Riding in a higher age group against athletes three years older, and with a broken bone in his forearm from the previous weekend’s downhill nationals, Whistler’s Tyler Allison placed third in the Junior Expert category at the Tim Horton’s Cross Country Mountain Bike National Championships last weekend.
Like the previous downhill, the cross-country event was held at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. The conditions were better than they were for the downhill, where the torrential downpour and fog changed the course almost from rider to rider, but the cross-country trails were still wet and slippery in sections and crashes were par for the course.
Riding with one good hand didn’t help matters for Allison, who can’t remember a season where he was as beaten up — starting with an injury to his hand over the winter where he was accidentally stabbed with a pair of scissors and some of his tendons were damaged.
“It was brutal,” he said. “The first thing that happened was we got there on Wednesday and there was no time to train, so on Thursday I went to get on my bike and I swung the leg over the seat and my back went out. I was lying on the ground, I couldn’t move.
“I went to physio and massage for two days, which were my two days to train for the national downhill. I knew I was kind of pushing it because I didn’t get to know the course before the race. On the day of the race I was feeling pretty good and picked up the pace in the mandatory training. Of course I didn’t have the course memorized and I hit a rock in a fast section that sent me off my bike.”
Allison was disappointed, as he had raced most of the other athletes in the group and knew he was a contender to win the overall Under 17 title.
He was given a removable cast for the broken bone in his forearm, and switched over to a splint for the cross-country race. He took a fall on that side on his first lap, and split his knuckle down to the bone.
After that he got back on his bike, and pushed it through to the third lap where he crashed again on his injured wrist.
“That really hurt, I didn’t want to get up after that but I did,” he said.
Despite all of his troubles, Allison was happy with his performance.
Evan Guthrie, Allison’s teammate on Team B.C., took an early lead in Junior Expert race, while Allison was sitting in fourth after the first lap and within 15 seconds of the lead. Things spaced out more on the second lap for the leaders, and Allison moved ahead of Quebec’s Jon Boucher to take the third spot on the podium.