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2014 MTB Nationals – Course Preview, 2015 PanAm Games Prep + Interview with Glenn Meeuwisse

by Peter Kraiker

The new start [P] Peter Kraiker
July 16, 2014 (Barrie, ON) – The folks at Hardwood Hills and Pulse Racing have been working hard to bring some new excitement to the already challenging 2014 MTB National Championship course just north of Barrie. Perennial favourites like Bone Shaker will certainly be there, as will Coffee Run and the finishing BMX section.

While Bone Shaker is unchanged, much of the rest of the course has been dialed in (and up!) a little more to make it even more interesting. Pedal spent an afternoon with race organizer Glenn Meeuwisse of Pulse Racing to talk about what new. We started at Coffee Run and stepped through a handful of the key changes.

Wide berms after Holmes Humps [P] Peter Kraiker
I’ll start by saying that the top of Coffee Run is just like it was… steep with great flow. It’s a little further down that things have changed. Passing has been hard there as the course is narrow… that’s no longer the case as the Holmes Humps have opened up a few key meters where you can make a pass if you’re fast enough.

Get ready to climb! [P] Peter Kraiker

Then get ready for Greg’s Gap, a new feature intended to prepare riders for World Cup courses in Europe. There is an alternate route but you’ll want to build up some courage and speed to jump across the gap. It’s not the only one on course, but you may as well start early.

Greg’s Gap [P] Peter Kraiker

Meeuwisse described many of the changes in the context of preparing young racers for what they can expect if they get to bigger events. In a way, this course is like a highlights reel of some of the course features from top venues on the World Tour.

One of two new tunnels on the course [P] Peter Kraiker

As it’s also intended to be the 2015 Pan-Am MTB course, the organizers have focused on making it camera- and spectator-friendly. From the main area, which includes the feed zone, you can expect to see the riders multiples times on each lap on some of the most exciting features without having to run yourself ragged.

One of the most challenging features is sure to be JP Nemesis, a rock berm that will require the full attention of riders as they go through it to get the right line. Ridden well it looks so easy! The potential for a wrong line with a high penalty exists though so it’s another one worth a second look.

The shortest line through The Puglsey isn’t easy [P] Peter Kraiker

Then there are climbs like The Pugsley (new) and Big Z (from last year). These, and other tough climbs on the course, will sap the energy out of riders a little more each lap. Pugsley has a few options on a couple of key corners and it will take a little time to master the line you want. Big Z is unchanged, it will be harder simply because there will have been more leg-burning climbs before getting to it.

Ty’s Choice [P] Peter Kraiker
The folks at Joyride 150 have contributed a couple of nice features to the course again this year. In particular the dual lines in the middle of the BMX section are awesome. They are similar but different so you’ll need to look them both over carefully so you get your speed just right. And then Summer’s Sender is a natural addition down a little lower. Don’t check your speed, do check how far you fly though, as it’s deceptive and you’ll want to be prepared.

Summer’s Sender [P] Peter Kraiker

The final major change is the start/finish. Instead of the usual start up a wood-chip climb, the new course has a coarse-ground pavement surface that’s a steady grade and long enough to make a selection on every lap.

For the National Championships the finish will be at the usual for Hardwood events of the past, that will be moved for the Pan-Am Games though which will bring the finish to the same open arena as the new start.

Soren Meeuwisse is all smiles about the new course [P] Peter Kraiker
The folks at Pulse Racing and Hardwood Hills have been working long and hard to get the venue ready and are proud to be on schedule with their course improvements. It’s a world-class venue that’s ready for top atheletes to compete on it as well as preparing Canadian atheletes to compete around the world.

The very definition of “win-win”. Stay tuned for updates from the Toronto-2015 Pan-Am organizing committee about their view of the venue in time for the start of the Nationals.

Check out the video to see some of the sections in action with Peter Glassford and a few more riders. And then go pre-ride it! There are enough changes that you’ll want to give yourself a chance to get familiar with them and comfortable riding them.





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