Although he felt like a fish out of water on the road bike, it didnt take long for Whistler mountain biker Tyler West to evolve.
Although this is only his third year of mountain bike competition and only his first year of training on a road bike West managed to win both the Category 4 and Junior category in his B.C. Cup road race debut on June 10. He also placed fourth against a field of older and more experienced Category 3 racers (Category 1 and 2 are pro and expert adults, and Category 3 is typically for advanced adults).
Even West was surprised to see how well he did.
"Road is a lot more technical, you have a lot more thought put into strategy," he says. "Theres a bunch of stuff you have to do, like drafting, and watching the pack to know when the right time to attack is."
West started training on the road this year with coach Jeremy Story, the same coach that has helped Whistlers Will Routley, 18, to gain a spot on the national junior team this year.
"Im definitely more into mountain biking, but I use the road as a training tool. Our coach gets us out on the road to train because its easier to put on miles and the conditions are more consistent. He also gets us to do these road races, and with all the training weve done, were doing pretty well."
A strong performance at the Test of Metal in Squamish this weekend could clinch Routley a spot on the Canadian team at the Canada Summer Games in August.
West is also in the running, but after his results in the last B.C. Cup road race the Norm Lowe Memorial in Hatzic Valley he may be picked along with five or six other candidates to represent B.C. at the Tour de lAbitibi junior race in Quebec, a gruelling seven-day, eight-stage road race through the mountains that covers more than 600 kilometres. Its the biggest junior race of its kind in the world, and attracts competitors from around the globe.
While it wasnt even in the cards before last weekend, Wests new goal is to make it to Quebec.
"The committee is deciding as we speak," he says. "The Abitibi looks at results from all over to decide who will get an invitation. It all depends on who else is in the running. I dont have a lot of road racing experience before this year, but I won the junior category and placed well overall at Hatzic, so you never know."
He wont find out if he was selected until next week, and in the meantime he is concentrating on the Test of Metal. "If I make it to the Abitibi, thats great, but if not Ill definitely go for it next year."