Alex Vialle and I tagged onto the carrot out front (aka Evan Guthrie). Once we were an established group I let Evan take the lead until he told me to go. Go and don’t look back. I did. I put a solid dig in on the road climb to establish a gap. From there my lead grew with minimal hindrance from lapped traffic. Finishing the race with a lead of almost 2 minutes, winning my first elite Canada Cup as an U23 and taking the Canada Cup Leaders Jersey was a great feeling. On top of that my brother topped out the podium in the junior mens category taking the jersey as well.”
I was able to land on the podium as well, in 5th
place. I am quite pleased with this, considering I got crashed 2oo meters into the race and had to play catch up from last place. The crash probably looked like human dominoes. One person hit another person, that person hit another person, that person hit me, and I hit the ground. It is frustrating to think that I probably had the legs to compete for a higher position on the podium. But given the circumstance, I can’t complain.
Evan Guthrie took the whole shot in the men’s race and took and maintained that to take an early lead. Guthries race in his own words:
“It was a fantastic week at Horseshoe Valley spent riding, cooking good food, and doing a little bit of filming with the crew. On a personal side I was little weary after having a couple tough weekends racing at the first World Cups in Europe. The goal is to always be on the podium and of course win. I had the fire burning the day before and morning of, which led to my first good start of the season. After 1.5 laps Pete caught me and I did my best to shake 'n bake with him until he stretch the elastic and sling-shotted into the lead and never looked back. I slowly drifted back to 6th and chased other Evan, in fifth, the final lap.”
Andrew L’Esperance started to find his grove near the end of the race and improved upon his result from the 1st
Canada Cup in Tremblant, finishing 11th
. Andrew still has great hair and recently shampooed. Andrews race in his own words:
“First off, congrats to all my teammates on some breakthrough races. Peter played hometown hero, and rode away for the win. Haley persevered and got her first Canada Cup win. McNeely had a tumble in the start loop and raced back to 5th! In my race, I did some things well, and I intend to build from this race to be more involved at the sharp end for the next one. For me, it’s about racing to my potential and enjoying myself on the way there. Onwards.”
Andrew Watson put in an awesome start of the race before swallowing a bug having to pull over (I’m loose on these details, it was possibly a bug, probably very poisonous, might have been a snake). Nonetheless, Andrew showed some good form that can be built on next weekend at Hardwood Hills.
“I always thought I was lucky to have a Canada Cup nearby at Hardwood, but now with Horseshoe I can almost throw a football to the venue. My first 1.5 laps were awesome yesterday and I was even happier to be able to help some teammates get into position before I had to address some issues on the side of the trail. I think yesterday was a culmination of sorts of the past several years of team building that the Norco family have put into this program. Seeing Haley and Peter both take wins and take over the leaders jerseys was amazing. Can't wait to see them wearing those jerseys at Hardwood next weekend.”
The team is now sticking around the Horseshoe Valley area for the 3rd
round of the Canada Cup series at Hardwood Ski and Bike next weekend. Peter and Haley will be flashing their new series leader’s jerseys in front of the crowds.
CTV Barrie did a feature on the race. Check it out here.
For full results, click here