Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ryan Leech

Upon arriving in Squamish on Wednesday night, I was exhausted from my marathon of driving. I drove straight to Vancouver from Edmonton with only a couple of stops for fuel and food. I was so eager to get to the coast and to Crankworx that there wasn’t anything that was going to stop me or get in my way. When I got to the outskirts of Abbortsford, British Columbia, it was rush hour, and traffic was at a standstill. It was bumper to bumper and 32 Celsius outside. It was then that I opted to drive into Abbortsford and then zigzag my way to Vancouver to avoid the heavy traffic. This plan had worked, and I went through places that I had never been to, or seen before in Vancouver. When I arrived at North Vancouver I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The people have a different aura about them than around here. It is hard to explain, but there is something about it.

With all of the construction in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics, it made it a very slow drive from Vancouver to Squamish. Why am I complaining? The view to the west is so beautiful, who can complain? Once I had arrived in Squamish, I found my accommodations and checked in. It was a room with two double bunk beds, (shared accommodation). Beggars can’t be choosers, plus I was breaking the bank going to Crankworx to chase my dream of becoming an established sports photographer (you only live once).

Thursday I had climbed off the top bunk bed to find it raining, and apparently it had been raining all night in Squamish, and in Whistler area where Crankworx was being held. North of Whislter is Pemberton (about 50km), and it was dry. Rocky did their big release of the ‘Flatline Worldcup’ there, and they did their big media ride there as well.

If any of you haven’t been to the Squamish and Whistler area, I suggest you go. It is so beautiful, and you won’t want to come home once you have been there. Being there was spiritual to me, not sure how to explain, but it makes a person feel alive. Even with all the rain that the coast has, it can make a person feel complete.

Once I arrived in Whistler and found parking I couldn’t even see the hill or half of the town because the clouds were so low. I was trying to find the Westin hotel to get my media pass and got lost a few times. I had no idea where I was going, but I found it, and got the pass without a hitch. When leaving the Westin, I came across the Rocky Mountain bike tent which became my home base for the week. Peter Vallance and Andreas Hestler are two of the nicest people a person can meet.

Right behind the Rocky tent is a coffee shop, but for the life of me I can’t remember it's name. I had gone in to get something to eat and drink. I sat down and looked to see who was at the table next to me, and found it was Ryan Leech, the famous trials rider. One of my goals was to get some pictures of him, and to do an interview, I heard that he is a super nice guy. These events are what lead up to me meeting him, and down below is his interview. I recorded it with a sound recorder and then tediously put it to paper later when I had gotten home a week later. When I heard myself, I realized that I can talk pretty fast at times.

Hi Ryan, would you like to do an interview?

Ryan: Sure, I would be glad to. It is getting kind of cold in here.

I think they turned the AC on.

Ryan: Yeah, I thought so to, but oh well. So where are you from?

I am from Edmonton, Alberta.

Ryan: From Edmonton EH?

Where are you from?

Ryan: I am just living in Port Moody, on the south side of the city here (Vancouver). Are you staying for the whole duration of Crankworx?

I am here until Sunday.

Ryan: Yeah, I am staying right until Sunday as well.

I am staying in Squamish, and I have a friend that is a radio DJ and she had worked as a DJ in Squamish. She had said that there are lots of people hiding from the authorities in the Squamish area. What got you into trials?

Ryan: Just fun got me into it.

How old were you when you started?

Ryan: I was about 13 years old, and I am 30 now. Mountain bikes, of course, were what got me started and racing and what not that I got into first and then I discovered the trials bike. But you know it is all about fun.

Yeah it is, if you don’t have fun riding a bike, then why does a person do it?

Ryan: Yeah exactly, you got it.

Have you ever done any XC racing, or anything like that before?

Ryan: Yeah, I did a little racing XC and a little downhill racing but fell in love with trials.

Did you have any mentors when you were young?

Ryan: Lots yeah! In the biking world, Simone Ponzri was always an early influence and I continued to look up to his methods for prolonging his career and how he managed to transform his way of influencing the mountain bike world, and spreading the good word about bikes. It is my hope as my career develops to continue coming up with new ways to get as many people riding bikes as possible.

