Whistlers Jeff Beatty, the reigning Canadian junior downhill mountain bike champion, is taking some time off from downhill competitions this season to concentrate on his final high school exams. Consistently a top performer in both B.C. Cup and Canada Cup events, Beatty has been noticeably absent on the podiums this year.
Once he has that degree on his wall however and gets back from his graduation class trip to Mexico Beatty plans to get back on the saddle. This year he has only competed in one B.C. Cup event, and in a NORBA downhill at Big Bear, California, in early May where he proved he still had the touch.
Beatty was seventh out of 57 racers at Big Bear, finishing less than 10 seconds back of the leader. He would probably have done better if he hadnt fallen at one point.
"I was chasing the guy in front of me and I thought cool, Im going to catch up, and I tried to go even faster. Thats when I went a little off-course," Beatty said. He crashed and had to rip his bike free of the barrier ribbons to get back into the race. He caught up with the person again near the bottom, but will never know how well he might have finished if he stayed on course.
It was Beattys first NORBA race but it wont be his last.
"I was at the World Cup at Grouse last year, and there were all these tents set up and fans everywhere and it was awesome. And then you go to a NORBA event and the NORBA is even bigger. And there was so much support out there," he said.
This summer his goal is to finish in the top three at the nationals and make the national team once again for the World Cup finals in Austria. He was 15 th overall last year out of more than 50 of the worlds top World Cup prospects.
This year he is aiming for the top five.
"Ive been doing a lot of training on my bike and in the gym, trying to balance school, biking, and having a social life," said Beatty. Even with an academic average in the 80s, he still manages to spend between eight and 12 hours on his bike every week, usually in the bike park. He also tries to make it to the gym at least twice a week to hit the weights "A lot of the top guys are pretty bulky, so Im trying to gain some weight, get a little stronger."
Beatty is also working on making faster starts, and increasing his endurance. "Id like to be stronger to be able to push it for a full five minutes going all out. And you can always improve, get better, faster, more mentally prepared to race."
Beatty currently trains with the Single Track Off-Road Mountain Bike Club (STORMBC) and club founder and World Cup downhiller Chris Colbeck. Hes been with STORMBC since it was founded in 1998.
On the sponsorship side, hes been getting help from Specialized Bicycles, Roach and Oakley, although he will likely have to find another bike sponsor in the future as Specialized has stopped making bikes specifically for downhill racing, focusing on freeride bikes and cross-country.