Rémy Métailler's autumn biking season had gotten off to an admittedly rocky start.
After being refused entry into the United States to compete in Red Bull Rampage at the end of October, the Whistler resident knew he needed to come out with a major response at the Urban Downhill Taxco race in Mexico on Nov. 4 — and he did just that besting Bernard Kerr and 2014 and 2015 champion Bernardo Neves Cruz by just a second. Kirk McDowall, a Lower Mainland rider often seen around Whistler, took fourth.
"I was very happy. I had a very good run," said Métailler. "I had a two-second lead, so that's pretty good for that kind of race. It's usually tighter."
Having raced at Taxco while making the podium in the past, it's generally been a solid course for Métailler, but some small changes made it suit him particularly well this year.
"The course was a bit more fast and it was a bit less technical and I'm usually better when I can go fast," he said.
The 2016 run was tough for Métailler, as he broke his back in a crash in Taxco.
After recovering from that, he built himself up to compete at some of the world's top events once again.
When he attempted to enter the United States to head to Virgin, Utah to prepare for Rampage, Métailler said he was refused entry despite having competed at the event the past two years and with an Electronic System for Travel Authorization visa and passport in hand. However, since prize money was on the line as a professional athlete, he was told he'd need to apply for a work visa, which would take two months to secure.
With the lost cash, it put a bit of a squeeze on Métailler heading into Taxco, where he hurled his bike with a purpose through the streets and down the stairs of the Mexican mining town in front of 48,000 spectators.
"I really needed to win this event," he said. "I decided to go faster than I would normally do."
Taking a longer view, Métailler added it was important to have a highly visible outing in order to help keep his sponsors happy as well.
Outside of competition, Métailler also does plenty of product development and testing, noting that all in all, 2017 was a solid year for him.
Métailler, who is originally from France, has spent the last five summers in Whistler and is about to enter his second winter here. He appreciates the change in seasons.
"I love skiing just as much as I love biking, so Whistler is the absolute perfect place for me," he said.