Recently, I gave your video to my girlfriend and she has started to practice trials on her mountain bike. She had said that she can’t bunny hop, or hop curbs and wondered how I did that kind of riding. She is 37 and learning to do trials on bike.

Ryan: Right on! That is perfect and it doesn’t matter how old you are, or what age you are at. Bikes are an excellent form of exercise.

What mentors do you have outside the mountain bike world?

Ryan: Well, the one person I really admire is Ken Logarf with the work he has done on integral thinking, and it is more of a philosophical kind of thing. His work is really powerful and I learned lots about the physics of a bike.

What do you like about bicycles so much and inspires you about them?

Ryan: Anytime I see anyone doing something creative, something new and pushing the boundaries; not just physically, but in every aspect of life and doing things in new ways, experimenting and taking risks, again not just physically on mountain bike, but in every way it is inspiring to see that.

How much air pressure you put in your tires on your trials bike?

Ryan: 35 to 40 psi, and I use tube tires.

Have you ever used tubeless tires for trials?

Ryan: I actually haven’t given it an honest try. I have been skeptical and there are too many weird twisting strains and torques, and would make it too easy for the bead to come off of the rim.

What was your first bicycle?

Ryan: Umm, it was actually a Norco which is ironic, and it was a mountain bike.

What would you like to achieve when you are finished trials? Do you want to do trials for the rest of your life?

Ryan: So many other things, yeah definitely it is hard to pin point just one thing because I have so many interests and there are so many things I would like to contribute. Cycling will be an important factor and it will be a vehicle for all of the things that I would like to do. Not necessarily trials, but just riding bikes in general.

Kind of like Andreas Hestler and how he now works for Rocky Mountain bikes?

Ryan: Who knows? We will see, and there are lots of ideas.

How many events do you do in a year on average?

Ryan: Usually I am up to a 200 or so trials shows in a year mixed in with all of the other stuff that goes along with it. It keeps me pretty busy.

How far have you traveled?

Ryan: All over the world I guess! I try to keep things closer to home though, in the Pacific NW for the majority of my shows. But if something good comes up and I can make good use of my time when I am over seas, then I will make a trip like that.

Who is your favorite downhiller?

Ryan: Umm, oh boy! Since I got his pin here it would have to be Peaty (Steve Peat).

He is a good guy hey?

Ryan: Yes! Good times, and he keeps it fun which is what I like to see. It is easy to take these things too seriously. Although he does take it very seriously, it’s not over the top, it is still light hearted. It is still about fun, but it just can’t be all about goofing around having fun, and you you can’t be all about being too serious. You gotta have both, but it has to be balanced, and then it is a winning combination. For Peaty, he has a very successful combination, and it works. For all those young racers out there, remember to keep it fun and don’t stress yourself out about every race and getting the best spot. Just have some nice clean fun and that will pay off in the long run.

How many times have you broken limbs?

Ryan: For me none, but I have blown my knee and that is about the worst of it.

Who is your favorite XC mountain bike racer?

Ryan: For me I remember Juli Furtado, I had pictures of her on my wall and she was an early XC racer. I also remember John Tomac back in the day. They were the early influences. I don’t follow it too closely anymore, but it is so incredible, the level the athletes are at today. The competition is fierce these days. People are obviously having to push it a little bit further each year.

What is your pre-trials meal?

Ryan: Nothing too special, and I just try to eat healthy and balanced. Just good wholesome food, and nothing too heavy.

How many hours a week do you train?

Ryan: Again, it is nothing too specific, and I am not too scientific about it. I just ride when I feel like riding, and I do cross training. The cross training I do is yoga. It has really helped me with the power and flow style I have in trials. It is going to prolong my riding career and keep my body feeling good.

What was the happiest day of your life?

Ryan: Oh! I don’t think I can pick one, I have lots of things to reminisce on. It is day by day, as well though, at the same time.

How many bikes do you own?

Ryan: I always keep two trials bikes that are identical. I have an old mountain bike that does everything that I need for my trail riding, and I have a commuter flat bar road bike that I do my errands on.

Does your better half ride?

Ryan: She does absolutely! We mountain bike together, we do trials together.

