Tristan Lemire’s 2022 started off in less-than-perfect conditions. The Quebec junior downhill racer spent January 1 in surgery, repairing a broken humereus.
“It was actually pretty cool being in surgery on January first,” says Lemire, who races with the Commencal/Muc-Off team alongside powerhouse French riders Amaury Pierron and Myriam Nicole. Its a refreshingly positive takeaway from an injury, but it still put him on the back foot going into unusually early World Cup season opener in Lourdes.
Rolling into this weekends second round, at the iconic Fort William venue, Lemire says he’s fully back on track for the season and looking to put in a solid race. I caught up with the Canadian junior in New Jersey earlier in the week, where he’d just placed second at a Downhill Southeast race behind U.S. elite, Neko Mulally and was waiting to fly overseas.
We talk about weird injuries, Quebec winters, Lourdes World Cup crashes, riding with the world’s best racers, and how supply chain woes are hitting even World Cup teams.
Canadian MTB: Over the winter you had a crash and broke your humerus. How did that happen?
Tristan Lemire: Over the winter holidays I went down to Windrock in Tennessee because the weather in Quebec was super bad. I wanted to get a few days riding and training in and it’s better than staying in Bromont and biking on ice.
I was having a good time, checking out a new trail my buddy built. I wouldn’t even call it a mountain biking crash, it was weird. They have these super long branches that are just hanging around. One branch caught my bars, it made me stop and unclip both feet and I was basically ontop of my bars. This was while I was setting up for a super steep corner into a catch rut at the bottom. I had a bit too much momentum to just stop while on my bars, so I went over the bars. When I went OTB, my right hand went to the ground and my left hand went between two trees at the bottom. That created torsion basically broke my arm.
It was a stupid crash. I wasn’t expecting it. I’ve had a few injuries over the years already, but I’ve learned from every injury. But they always seem to be at those moments where you’re not expecting it.
What was the timeline for recovery for that?
I was hurt on December 30th. I had surgery on January first. It was actually cool to be in surgery on January first.
Basically, two months after I was riding my trail bike. A few days later, I was on my downhill bike.
You made it to the startline for Lourdes World Cup, a notoriously difficult and physical track. How did that weekend go? Was the arm still a factor?
The recovery was going well but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to race Lourdes. I decided to go back to Tennessee before because I knew it would have everything I needed to prepare and to get to ride my bike properly. The bike park was open all day, every day. It was good for me to get out on a downhill bike. Even if it wasn’t the same one I’d be racing since we have a new bike this year. But good to get used to riding again.
I went to Lourdes from there and after two days of getting used to the new bike, I actually got COVID. So the day before track walk was the first day that I was allowed to be around people again, the first day that I wasn’t contagious. So the preparation over there was quite weird, and not the best. But I made it happen.
At the race, I was super happy to be there. The goal I set myself when I was injured was to be able to race Lourdes and I was doing it.
In Qualies, I did not really have a good run. It was my second timed run of the year, so it was a bit weird to get back into it. But I was happy to qualify not that bad, considering the circumstances.
In finals, my run wasn’t amazing. I had a few mistakes but even with those mistakes, I was not that bad. So that was good to see. Unfortunately, at the bottom, I crashed. That was a bummer, I was hoping to finish my run, get a result and some points and hopefully be in the top-10 overall. It sucks that I missed that because now at Fort William I’m not in the timed training and that makes things a bit harder.
But overall, I was happy with the weekend and happy with my race. It was good to be there and to be racing with everyone.
How hard is it to get used to a new bike and learn a new track in just a week?
Yeah, we didn’t get many laps on the track because the cues for lifts were super long. I had a new bike literally two days before and I was coming back from an injury. So yeah, it was quite hard.
What have you been up to in the months since then?
In that crash in Lourdes I actually hurt myself a bit more. I was good to ride, but I wasn’t perfect. I still didn’t have perfect range of motion in my arm. So in the crash, I went into over-flexion twice. So my bicep was super super stiff and my whole arm was quite stiff for a week or so. I took a full week, week and a half off after that before I started training again.
Since then, I’ve been focused on getting the body back to where I need it for the season. I’ve also tried to ride my bike as much as possible because I felt like I was missing bike time. We had team camp, which was great. Then the snow melted so I could ride around home. Then I did the Downhill Southeast race here yesterday and I’m leaving for Fort William today.
Speaking of snow, it’s been a long winter in parts of Canada this year. How do you keep your training going through the winter?
Before when I wasn’t on Commencal/Muc-Off team I honestly wasn’t riding much. The early season – late April too early May – I would head down south to where the bike parks open earlier. And at the end of the season, I’d try go ride to mid-November in the U.S. as well. In Quebec the riding season is super short, and it’s way too short for a guy who races World Cups.
Since joining the team, I’m lucky enough to travel and train in Europe. The winter before, when COVID was bad, I went out to B.C. for a while. But honestly, there are no secrets. You have to travel. The closest place for me to ride bikes is in Tennessee at Windrock. But that’s still a 17-hour drive, so not ideal.
You’ve been on Commencal/Muc-Off a few years now, starting your third year. What’s the experience been like joining one of the top World Cup teams?
It’s been crazy. I’ve dealt with a few injuries, breaking my collar bone in 2020 and now the arm, and I wish I could have spent more time with the team then. But it’s my third year now and it’s been unreal. I’ve learned so much being around them training and racing. I’ve had the chance to learn from the best.
You were just at the DHSE event in New Jersey. How’d that race go?
It was good. So, the new bike we raced in Lourdes, the team didn’t get many of them. With COVID and everything with bikes, we got the bikes closer to Lourdes than expected so it was a rush getting used to them. Now we have bikes, but no spare bikes. So the team said, ‘OK, if you go back home, ride your old bike, because if something happens to the new bike back home, it’s a problem.’ So I’ve been on the bike, but mostly the old one. It’s a good bike, it’s a winning bike, but it’s always hard to go back and forth between two different bikes.
I had a good time a Downhill Southeast, it was cool to do another race and get more time on the bike before the World Cup. I’m feeling ready for Fort Bill.
You’re headed back overseas today. What’s the plan for the rest of the season?
Honestly, I’m going to focus on the World Cups. There are a few races close to my home I’d like to do at the end of the season, like the U.S. Open, but otherwise, World Cups. I really want to do national champs as well but it is a bunch of travelling and it’s between two World Cups. That’s hard logistically, so we’ll see.
Right now, I have a few exams to finish for school, then I’ll train and ride. Then just keep riding and training between races.
Lemire races the junior men’s downhill race at Fort William World Cup this weekend. Qualification takes place Saturday May 21. Finals are on Sunday, May 22. The junior men’s race isn’t broadcast, unfortunately, but the elite races will be live on Red Bull TV.