Over 1200 vertical meters. 7.3 kilometers of steep, rough and rocky singletrack. One infamous entrance, and one equally notorious “choking on glass” (credit to Tyler Morland in Seasons) hike-a-bike section. Add 10 years of history and a list of legendary champions, and the renown of the Mt7 Psychosis race starts to become clear.
“Trying to go as slow as you can is still really fast. And that’s kind of what’s always been the crux. That’s always been the key to this event,” explained Trevor Gavura, Event Director for the Golden Cycling Club. “You have to give way to gravity on this course. Most courses today in the World Cups, you can kind of stop on course anywhere, but this actually has sections that are physically impossible to stop on.”
After a 12 year hiatus, Psychosis was resurrected as part of the CLIF Crankworx Summer Series.
“This is one of the most privileged opportunities I’ve ever had, to get to work with the local team and be a part of resurrecting this race.” said Crankworx GM Darren Kinnaird. “Standing at the launch on Mt7 today, and getting to feel the nervous and excited energy as these athletes got their first look at the start, that was something.”
“When they’re fired up, I’m fired up,” added Gavura, who was the Race Director in previous iterations of the race. “And the more excited they get, the more excited I get. I could ride that course a hundred times, but I still don’t get as excited as watching some of the world’s best athletes drop in for the first time. For a little trail in Golden to be talked about all over the world was something. But now for the next generation of riders, kids that were 3, 4, 5-years-old the last time this race even ran, to still know about it and be fired up to race it, and that the course is still the same, 22 years later as when it first started, is pretty amazing.”
Lining up under the arch at the start line on the peak of Mt7 in Golden, with 360 degree views of the valley below: 23 of the world’s top mountain bike athletes, all of whom call B.C. home.
“I was shaking at the start line.” -Georgia Astle
“Once I got past the top I thought, ‘Wow, f*ck yes.’” -Leonie Picton
“The hike-a-bike hurt my body and my soul.” -Georgia Astle
“I apologized to one of the marshalls and asked him ‘Is everyone this slow?’ He said ‘Yeah.’” -McKay Vezina, laughing, on running the hike-a-bike
“My mouth. So dry.” -Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, after crossing the finish line
“Hard. So fun though.” -breathless Elliot Jamieson
“I can’t see straight.” -Jesse Melamed
“I’m so glad that’s over, but I can’t wait to do it again.” -Lucy Schick, the first rider to drop in to finals, singled out by the crew from the Golden Cycling Club as “the first person to drop into the race in 12 years.”
Schick’s statement was the prevailing one of the day: pain and elation - a mix of emotions that was strongest among the podium finishers.
“It was very hard going down. I was pretty much a shell,” said Henry Fitzgerald, who stood atop the Elite Men’s podium. “I was getting so loose, but didn’t really have the energy to do anything about it. But, it worked out.”
Fitzgerald’s time moved him firmly into the hot seat. His 11:19.19 smashed the course record of 12:35.14 set by Chris Kovarik in 2008 when the race was last run. At the time, Fitzgerald was 10-years-old. Fast-forward to 2020, the 21-year-old’s time also managed to outlast the 10 racers that dropped in after him, including Finn Iles.
“It was hard,” said Iles, who clocked the second fastest time of the day. The World Cup all-star has said that, mid-CLIF Crankworx Summer Series, he feels he’s in the best shape of his life. “That was one of the hardest races I think I’ve ever done in my life. That was insanely physical. Riding the steepest thing you’ve ever ridden, and then immediately just pumping and trying to carry speed, then immediately into a hike-a-bike...I’m tired. I’m really tired.”
Iles time of 11:28.81 meant the top two were separated by just under nine seconds.
“Nine seconds over 11 minutes is not a lot of time,” added Iles. “I think that’s like ¾ of a second every minute? So, you know, just those little moments where I thought I could rest, I could have put in a pedal stroke or something. But second’s good. Continuing the podium streak and putting in more points into the overall.”
The battle for the top of the women’s podium was even tighter. Under five seconds separated second place finisher Georgia Astle from the day’s winner, Andréane Lanthier Nadeau (ALN).
“We actually have a mechanic here at this event who’s taken part in Psychosis, Jeff Hunter, so I asked him what I should do,” explained the women’s champ. “And he said ‘Go as slow as you can and then once you hit the last corner of Dead Dog, then start racing.’ I definitely did that and, yeah, it paid off.”
But even with strategy and pro tips, no one was safe from...
“...mega overheat. Definitely some mega fatigue in the race run,” added ALN. “I just tried to keep it consistent so I wouldn’t go too much in the red zone.”
But just enough into the red zone that, like Fitzgerald, she now holds the course record. Her time of 14:32.69 usurps Claire Buchar’s 2007 time of 16:53.65, with conviction.
Behind her, Astle channeled the mental strength she’s used to master Whistler’s infamously long Garbanzo DH race, crossing in 14:37.38.
“...every corner counts, but also it’s just consistency,” said Astle. “But man, the hike-a-bike in the middle does not compare to Garbo. This was insane. It hurt more than I ever thought it could hurt.”
Sharing the third spot on the podium, Casey Brown on the women’s side (14:52.34), and Rhys Verner on the men’s (11:32.28).
“It’s pretty remarkable,” said Brown. “I would have never thought that I would have been able to race Psychosis, because they stopped racing it in 2008. So, yeah, coming here and knowing how much history it has is really incredible. And being able to look back at old videos of Stevie Smith and Sam Hill racing this track, and even Tyler Morland and all those legends...it’s really cool to bring it back.”
“I’ve watched Seasons about a thousand times,” said Verner, who also said he “felt like death” after the race, adding that it was “tons of fun.”
“I knew all about this race even before this and, yeah, I was pretty excited to race it. It’s definitely in the history books as one of the coolest races ever.”
As the vibe and dust settled, racers caught their long lost breaths, and the adrenaline of Psychosis mellowed for another year (or 12), riders stopped to thank Gavura.
“As long as you guys had a sh*t load of fun, that’s all we care about,” he answered back with a smile.