Do you have children yet?

Ryan: No, just two nephews. One of them has a perfect bunny hop. It is pretty cool, and he is six years old. He was going over my highjump bar which is a good ten inches I would say. Yep, it is pretty RAD.

For young riders what other advice do you have for them?

Ryan: Racing mountain bikes for so long, and when we would ride downhill there were no shuttles or chairlifts, and big bikes that have a big gear. We rode uphill to get our downhill. Riding single track uphill is actually really an enjoyable part of the sport, and it is actually really challenging. Also, be creative in your riding and mix it up in a way that is fulfilling to you; makes you pumped. Don’t just do what your friends are doing. You are the next generation, so progress and push the sport in any direction you want. Get creative and come up with some new ways of riding and keep it safe. I have a show coming up so I should probably get cruising.

I will come later and take some pictures.

Ryan: Thanks for the chat Patrick, nice interview.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stefan Widmer

Since doing this interview Stefan and teammate Marty Lazarski won the open mens category of the TransRockies stage race. They won every day of the 7 in the event. Good job you two!

Hello Stefan, and thanks for doing this interview. Could you please tell me a little about yourself? What team do you race for, where do you live etc?

I am a 25 year old male with dual Swiss and Canadian citizenship. I am in possession of some killer flowing natty dreadlocks that have given my pea sized head some great volume for the past 8 years. I believe it was this ‘hair do’ that contributed to my nicknames of Salty Head or Salt Lick. For the past few years, I have been working hard on riding my push pedal bicycle faster and better then everyone else over rocks and roots and up and down hills. Currently I ride for the Rocky Mountain Factory Team, and have a choice of two weapons, either my new killer light carbon Vertex Team hardtail, or the time proven full suspension scandium Element Team bike.

I grew up on the West side of Vancouver and have for the past few winters moved down in Tucson, Arizona where I get my winter miles in under the scorching desert sun, while always thinking of the short dark rainy days that I’m missing back home...

1. How did you get started in mountain biking?

Started mountain biking on the north shore where I built up my West Coast technical prowess that all else envy; hucking big, riding skinny’s, pinning berms... Dude, Man, it was knarly!

Then, I got into the dex and started racing in the highschool series. Jamie Douglas was the s#*t and I wanted to be fast like him. My bike got progressively lighter and my tires progressively thinner.

Stefan at the Canmore Canada Cup

2. Do you remember the first time you were able to ride with no one holding onto the bike behind you, or without training wheels?

Yep, on my front boulevard on a pink hand me-down-banana seat cruiser from my sisters. It was a sweet ride and I was already riding like a champ!

3. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Probably still in school, seems to be a bit of an endless journey… Also hopefully still riding for fun.

4. Why did you choose mountain biking?

It combines raw fitness as well as technical skill. You can’t get away with only one or the other. I also like the fact that the strongest man on the day wins. It’s not a scam like road-racing where you can hide your weaknesses and some random guy can win. If you’re having a bad day in the dirt, there is no hiding it, you are completely exposed.

5. What does it take to become an Elite mountain biker?

I think we all share some similar traits with degenerate gamblers. We seem to be missing the ‘sensible’ side of our noggin that tells us to quite when we’re ahead. We all seem to be willing to go into debt to try and fulfill our goals.

No but really, it’s a complete lifestyle, from what you do when you’re on the bike to what you do when you’re off the bike, to what you put in your body and how you strengthen your mind. Really, a complete 24 h/day, 7 days/week job that embodies physical, mental and environmental challenges.

6. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?

Dead or Alive: It would have to be Bob Marley and/or Ernesto Guevara. They are both people that strongly believed in their values and went about to spread their message and walk their talk.

7. What is your favourite color of socks to wear?

Can’t say I have one… I have some cool Sombrio socks with the rasta stripes on the cuff that I like but then again, I am told that white, tall socks are more ‘euro’ and for some reason, North-American cyclists seem to have this hard-on with being as ‘euro’ as possible.

At the finish of the Edmonton Canada Cup

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

I’m a big hockey fan. Love watching the Canucks but never played the game myself. I hope to change that this year.

