Cory Wallace

What’s in Cory Wallace’s Messkit?

Trevor Browne of Messkit Magazine (and also a Kona Ambassador!) took the time to interview our marathon-man, Cory Wallace about his adventuring and what exactly fuels him on his trips. Cory relies on a wide array of foods and powders to make it through his mega expeditions. He also loves to sample the local street foods in the exotic countries where he rides.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Whether in Nepal, Bhutan, Chile, Cambodia or wherever far-flung place he rides, you can rest assured food is the top priority for making it through big days in the saddle. Jump in to see what’s in Cory’s messkit!

Cory Wallace Reports on Winning the Samarathon Desert Race

Israel is a Middle Eastern country of 8.7 million people located on the shores of the Mediterranean sea.  It has a predominantly Jewish population and is regarded as the biblical Holy Land.  Racing a bike in Israel has been on my to do list for a long time as I have heard many conflicting stories about this country which has had more than its share of conflict since its independence in 1948.  Riding a bike around a country is my favourite way to feel its heartbeat and stage races specifically allow us to get deep into the countryside without having to think too hard.

The four day UCI Samarathon Desert was a great way to see the southern Arava Desert of Israel. Their organization has built a great event which allowed us riders to just show up, shut off our minds and ride our bikes through a very beautiful part of the World.  Joining 300 other riders in the event’s fifth year, we covered nearly 230 km through the desert with close to 40% being on nice single track.  Coming from Canada we are spoiled with the trails we have, but I was definitely impressed with the quality of riding that was offered to us in Israel.  The scenery was pretty epic as well, with cliffs, canyons, sand dunes and some great views of the mountains of Jordan in the distance. 

Race wise my partner, Soren Nissen from Luxembourg, and I weren’t too sure what to expect with our early season form, especially with the field being full of Israel’s top XC racers.  Rolling into the 20km prologue we were both pretty tired after a huge effort just to get to the start line.  My trip had taken three days from Pokhara, Nepal and was highlighted by two delayed flights, a missed flight, 48 hours hanging out in Katmandu and eventually a 2am arrival in Jerusalem. The next day we went on an eight hour tourist trip down to the race start near Eliat.  At one point we rode out into the desert to visit a local Bedouin family.  The Bedouins are desert dwellers who are generally Arab Nomads.  A lot of them are urbanized now but make a living showing off their traditional ways of life such as camel riding and desert camping.  It would be cool to come back and explore this part of the culture a bit more one day as living in the desert seem like quite a tough existence. 

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

In the prologue I did my best to stick to Soren’s wheel as we had to pass over 15 teams as we were given one of the last start positions in the time trial format.  The course was a ribbon of smooth single track through a very rocky and unforgiving desert terrain.  Luckily we escaped unscathed but lost over a minute on the Israeli leaders, signalling that the days ahead were going to be a tough battle.  After the stage we were told it was just 25 km back to camp, and there would be a tailwind, so we opted to ride.  It ended up being closer to 40 km, mostly into a headwind which left us both dehydrated and with some hunger pains.  The scenery was amazing though with the mountains of Jordan to the east and a high desert plateau leading to Egypt on the right.  This part of the country was really skinny with just 50km separating the three countries!

Heading to stage two we missed the bus transfer back to the start as we thought it was 6:15 am not 6am.  At 6am we had loaded our bikes and then went back to our tents to gather a few things.  Returning at 6:15 we found all the busses had left so hitch-hiked with the Samarathon media team.  Unfortunately our bikes didn’t get unloaded with the other racers at the race start and were now on a bus headed towards Egypt.  Thankfully one of the volunteers chased the bus down and got us our bikes just before the race start!  

