Félix Burke is ready for Canada Cup racing to start. The young rider from Mont-Tremblant, Que., has been training out west in Victoria through a rainy and weirdly cold winter. Well, cold for Vancouver Island. Starting with the Bear Mountain Canada Cup, located conveniently close to his winter training location, Burke is looking forward to making the most of his last season as an U23 on the Canada Cup circuit, as well as select other races, like Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup in his home province of Quebec.
Based on last seasons results, Burke has reason to be positive going into 2018. The 21 year old won gold in the XC event at Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, Man. By the end of the games, Burke was leaving Winnipeg with a silver earned as part of Quebec’s trio of Félixs in the XC Relay, alongside Félix Belhumeur and Félix Longré, and a bronze in the XC sprint event as well as his XC gold.
Before he can fully turn his attention to the summer’s racing, though, Burke still has to finish his studies at the University of Victoria. Burke took some time out of his busy study and training schedule to talk about off season training, and the upcoming racing season:
Canadian Cycling Magazine: How many years have you been racing mountain bikes?
Félix Burke: I have been racing mountain bikes for 6 years.
CCM: What is it about racing mountain bikes that keeps you training through long winters just to get to spring racing every spring?
FB: For me, it is not a question of just getting to the spring. I am motivated by my racing goals, but I genuinely enjoy riding lots in the winter. Longer hours on the bike mean good opportunities to check out secret spots and go on adventures with friends. I enjoy the process of improvement and growth a lot too. The reason I keep lining up for races though is the challenge. Racing gives you an opportunity to push your limits, physically and mentally, like nothing else I have experienced. Also, the feeling of winning a bike race is very addictive and I work hard to get that feeling more often.
CCM: What does your race schedule look like for this year? Do you have any specific race goals?
FB: The goal I am most excited about is the Canada Cup overall. I think it will make the season really exciting because I will have to stay consistent and keep an eye on how the overall points are adding up. This year is also my last year in the U23 category and I would like to make it count at the National Championships and the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup.
CCM: If you could do any race, regardless of discipline, what would it be?
The Olympics is a dream. I would love to experience that event. The world championships are coming to Mont Saint-Anne in 2019, which would be my first year as an elite, and I would really like to race there. I would really like to race the BC bike race and the Trans Cascadia Enduro. If it is not my car, I would also really like to try a rally race one time, for the experience!
CCM: You’re currently studying at UVic while training, what program are you in?
FB: I am studying economics at Uvic and I am in my 3rd year.
CCM: What’s one thing you want to see change in mountain biking, racing or otherwise?
FB: I would like to see mountain biking become more accessible to the general public. For most people, mountain biking is a fringe sport and I think that is really unfortunate because mountain biking combines so many healthy and fun elements. How many other sports offer a close connection to nature, a relationship between man and machine that stimulates a mechanical mind, and engages the body in a physical and skillful task? Also, how fun is it to roll down a swooping trail of dirt to a lake on a warm summer’s day? Mountain biking can offer this to everyone. I think mountain biking can become more accessible through a deliberate effort by athletes and brands to showcase the benefits of the sport and through the work of municipalities to create and promote mountain bike programs and infrastructure in the community.
CCM: What kind of beast, technology or animal do you envision yourself as while riding?
FB: I am a big fan of cyclocross. When I am racing, I like to imagine myself as the beast that is Wout Van Aert or the animal that is Mathieu van der Poel!
CCM: Rocky Mountain has a long tradition out West, both in XC-racing and freeride. What’s it like being involved with such a diverse brand?
Being part of a brand like Rocky Mountain is really special. Not only do they have a diverse background which gives them insights into every aspect of mountain biking, they unite riders from all disciplines together through their philosophy of simply being out there and loving the ride. I feel like the values of the brand are at the core of what makes mountain biking so special and they also align perfectly with mine. Working with Rocky is a really good scenario because I feel like I am representing my own personal values as an ambassador. Not many people have the same opportunity.
CCM: If you could be the best at any sport other than mountain biking, what would it be, and why?
FB: I would be the best at parkour because I could get around so fast!