I’m a big fan of good music. Spend a ton of time discovering new groups…

I love to cook, and I pretty much like anything of high quality when it comes to food and beverages. For instance I really like my quality coffee, quality beers, quality cheeses, chocolate… I could go on for a while…

Also, I got my motorcycle license last year and want to get a dual sport bike to play around with this winter.

9. What is your prerace meal?

4 pieces of Bagel/bread with creamcheese, cheese, ketchup, and an egg on 3 of them, and only egg white on the 4th. That is eaten and finished with 3 hours to go to the start. Nothing after that until I have a gel on the start line.

10. Are you a cat person, or dog person?

Dog for sure. Cats are useless, annoying, and I’m allergic to them.

11. What is currently on your favourite playlist on your ipod?

I’m listening to a lot of Canadian indie rock/pop music like Metric or Shout Out Out Out Out, but I’m also getting into the DJ sets with the likes of MSTRKRFT and Girl Talk.

12. Do you use Mac, or PC?

Mac all the way. People who are still stuck on PC’s haven’t seen the light and need to get with the time. And people who actually say that PC’s are still better, are in serious denial.

13. What is a typical week day for Stefan?

In the fall, it’s full on school and work but when it comes to the training/racing season, the days seem to fill up awfully quickly, while many may think that I really don’t do all too much…

So, my days start with a leisure morning. Rushed mornings are a no-go for me. I would rather get less sleep but have time for my large fruit bowl and a cup or three of quality espresso coffee. After I’ve checked my email no less then a dozen times, surfed my favorite websites and feel adequately informed on the latest news in the cycling and hockey world, it’s ride time. After training, I usually make a smoothy, have a nap, then it’s time to strap on the feed bag again for dinner; meat, veggies and a huge salad. Movie/TV while stretching is usually in order for the evening.

Pretty much the bottom line is that when I’m not on my bike, the majority of the remaining time is spent either preparing, eating or thinking about my next meal. Food is King.

14. How many hours a week do your ride?

Anywhere from 10-29 hours. Longer in the winter and as racing/intensity or fatigue sets in, it drops down.

15. You have done stage races in the past, could you tell us about them, and how you placed?

Yep, have done Trans-Rockies twice. Both times one of the hardest races I’ve done and both times swore that I would never do it again! Alas, I always seem to go back for more…

For the first time in 2006 with Matt Green, where I got my spot by replacing his injured partner with a week’s notice. We finished 4th that year. Then for the second time last year with Marty Lazarski where we finished 3rd. I was quite pleased with that 3rd place finish considering it was widely considered to be not only the hardest route they have ever done but also by far the deepest field racing it.

I am currently answering these questions on my laptop in the back of the Rocky Mountain Truck as we’re trailing a big 26 foot 5th wheel up to the start of my 3rd attempt at the race. I am racing it again with Marty and will once again go for the elusive top step that has escaped me.

Edmonton Canada Cup

16. What is your favourite trail to ride?

It’s gotta be anything on Hornby Island but if I was forced to chose one of the trails, it would be ‘The Way’ into the new cut of ‘Spasm Chasm’. A big shout out to the Hornby Island trail crew who keep those trails in mint condition year round!

17. What is the scariest thing you have ever done?

I can’t think of anything at the moment… my mom would probably know better from the sketchy stories of my trips that she hears…

18. Do you prefer carbon or aluminum?

Carbon’s sweet as long as you can keep the rubber side down.

19. What is your favourite tire to use, and tube or tubeless?

Favorite all around tire would be the MAXXIS Crossmark. Some sweet Swiss crosses down the center ridge, pretty much a formula for success! For XC racing I run non-UST with Stan’s instead of a tube but for this upcoming week at TR, it’ll be nothing but Tubeless UST action for us!

20. What is the most defining point in your career so far?

Hucking big back in 1997 off a 12 foot rock on my RM6. I was so smooth you couldn’t even hear me land. It was a thing of beauty, pretty much an expression of art.

Edmonton Canada Cup

21. What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in life?

Being born. Without that act, I wouldn’t have even gotten the opportunity to strive for any further accomplishments.

22. Greatest accomplishment on a bike?

See above #20. Dude, Man, it was ‘sick’!