This day the race started with a big climb up to a desert plateau at 500 meters.  I set the pace dropping everyone except the Israeli team in the leaders jerseys.  Soren sat back and analyzed the situation.  He told me the Israelis had struggled to hold my wheel so we made a tactic that I would attack going into the next single track and he would sit at the front letting the gap grow.  He would then attack and bridge over to me.  This tactic worked brilliantly except once Soren caught back up he started to cramp up really good allowing the Israelis to close the gap again.  The riding this stage was awesome as we rode some trails on the edge of a ridge overlooking the dry desert below.  It was a very dry climate but the temperatures were perfect for racing, sitting in the low twenties.   Towards the end of the stage Soren and I would break away from our Israeli competitors and put four minutes into them by the finish to overtake the pink leader jerseys. The highlight of the stage was the final single track climb to the finish which switch backed its way out of a box canyon. This was also the KOM of the day in which there was a side competition to see who the best male and female climbers were on the day. A Russian rider won the overall, although I’m sure Soren would’ve claimed it if he hadn’t stuck with me as a good teammate.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Once back at camp we settled into our Villa camp on the edge of a small lake in Timna Park.  It was a real oasis in the desert with beautiful rock walls surrounding us.  The restaurant on site served some great food for us racers and showed off why Israeli cuisine is so popular around the World.  The highlights were the Shakshuka, hummus, tahini and falafels – although pretty much anything after a long day of racing generally tastes good. The awards ceremonies in the evenings were entertaining events with one of the race organizers, Nimi, putting on a bit of a comedy show and the pictures of the day would allow us to see just what beauty we had missed while our heads were down pushing our pedals as hard as we could.  The awards would often go past 9pm, and the race days would start with 4:45-5 am wake up calls.  This combination led to some short nights!  I guess this is why the race slogan was “Ride hard, live Harder!”  Being a 24 hour racer these short nights probably played into our favour as I’m used to riding tired while Israeli’s XC racers are likely used to being a bit better rested!.

Stage three was the Queen’s stage and took us 85km across a desert plateau before dropping down a cool canyon and then on some rough river beds back to the race finish.  This part of the race felt pretty wild and let us really soak in the outback of the desert.  We extended our lead a couple minutes as the Israelis crashed at one point while trying to follow our wheels.  Being the polite Canadian I started to ease up to let them catch back up but Soren reminded me that they had refused to stop for a pee break earlier in the stage when things were calm.  Coming from a road racing background,  if the jersey leaders aren’t respected in the peloton then they will put the hammer down later on if things go sideways. He was right, so we took off and we had six motivated Israelis trying to chase us down into a nasty headwind.  I was suffering this day but Soren single handedly held off the charging Israelis while I went cross eyed just trying to hold his wheel.  At the finish we were both pretty spent as we weren’t just battling the race but we had also both picked up a small flu bug somewhere in the previous days.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

It was a rough night as we both got sicker and the early morning wake up at 4:45 came much too early.  Going to breakfast there were only 10 other people there out of 300 riders which probably signaled we weren’t the only ones struggling with the early mornings.   With a 5 minute GC lead, we had some time to play with but the 52km final stage was suited for the punchier Israeli XC riders.  The Israelis got away from us on one of the early climbs but Soren would set the pace on the fire road sections and me on the single track, which kept the gap from growing too big.  A few spectators on course would tell us the gap was 3-4 minutes, we think just to stress us out when in reality it was just between 1-2 minutes. The riding this day was amazing as it was on a new purpose-built single track through Tinma Park.  They sure have put a lot of work into the riding in the desert and it was a real treat to race on.  Rolling into the finish in third, just over two minutes down on the leaders, meant we had successfully held onto our Pink leader jerseys and taken the title at this UCI S2 ranked stage race!  What a great way this was to kick off the year! It certainly wasn’t an easy victory, but that makes it that much sweeter.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The action didn’t stop the days after the race as time was spent in the city of Tel Aviv, and of course riding.  Tel Aviv is on the Mediterranean Coastline and is the country’s economic and technological hub.  It is also party central and has a 24 hour lifestyle.  We were pretty tuckered out from the race so settled on some more relaxing activities.  I tried a recovery ride on the coastal bike path but this turned into one of the sketchiest rides of the year as it was littered with out of control e-bikers and e-scooters.  Old men with beer bellies would overtake me and glare down as if to ask why I was going so slowly.  Because I’m actually peddling my bike while you guys have your e-bikes set up so you don’t even have to touch the pedals!  I was thankful to make it back to the hotel intact.  In the evening my friend Yoram picked me up to take me up to his farm in Northern Israel for a few days of riding in the Carmel mountains. It was interesting how different the environment was up there with lots of greenery and rolling hills.  

