Two-time world mountain bike champion Catherine Pendrel rides the trails at Bear Mountain. She spends one week a month training at the Canadian national team’s official high performance training centre here.

Getting into the Olympic cycle at Bear Mountain

Top athletes in Langford to train for major upcoming races

Olympians are biking through our mountains.

With the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympic Games less than a year away, many of Canada’s top mountain bikers are traversing the Canadian National Mountain Bike Team’s high performance training centre at Bear Mountain.

“Having a training centre is something that the Canadian mountain bike team has never had before, so I think it’s going to be a really important step for us,” world champion and two-time Olympian Catherine Pendrel said after a recent training session.

“Mountain biking really hasn’t been a centralized sport … To be able to come here and get that one-on-one feedback with the coaches we are working with consistently will be really fantastic for the development of Canadian mountain biking, which is already really strong.”

Pendrel, who lives in Kamloops, where winter training includes cross-country skiing among other activities – mountain biking gets rather treacherous in the snow – said the specificity of training on her bike all-year round has been a positive experience. Even the Island’s wetter months offer an opportunity to train in conditions that can mimic the damp and muddy conditions she deals with when she competes on the world stage.

“This is phenomenal to come here and have that welcoming banner with the national mountain bike centre (on the foot bridge over Bear Mountain Parkway). It’s really cool you know,” said Pendrel, the 2011 and 2014 world champion.

“We have so many phenomenal athletes … (and) the great guidance of Dan Proulx our national team coach, I think, is going to be really strong for our program.”

Proulx, who has lived on the Island for 10 years, plans to bring all of Canada’s best riders together for a training camp in February, in preparation not only for the Olympics, but for the Canada Cup race to be run at the resort. He had high praise for Bear Mountain, as well as course designer and Highlands resident Jordie Lunn, whose layout will offer similar challenges to what some the riders will compete on for Olympic gold.

“My first thought was this is like Rio; the same type of wide track with smooth flowing corners and berms,” Proulx said. “So it’s a really good addition to the park and it’s incredible the amount of trails that have been built just since April. I would say the park has already doubled in size and it just keeps getting better as more and more riders come here and try the trails.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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