Thursday, September 8, 2011

Specialized Trail Crew application

My name? Peter Knight. I am 21 years old and just starting my final year of my Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. My primary goals are race related, but there is no better way to become a faster mountain biker than to spend lots of time on my mountain bike. While at work or at school, I daydream about riding my bike. Problems are mysteriously solved when I have a couple of hours to myself on the trails.

My quest to become a faster racer has me improving both my fitness and my technical skills while keeping things fun. I like to embrace a wide variety of riding, from steeps at the bike park to long singletrack loops, and even gravel paths and roads. I don’t believe in specific riding styles. The words “all mountain” “cross country” “freeride” don’t mean anything to me. The labels “Roadie” or “mountain biker” only represent a preference of a type of riding surface. I believe that the trails I ride are dictated by how comfortable I am on a certain bike.

Through racing, I have met many great people and have been able to enjoy thousands of kilometres of trails with different riders. I have progressed steadily up to the Elite category, and have raced for the provincial team on some occassions. The community in Edmonton is awesome. For a big city, the riding here is unreal. Where else can you host a Canada Cup in the middle of the city or find a group willing to ride on snow in the middle of winter?  And it is so easily accessible. I can go on short mountain bike rides straight from my door! I can ride trails on my commute to school or work.

My club, the Hardcore Race Team, along with many other clubs have adopted sections of trail in our wonderful river valley. As a club, we help maintain the trails by improving drainage, limiting erosion, and trimming branches. The group rides are always adventures, and sometimes, I even get to lead. My club also organizes the midweek mountain bike races in the city and a couple of provincial series races, and I help set up the course, marshall the races, and clean up after the race. For many of these provincial series races, members of my club make up more than half of the elite men’s field! I see these grassroots events as extremely crucial to bringing more people (most importantly more youth) into the sport as they are inexpensive, and don’t require suffering for long periods of time. I have raced pretty much every Alberta Cup XC race in the past couple of years as it is important to support the series.

So why me? Well I, like anyone, could list a million subjective qualities about myself and use action buzz words, but I would prefer to boil it down to a few simple and more objective qualities:

Visibility-I am pretty active in the cycling community; I show up to group rides, trail days, midweek races, Alberta Cups, movies, and other cycling related events in the city. I also spend a lot of time riding my bike in the Edmonton river valley.

Good role model - I believe that it is important to respect the other riders, whether they be other racers in race situations, or just the general riding public. I am also at an age where some people, for whatever reason, quit cycling, while others discover a new activity. As an elite racer, many people will look up to me when they are just starting out, or will be inspired because I have been able to compete at a high level, even while studying Mechanical Engineering in university. Stress is simply no match for time on the trails!

Racing is fun and all, but I find the real reward comes when you crush sections of trail with the friends you made, or when you discover awesome singletrack in an unfamiliar area. Specialized makes some fine bikes (I love my Stumpjumper HT and my Tarmac), will one find it's way to me for next season?