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Cross Country (XC) is a classic style of racing where the event starts and ends usually at the same point. XC courses and trails consist of a mix of singletrack trails, and smooth fire roads. On Vancouver Island, that includes lung-burning technical climbs and exciting swerving descents.
Enduro is a style of racing where the overall race time is the sum of multiple timed stages.  It offers a bit more casual approach to racing as the uphill sections are not timed, only the downhill.  Don’t let that fool you though, there’s plenty of fitness an pedaling required to excel at this discipline. On Vancouver Island, course designers do their best to show off the most fun descents that the riding areas offer.
Follow the Trail Bicycles Racing Team through the 2024 season!

Mt Mahony XC (Powell River - May 19th, 2024)

The fifth Island Cup XC took place in Powell River on some of the new trails on Mt Mahony.  It was a hard course with lots of technical climbing—the first climb going up Lower Civil Disobedience (a black downhill trail)! In spite of all the tough climbing it was a very fun course that had a good mix of tech and flow. 

I had a great start and was leading for most of first lap, then faded back into 6th which was my best result this season. It was very cool to see and ride all the new trails that the Powell River community have worked very hard on.  

Shout out to the Qathet Cycling Association for opening up this new riding area.  If you get a chance to ride there you will have a great time.

- Ben Pechter

Owen Meldrum 1st in Beginner Men
Eli Pechter 3rd in Beginner Men
Darragh Whitehead 4th in Beginner Men
Coach Brett Whitehead 5th in Expert Men
Loki Motai 9th in Expert Men (2nd U19)
Elyas Smith 11th in Expert Men (1st U17)
Talia MacPhail-McGrady 4th in Expert Women (2nd U17)
Annabelle Whitehead 1st in Intermediate Women
Benjamin Pechter 6th in Intermediate Men (2nd U15)
Alex Racher 10th in Intermediate Men (4th U15)
Max Sauter 14th in Intermediate Men (5th U15)
Also racing were parents Aaron, Megan, Dave, Gavin and Trail Bicycles’ own Rob Parniak.

Island Cup XC #4 (Cumberland - April 27th, 2024)

When we arrived in Cumberland for the 4th Island Cup XC, we were a little unsure about the weather; it was cloudy and not too cold, but the forecast said it was going to start raining. We had ridden the race course several times in training so I think most of the team had it dialed and was ready for an awesome race no matter the weather. After a very short warm up, we realized we needed to get back to the parking lot quickly if we wanted to grab a quick snack or drop a layer (before the race start), so we turned around and ripped down the road. Everybody got what they needed and made their start.

Before the chaos started, the starter made sure everyone knew that it was going to rain. I definitely didn't have my best start but I pedaled hard and did my best to keep close to  my teammate Max . The rest of the lap was really good; although there was a bit of a hold up on the trail called Brat with some slower riders on the descent. There was also some really sticky mud on  the trail 50:1 but I was able to keep a solid pace and pass a few people and put myself in 18th. Lap two was looking good and when the course opened up I could still see Max and I wasn't feeling super fatigued.

However, right at the end of a fun trail named Scat, right as I was about to pass someone, I got a flat. Thankfully, there was a course marshall right there who tried fixing it. When we realized that there was more than one hole in my tire and that there was no hope of fixing it, he very kindly offered his own bike. I thanked him and then kept going, despite the fact that the bike was an XL and mine was a medium. I finished the race and lost maybe ten minutes. I wasn't the only one with a mechanical, Loki got a flat right off the start and Eli’s chain kept falling off. In the end though, I think it was a good day; I learned the importance of riding smoothly, the team did really well with multiple podiums from other trail riders, and not a drop of rain had fallen!

Thanks to all of our sponsors: Rob Nygren from Royal LePage, Hornby Organic Energy Bars, Fresh Tracks Physiotherapy, Eatmore Sprouts, Village Performance and Wedler Engineering.

- Reed Macinnis

Cobble Hill XC (Cobble Hill Mountain, April 14th, 2024)


It was a nice sunny day heading down to Cobble Hill for the 3rd Race of the Island Cup XC. I was excited but also nervous since it was my first bike race since last summer. I hadn't been on my bike much due to a bike crash in September resulting in a serious wrist fracture which put me out for 3 months.  

I met with the Trail Bicycles Racing Team to do a warmup and pre-ride a bit of the course. We didn't have time to do the whole race course, which was about 8km. For the race, I had to do two loops in the intermediate men's category. 

I started in the third row, but I realized I should have positioned myself closer to the front right after we got going. The race started off with a steep climb on a logging road which then went to single track. Luckily, I managed to get myself into a good position before it got harder to pass. The course climbed quite a bit for a while then had a short downhill section and then more climbing.  At the very top there was a big rock outcrop. After that, there was a fun descent which I enjoyed. 

Throughout the race, I felt strong, and my pacing was good. By the time the second lap came around I was pretty tired but not too tired. I started to get thirsty partway through the second lap and I had very little water left. Luckily, I ran into my mom who was watching off to the side and she passed me a bottle.

Near the end of the race, about 2km from the finish I was in third place for my age category (U17), there was a guy right behind me and I caught some air, my dropper was post up and I landed nose heavy and got bucked forward ending up off the tail. I stayed on my bike but was still passed by the U17 behind me putting me into 4th, which I wasn't aware of at the time. I finished with a time of 1:07:30 and was 8th in intermediate men (4th for U17). 

Overall, I felt it was a good race and a good way to start off my season. It felt good to be back racing XC. I’m looking forward to the next race which will be in Cumberland on the 27th of April. 

