So the season is well under way now, and a lot has happened over the last 8 weeks!

The season really started off in March I guess, when I began coaching for the Squamish High School Mountain Bike training program.  This program is an outdoor leadership program and is aimed at introducing kids to both the training aspects and coaching aspects of mountain biking and is a great way to create some amazing athletes and lifelong cycling enthusiasts for years to come – It was also an awesome opportunity to become more involved with the Squamish community, which I now call home.  On top of the Squamish high school program, I also began a youth indoor cycling training program, through RIM Cycling, to help keep the kids fit through the winter months and introduce some of the younger athletes to power training on spin bikes.  It was extremely rewarding to here the kids comment on how much easier trail riding was this year after going through program! 

In April things heated up with a handful of coaching clinics I did as part of the “Dirt Series” mountain bike program, which focus on creating a process to skill development in an encouraging atmosphere!  I was able to get my new Juliana Roubion, built up with all new Hope Technology parts, just days before leaving and was stoked to head south to the sunshine in California and log some serious miles on the new machine!  My 10-day trip to California would consist of six full days of infusing MTB skill development for a variety of levels of women and men in the Santa Cruz area, as well as some down-time to get some serious training in.  This is my second year coaching for the Dirt Series program and it was great to see returning riders and getting to see how they’ve improved and how much they better themselves over the course of a weekend!  This year, Dirt Series also had one of its youngest participants ever, a talented young female rider at the age of 12, in attendance and I had the pleasure of coaching her.  There is so much talent coming up in the women’s field and I’m excited for what’s to come!

Following my 10-days coaching in California, I had a mad dash to finish building up my new V10 DH bike for round one of the Pro-GRT DH race series, held in Port Angeles.  I approached this race as a chance to get familiar with the new DH rig and treated it as a warm-up to prep for World Cup racing in Europe.

I felt good on my bike going into to seeding runs on Saturday, and despite a crash I faired pretty well and had my sights set on a clean run the following day.  I was on a great run on the day of finals, until I caught up to a rider who had crashed in a blind-corner mid-way down the track.  I nearly crashed into her, but was able to stop and maneuver around her.  I lost some major time, but kept pushing on to the finish.  Thankfully the other rider was ok, and despite the stoppage, I managed to hold onto 4th place.  Although a bit disappointed with 4th, I focused on the positives – I felt great on my bike, I felt strong, fit and confident!

It was then time for opening weekend of the Whistler Bike Park…a great way to get even more comfortable and up to race pace before I headed over to Europe.  After a week of shredding, it was time to head “across the pond” to the UK for the Fort William World Cup! 

It had been a couple years since I had been in Europe racing and this time around I’d be living the “Van Life” with one of my good friends…travelling around and living in a big converted ford Transit Van.  Not always glamourous, but a pretty awesome experience none the less.

I caught up with Hope Technologies for a women’s ride at Glentress, Scotland before heading on to Fort William and I couldn’t believe how many ladies turned up (there had to be at least 30)!  It was awesome to be part of the day and to see how great the riding community is in the region.  I’ll be doing some ladies clinics and guided rides in my home town of Squamish now that I’m back in Canada and hope to have an equally high turn out and stoke level!

It was then time to get down to the racing business though and I had a bit of a “bone to pick” with the Fort William track.  Two years ago I actually lost my shoe during my qualification run and I was looking for some redemption.  I felt good on the track and was hitting all the features, but the new section in the woods was proving to be pretty tricky and changed dramatically over the weekend.  In my qualifications run I sustained a major “scorpion” crash in one of the rock sections at the top of the track as well as a 2nd mishap in the new woods section lower down – Despite this though, I still managed to qualify 17th and had to focus on feeling good for finals.  Sadly, I didn’t keep the rubber side down in finals either, but did squeeze into the top 20 to hold onto some UCI points. 

Heading into Leogang the following week I was not feeling 100% but tried to attack the mucky track as best I could.  The new sections seemed almost un-ridable when group B practice started…but it was oddly fun slipping and sliding through the mud.  In BC, there is almost never an opportunity to ride in the sort of mud riders were faced with in Leogang, so it was a new challenge and pretty sick to actually make use of mud tires!  I was disappointed with my run in qualifications and unfortunately did not qualify – Sadly I would watch from the sidelines this year at Leogang but was able to take away some new skills and perspective.

Overall the first couple weeks provided some great learning lessons and it was pretty great to see so many women racing.  There were in the range of 40+ women racing at both Fort William and Leogang worlds cups (some of the higher numbers I’d seen), which I believe shows that the sport is growing and it’s so great to see to progression!  

After Leogang the plan was to head to Crankworx for the DH race; but sadly I did not make it off the “wait list” for an entry…so we decided to head to Finale Ligure, Italy for some R&R!  Finale was one of my favorite spots from my Euro trip a couple years ago and it was amazing to head back for a few days of slaying trail bikes on some rad trails!  We then left the sunshine and land of amazing coffee and headed to Morzine for more training and riding adventures!  I’ll be working on some blogs over the next couple weeks so stay tuned for some more stories!

My European adventure was pretty great, but after 4-weeks of “Van Life” I was pretty stoked to know I’d be heading home to my own comfy bed!  I haven’t had much chance to recover from my 22-hour journey back to Canada though, and I’ve jumped right back into coaching! 

I’m pretty stoked to be coaching the Whistler Blackcomb Jr. Race Development team this summer and had my first day with the kids on July 2nd.  This program is a full fledged race training program and the kids will be training a mix of DH, Enduro and pump track, three days a week, including a weekly “Phat Wednesday” DH race in the bike park, as well as select BC Cup provincial races.  Although currently the program is predominantly Jr. boys, I am hopeful to bring about a Jr. girls program in the coming years.  The program is a great opportunity to shape young minds and help them learn about the ins and outs of racing and training to race.

My European adventure was pretty great, but after 4-weeks of “Van Life” I was pretty stoked to know I’d be heading home to my own comfy bed!
Jaime Hill

Coming up on my schedule over the next several weeks is a 4-day media trip in the last week of July, in which there will be a multi-page photo spread and story in Freehub Magazine’s fall issue.  Prior to that I’ll be racing at the Canadian National DH champs and I am also ironing out the details for another media trip at the beginning of August.  Adventuring on two wheels has become one of my favorite things and I’m super excited to have the opportunity to bring some of these adventures to life!

I’d like to thank Juliana bicycles, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Fox Suspension, Troy Lee Designs, Smith Optics, Schwalbe Tires, MuscleMLK Canada, Zettz clothing and DCS Sports for the continued support over the years!  This year I’m also working with Hope Technologies, Crank Brothers and Five Ten and am stoked on all the new product.  Without all of your support racing, coaching and riding adventures would surely be much more difficult and stressful…I truly appreciate all that you guys do!