Cody Cannings Excellent MTB Adventures (Part 2)

Euro P2 (don’t mind the bum shot)

O Hey there Gang!

Welcome to the second half of the European update I promised. Now that i’ve sold out and gone mainstream on Bike Alberta I expect my reader count to skyrocket from 3 hits per day to somewhere around 7 (mom, just hit refresh or something to make me feel better). I dedicate the following few paragraphs to Belgian Beer and Waffles so chip chip cheroo, this ones for you.

Arrival at our Belgian Farm House, about a 30 minute ride from Houffilize nestled in the rolling Ardennes hills brought an amount of relief. Finally a chance to live the good life with plenty of time for sleep and riding. The focus of the week was mostly spent following Doc Watson’s All Gluten Diet which guarantees increased awesomeness on race day. An unsettling part of the Farm House was the fact you could hear a bunch of rodents running around above your head all night in the attic. River based ice baths, baked goods and Mystery PI were the highlight happenings.

Houfilize Game Day:

As I cross the start/finish line after the 4km start loop and having burnt 15 out of my 20 available power matches I end up being 6.5 minutes off the leaders pace. Welcome to the highest level of off road bike racing I guess… If I were asked to put a start lap of a World Cup into a worded description it would resemble the following:

Ride for you life from a cheetah for 5 minutes. STOP!! Rock a crying baby to sleep while pounding Red Bulls for the next 30 seconds. Ride as fast as you can from a rabid Polar Bear for another 2 minutes and then compete in a jackass style slip in slide contest. Now its time to run from a fire breathing dragon for 2 more minutes up a slippery slope while jumping hurdles (bodies and bikes). Then you get tossed into the octagon for a short UFC match with some euro dude who just T-Boned you into a fence. Add in some more hardcore sprints for corners and some time spent waiting to get into a piece of singletrack while listening to elevator music. Wallah you’ve just experienced the first 15 minutes of a European World Cup.

Once the traffic cleared and when I had open track to work with I actually felt pretty decent and was happy with the power I was able to climb with. The race was a true mudder which am always up for…good times. I managed to ride with Liam Killeen for the whole 3rd lap which was a good learning experience in passing and a departure from my less than aggressive Canadian style. Ended up doing 5 of 6 laps and was about 1.5 minutes off being able to finish the race which was my ultimate goal. Its good to do these races to find your weaknesses and learn what level you have to reach to compete with the best in the world.

On the way home I managed to dodge a $160 euro bike charge and saw Alexander Vinokourov at the airport. I would rate the European World Cup Extravaganza as 11 Magical Elephant Eggs out of 11.5. Big thanks to Dan Proulx and Scott Kelly who put in a TON of work making this trip happen. Thanks to Kyle Douglas for fixing my brakes on 3 separate occasions and Shimano for the new brake caliper. Also I would like to thank everyone else on the trip for putting up with me for 2 whole weeks…




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