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A Quick Aside for a Mountain Bike Oasis

On the drive back from Alberta following the 2011 Ride To Conquer Cancer in Calgary we took the long way back through a small town called Hinton. Nestled onto the Eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains Hinton is a town of less than 10,000 people. There is something special about Hinton though that makes it unique and a cut above many other towns of its size.

Over the course of the last three years, Norco Factory Team rider Jay Hoots has poured his heart and soul into this little mountain town in the dream of creating an oasis of mountain biking. This dream is a reality as after three years work, Jay has made one of the most progressive trail systems in North America.

Given a plot of land and buy-in from the city, Jay has developed a skills park and network of trails resembling the iconic trail styles that are seen and copied around North America. From North-Shore style bridgework to gravity defying slopestyle and even pump track-esque descents there is something of every flavour for nearly every rider.

The trail system that Jay has put together consists of 14 trails that play a game of snakes and ladders up and around the gentle sloping terrain. Winding up through the mix of trails the grade is gentle and short. While the elevation gain is substantial, it is seemingly effortless at the same time. The groomed nature of the trails along with the grin from ear to ear distracts from the climb.

Once up to the top there are a number of different trails that offer a top to bottom run completing the loop. The first and most recently completed trail was Flow Master. This trail is a series of tables, rollers, burms and other stoke-inducing features winding the whole way down. Resembling iconic trails such as Half-Nelson out of Squamish or Crank It Up in Whistler. This is a mini-edition that is easy enough for a novice yet offers small nuances that can challenge even the seasoned veteran.

After carving around from the bottom of Flow Master, the next trail we hit was Slope Wars. This trail is a Slopestyle trail featuring a ton of woodwork. Getting some air is as easy as it gets on this trail. Best of all though, the whole thing can be rolled if you are feeling a little on the cautious side. Between the step-ups, step downs, ladders and this perfectly sculpted wall ride one run is not enough, you will head up for lap after lap on this trail. Jay had help from The Coastal Crew in the design and building of this trail. The best of the best working to make this the best riding possible.

The Third trail on the tour was called Fo’ Shore. This trail was built to resemble the iconic North Shore of Vancouver BC. With ladder bridge galore, skinnies, steeps, and even a bit of airtime this trail is reminiscent of home. The North Shore feel shines through with a touch of Alberta flavour. An awesome trail with some challenging bits, flow and again a huge smile from ear to ear.

If you are looking for somewhere to ride world class trails, Hinton is at the top of the list. With a backing from the city and the work of Jay Hoots, this is a sustainable trail system that offers the community recreation, tourism and a whole lot of fun. If you would like to learn more about mountain biking in Hinton, check out bikehinton.com

Canada is Conquering Cancer One Ride at a Time

The Ride To Conquer Cancer is in its third year of existence and has amassed a huge sum of money towards Cancer Research in Canada. This year alone, the first three rides have raised an astounding $37.2 Million from 9769 Participants. With one more ride to go, the 2011 Ride To Conquer Cancer tour is expected to raise in excess of $45 Million. For each of the four events Norco is on site as the Official Bike Tech. Working day and night during the events, thousands of bikes are kept shifting smoothly and rolling onwards towards the finish.

The first ride in 2011 took place in Toronto Ontario. The biggest of the four events, this ride was a massive 4610 participants coming together to raise $17.5 million. Over two days of riding, participants made their way from Toronto up to Niagra Falls before making the trip back. With generally nice weather and dry roads the event went off without a hitch. That said, the 8 Norco mechanics were still busy all day with flat tires, gear adjustments, seat height adjustments and even some improvised fixes on larger issues.

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The second of four rides was in BC where 2879 riders from Vancouver BC to Seattle Washington over two days. Stopping off half way in Mt Vernon these dedicated riders raised an astounding $11.1 million. This works out to an incredible $3855 per participant. Unfortunately for the Vancouver ride, the eager cyclists dealt with 2 days of rain. Through wet roads, cold hands and soaking clothing the riders fought through to the finish. Along the way these riders were plagued with flat tires, rubbing brakes and jumping gears. Again it was up to the Norco crew to keep these riders on the road and moving towards the finish. A big congrats to all the participants on a great job raising money and pushing through the weather.