23. Which do you prefer hardtail or full suspension?

At a reasonable weight, I would always choose a full suspension.

24. Who is your favourite male and female mountain bikers?

Male Rider: Thomas Frishknecht

Female Rider: Katerina Nash

25. Who are your favourite male and female actors?

I didn’t grow up with TV, so I’m not to ‘hip’ with the pop culture, but Al Pacino comes to mind, and I can’t seem to forget Paz Vega.

26. Have you seen any movies lately?

The Hangover… - hilarious!

27. If you were a bag of chips, what kind of chips would you be?

Kettle chips are pretty delicious… anything thick, crunchy and salty are pretty tasty!

Edmonton Canada Cup

28. What was your toughest race?

I would say Trans-Rockies 2008 but I think it’s hard to pin it down to the ONE ‘toughest’ race. After each race, you feel like you just complete THE hardest race… Every race hurts so much that to be in this line of work, you’ve pretty much got to be a masochist.

29. What do you think about Lance Armstrong’s comeback?

Sham. He should Go Home.

The sport needs to move on from the ‘Armstrong’ era, which was too long to begin with in my opinion. Don’t get me started…

30. If you could thank anyone for where you are today, who would it be?

My parents, for without them, I wouldn’t be here obviously… but when in comes to sport related ‘Shout outs’, I’ll save them for when I’ve accomplished my goals and are satisfied with my achievements.

31. Who is your biggest fan?

Haha… fans? how to answer that one… well… I’m gonna have to go with one of my close high school friends. N-TJ who has nothing to do with cycling nor any knowledge or background with it, but always seems to find out on his own volition better then anyone else what I’m up to and how I’ve done.

This is especially impressive as my non-cycling friends know that I pretty much pull a ‘disappearing act’ during my season as I’m either on the road or unable to partake in their ‘questionable’ choice of activities... yet, he stays on top of things…

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I think this is Berrecloth (but could be wrong)

Rocky Flatline Worldcup 2010 edition

Crankworx was such an awesome event. I am really thankful that you were able to get me a media pass, and the yellow wristband. Thank you Ryan, it was greatly appreciated. Here is my little blurb for you down below. On February 13th, 1999, I fought for the Super Heavyweight Championship of the world on the De La Hoya/Quartey undercard. The electricity and energy at the Thomas & Mack Center, however, was no match to this year's Crankworx. It was the most amazing event, and I would do it all again tomorrow. The people, the atmosphere, and everything about Crankworx is awesome. I just wish more people knew about it. Most of my photography experience is in XC mountain bike racing, MMA, boxing, the occasional wedding and studio work. This was all new to me, and it was an excellent learning experience. Watching the photography great, Sterling Lorence, in action was satisfaction enough let alone watching Crankworx. Although I had to adjust to the speed of the racers and contestants in the slopestyle event, I was able to get some stellar photographs. Special thanks to Geoff Gulevich, Andreu Lacondeguy and Cam McCaul for their performances which enabled me to get some awesome photographs. Mountain bike events are so fun to be at. They always have such nice people, be it competitors or spectators. I am very thankful that I could be there, see you next year.

Brian Lopes (Giant Dual Slalom winner)

Geoff Gulevich (Team Rocky Mountain)

Geoff Gulevich (Team Rocky Mountain)

I just wish more people knew about it. Most of my photography experience is in XC mountain bike racing, MMA, boxing, the occasional wedding and studio work. This was all new to me, and it was an excellent learning experience. Watching the photography great, Sterling Lorence, in action was satisfaction enough let alone watching Crankworx. Although I had to adjust to the speed of the racers and contestants in the slopestyle event, I was able to get some stellar photographs. Special thanks to Geoff Gulevich, Andreu Lacondeguy and Cam McCaul for their performances which enabled me to get some awesome photographs. Mountain bike events are so fun to be at. They always have such nice people, be it competitors or spectators. I am very thankful that I could be there, see you next year. Here are some pics from the Giant dual slalom, and the slopestyle event..

