The Mountain Bike Life

Chris Fruetel, 24 years old, I have a Bachelor of Sciences in Environmental Sciences from the University of Gueph, and I’m working on my Masters in Civil Engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston. I’ve been mountain bike racing since I was 17 (with the exception of 1 year I was out for a brain injury (unrelated to cycling). My cycling career highlights are always just the good times I have with my buddies at races, as far as results go, the goal is to make some real highlights this year! For the past few years I’ve been riding under the Ambassador Program for Trek Bikes, more specifically I ride under the Trek Store Cycling Club and get help from the Trek Bicycle Stores in Toronto, Aurora, and Barrie.

Scott Phillips Photo

What bike are you riding these days?

I ride a team issue Trek Superfly SL, equipped with a 1×10 SRAM XX/XO gruppo, with a Rockshox SID XX World Cup (Dual Air), and Bontrager RXL components. I also have my XX1 crankset equipped with a XKM 34 tooth single alternating tooth ring and a Stages Rival crank arm power meter. My wheels are Stans Crest rims on 3.30ti hubs and I always use Bontrager tires (currently rolling the superlight and surprisingly grippy XR0 tires). This bike really is next level in every way, I couldn’t believe it, but with the through axles front and back, tapered head tube, and superlight frame and parts, you can feel that the bike just wants to go FAST.

Is the Ontario cup series your biggest focus for this summer?

Yeah I think I’m focusing most highly on the Ontario Cup Series because I’m going to all 7 of the races in the series and because some of the Ontario Cup races count as Canada Cup races (for example Sudbury and Nationals are at Hardwood Hills).

What is the atmosphere at these races like?

The atmosphere at the races is great, there’s no rivalry between teams or animosity of any sort. Everyone is always just excited to see each other, and the races are often our only chance to do that. Pre riding the course the day before the race is what I have joked is my favorite part of racing! My best friends are my closest competitors and I wouldn’t have it any other way! There’s also no pressure or feeling that you have to be sponsored or to be racing the top bike. Even though it’s called the Ontario Cup, it still has a very grassroots feeling and the event organizers are hanging out with the racers and are always super friendly and approachable. There is also a great mutual respect among different categories at the race, male, female, age class, skill class, everyone is talking and watching the races and cheering.

Pre riding with the crew from Wolfpak Racing (photo by Scott Philipps)

How would you describe your performance so far this year?

This year I’ve had an interesting time. I started road racing with the Queen’s University team in the US, where I was strong but my results were never what they could be – I just don’t have the patience for the tactics involved in road racing. The first Ontario Cup of the season was a pretty big deal because there were about 10 guys who are now travelling Europe racing world cups, as well as the fastest guys from Quebec came out to race. The elite field was 44 racers and I finished 21st, even with some complications. The second Ontario Cup marked a downfall though in my performance, I hadn’t slept the night before, probably had ridden way too much the day before the race (having fun jamming with my friends at Wolfpak Racing on course), and had trained really hard for a few weeks with no break. I’m getting back some blood test results in the next few days to see if there’s something missing but I’m only riding at 75% of what I know that I should be capable of. It’s frustrating, but a lesson learned!

Winning a road race sprint this March in the US, these races kept me focused and quick
Racing Strong at Ontario Cup #1 Woodnewton (Joe Bailey photo)

What has your training regime consisted of for this spring?

In the winter months I was training around 1 hour every day on rollers, watching a movie and doing very specific workouts, keeping an eye on my power meter the whole time. Once I could get outside I started training around 2 hours most days, battling the headwinds of Eastern Lake Ontario and pushing myself as hard as I could day in and day out, usually with Fridays and most Mondays off the bike. I do ride trails probably 1 day a week plus whatever racing and pre riding courses I do.

Alija Bos Photo

What Ontario cup trails are your favorite and why?

This year the series features races at Woodnewton, Mansfield, Sir Sam’s, Sudbury, Hardwood Hills, Mountainview, and Horseshoe resort. I’m really excited about the lineup this year because of the awesome variety of trails included as well as the fact that some of these courses have some rocky sections. I’m most excited for Sudbury which doubles as a Canada Cup, because I love the cool moonrock type course and landscape views on course, I love the blueberries lining the course, and I’ll be hanging out with my buddies from Wolfpak Racing, which is a team based out of Sudbury too. It’s going to be a wicked awesome weekend! Oh and the race could be interesting too.

What do you think the Ontario mountain bike scene needs more of?

The Ontario mountain bike scene needs more riders! It’s great to see new people on the trails, and I enjoy helping people out with the technical features on course and making the sport less intimidating for everyone! I think that anybody – even those who aren’t interested in racing should try to get out because it’s basically just a fast ride with a bunch of friends and people from around the region.

Scott Phillips Photo

What do you think has been the biggest help in getting your riding back to where it is today after your injury?

The biggest help in getting me back to racing today would definitely be the support that I saw through my brain injury. I was in critical condition for a while and I always had visitors, once I was out of the hospital I had the best friends that helped me to get back into university. When I could finally ride a bike again my good friend Eric Batty coached me and helped me to really see some great results in my first year back on the bike. That year I went from not even riding a bike, to 17th in the elite category by my last race. All of this support has meant so much to me. My friends even pushed me to start a blog that has managed to become quite popular anyone can feel free to get in touch with me by leaving comments or sending messages through there about any questions or anything in general.

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