The old idiom suggests that once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget how to do it. But switching cycling disciplines — not quite so simple.
If you're two-time downhill national champion Claire Buchar, though, you'll manage to find a way.
Buchar, representing Kovarik Racing, pulled a fairly radical switch, racing in the Trans-Provence in France from June 20 to 27. She did well with the new discipline, placing third in the women's category at the gruelling 270-km race. She was first inspired to do the race after fellow Whistler rider Katrina Strand took part last time around.
"I've never really done anything of that style before. I just went as adventure first and racing second," she said. "You can't go in expecting too much because so much could happen over the six days and the 300 kilometres. I just tried to stay strong every day and you approach it a little differently than downhill racing because you can't go 100 per cent. You're racing blind. You don't know what's coming up."
Buchar explained there were few transferable skills she could bring over from her downhill career. She was used to building a plan of attack for a course that she knew inside and out, but on course this time around, had to take a reactive approach in some rawer conditions.
"You can't approach it like a downhill race. You know every rock, root, corner. You know how the track's changing," she said. "You've analyzed everything and the whole point is to go absolutely as fast as you can according to what you know.
"When you have a pretty vague map and idea of what you're about to do, it's all blind racing, you don't really know."
In addition to the different trail conditions, Buchar also had to contend with a course layout that made riders a little more susceptible to going off-track. As well, she broke a chain in an early stage and was forced to make up time.
However, it's the new challenges that help fuel her love of the sport.
"I learned a lot. In the first two days, I learned a ton. That's the cool thing about this sport is that you just keep learning," she said. "I question myself, 'How can I still love this sport, love racing so much after all these years?' and it just comes back to the fact that I keep learning.
"There's always something to learn and something to challenge you."
Buchar explained the early conditions were close to ideal, but things got to be sizzling as the week progressed, leading to temperatures in the mid-30s to add an extra element in some of the most challenging stages.
"We had good weather — we had clear skies most days or a bit of cloud, but no rain. But you're up in the mountains. You're pretty high, so it can still get cold and you have to be prepared for anything," she said. "The closer we got to the Mediterranean (Sea) for the last two days were really hot, so that added a whole new element.
"One of the biggest climbs was in the open, in the elements. It was a long, hot climb, so that definitely took a toll."
Buchar said fans shouldn't expect her first enduro experience to be her last.
"I'm hooked on the adventure, the whole format of being out there and self-reliant," she said. "I'm already looking at other events of a similar nature to see if there's another trip I can go on. I'm not making any decisions now, but I wouldn't be surprised if you find me doing the Trans-Provence again."
Two other Sea to Sky-based riders took part in the men's pro category. Dylan Wolsky finished eighth in the category, as well as eighth overall, while Pemberton's Davis English finished 11th in the pro division and 49th overall.
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