WRITTEN BY Courtney Jones
Kamloops local Kyleigh Stewart received a podium finish for the Open Downhill race at the Cannonball Mountain Bike Festival in Thredbo, Australia from Dec. 4 to 8. Stewart competed in both the Pump Track and Downhill events, finishing fourth and third respectively in the final of each race.
“I was really happy with how the racing went, I qualified third in the Pump Track but unfortunately fell into fourth for the actual race,” Kyleigh said.
“For Downhill, I was able to improve on my seeding run and land in third spot for finals. I couldn’t be happier with my third place result as the two girls who were in front of me are extremely talented riders and just having the chance to race with them was great.”
Stewart spent as much time as she could riding in the lead up to the Australian event.
“The best way to prepare for competitions like these is just putting in as much time on the bike as possible in the weeks prior, and then coming into the week feeling refreshed and ready for what’s ahead.
“It’s a long week of riding with five days straight of different events and by the end of it you are feeling pretty tired and beaten up. Luckily for me, I was able to get some riding in on the racetrack before the weekend of the event which allowed me to relax a bit more and not have to squeeze in as many laps as others.”
Following in her father’s footsteps, she fell in love with mountain biking at the age of 10 and hasn’t looked back since.
“My entire family enjoys it, so as a kid, the desire to ride bikes was pretty natural,” she said. “My dad raced mountain bikes when I was a kid so being exposed to that side of the sport has definitely helped catch my interest. I first started mountain biking around Kamloops in places like the Bike Ranch and even up at Sun Peaks in the bike park.”
Despite living in Kamloops, Stewart makes the time to train up at Sun Peaks when the conditions allow for it.
“My first proper race was the Grass Dual Slalom at Sun Peaks when I was 10,” she said. “Kamloops offers such an awesome variety of terrain that it’s the perfect location to learn to ride, and I am stoked to see all the changes Sun Peaks has made in the bike park to make it suitable for everyone.”
Not only does Stewart love the sport, but also the people involved in the community.
“I have been able to build so many great relationships with people in the community,” Kyleigh said. “Wherever I go, I can always find friends who are keen to go for a ride and show me new areas which is something super special about the sport. For me, the only feeling that compares to riding a bike is skiing, and I am sure a lot of skiers will also understand what I mean.
“Any day on bikes is a good day and I always look forward to what the future holds for myself as a rider.”
Stewart said she wants to thank Sun Peaks Bike Park, Commencal Bicycles, Royal Racing, 7 Protection, Smith Optics, Deity Components, Mostly Mental Shuttles, and District Bicycle Co. for their support.
Readers can follow her journey on Instagram at @kystewart.