Andreu Lacondeguy (spanish)

Andreu Lacondeguy

Cam McCaul

Andreu Lacondeguy

Geoff Gulevich

Cam McCaul

Geoff Gulevich

Thursday, August 13, 2009


On the west side of Squamish

Having driven for 14 hours straight to get here from Edmonton, I was a little delirious when I arrived. The strangest thing though is people in Squamish are always waving at me like as if they know me. I wave back, to be courteous, but I still don't know why they are waving. Oh well, I will just go with it.

The reason I am in Squamish is that I am attending 'Crankworx' at the Blackcomb resort. I am not participating, but I am taking photographs. After finding a parking spot and then trying to find the Westin to get my media pass I had decided it was time to go and get a java. I grab a piece of fruitcake that has blueberries in it, and sit down. Then I happen to notice that Ryan Leech is sitting at the table next to me while he is typing away on his Macbook. The people you run into in Whistler! It wasn't long before I had him convinced to do an interview which I will post soon.

After leaving the java spot I happened to come across the Rocky Mountain bikes tent, and Peter Vallance was there. We had a little chit chat, and then I was on my way to check things out and scope out shooting spots. The VW Trick event was cancelled due to rain, but I was able to get some good photos of Ryan Leech doing his trials riding.

Ryan Leech doing his thing

Thursday, August 6, 2009

29 questions with Matt Hadley

Hi Matt, could you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where do live? Who do you race for etc?

I am from Mount Hope, New Brunswick. It is a small country road just outside of Fredericton. I grew up there playing in the bush with my older brother, Adam. We would run around and build forts, cut trees down with axes, and have sword fights with sticks. I also spent a ton of time working on our XC ski trails, both clearing them in the summer and grooming them in the winter – first by snowshoe and a drag behind tracksetter, and finally with a snowmobile and a classic track setter I welded.

I currently live in Kamloops, BC, with my girlfriend Catherine Vipond, and friends Catharine Pendrel and Keith Wilson. Yes, it is confusing when you call and ask for Catherine… Keith and Catharine have 3 cats, one of which, Oly, is very cool and will play fetch with ear plugs. We often get him on a training program doing repeats 3x/day so he gets in better shape. He is part ninja, and can leap from the floor to the top of the water heater to on top of the pipes in the floor joists!!!

I currently race for Xprexo bicycles. They are a very cool company. All the frames are hand made in Bromont, Quebec. The tubing comes in 12 foot lengths, and they cut it, shape it, and make it into frames! They use aluminum for the front triangles, and steel for the rear. They do a lot of work with very high quality steel, which means it is very light and extremely strong.

(Matt climbing 'Georgetown' at the Canmore Canada Cup '09)

What got you into mountain biking?

My parents took us on tons of exploring trips on our bicycles, and I just took that to a new level exploring all the muddy ATV trails, and then got to a race and got hooked.

What was your first mountain bike?

The first one that I really rode hard was a precision from a pawn shop. I rode it until I had to wire the cassette to the spokes to get home, as the freehub had died. After that I got a mongoose Sicamore SX, it was a good bike.

What was your first race, and how did you do?

I did my first race at age 14, it was a local race at Woolastock, NB. It was quite muddy, and I had the stock dry tires on the bike, and platform pedals. I won by a few minutes.

I know you have done a stage race in the past because I have photos of you from Trans Rockies ’07. What do you think of stage races? Which ones have you done? Which ones would you like to do in the future?

I have raced TR in 07 and 08, and Crank the Shield in 08. I am mixed on stage racing. I like real mountain biking, with good singletrack, and I think that often when you have a stage race so much is focused on getting from point A to B that you spend a lot of time riding boring gravel roads. However, the atmosphere, scenery, food and people usually make for such a fun time that I am sure I will do some more in the future. Currently I am really just interested in BCBR, as it has so much singletrack.

(Matt at the Edmonton Canada Cup '09)

Who was your mentor growing up? Who inspired you to doing things? You have improved from last year in the racing scene. What did you differently in the off season?

I guess my mentors growing up would be my parents, we did so many activities outside. I think between ages 8 and 16 I probably averaged 20hrs of physical activity/day.

I have improved quite a bit since last year, basically I took less time off and just trained more consistently all winter.

What do you enjoy most about mountain biking?

Cornering hard, flying through fast singletrack and making rough stuff flow.

