Friday, 30 December 2016

2016; A Catch Up & Look Back

I realized that I have really been slacking lately... it's been half a year since my last blog post! What has happened since World Championships?! I'll try to give the important details and not make this a novel about the second half of my 2016.... 

The mountain biking race season continued, and honestly I felt quite burnt out. National Championships was a disappointing race as I just felt like my tank was empty and I couldn't find the leg power, similar to how I felt at Worlds.  After riding in around 10th the first couple laps, I begun to ride up through the field and finished in 4th. I was happy with my semi- come back, but still disappointed leaving Quebec. 

First time ever racing a full-suspension bike on the Top Fuel 9.8! 

I then had a MUCH needed rest week and begun my focus for my final race of the season: the Mt. St. Anne World Cup. This was my first World Cup race in front of a home-Canadian crowd and it was super weird staying with my parents pre World Cup race!  I was riding in 8th for most of that race, finally feeling like I had my energy back! The St Anne course is definitely the most physically demanding course I had ever ridden.... suffering up long, steep climbs then having to stay focused for very technical sections down. I learned that I have to work on my bike handling while fatigued at the end of a race because I had some pretty major mess ups that cost me a lot of time. I went flying over my handle bars on "The Beatrice" (it was spectacular and I didn't even get a good picture!!!), which caused my tire to burp, leading to other little crashes through the whole last lap. I felt like I was just scrambling to get to the finish.  My goal was a top 10 and I was able to nail that with a 10th place! I wasn't ecstatic about that performance but it was a good finish to my race season. 

My body and mind finally got the real break it was needing. August was a month of true care-free summer for me. I LOVED IT. Usually, World Championships is in September so I'm very race focused through to the end of the summer, but this year was different as Worlds was earlier, so I enjoyed August to the max. It was filled with lots of cottage, family, and friend time. My childhood best friend and I went on a camping/ hiking trip in Banff! We wouldn't have been able to do that without all the help from my Uncle Winne and Aunt MB who live out west, thank you both! 


Then it was back to McMaster University... but this time living in a student house! This semester I've been living with 4 awesome girls, most of whom are in Kinesiology with me and some also on the running team with me. I ran this fall again with the Varsity running team! Our ladies team was strong this year and we had some great races.  My courses have been Musculoskeletal Anatomy, Growth, Maturation and Physical Activity, Biomechanics, and Chemistry. I worked hard studying and it paid off as I finished with grades I'm really happy with.

Even though I had a 40% midterm the day of the Fast and Female Ontario summit, I was able to make it for half of the event! There were many incredible ladies there as ambassadors - about half had been in Rio competing just months earlier. Fast and Female never ceases to put on anything less than inspiring and super fun events for young girls. 

Trek Canada MTB Team has been a never faltering support pillar for me, and I will continue to thank them for all the top-end equipment and race support through 2016 and into the new year! 2017 will be my 4th year on this team, which really feels more like family.  Barry Near, owner of Trek Store Toronto, is the hero to us Trek Canada folk, and huge thanks to Taylor Near for the mechanical support year-round! 
We had a team event at the Trek Toronto Store back in earlier December, at the "Saddle, Sore" book launch. The book was was written by Molly Hurford. Trek Canada team member and manager, Peter Glassford, talked along side his wife Molly about coaching and introduced our 2017 Team. Next year, come see Sarah Fabbro, Jon Barnes, Peter Glassford, and I representing Trek at the Canada Cups, Ontario Cups, National Championships, and many local events! 

I also got named to the Next Gen MTB team, based out of Victoria, BC! This is a U23 training team coached by Jeff Ain, with strength coach Adam Keelberger, Nutritionist Ashley Armstrong, physiologist Paula McFadyen, and mental performance coach Danelle Kabush. I am SO grateful to have such incredible team mates and coaches. 

This will be my first year working with Jeff Ain as my full-time coach, as I am no longer being coached by Kevin Simms. Kevin was everything anybody can search for in a development coach and I 110% recommend him to anyone. We had many many successful years together and I owe much of my performances and my physical and mental toughness to him. Thank you Kevin for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012...  and for being one of my greatest teachers. 

