Today was the first official day of riding at the 2017 Canadian MTB Team training camp at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, BC. It started with a team breakfast, which included the requisite oatmeal, fruit, yogurt and coffee. I had been looking forward to breakfast since my arrival yesterday evening, not just because I was hungry, but because it meant I would see my Canadian team cycling family — I hadn’t spoken to most of them in person since the end of last season. It’s always great to catch up with such awesome individuals who share the same dreams and goals, and fully understand the demands of what I do. It’s also a group of very talented and driven people, including Olympians, so that’s always pretty inspiring. Plus, they’re fun to hang out with.
Racing at the Bear Mountain Canada Cup in 2016. Photo: Pete Whalen
After breakfast, we did some team building activities to break the ice and get everyone on the same page. One of the activities had us acting out situations in different sports, which was pretty hilarious at times. I was paired up with 6’4″ Leandre Bouchard in a faux boxing bout, which I won with a devastating right hook. Basically, we were to bring attention to the integral role of sportsmanship in other sports and try to incorporate those values more into our team. Like how after a tennis match, the two players shake each others’ hands, as well as the ref’s, or after a hockey game, every team member low five’s every other player on the opposing squad. Basically, it means we’re to give more high five’s and hugs. Sweet. I’m totally cool with that!
We also simulated a 25-person rowing scenario where we were all rowing the same boat. Conclusion: there’s a reason we’re not rowers.
After the team building, it was time to ride! We did some recon of the revamped Canada Cup course (race is on March 5/6!), which was really fun. The forest here is so beautiful and mossy and there wasn’t a spot of snow on the trails! Mind blowing! Then we did some tactical training on a very short and rocky flat track — essentially it kept our speed down because it was so gnarly and loose, which allowed us to focus more on the tactical elements. Most of it boiled down to the importance of positioning in the pack and learning how to be confident moving around in a tight group of riders.
Today was such a gorgeous, warm, sunny day — a perfect way to start what’s going to be a great two weeks of hard, but fun, work with a whole crew of great athletes to keep the stoke high.
Sandra Walter’s first time competing for Canada was in 1998 as a junior at the World XC Mountain Bike Championships. She has since flown the maple leaf at eight more World’s. Her competitive career spans two decades & is fueled simply by a love of the sport. She aspires to achieve new sporting heights, while inspiring women & girls to discover the joys of mountain biking.