Which do you prefer a hard tail, or full suspension?

Full suspension

If you could do it all over again, what would you do different if you could?

In the spring of 2001 I pushed myself really hard and got sick with bronchitis a few times and then in the hospital for 3 days on IV for Pneumonia. I would train less that spring if I could do it over. Also, I think the winters from 05-08 I lost too much fitness, and really started over each time.

Do you prefer SPD’s or Crankbrothers pedals?


Straight bars, or riser bars?


What do you hope to get from mountain bike racing? What end result would you like?

To have lots of fun, to push myself as far as possible and see what I have, to get to the Olympics and have an excellent race there.

Who are your favorite male and female racers?

Thomas Frischknecht and Alison Sydor

Do you have a better half, and does she race?

Girlfriend Catherine Vipond, and yes she races at the same level as I do

What are your strong and what are your weak points on the bike?

Riding rough singletrack fast, power on flats

Do you prefer bib shorts, or regular cycling shorts?


What is your prerace meal?


How many hours on the bike a week for you during the season and in the off season?

During is about 10-14, and off 10-20

Who is your biggest fan?

My family, and a friend Terrance Grant

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

An older brother Adam

What would you do if you won 8 million dollars?

I would buy land, tons of land in the tropics, BC, and anywhere else that pristine forest was being threatened. Then I would build a sweet house in the middle of nowhere and fly in with a float plane and have my own network of singletrack trails.

I would probably organize a mtb team too.

Who is your toughest competitor?

Andrew Watson and I have been close for a long time, Kris Sneddon too.

Why do you race?

That feeling of giving it everything I’ve got, the perfect race.

What was your toughest race, and why?

Bromont World Cup in 2008. It was thick slow peanut butter mud, and I pushed myself so hard, I could barley ride 3 days later.

What is your best race and why?

Bromont World Cup 2008, I was 23rd there and when you ride that hard it is like you empty your body, emotionally and physically.

What is the best day of your life so far?

There are tons, but a recent trip Catherine and I did back country skiing stands out as pretty amazing.

Do you prefer slicks over nobbies, or the other way around?

What are slicks?

What is your favorite movie?

Brave Heart

Who is your TV girlfriend? (favourite actress)

Penelope Cruz

What types of music do you listen to?

Anything but opera and country

Other cool stuff.

2nd at nationals in 2003

Biked across Canada in 2000 with my family, the whole way from Victoria to cape Spear NFLD, un supported.

Monday, August 3, 2009

29 questions with Kate Aardal

Hello Kate, I am not going to lie to you, but I don’t know a thing about you. But I do appreciate you doing this interview for me, and it really helps. Could you tell us a little about yourself? Like where do you live? Where are you from? Who do you race for? Etc.

Hey Patrick, no worries. I originally from Norway but came over seas a while back for travel and to learn the language, and haven’t turned back, besides visits to see my family. I’m now living in Fort McMurray, and that is also where it all began! My bike addiction that is. I’m a member of Hardcore which is in Edmonton.

1. What got you into to mountain biking?

When I came to Fort McMurray on my first work term during university I ended up working a shift schedule, it was very hard to play soccer at a committed level which was my sport growing up. So I had to find something I could do on my own. I started looking at bikes and that was in 2001. I got a Giant ATC, it was red and yellow.

Kate at the 'Perogy race '08

2. How long have you been racing?

My first race I think was a 24 hour race in Canmore on a team from Fort McMurray in 2002. I was hooked on the endurance biking pretty quick so jumped on the Canadian Death ride that year too.

3. Do you just race mountain bikes, or do you enjoy other sports as well?

These das mountain biking is the only thing I do at a competitive level.

4. What races have you done this year?

This year I’ve done a couple of Canada Cups and couple of one day endure (Salty Dog and Stony Plain), and AB cup (Stony Plain). I did BC bike race with Steve Martin from Hardcore, and I just finished Intermontane yesterday, though yesterday I was one of many who did not start, of reasons you will probably shortly hear of if you follow these events. Not what anyone expected, even from a first year event.