 Jeff as my new coach is the next step of my athletic development.  He is an excellent coach and I'm VERY excited for 2017 to travel around the world with him and the Next Gen MTB crew for training camps and racing! #POWERFORWARD 


I want to send out a massive amount of appreciation to Erik Sesbreno, my nutritionist, who has been working closely with me for a year now. He puts so much effort into his athletes and I'm very thankful to have his brain power behind my fueling!

Thank you to the Ontario Cycling Association, OHPSI, Mike Suraci, and Sean Kelly for the training camps, the healthy athlete weekend, race projects, and other support throughout 2016. 

Morning Glory Cycling Club was a huge help this year with their bursary for developing cyclists. 

As a Hammer Nutrition Ambassador this year I got to learn even more about their amazing products and show others how they fuel my training and racing. 

Thanks to Smith Optics this year I had unbeatable eyewear for every training session and race in any season or weather. 

The National Team, including head coach Dan Proulx, the mechanics, and physiotherapists, made it possible for me to race over seas at world class events with world class support. This was my first year really with the National Team crew, and I look forwards to many more years!

I had some injuries this year that would have seriously impacted my season had it not been for the magical Larry Bell and Laura Hutchinson, my fantastic chiropractor and physiotherapist! 

AGAIN, enormous shout out to Trek Canada MTB Team, supported by Trek Store Toronto and Trek Store Barrie. 

Am I forgetting anyone?
Oh! MY PARENTS! Of course, thank you and I love you, I love you, I love you to my mom and dad for supporting my athletic and academic dreams every step of the way. 

So what do I think of 2016? I think I can do better next year - bring in on 2017!

Monday, 11 July 2016

World Championships

Nove Mesto Na Morave: the best race venue I've been to yet! Three hour drive from Prague, this biathlon stadium and open, pine forest made the most fun course with lots of roots, rocks, and jumps! 

At Worlds, there is 3 days of XC racing; day 1 is Junior men and women races, day 2 is U23 races, and day 3 is Elite races. However, this year it was different and the U23 men and Elite women raced on day 2, and the U23 girls and Elite men races on day 3. From the past 2 years, I'm used to racing first, so this year I found it difficult to have to wait until the last day to race... especially since my friends were done racing and care-free well before I raced. 

Team Canada stayed a 40min bike ride away from the course, and we rode to and from the race site each day for training. I have never had so many days between flight arrival and race as I did here... I didn't know what to do with all the time I had to prepare on course! With that extra time, I was really able to recover from jet lag, travel fatigue, and still get enough quality time on course. By race day, I had my lines and the features dialled! I was confident and smooth on the rock gardens, gaps, doubles, and fast flowy single track. 

After watching the first two days of racing on the local live sports TV channel, it was finally my turn to get the action. 
I was the last call up to the start line, starting on the last row. My start was difficult as I got boxed in, so found myself chasing from behind beginning the race. 

Our race was 1 start loop + 4 full laps, and overall, from start to finish, I couldn't find my usual race spark. In the past 2 world cups, I was gaining ground on the climbs with awesome power and spark in my legs. But in Nove Mesto that day, I felt flat. There was nothing in particular that was wrong, and I felt perfectly prepped and trained for this big day, but it was just one of those unfortunate days where your body doesn't quite cooperate. 

Despite my body not enjoying the climbs, those climbs were incredible because I was able to really take in the crowd. I have never seen or raced in front of such large and LOUD crowds before! Another bright side is that I felt great technically that day, and I got some air time for those cheerers. This was an insanely fun course, so I did actually have fun in my race despite being disappointed with my performance and result. 

Those days happen... but extraordinary good days also happen and I know that will be coming my way soon. Some fellow Canadians did have their amazing race! Congrats to everyone on Team Canada! The highlights would probably be 3 Junior boys in the top 16, Bouchard finishing 20th in Elite men, and Emily Batty sprinting for her first World Champs medal in 3rd. 

I want to send out a massive recognition to my coach, Kevin Simms. He puts so much passion into his athletes and their individual training needs. 

Thank you to Trek Store Toronto for a bike that never faltered and rode smoothly on such a bumpy course. 

Thank you to Cycling Canada for this incredible experience to represent our country in Czech. The support from this team is world class with the coaches, mechanics, physio, and organization. 

Can't forget about the Smith Optic glasses I wear every single day... Love my Pivlocks. 

