A Racers' Process, Part II – Adversity

Words North Shore Billet
Photos Niall Pinder
Video Jackson Parker / Clear Glass Media
Date Jun 8, 2020

During any race season, there will always be an element of adversity that rolls into a racers’ path. It can crop any number of ways, whether in their training, at an event, or life making either difficult. To perform well, racers benefit from being adaptable in how they deal with the unforeseen circumstances that can and inevitably will come their way.

In 2020, the world has been dealt with a massive change that’s brought this adversity to the front of coaches’ and athlete's minds. Entire off-season’s spent training has been altered thanks to Covid-19 arriving right when most racers were preparing to hit their first peak. How individuals deal with the fallout will differ but one constant is that those who are more adaptable and resilient, have an added opportunity to excel. When the races kick off again, the athletes who do well will be those that took advantage of the extended off-season and continued bettering themselves.


Emmett Hancock was about to begin his second season racing the Junior World Cup Downhill series. Instead, he's at home in Kelowna working five days a week while completing high school, continuing his training, and riding as much as he can.

Like everyone planning for an event in 2020, the global pandemic has forced the Blueprint Racing team to switch things up. Group training sessions and team camps were cancelled as everyone remained close to home, instead, focusing on their own efforts. Trail and gym closures have further complicated preparations, underscoring the importance of adaptability. Coach Joel Harwood and the team continue to meet online and go over progress together but applying any of the advice as a group has been off the cards.


Emmett keeping his skills sharp on the trail bike.

Team members are now trading racing for more school and work alongside their continued, restructured training for a relatively unknown extended period. Sure, with all the extra time they can ride their local trails much more but doing so without purpose isn’t going to help team members achieve their goals. If there's a compressed race season in 2020, the opportunities to learn, achieve and prove themselves have just been made far more difficult.

For Emmett Hancock, 2020 is his final year as a junior on the Downhill World Cup and a critical one for his future. When he was supposed to be racing the second World Cup of the year, Emmett found himself riding his home trails while working on this video project. He’s working in the building industry, continuing to train with a reworked program, and is still completing his high school education. With 2019 being an eye-opening experience, Emmett has been looking forward to 2020 and applying what he learnt. The compressed format being proposed by the UCI will make it more challenging to bounce back race to race. Showing his ability to adapt and deal with adversity both now, and at any races later in the year, will be beneficial but certainly won’t make things easier.


Ready, whenever the go-ahead is given.

So while adversity is thrust upon mountain bikers all the time, 2020 has given everyone a heavy dose to deal with before getting their treads between the tape. It will challenge all racers as they try their best to prepare for the shifting season start. But those with the most drive and commitment stand to reap the rewards of the longer than planned off-season.

Photos: Niall Pinder / @the_pinder_experience
Video: Jackson Parker /

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