In U13 Beginner Men Owen Racher was first place, my brother Owen Meldrum was 2nd and Eli Pechter was 4th. In the U15 Beginner Men Darragh Whitehead finished 3rd. In U15 Intermediate Men Ben Pechter was 3rd, Alex Racher was 4th, Reed Macinnis was 6th and Max Sauter was 7th. In the U17 Intermediate Woman Annabelle Whitehead was first place. Elyas Smith was first in U17 Expert Men and Loki Motai was first in U19 Expert Men. Congrats to everyone who came out. 

A big thanks to our coaches and sponsors: Rob Nygren from Royal LePage, Hornby Organic Energy Bars, Fresh Tracks Physiotherapy, Eatmore Sprouts, Village Performance and Wedler Engineering.

- Cameron Meldrum

Jordie Lunn XC (Langford - March 31st, 2024)

The weekend of March 31 was the Jordie Lund XC bike race, near Victoria. It was super fun! The weather turned out to be great with the sun shining all day, and no puddles. 

Before the race I got my shoes and helmet on to pre-ride the course at 9:30 with the Trail Bicycles Race Team. The course was wide and fast and there was little tech. We went out and rode most of the course except for a little section and made it back for the mandatory rider’s briefing at 10:00. After the briefing beginner and intermediate racers started to head down to the start line. Everyone was ready to go. 

When the race started it was packed and took a while to get spread out. Once we reached the road section we were spaced out, just in time for the longer switchback climbing trail. When I got to the top of the downhill, I was stuck behind 1 person a little bit slower than me. I asked him if I could pass but by the start of the uphill, I was still behind him. Once I made it to the top of the second downhill, I was still behind him, so I asked to pass again and got by on a straight away. From there I was close to the finish and started to push hard. I was getting closer and closer to the finish and finally made it, in just under 30 minutes which earned me first place in the beginner category! Next across the finish line was one of my school friends, followed  by Reed, Owen, and Eli from Trail Bicycles Racing Team.

Once we finished, we did some laps of the pump track, then I grabbed lunch and headed down to watch the experts start at 12:00. The awards were at 12:30 and instead of medals there were prizes like hoodies, water bottles, helmets - plenty to choose from. I got a sweet bike tire. 

Congrats to all the Trail Bicycles Racing Team racers:

Owen Racher placed 1st and Eli Pechter 2nd in U13 beginner male. Reed MacInnis was 3rd in U15 beginner male. Annabelle Whitehead placed 2nd in U17 intermediate women. In the U15 intermediate male race Alex Racher placed 2nd and Ben Pechter 4th. Gavin McPhail earned 2nd in masters 55-64 intermediate male and Talia MacPhail-Mcgrady was 2nd in U17 expert women. Tom Skinner placed 1st in masters 35-44 expert male. Brett Whitehead earned 3rd and Scott Manktelow 5th in masters 45-54 expert male. Elyas Smith was 1st in U17 expert male and Loki Motai was 1st in U19 expert male. Beginners completed 1 lap of the course, intermediates did 2 laps, and experts 3 laps. Congrats to all the supportive parents who raced too!

Thank you to all our sponsors: Rob Nygren from Royal LePage, Hornby Organic, Fresh Tracks Physiotherapy, Eatmore Sprouts, Village Performance and Wedler Engineering.  We appreciate your generosity.

- Max Sauter

Hartland XC (Victoria - March 17th, 2024)

Hartland was my first Island Cup XC race at the expert level.  It was fun and a good learning experience for me. However, going from a successful season last year to zero points in my first race was a little bit disappointing.

The Hartland course for the expert category was three laps of a 6.5 km course and 176m of climbing every lap. The course navigates through tricky, tough, rocky terrain; most of them being technical climbs. With few passing areas, and a steep climb at the start, Hartland is one of the toughest races in the season.

I felt pretty good pre-riding the course the morning before the race. At the starting line, I positioned myself around the middle of the pack. When the race started, I was able to get past a lot of other racers and I had a good run up the steep hill. This effort got me a spot around the top 30. I felt that I had decent pace, and I was starting to create a gap behind me. Although two problems quickly arose; Just before the end of the first lap I started experiencing brake rub. This was caused by the pistons in the caliper having shifted too far out of the brake caliper. This mechanical made me lose around 20-30 watts of pace. I was soon being overtaken by many other riders. Another problem was that I was getting a lot more fatigued than normal. This could’ve been from the brakes or putting in too much effort at the start of the race. It felt like the pace wasn’t there. My second lap was a lot sloppier than my first one. Although I still tried to push hard on the last lap.

My overall race result in expert was 37th in the men’s category. I think it was disappointing missing out from points and I think I could’ve maybe fought for the top 30 if I didn’t have the mechanical and I had thought of a better strategy. At the same time, I think it was a good learning experience for me as a rider and I can reflect on this for future races.

Congrats to those that made it out to Hartland for the first race of the season. Ben Pechter took 3rd in U15 Intermediate, Talia MacPhail-Mcgrady 3rd in U17 Expert, and Loki Motai with a great start in the U19 Expert Category, but unfortunately had to retire from the race due to a flat tire. 

Thanks to all of our sponsors for supporting the team: Rob Nygren, Fresh Tracks Physiotherapy, Village Performance, Hornby Organics, Eatmore Sprouts, and Wedler Engineering

- Elyas Smith

Stay tuned for more race reports!

Race Schedule and more: Island Cup Race Series - XC