Picton starts season with back-to-back wins 

Defending champ serves notice on B.C. Enduro Series

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JAMES CATTANACH/COURTESY OF THE B.C. ENDURO SERIES - TWO FOR TWO Leonie Picton (centre) is shown on top of the podium after winning her second B.C. Enduro Series race in a row.
  • Photo by James Cattanach/courtesy of the B.C. Enduro series
  • TWO FOR TWO Leonie Picton (centre) is shown on top of the podium after winning her second B.C. Enduro Series race in a row.

Even towards the end of her championship season in 2015, Leonie Picton acknowledged she wasn't feeling quite right.

Picton won four of the six B.C. Enduro Series races last year, but otherwise posted a top showing of fifth en route to the overall title.

That result came in the season's final race and Picton said she'd started to feel some fatigue at that point. It hasn't yet gone away.

Still, at least in terms of placements, she hasn't been held back by her health, winning the open women's division in the first two B.C. Enduro Series challenges of the year, first in North Vancouver and then in the Fraser Valley on May 15. In the latter, she knocked off Rosara Joseph and Laura Battista by 50 and 62 seconds, respectively.

"I'm feeling very happy with my results," she said. "I've been battling a fatigue health issue since the end of last season so I've been quite surprised with the last two results.

"It's been ongoing since last season. I don't think I've fully recovered from all the racing I did last summer."

Going into the season without any offseason training, Picton wasn't overly encouraged with her official start to the year, a fourth-place finish in the Pemberton Enduro. However, admittedly getting a stroke of luck when the leader ran into some difficulty in North Vancouver, she took advantage and kept it rolling.

"I was expecting the season to go fairly mildly," she said. "Having the win in North Van, I was quite surprised, and then again this weekend, it's been a happy result."

In the Fraser Valley, Picton practically melded with the course, enjoying — and winning — all three stages.

"This weekend, the trails just suited me. I absolutely loved them. I did two practice runs but I felt like I'd ridden them a thousand times. They were really fun and fast," she said.

Most impressively, she blazed through the middle stage, a newly constructed offering that competitors were prohibited from trying before race day.

"We could go and walk the trail but no one was allowed to ride it until the actual race. That was just amazing. It was a brand-new trail that the mountain bike community had just built probably a month beforehand. I think it had only seen maybe 20 riders down it," she said. "There was so much loam and it was amazing. You didn't really know where you were going but you kind of did. There were some blind drops and some steep chutes that were just full of loam and it was pretty incredible."

Even with a head start a third of the way into the season, Picton acknowledged she will be hard-pressed to repeat this season, though she is determined to do it.

"I'm definitely hoping to retain the overall but we'll see how it goes," she said. "I don't have high expectations with how I'm feeling, with my energy levels, but we can only hope for the best."

In the pro men's division, Chris Johnston followed up his season-opening win with a runner-up showing, finding himself just two seconds back of Matthew Beer.

In the U21 girls' division, Jennifer McTavish and Keeley Wentzel were first and third, respectively, as were Seb Kemp and Cesar Gairin in the men's 30 to 39 division.

Lastly, in the men's 15 and under category, Ian Milley and Ethan Shandro posted the top two spots.

Full results are available at www.bcenduro.com.

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