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

To cap off the trip Yoram, teamed up with a local Kona dealer Erez Golan to take us on the famous “Sugar trail” from Jerusalem down to the lowest place on earth at the Dead sea which is -430 M below sea level! It was a sweet ride as the flowing single track went past Mosques and some Bedouin settlements. One of the coolest things was to see the relationship that our Israeli hosts had with some Palestinians in the area as I have heard so much about their conflicts in the media.  To finish the day off Erez hosted us for a night of Steaks in which he BBQ’d up five different delicious cuts and opened up a cooler full of beers and champagne.  The hospitably of our Israeli friends is what truly made this trip one for the ages.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The days in Israel ended by getting combed over by the tight Israeli airport security.  This was the toughest security I’ve ever gone through as they took everything apart and even took my bike pump as they were afraid it was a weapon.  I escaped before they had time to probe me as I’m sure that was next. Now back in Nepal It’s time to rest up a bit before the next adventure up in the Himalaya’s as this trip to Israel was a tiring one.  My mind is full of great memories, especially from the Samarathon Desert which reminded me a lot of the laid back atmosphere we have at the BC Bike race and Singletrack 6 in Canada.  I’ll be crossing my fingers for a chance to return to the Holy Land again someday soon!.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Don’t forget you can follow Cory’s adventures on his blog here. corywallace.com

Cory Wallace Kicks of 2019 with a Win in Israel

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Here at Kona we are positive that Cory Wallace is actually a robot sent from the future to show us mere mortals that Type 2 fun is actually a good time and that we should all be pushing our bodies to their absolute limit.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Having just finished riding in Nepal and complete the Annapurna circuit in under 24hrs Cory headed to Israel with race partner, Danish ex-roadie Soren Nissen. The pair were there to take part in the 5th edition of the Samarathon Desert MTB Race, 240km of grueling shadeless desert racing.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

After coming in second on the 19km prologue, the pair then went on to win the remaining 68km, 76km and 86km stages to take the overall win in a time of 9hrs and 51 minutes just 2 min 45 seconds ahead of second place. After 10 hours of racing, it’s clear the locals did not take it easy on Cory and Soren.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Say Hello to the 2019 Endurance and Adventure Team!

Guess who’s back? The Kona Endurance and Adventure Team! This four pack of distance/type-two/pain-loving cyclists plan to travel across every kind of terrain on multiple continents throughout 2019. In its third year, the Kona Endurance and Adventure team returns ready for some big days in the saddle. From lung-busting gravel grinds, mountain biking in places we may not have ever heard of, to a full season of Elite XC, gravel and marathon racing, they’re ready to dig in, ride hard, and capture all of the excitement they can find aboard two wheels.

The Endurance and Adventure team is made up of Kona veterans that know exactly what it takes to squeeze the most out of every single adventure. Team ringleader Barry Wicks is back with a full agenda of rides all across North America and the World accompanied by probable world record-holder Spencer Paxson, 24hr World Champ Cory Wallace, and the ever-keen-to-crush and party pumper Kris Sneddon. And be on the lookout for guest appearances by Kona Maxxis Shimano CX racers Kerry Werner and Rebecca Fahringer. Together they make up a crew that is champing at the bit to push the limits of where bikes can go, how hard they can be ridden, and how much fun is actually possible while inflicting what seems to mere mortals like some sort of self-inflicted punishment.

Oh the places they’ll go! They’ll cross the plains and race the Dirty Kanza, traverse BC’s best trails in the BC Bike Race, leave their marks in the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, spend days in the high alpine of the Trans Rockies and pay visits to the Epic Ride Series of events. In addition, they’ll be busy crossing many a mountain pass, bikepacking to locations that seem impossible to reach, racing the races that scare most people, and leaving dusty contrails in their wakes as often as possible. If it sounds like a challenge, these guys are up for it.

Barry Wicks

Barry Wicks

Cory Wallace

Cory Wallace Photo: Margus Riga

Spencer Paxson

Spencer Paxson

Kris Sneddon

Kris Sneddon

 

Stay tuned to the Cog and Kona Features for the latest on their travel shenanigans.

All photos by Patrick Means and Duncan Philpott

Racing the Annapurna Circuit for a Cause

Last year Adventure Team rider and 24 Hour Solo World Champion Cory Wallace took on the task of raising money to help build a coaching/training center in Nepal. His goal was to complete the Annapurna Circuit in less than 24 hours. Completing the Annapurna Circuit is an incredibly challenging athletic feat on its own. It is comprised of 220km of extremely high altitude riding while ascending over 6000 meters throughout the process. Completing the Annapurna Circut in just 24 hours is…well… something that perhaps only Wallace can do.

