September 08, 2011 Features & Images » Feature Story

Rise of the road warrior 

Cycling never strays far from its roots


Whistler's Ben Chaddock knows the feeling of rolling at high speed, be it pinning his mountain bike down a singletrack or the burst of acceleration in a road race.

He loves both. Here's the difference:

"In downhill (mountain biking) the adrenaline is like having a pot of coffee thrown in your face," says the 26-year-old Chaddock. "It's intense and carries a lot of risk but it's over quickly. In road cycling we get the same pot of coffee but it's fed to us as a slow drip over six hours. It's a sustained adrenaline and the risks all come at the end when we're trying to get our front wheel over the finish line."

Chaddock is one of the few who has crossed over from mountain biking to road racing; that's not to say he's hung up his mountain bike for good. He's just found a way to unleash his passion in a different two-wheeled sport. Now he's doing it for Team Exergy, based out of Boise, Idaho.

But when he's not training or competing, he takes every opportunity to get on his mountain bike.

Whistler is an epicentre of mountain sports after all -where the golden age of the bike park blossomed. Clocking over one million unique visitors last month it is surely a testament to the growth of the downhill discipline. But the new sport on the rise in the Sea to Sky corridor returns to the roots of cycling itself.

Harness the world's most efficient form of transportation, modify it to be light as feather and aerodynamic as a fighter jet, and you have the modern road bicycle. Skinny tires with rock hard air pressure, frames and components made of uber light alloys strewn with carbon fibre, skin tight clothing for slicing the rider through the air. No other human powered machine comes close to the efficacious road cycle.

Add the comeback story of Lance Armstrong, who beat testicular cancer and went on to a seven-year domination of the Tour de France, and the average North American begins to take notice.

Canadian cycling legend Steve Bauer is no stranger to the Tour, having led the race and donned the illustrious maillot jaune (yellow jersey) for 14 days over the course his career. He also brought home a silver medal for Canada in the road race event at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Bauer now manages Team Spidertech, the first Pro Continental road cycling team to grow out of 100 per cent Canadian sponsorship. Sixteen of the 19 riders on the team are Canadian, including 28-year-old Whistler rider Will Routley. Bauer has also spearheaded the "Bauer Power Line," a scouting program designed to identify, test, and recruit Canadian junior hockey players to the sport of road cycling. The success of such recruitment is what will eventually achieve Team Spidertech's goal of representing Canada at the Tour de France.

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