Hammer Nutrition Canada has been fueling me through training and racing this year. I rely on their quality products to be properly prepared and recovered nutritionally. 

Thank you so much to everyone who donated on my Go Fund Me site, in person at Hardwood, and who personally contributed. Support from family, friends, and the community is something truly special and I'm beyond grateful. 

Instead of flying home the next day as most Canadians did... The Barrie/Orillia crew stayed for 2 extra days in Prague! Quinton, Peter, Erica, Gunnar, and I stayed in a little apartment near Prague 1 and walked around touristing for 12 hours each day! All of our feet and legs were shot by the end of each day. We enjoyed the beautiful buildings, bridges, parks, views, transit system, and the FOOD! I had the delicious, traditional bohemian pastry, Trdlnik, each and every day. It's very important to take time and energy to enjoy the places you travel to for racing, or else you don't get to experience the real culture. 

Now I am home for a few days before driving easy to Baie St Paul for Nationals! 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The World Cup Beginner

Monday May 30, 2016

Today I am returning home after spending the past two weeks in Germany and France with Team Canada! With the National Team head coach, Dan Proulx, we had a great crew of 11 athletes, 2 bike mechanics, and 1 massage therapist to represent Canada at the Albstadt and La Bresse World Cups. 

As the youngest athlete on this National Team Trip, I was surrounded by experienced and inspiring athletes that helped make my first World Cup races seem a little less daunting. 

After arriving in Stuggart, Germany on a Monday, the team assembled and drove to Albstadt to begin a muddy week of preparation for our first race that weekend! The course was not very technically challenging, but with lots of double track climbing it sure was physically demanding. However, days of rain caused the downhills to become VERY slick. The U23 women raced on the Saturday at 1pm, with the other races (U23 men, elite women, & elite men) racing on Sunday. So my race was first, on what turned out to be a perfect race day! The rain had stopped, course slightly dried up, and the sun was out. 
I started on the last row with plate #64, and with a solid start lap I was able to move up to 45th. Throughout the race I slowly picked off girls, and found myself in 32nd on lap 5 of 6. I was feeling very proud of my riding during he race knowing I had good legs and technical skills that day, however it was still disappointing to be pulled by the 80% cut off with one lap to go because of the short course lap. 
I was satisfied with my first World Cup race, but was already focused on recovering, priming, and improving again for the next World Cup one week away! 

After the Sunday races, we travelled to the beautiful La Bresse. This was my first time in France and I absolutely loved it! It was fun to actually be able to use the little French I know to communicate, whereas in Germany I am completely lost. 
La Bresse was sunny and hot for training and race day! The course was mostly dry, except for one section that was always a mud slide. This course was "old school" style with a slightly longer lap and many natural technical features. 

Again, I started on the last row but i found it harder to move through the crowd as the course narrowed into trails sooner and there was lots of traffic. Slowly but surely, I moved up the ranks and found myself in 25th starting my last lap of the race! Top 25 was my goal, and I was determined to stay there through to the finish! I felt really solid on the climbs as was able to keep the pace high and finish with a fast last lap... Crossing the line to get my first U23 UCI point in 25th! That's a memorable first of many UCI points to come I'm sure! 
Post race, Freddie and I enjoyed some fresh baguettes with baked Brie while the rest of the team prepared for their races the next day. The Sunday races were so fun to watch as we had some fantastic Canadian results! 

Interview from Rob Jones with Canadian Cyclist:

It was a quick pack up Sunday afternoon and long drive back to Stuggart airport hotel to start our travel home. 
This bring us back to my present moment as I'm writing this while flying west over the ocean back to my home. 
I'm excited to come back home for a couple weeks filled with family and friend time, cottage nights, group training with coach Kevin, and a couple Canada Cup races at Horseshoe and Hardwood! 

Big thanks to the support of the National Team for this experience! Also, Trek Store Toronto along with Trek Canada MTB Team and Barry Near has been a massive help for equipment, team, and moral support. 

Thanks to my coach, Kevin Simms, for helping me be the best I can be! He creates fun, engaging, and definitely challenging training environments that result in world class training. You can't be a world class athlete without a world class coach. 

Thanks to everyone for following my journey on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! 