He’s back at it this year and on November 20th is attempting to break his time last year of 23:57 with the goal to raise $6,500 for the coaching center -the only of its kind in Nepal. Wallace is giving away two of his world championships jerseys- one for the single highest donation and the person who donates and most accurately predicts his completed time in the comments section on GoFundMe. Want to play along? Check out the fundraiser here.

Stay tuned for his result and donate to the campaign!

Video by Gaurav Man Sherchan and photos by Cory and Patrick Means.

 

24 Hour Solo World Championships: Facts

As you’re reading this Cory Wallace is competing in the 24 Hour Solo World Championships.

What does it take to make it through a race like this? We asked Cory to give us some key stats.

 

“I’ll aim to consume 300-400 calories per hour.
Some country songs will likely be stuck in my head.  
7 x World Champ Jason English and I are pretty good buddies so we usually catch up in the first few hours of the race before we really start beating each other up.  After 12 hours we all become pretty quiet.
I feel I’ve had good form all year but have been hitting the post a lot.  I think there is a good race in my legs and hope to bury this one good.
I’ll be running two Kona Hei Hei’s.  They have foam grips and otherwise are stock team bikes.  One has a bit wider and higher handlebar just to switch up the position a bit between laps.
The laps are around 13 km long.  Usually, the winner will do between 400-450 kms.” -Cory Wallace

24 Hour Solo World Champs: Cory Wallace is Ready!

Fort William is known to most mountain bikers for its place on the World Cup downhill circuit. This year, however, it will play host to the Solo 24 Hour World Championships. Kona Adventure Team racer and former solo 24 Hour World Champion Cory Wallace is in Scotland and ready to race! We recently featured an article on what it takes to pull off a 24-hour solo race, but the world championships are next level.

Here’s a recap of the 2017 event:

 

The race kicks off on October 20th at the Nevis Range Complex at high noon! Be sure to follow along with Cory’s live timing here!

24 Hours of Intrigue: Red Bull Interviews Cory Wallace

Kona Adventure Team rider Cory Wallace was recently interviewed by Red Bull about racing in 24-hour events. To most of us it seems crazy to take as little as a 10-minute break during the course of 24 hours. For elite adventure racers, it’s just what they do?

The first World 24-hour race which I had a shot at winning was in Australia. That race, Jason English won by 45 minutes, and in total his pit stops were 5-10 minutes, while mine were about an hour, and I finished in second. This opened my eyes to how important pit stops are.” -Cory Wallace

Find out how they eat, how they pee, and if they sleep! It’s pretty fascinating!

Cory Wallace: King of Adventure

Recently the crew from Banana Backpacks sat down with Kona Adventure Team rider/racer Cory Wallace. They talked about some of his most incredible experiences on a bike from meeting the Prime Minister of Bhutan to almost being swept away by a raging river and being rescued by monster trucks towing Jeeps. No joke. This is an incredible read about one of cycling’s most interesting personalities. Enjoy!

“One day it started raining and just before the finish line there was a big river we had to get across. The first few of us got across the river and it was waist deep, which was manageable but not super safe. By the time the last people came, the river was raging. So they had to hop in jeeps and jeep them across the river.  The next stage of the race we were supposed to go across this other river and down it, with about 25 river crossings. But when they went to scout it out they lost one of their jeeps because the river was so high. It was just too dangerous to race.” -Cory Wallace

Read the full story here.

 

Wallace World Travels: Racing in Norway

Kona Adventure Team rider and racer Cory Wallace is a traveling fiend these days. His latest adventure took him far north to the gorgeous Norway mountains.

Words from Wallace:

I spent the last two weeks traveling around and racing in Norway. First up was the legendary Birkebeiner race based out of the Olympic village of Lillehammer. This race was at one time the largest mountain bike race in the World with over 17 000 participants. It is a bit smaller now but is still the “big show” in Norwegian mountain biking. The race was like a road race, 84 km long mostly on gravel roads, with average speeds of over 32 km/hr. On the finishing descent, one rider hit 100.1 km/hr as the track went straight down a ski run. I had a rougher day, fighting hard for 22nd.

