By Michael Piasetzki
It’s a Thursday night in mid-October and Cory Wallace finds himself in a waiting room at a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.
It’s a far cry from the familiar climates of Jasper, which Wallace calls home, and his native McBride. Wallace is in Cape Town pursuing his main passion in life: endurance mountain bike racing.
It is a brutally demanding sport that can push a human being to the extreme of their physical capacities. It’s also a sport that Wallace, 37, has excelled at since his early twenties. A sport that allowed him to land a contract with the sponsors Kona Team Endurance and a sport that gave him the opportunity to travel to some of the most interesting places in the world while competing against some of the best bikers in endurance of the planet. .
Wallace, who likes to call himself a nomad, is in Cape Town to compete in the prestigious 2021 Absa Cape Epic endurance race, a grueling eight-day, 619-kilometer event that sees runners climb an incredible 16,000 meters over some of the most difficult terrain on which it is humanly possible to drive. Connoisseurs of endurance bike racing call it the benchmark for all long distance runners. The event started on October 17 and will end this Sunday.
“I’m fine,” Wallace said on a WhatsApp call with the goat last Thursday. “I was not injured. I am here at the hospital to support my teammate, Christian Janse Vanrenburg, who broke his collarbone in training today. Looks like he’s gonna need surgery.
The past year and a half has been a revelation for Wallace, who has undergone no less than 10 shoulder separations in his life and underwent shoulder surgery in Banff this past January.
When COVID-19 hit in the spring of 2020, he found himself stranded in Nepal, a mountainous country he has learned to admire and love and where he spends much of his time training when he is not. is not in competition. Unable to catch a flight back to Canada, he decided to stay in Nepal for the first six months of the pandemic, where he lived in a monastery with a group of Buddhist monks in a small mountain village 3,000 meters above sea level. ‘altitude.
He returned to Canada after that and once the pandemic restrictions were relaxed he started competing again.
He also set out to break a world record and did it. Last July he competed in a special type of endurance event called Everesting, which has become a bit of a craze lately among endurance mountain bikers. Named after the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest in Nepal, his goal is to find a hill and climb up and down it as quickly as possible, for a total of 8,848 meters (the elevation of Mt. Everest).
“I reached the first Everesting around 10.5 am,” said Wallace, an elite hockey player before turning to competitive endurance mountain biking. He played in the Kootenay Junior Ice Hockey League.
“It was the fastest 8,848 meters ever on a mountain bike.”
Unfortunately for Walace, although his mind and will was running at full speed, the smoky air and a stomach problem hampered his chances of setting a record for the Double Everesting.
“I was trying a new nutrition program at the time and it wasn’t working,” said Wallace, who made his mark on the Palisade Lookout Trail in Jasper. “My stomach started to refuse to accept food around 12 o’clock. It made it very difficult. I called him a day after the five o’clock mark.
Wallace’s impressive cycling resume includes three 24-hour solo mountain bike world championships and two Canadian bike marathon titles. He is also the current fastest time holder known at the Annapurna 24 Hour Cycling Championship in Nepal. He also took advantage of the Annapurna event to raise $ 5,110 Canadian for the Nepalese cycling center in Kathmandu.
It doesn’t surprise Dave MacDowell, a local entrepreneur and avid bike enthusiast who owned a bike shop in Jasper called Freewheel and now owns the full store, that Wallace had the fastest time known and raised money for a good cause. air Smartwool in Whistler.
“The main thing about Cory is his humility,” said MacDowell, who has known Wallace since he was a teenager. “He is a down to earth man, who was brought up properly by his parents and is a very grounded person. He is also an extremely focused person. When he has a goal of accomplishing something, he focuses on it and takes aim. “
Wallace makes a living by cutting down trees when he is not competing in endurance cycling events. He worked alongside and for local businessman Brendan Taylor, who owns a business called Source Tree Service Ltd., and an endurance bike competitor.
“He’s had a big influence on my own cycling career,” said Taylor. “However, he’s in a different league from mine. I admire Cory when it comes to endurance cycling. He set the mark for guys like me to follow.