Here is a blog I made for Hammer Nutrition website about tips for travelling to Europe for races!

Monday, 14 March 2016

It's a New Game

  My first race in the Elite field was for sure a whole different game than the Junior races I have grown used to.
  The First Canada Cup of the season was held at Bear Mt. Resort near Victoria, BC. I was SO excited coming over to this race because 1) I had never ridden in BC before, 2) I got to miss school, 3) I hadn't mountain biked in MONTHS, 4) I was going to spend a week with my best friends, and last but not least 5) I was going to line up on the start line with some of the best riders in Canada and the world! 

Thanks to Trek Store Toronto, I had this Trek Superfly race machine ready so early in the year! 

I stayed with Team Ontario before and during the race, with my Coach, Kevin Simms, leading this group! (Quinton, Brodie, Marc-Antione, Dana, myself, and Tyler) 

I arrived very late Wednesday night to mountain bike for my first time on Thursday, and to race Saturday! 

There are some pre-race nerves (and determination!) hiding behind that smile. 

We were SO insanely lucky that race day was mostly sunny and very warm! I was expecting a mud fest for this race... And although it is always a bit muddy in Victoria, we couldn't have asked for nicer weather. 

A shot from the first kilometre of the race! 

I started the race conservative, not knowing where my fitness was at after a long winter and knowing that the race would be much longer than what I'm used to. 

Coming through the feed zone, receiving my bottles and encouraging words from Kevin! 

I was very impressed with the course. It had everything: sustained, double track power climbs, flow and jump sections, twisty technical single track power ups, open grassy fields, and tricky single track with rocks and roots everywhere. 

Thanks to Braison Images and Jay Walrus for some of these race action shots! 

Overall, my race was very progressive. I had consistent lap times, so I was continuously picking off people throughout the race. I really surprised myself with my race endurance! 

My final placement was 3rd U23, and 10th Elite! I am very happy with this result for an early season race, and I'm looking forward to my improvement from here. 

Shout out and congrats to Quinton for winning the Junior Ex. race!!! 

The day after the race I was lucky enough to join the top ladies on an epic MTB ride through Hartland trails! It was so inspiring to actually train with Catherine Pendrel and  Emily Batty rather than just cheering for them in races. This ride also included many other rad riders who I've looked up to for many years. 

After the race I stayed in the luxurious Bear Mt. Resort thanks to their support and Cycling Canada! Laurie Arsenault and I had a few amazing days together training in Hartland, exploring the hiking trails, and scouting out restaurants! 

What's next?

A LOT of school.... Heading back to the second round of university midterms, then one month until exams! 
Once I'm done my first year at the end of April, I'm going to be travelling for training and racing all summer long... starting with two World Cups in France and Germany! 

Follow me on Instagram for more constant posts: @soren.meeuwisse 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

So Cal

Thanks to the Ontario Cycling Association, myself along with 15 other developing Ontario cyclists got to escape the cold Canadian weather and retreat to heavenly California! This endurance training camp has always been a highlight of my year and training... LOTS of quality time on the saddle among motivating coaches and athletes. 

Staying hydrated while flying- with lots of water and my Hammer Fizz electrolyte tablets. 
Thanks to Hammer for fueling my training and recovery! You can get Hammer Nutrition products at a discounted price with my promo code (soren15) at
First day- An honorary Simms family member (they wished they were surfing).  

First mountain conquered with the coach - Mt. Palomar

Loved my Domane isospeed decoupler on those dirt paths! 

Beach time mid-ride! - Erica, Dana, myself, Ali, then Sarah

The full crew of athletes -Post 20min TT on Mt Palomar 

It took a MAJOR hike up a mountain for this view! 

Beautiful views everywhere. 

This is me almost crashing out Pete and Sarah (ft. Malcolm) 

Thanks to Trek Canada MTB Team and Trek Store Toronto for my amazing road bike and bike fit so I could maximize my time and training down south! I have never felt so comfortable on a road bike before. 

I am back at school now for one week, then I fly out to Victoria, BC on Wednesday for the first Canada Cup of the season! That's right... A mountain bike Canada Cup on March 5. The venue at Bear Mt Resort should be fantastic though, I've heard great things! 
I just can't wait to get back on the dirt... now as a U23! It will be so exciting starting in the elite field.