Next up I flew up North with my buddy Anderl to the northernmost town before the North Pole, Hammerfest. Here we spent a few days adventuring around the Arctic terrain with the Skaidi Xtreme race organizers and other racers before racing their event on Saturday. The Skaidi Xtreme was the opposite of the Birken, and a real mountain bikers race across the arctic tundra. It was boggy, muddy, rocky and pretty technical, with average speeds around 18 km/hr. I flatted early on but managed to fight back pretty good to get within throwing distance of 3rd place, eventually rolling in 4th. It was cool to see both the southern and northern parts of Norway in one trip. The Nordic country is a leader in this world in many ways and they certainly know how to put on some good bike races!

Next up is the Canadian Marathon Championships in Saint-Felecian, Quebec this weekend. It’s been a couple years since I won the title but I’m fired up and ready to take a run at claiming a 3rd Maple Leaf Jersey this weekend.

Over and out!

 

Photos by Frank Rune Isaksn @ The Skaidi Xtreme

Wallace in Romania

Words by Adventure/Endurance team member, Cory Wallace

Romania is a Southeastern European country with close to 23 000 000 inhabitants including the infamous Dracula character. Geographically its trademark is the Carpathian mountains which are in the forested region of the Transylvania region and are considered to be one of the last truly wild parts of Europe. Having a chance to go there to race the 4 day, Carpathian MTB Epic (UCI, S2) was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up so off to Eastern Europe it was!

The race itself was based out of the Fundata resort, 4 hrs North of the capital city of Bucharest, and just minutes away from Dracula’s castle in Bran. With a 10 hour time difference from Canada, I showed up a bit jet lagged so opted to spend Wednesday riding down to Bran to check out one of Romania’s many medieval towns, highlighted by its fortified churches and castles. The beauty of riding a bike is that it gets you straight into the culture and its people while simultaneously getting the blood flowing and the body back online after a big travel day.

My buddy Frederic Gombert flew in from France and arrived late Wednesday night. He too wanted to get over his jet lag so Thursday morning we went for an easy pre-ride with our new friend Miroda from South Africa. Our pre-ride turned into a bit longer and tougher than expected as the shortcut we opted to take back to the resort ended up being a solid hike a bike and pretty soon we were 2.5 hours into a “recovery ride”. We came to a private property sign just 3 km from our home base back at Fundata. Thankfully the locals were warm and welcoming, opening the gate and letting us cross through there pastures. This was a small prelude of both the warmth of the Romanian locals and also what was on deck for us at the Carpathian Epic.

Later this afternoon we tackled a short 10 km prologue to officially kick off the CarpathianMTB Epic. It was underestimated as we road down some gnarly old school straight shot descents and soon had to ride up some insanely steep gradients back to the finish line. My body was in shock as I tried to push over a 36 T-45 gearing. I was ready to walk but my buddy Fred was just behind me and my manly hood wouldn’t let me get off the bike. Thus I ground the gears over at the slowest rpm possible. By the finish line, I was cracked and stunned as it’s only once every 5 or 6 years that a 36-45 gearing will let me down but apparently racing in Romania was going to be an exception.

Post race we headed up to the restaurant for a big Romanian buffet full of all sorts of meat, delicious cheeses, potatoes, cabbage, and a few other white starches. Apparently, they don’t like eating green things too much over there but we certainly had our fill of heavy proteins and Carbs. It reminded me a bit of the Mongolian cuisine. The setting for all our meals during the race had an epic view over the Carpathian mountains and turned into our hang out spot between racing.

A Romanian 4 star resort is a little different than a Canadian 4-star resort, and while it was comfortable, we also had one giant street light and one spotlight shining straight into our room. A Belgium rider had the same problem, so he put his extra bed and mattress against the window to block the light. Fred and I occupied both our beds, so instead, we unscrewed the light from the spotlight, and then slept with black shirts over our heads to try and get some darkness. The shower also shot straight into the room making it a swimming hole, unless we crouched in the tub and washed ourselves like we were kids in a tin basin. The WIFI they promised was also non-existent. I brought these issues up to the front desk but they just turned their heads and told us they’d fix it later. I’m used to sleeping in a tent in a ditch somewhere so I could really care less about this stuff, but if you’re going to charge $100 + a night for something then I’ll raise my voice in hopes of getting any silly problems fixed for the next occupant.