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After Vancouver, the Norco crew picked up and drove East to the Alberta edition starting off in Calgary. For this ride, there were 2280 riders who raised an impressive $8.6 Million. The Calgary Ride To Conquer Cancer was an out and back total of 220km over two days. With sunny skies and warm air, Day one was a cruse to the finish with only minor ailments for a few riders. Starting off day two however the rains and wind rolled in and did a number on the riders. Fighting the circumstances tires, brakes and gears needed adjustments, pedals needed cleaning, and riders struggled to keep warm. Day two was a test of wits and spirits but with such a great cause the riders pushed on to the finish. Way to go!

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Next up on the Ride To Conquer Cancer circuit is Montreal this coming weekend. Back to the East Coast for the last tour. The Norco Team will yet again work through the night to be sure that all bikes can cross the finish. Thank you to everyone that is participating in the Ride To Conquer Cancer, it is your effort that will eventually cure Cancer. If you would like to participate next year, head on over to conquercancer.ca and sign up now. You can make a difference!

For more photos from the event check out these flickr albums of Alberta and British Columbia

Back on the Get Fat Plan

June is now behind us and wow, what a month. It kicked off with the 1/2 Ironman that I had been training for since January. I signed up for this after being inspired and intimidated at the same time watching my son compete in Ironman Canada last summer. Since January 1st when the training started in earnest, despite being out of town close to 6 weeks this spring I still managed to get in around 110km of swimming, 650 km of running, and around 4000km of riding. Mix in a liberal dosage of Yoga and core training and come race day I was ready as I could be.

Race day weather was perfect. The lake wasn’t too cold, the air was still and the run course was relatively flat. Rain or shine, the training miles had been served. I was as ready as I could be, Oliver 1/2 Ironman, here we come.

Within 2 minutes of the start it was pretty apparent that I was not prepared for how rough the water was with 900 athletes wanting to get to the first marker buoy. As the top photo shows, there was a lot of white water and for the first 10 minutes. It seemed every time I came up for air I would get a mouthful of water; I couldn’t connect 6 strokes together despite the fact that I had done over 100km of swimming in the previous months! I finally calmed down enough to get my act together and aim for marker 1 at 900 meters, another 600m to 2 then the final marker another 500m back to the beach. I was one of the last out of the water, but with the 2 km open water swim now behind me the day was young. Onto the bike we go!

The problem with flailing around so much in the water is that I used up a lot of adrenalin and came out feeling like I had already done a 5 hour workout. It took the first 25km of riding just to get the lactic acid residue out of me legs and start feeling human again. I rode keeping my heart rate in upper zone one as much as possible and the ride got better and better. Only 3 riders passed me in the 93 km ride. I probably passed a hundred or more. My Norco CRR One worked like a champ, even made me feel fast. I stayed with the hydration and nutrition plan knowing if I didn’t fuel up on the ride, I wouldn’t have anything left for the run. So, 90 oz of fluid, 6 gels, 2 Clif Bars and a salt tablet later I rolled into the transition for the last time, racked my bike, pulled off my helmet and slipped the runnies on. Off we go, 21km or a half marathon to go. It was now over 30 degrees out and the run course had basically no shade. WhoooHoooo.

The course was two 10.5 km laps and seeing as this was my first 1/2 Ironman and I really didn’t want to blow up, I kept it in slow and steady or as I like to call it Diesel Mode, enjoying the event as much as possible. What amazed me was how many people were done, walking or shuffling along – even slower than me. Again I must have cruised past a hundred or more other athletes on the run; people I knew that I thought should have been faster. Athletes with 2 or 3 Ironman tattoos on their calves. What was I doing passing them? About the 15 km mark I realized I was going to finish this thing off and feel good doing it. I had fuel in the tank and kept the pressure on, rolling under the finish line in 5:52 (note the clock says 6:06 but my heat started 14 min behind the leaders). My swim time was 52 minutes, the ride was 2:53 and my run was 1:56. I was stoked.

Now back to reality. June had me on the road for 3 of the last 4 weekends (with the Ride to Conquer Cancer events), our 2012 product launch is quickly upon us, and training has taken a back burner. My wife worried when I wanted to go volunteer for Ironman Canada in August that I wanted to sign up for next year – no worries. I have realized over the past few months that with my hectic travel and work schedule that would be suicide. Also, I need to get lots of rough water training before I ever tackle something like that again.

So for me, it’s back to my morning rides with my pup, some easy runs 2 or 3 times a week and as I say “back to the get fat plan”. Enjoying the occasional bevie, and spending time with my bride again. Time is too valuable to be spending all of it training, or at least for me and for now. Not to say I won’t do another one sometime, as it was fun to feel at least somewhat fit for a few months.

Source: Norco News

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