In his years racing mountain bikes, Whistlers Will Routley has proved himself to be one of the best in the region, the province and the country in his age group. Further evidence came when he was named to the national development team at the start of the season.
Racing against competitors as old as 20, the 18-year-old Routley proved himself once again at the 2001 Canada Games in London, Ontario, winning the mens mountain bike bronze medal on Aug. 19.
"The competition was at a high level, it was pretty impressive," says Routley, who is sponsored by Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Whooshnet and the Glacier Shop.
"The course was not as technical as what Im used to out here, you had to use more road skills to move through the field. Luckily Ive been training and competing a lot more on the road this year."
Routley actually finished a strong eighth overall in the mens road race on Aug. 16, despite the fact that this is only his first year competing on asphalt.
It was neck and neck in the mountain bike race from the start, with Rod Smit from Ontario, 20, taking the lead early and holding on to it while the rest of the pack battled for position. Routley stayed closed to the front, and for the entire last lap was on the wheel of Marc Bomhof of Alberta.
"There was a lot of action, a lot of passing" says Routley. "You couldnt back off for a second, even if you were following someone up a hill. You had to attack all the time if you wanted to get away from the other riders.
"On the last lap I was so close to silver that it felt like the last quarter of the race was a sprint."
Smit crossed the line in one hour 45 minutes 39 seconds, Bomhof was second in 1:46:18, and Routley third in 1:46:51.
Routley, feeling more confident with his experience in the Canada Games under his belt, is back in training after qualifying for the upcoming Union Cyliste Internationale (UCI) World Championships in Vail, Colorado from Sept. 8 to 16.
"The competition is at 11,000 feet, so the (national development team) coaches are looking to get there early to train and adapt to the altitude," says Routley.
After the worlds, he will wrap up his season with the Cheakamus Challenge, Sept. 22.
Five Whistler mountain bikers qualified for the worlds, including Routley and Tyler West in the Junior Expert category; 2000 national champion Chad Miles in the Pro Elite category; Jeff Beatty in the Junior Expert downhill; and Sylvie Allen in the womens Pro Elite downhill.