Stage 1 I showed up nice and early, 20 minutes before race start, but apparently had already missed the UCI call-up. I tried to negotiate with the UCI official, but these guys can take themselves pretty seriously, thus I had a nice start position at the back of the 150 rider field. It was sketchy trying to ride through the field on marbly gravel roads but I made it up to the chase group just before the first 10 km climb. The lead group of 12 riders was already long gone, part of the joys of racing a UCI race in Europe with top riders from 20+ countries on hand. I attempted to bridge up to the lead group but the 20-25% hills were kicking my ass one after another and pretty soon I had a full meltdown as my back was unhappy and the legs were even more unhappy trying to push over the 36-45 gearing. All my smaller chainrings were at home as I never use them, and I had unsuccessfully looked for a smaller one after the Prologue the night before. Apparently, when you race in Eastern Europe you better show up with everything you need as spare parts are sparse.

Reaching the first feed zone at a mountain pass was stunning as we had 360 views of the Carpathian mountains. I stopped for 10 seconds to fix my seat and was immediately scolded by the UCI officials for fixing my bike in the feed zone and not tech zone which was 3 feet to the left. Whatever, no one else is around, but as I know these UCI guys like to show off their powers so moved a couple feet to the left to continue fixing the problem. Grabbing some food I took off, hike a biking straight up a pitch to the mountain summit and then embarking on some amazing high alpine riding. The body was still in meltdown mode as I sunk into the 30+’s but I kept on telling myself to push through it. Eventually, the legs came back online and I started moving forwards, passing riders again and slowly gaining some momentum. It’s amazing how fast the mind can switch during a race, being on the edge of a complete breakdown, to making small gains and getting the momentum back in your favour.

Mid-race I could see my buddy Fred about 3 minutes ahead, straight up this huge hike a bike section. After spending last winter hiking around the Himalayas I used these hike-a-bikes to my advantage and caught a few riders, including my buddy Fred just before a 15 km descent through the alpine on a great, technical rocky trail. This turned into one of the best 30 minutes of riding I had all year as we pushed each other, passing riders, and getting ourselves back into the race. It was sketchy in sections, dodging sharp rocks, skidding down wet grassy slopes, and bouncing off tree roots in the forest below. By the bottom of this Romanian Enduro we had moved back into the top 15, a position I’d hold to the finish, while Fred would crack and drift back a few spots.

Again after the race, I searched for a smaller chainring as I heard Stage 2 would be even tougher. One of the local Romanian teams had some but were unfortunately unwilling to sell off any of them, or loan one out for the last two days of the race. Fair enough, I was in direct competition with them, and it was my fault for not packing one. That being said, if anyone from overseas is competing against me in Canada and needs help one day I will go out of my way to make sure they get it. After being on the traveler’s side of the game for most my life I know the challenges that come with being away from home and have some karma to repay as I’ve had great help all over the world.

Stage 2 was pretty short mileage wise but a real hardman’s day. Somehow they packed 3300 climbing meters into 59 km, and it had more hike a bike then you could shake a stick at. Luke Way at Balance Point Racing has been giving me coaching guidance for years and after the last visit, he told me to work on my slow cadence efforts to really put some stress on the leg muscles to lower the blood oxidation levels. I took the steep climbs at the Carpathian Epic as the perfect spot to practice this, but it also took its toll as I would push the low gears way past my limits and after 2 hours of this I had detonated my legs.

Finally hitting the top of the last Carpathian Mountain on the stage, I was all geared up to make some spots back up on the descent. Shockingly the decent went in a straight line, through the rhubarb and grass down the mountain. It seemed whoever flagged the course just set there GPS on a straight line down the mountain and then started hanging flags up. Once out of the bushes, it eventually turned into a skid trail and near the bottom a skid trail with boulders littered all over. All in all, it took 12 minutes to go down what had taken over 1hr and 15 minutes to climb with much of it being at – 30-47%. My arms burned at the bottom and my brakes were likely melted into the rotors. From here to the finish the body was in shutdown mode, likely from going over my limit trying to grind up the last 2 mountains with no ability to spin with the big gears. Eventually, I’d roll in 20th, just glad to be over and able to start the recovery process for the final stage.

Stage 3 was more of a normal marathon, 60 km, 2500 km, and no hike a bike. Starting the stage out slow, I’d wind it up going over a grassy descent, passing 10 riders via letting go of my brakes and taking a sketchy outside line. I’d lose a bit on the next punchy climbs but the course was predominantly downhill to start going over some rough cattle trails which played in my favour. Eventually, I’d settle into a group from 11th-15th place as we started a long 12 km climb, first up through a giant canyon, then onto a fire road and eventually ending on some rooty singletrack. A lot of these gravel roads were full of tourists hiking around looking down at there phones which made it interesting trying to weave around all the oblivious hikers.

