Apr 22 2016 1 Comment
Warning: reading this story will make you want to quit your job. We recommend you sleep over it first.
Historically, generations of migrants have been attracted to California for its promised wealth and possibilities. Oil drillers, gold miners, movie makers, and more recently, tech entrepreneurs have moved to the west in the hope of a thriving business.
Now for Rebecca Beaumont and Pierrick Naud, two of Canada’s most promising cyclists, it was not about the oil digging or acting. It was the roads, the views, the weather and the vibe that attracted these two lovebirds to migrate across the continent.
Some of you may know, California is also home of some of the best cycling spots on the continent. And this winter, these two decided it was time to enjoy them. So they bought a Westfalia, packed their stuff and headed out for a 3-month trip across the 66, a 4-day journey between Montreal, Quebec and Los Angeles, California.
We got a chance to catch-up with these two, to get to know more about their new “livin’ the dream” lifestyle.
CO: Was going away in California a dream for a long time ?
PN: when I was a kid, my parents used to take me and my brother camping a lot. When I got into bike racing, we usually camped during race week-ends rather than stay at hotels, and that’s one of my best childhood memories.
When Keven Lacombe and Martin Gilbert were racing for Kelly Benefit Strategies, they bought a Westfalia and traveled to the west coast, which was awesome because it allowed them to train to different places on a budget. I always had the idea in the back of my head, but all the Westfalias I was finding were either too expensive or in bad shape.
But in last year’s Tour of Utah, Rebecca sent me a text saying that her old teacher was selling his. As soon as I got back, we rode up to Alma, tried the van and fell in love. The next day, I was a proud owner of a 1984 VW Vanagon !
CO: Tell us more about the van
PN: It’s a 1984 1.9L Californian model Volkswagen Vanagon, manual transmission. It’s one of the first water-cooled engines, which is great against over-heating in the warm and sunny hill climbs of California.
The only major upgrade I made was a hitch-mounted bike carrier. At first, I home-made my way into the hitch mount with my uncle, but unfortunately it did not do it. I ended up buying one specifically made for Vanagons over the Internet, and installed a 4-bike carrier on it.
I also upgraded the headlights. I guess nights were not as dark back in ’84..
We also gave the thing a name. Our first trip with it was in Burke Mountain, VT, so we named it Burky.
CO: How did living there helped you prepare for the season ?
PN:Our season began early, with the Tour de la Méditérannée in early February and races in Portugal in March, so logging good base mileage during winter was essential for me, and allowed me to get good results. At the level that I race now (Rally Cycling holds a Continental UCI license) the home-trainer during Canadian winters is not enough.
CO: Tell us about your favorite spot(s)
PN:We basically travelled the whole coast of the state. Our main spot was Thousand Oaks, north of LA. Although it’s really hard to find a boring place in Cali, my personal favorite was definitely Big Sur, on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). The views were breathtaking of the sunset. Big Basin Redwoods State Park, near Santa Cruz, was also an awesome place to ride and camp.
CO: Optum Pro Cycling became Rally Cycling this year. Did it change anything for you?
PN:Not really. We changed our main sponsor, but the core of the organization stayed the same, which is great. We lost big athletes like Mike Woods, Phil Gaimon, Ryan Anderson and Guillaume Boivin, but also welcomed Danny Pate from Team Sky and Rob Britton from Team Smart Stop. And although I loved racing with Mike and Guillaume, I see their leave as an opportunity to show my potential, especially in the sprint finishes of road races and crits.
Pierrick was born in Amos a few months after Rebecca, and now lives in Montreal, Qc. Renowned for his sprinting abilities, Pierrick has raced with the best teams of Canada, including Garneau-Quebecor, Rocky-Mountain factory, and joined Team Canada in some UCI races. Since last year, Pierrick plays a key role in team Rally Cycling (formely Optum Pro Cycling) and is one of the best sprinters in the country. Pierrick's 2015 gear is almost sold-out in our store.Sign-up to our newsletter and stay put as soon as we receive more of his gear!
CO: Rebecca! It was your first winter in California, focusing on your training. How was it like for you?
RB: I had always been studying or working full-time during the previous winters, so to be able to focus on the bike was great. Training in California was just… awesome. The people and the roads are just so welcoming to cyclists, it’s really heaven for us. I always find myself stopping for pictures of the stunning views, sorry for those I made jealous on Instagram ;)
CO: Pierrick went away quite often for races. How did you cope with being alone and away?
RB: There was no alone time. I met some great friends along the way, most of them from Québec, in California for the same reasons as mine. I had the chance to ride with some friends from Silber Pro Cycling, near LA in January. I also rode with a my MTB teammate and friend Catherine Fleury , and got some altitude training with Raphael Gagné that was there preparing for the US Cups.
I believe riding with the boys, both in road and mountain bike is giving me an edge, allowing me to train with more speed or to attack more technical sections I would not have done with a group of girls. They are pushing me to the limit.
CO: So you trained in both MTB and Road this winter?
RB: My focus is on cross-country mountain bike this year. But I love to use the road bike as well to get long tempo rides in early-season and accumulate base mileage. California has some awesome mountain pass roads such as Palomar or Mt Hamilton, sometimes up to 90 minutes of climbing. After February, I mostly rode the Mountain Bike in the Santa Cruz area, in some of the greatest trails I have done so far.
CO: And how did you like the life in the van !?
RB: Traveling in Burky was amazing. It gave us the ability to ride in so many different places across California. And with only 5 days of rain during the whole winter, we really did not spend much time in there, except for sleeping and looking for new spots. It's a good wake-up call, making us realize we don't need much more than the basics to be well.
CO: We see you have many new sponsors in 2016. What difference does it make for you?
RB: I had the chance to meet with two great guys, André Lecompte from Marin Bikes and Pierre Grouiller from Technocycle, who made their mission to provide me with the best mountain bike possible. My Marin Team CXR 27.5 is just over 20 pounds and always top notch. I can also count of Smith Optics and wheels from Falcon Composites, and get my energy from Rekarb and Kicking Horse Coffee. My hometown bike team, Cyclone d’Alma, has also been very supportive to all my projects since my beginnings.
More than money and gear, their support gives me a huge boost in confidence, pushing me beyond my limits and helping me get passed rougher times. I am really grateful and value their support very much.
CO: What are your main objectives for the next months?
RB: I just finished a great block of racing, with results I did not even expect at the Sea Otter Classic. I took 6th and 15thplaces in Short-track and XCO, finding myself closer than ever to girls like Catherine Pendrel for whom world cup top 10 is a common thing. After a well-deserved break in Québec for a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading to Europe for a block of world-cups in France and Germany, where I hope to get a selection on the national team for the World Champs in June, in Czech Republic. You’ll also see me racing in the national Champs in Baie-St-Paul, and the World Cup in Mount St-Anne.
Born in Alma, Qc, Rebecca is a 25 year-old elite mountain bike athlete, competing on the highest American circuit. And believe me, although rather short, she’ll kick your ass on any two-wheeled self-powered machine there is. To stay put about Rebecca's racing, check-out her blog.
Nice photo of Rebecca and Pierrick's parents, back in the 80's. wait, what?