Kate at the Edmonton Canada Cup '09

5. What races do you have planned for the rest of the season?

I have nothing on the schedule until September, Crank the shield in ON, then possible LaRuta in November. But starting a new job shortly so will see how it will pan out.

6. Have you ever done a stage race before? If not, have you ever considered doing one?

Yes, longer distance/multi day is my thing.

7. Who is your favourite female mountain biker?

I don’t really have one that jumps out, so if I had to think about it, it’s probably not one I can call favorite. I do have many female riders that inspires me, for their determination and commitment and what they do for the sport.

8. Who is your favourite male mountain biker?

Very much the same as on the female side. There are many.

9. Who has mentored you in the sport of mountain biking?

I have never had an official coach or been on a team that have coaching. But starting off in Fort McMurray a Tuesday night group ride got me going, the guys would let me come and wait when I feel off the pack on a regular basis, today I wait for them J. In the last few year when getting into stage racing, Troy Misseghers have given me some guidance in regards to training, which have taking me out of the “just ride” training schedule, now I “just ride with a little bit of purpose”.

10. How many hours a week do you train during the season, and how many hours a week in the off season?

I’m a bit of the low side, so should I state what I should do or what I am doing? Low end week I’ll get in 6-8 hrs, on a high end week I target 14-18, but mostly a few hours during the week and then cram in long rides on the weekend. Winter is out when I can, call it training or whatever. I don’t train indoors, my joy is to be outside.

Kate at the Canmore Canada Cup '09

11. Which has been your toughest race so far, and why?

You tend to forget that it was hard. But this year during BC bike race I had a lot of strugglers with a shoulder/back so it became hard to finish for that reason. La Ruta is probably ranked way up there as tough and hard even if all goes well!

12. Which has been your best race so far, and why?

Every race my goals are very personal so very hard to pick one. I remember them all as great experiences and something to take back. It was great to have my dad come follow me in La Ruta and I had a great time doing the Birkebeinern (Norway) and have my family out as well. Living in Canada I don’t get often.

13. Do you have a nemesis? If so, who is it?

Just my self

14. What are your goals that you plan to achieve from mountain biking?

To keep having fun, and always remember why I ride. I’d love to put more time into promoting riding in the community I live, it’s sort of fallen short the last few years, so trying to pick it up. I don’t enjoy lonely rides!

15. What manufacturer of mountain bikes do you prefer?

I ride a Titus this year, and it’s great. I have a Turner and raced Turner for a few years and loved it too.

16. If you could change anything in the sport of mountain biking, what would it be?

I’d like to see more female riders out.

17. What is your favourite trail to ride, and why?

Oh gees, I can enjoy all single track trails. Fast technical.

18. What is your favourite race course to race?

BC bike race has all the trails you can imagine.

19. If you could tell the new people to the sport and the young ones anything, what would it be?

Always have fun with it!

20. Do you have a trainer that makes training programs for you? Or are you self taught?

I can say self taught, but pick up things all over. Not a very strict program, I try to have fun at all times.

21. What would you say your strong points are in mountain biking?

My passion for the sport. As for riding, fast and tecknical.

22. What would you say your weaknesses are?

My bank account that tells me I need to get back to work!

As for riding, I struggle on long flats.

23. If you could suggest people to be interviewed for this blog, who would you recommend?

There are so many, but a lot of my inspiration comes from a friend and old college of mine, Bernie Pulsifer. If you want to promote the sport, he has put so much into it. He still rides hard, over 50 and with cancer the last few years. He is from Fernie and has done so much for the community there.

24. Do you prefer a hardtail, or do you prefer the full suspension bikes?

I’m on dual suspension, have been for the last 4 years. I love my hard tail for my Tims doggie ride in the morning.

25. How long have you raced for team Hardcore, and how do you like it?

Since last year, it’s a great small shop in Edmonton. I joined to be part of a club, as there are no team in Fort McMurray. It’s been great.

26. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

J people that know me would say, gees, she doesn’t even plan next year! I hope I’m still riding strong!

27. Do you prefer shorts or bib shorts?


28. If you could change anything in the past, what would it be?


29. What is your pre-race meal?

Whatever I can get to, eggs, oat meal, Tims, McDonalds, shake, ice crea… think I’ve done them all…