I kept getting dropped from this group of Euro climbers, but I’d use the rolling singletrack across the top to gain contact again. Most the trails in Romania were like rough Canadian hiking tracks. In my mind, these are some of the most fun trails to ride as they are raw and rugged and my Kona Hei Hei was eating them up. The backside descent was fast, and ended on a straight pitch down a loose dusty slope, a similar theme to the week. It wasn’t super technical but it was pretty rad how the Romanian riding was so diverse every day with every type of riding imaginable. The final climb to the finish was 12 km up a tight river valley surrounded by Transylvanian forest. It resembled the west coast of BC and the slight 3-4% gradients were much nicer than the 20%+ gradients that had dominated the race the first few stages! Crossing the finish line in 10th on the day marked the first solid ride I had since crashing hard on stage 4 at BC Bike Race back in July, and moved me up to into the money and 15th overall in GC. It was reason enough to enjoy the festivities later in the day as the organizers put on a huge Romania BBQ, complete with tables full of wine and beer. Apparently, Romania is the 10th largest supplier of wine in the world, and home to some of the best cheese and free-range meat I’ve tasted so we had a nice party.

Overall the experience in Romania was top notch. The organizing crew put on a great race and the atmosphere was nice as every stage started and finished in the same race village. The riding reminded me of the old TransRockies classic in Canada, a nice change from all the new school berm filled, smoothed out IMBA trails. The following morning all the racers cleared out and I settled in for a relaxing day to try and recupe some energy as I had an adventure planned the following day, planning to ride back to Bucharest via the backroads.

It’s interesting how the locals often try to talk you out of these sort of adventures in their countries as they try to make it sound more dangerous then it actually is. Over the years I’ve learned to trust my own instincts, take a few precautions and then get on with whatever little adventure I have planned. With a smile on your face and an open mind, this world is usually a pretty welcoming place.

The ride back to Bucharest was top notch as I planned out a 185 km route via the backroads. The first 80 km snaked its way out of the Carpathian mountains on some dirt roads, going through some pretty cool mountain towns full of impressive churches. It was good to see how well kept the Romanians keep their countryside. The 2nd half of the ride was across Romania’s agriculture flatlands and was a good mixture of small paved roads and farmer dirt roads. Every couple of hours I’d pull over at little roadside stores to refill on water and snacks. There was always Romanian country folk just chilling outside these rest stops and they were pretty curious as to what a Canadian mountain biker was doing in there neck of the woods. I learned a bit of Romanian this way and had a lot of handshakes and good travel wishes.

Reaching Bucharest the traffic picked up so I hopped on the sidewalks for the last few km of the ride before checking into the Rin hotel near the airport. The next day my friend Elena from the Carpathian MTB Epic offered to give me a tour of her city so I hopped on the bike, this time with sandals and casual 7mesh clothing, and took the scenic way into town via the many bike paths through the parklands. The city itself was pretty rad, full of the largest parliament building outside of the Pentagon, lots of historic buildings and many neat cultural things to see and do. Bucharest used to be called a mini-Paris and has some cool places to check out. A week in Romania was a good taste of the country but the more you see of a place the more plentiful the opportunities open up to explore it further. I’ll hope to have a chance to come back one day to continue exploring this Balkan country.

For now, it’s off to Norway for a two-week adventure including racing both the legendary Birken in Lillehammer and then the Skaidi Xtreme way up North above the 71st parallel. Here we come Scandinavia!

 

**Photos by MPG Romania

For all of Cory’s race reports, be sure to check out his blog featuring in-depth recaps from all of his race and events.

A Heavy Weekend of Racing for Cory Wallace

Kona Adventure Team Rider and 24 Hour Solo World Champion, Cory Wallace, had a somber start to his racing last weekend. Prior to the Squamish Spakwus 50km race, he received word that one of his close friends had passed away while racing his bike in Nepal. Cory took his grief and poured all of his emotion into a powerful victory in the race. He followed it up with a 120km race in Alberta the next day. Cory is a true machine with a huge heart.

Cory wrote about processing his friend’s passing and channeling it into his racing in his most recent blog post. Our condolences to you, Cory. Thanks for always being a true champion.

Racing in Alberta has its perks