After a mountain bike race accident at Sun Peaks Resort caused Landon McGauley to become paraplegic in 2010, he recently found himself back in the starting gate at the 2021 Dunbar Series, clinching podium finishes at every stop.
“All I wanted to do was ride my mountain bike when I was a kid, and that was taken away from me,” McGauley said. “It’s something I care about so much and to be able to do it at a fairly high level is pretty special and not something I am taking for granted.”
At the first stop in Fernie, B.C from July 16 to 18. McGauley’s name was drawn first in a seeding draw to determine the starting order of racers in the first ever Adaptive E-Assist category.
“I thought I did a pretty good run. And then, you know, thankfully everyone made it down and no one was able to knock me out of that top spot,” said McGauley. “It’s pretty cool to see everyone come down [while I] stayed in the hot seat. And also because the last race I did, I broke my back.”
Fraught with emotion, McGauley took a moment to collect himself before celebrating.
After his victory in Fernie, McGauley sought a repeat at the next, most difficult race course, in Panorama Resort outside of Invermere, B.C., which took place July 20 and 21.
“Panorama was definitely the gnarliest of the three, I loved it,” McGauley said. “There were root drops everywhere, no smooth corners, they were all rocky and steep which is what I really like to ride.”
Unfortunately McGauley’s aggressive strategy resulted in a crash during his practice, which shook his confidence.
“The crash got in my head, I needed to get through that section so I played it a little safer than I would have liked and ended up getting third,” he explained.
“Everyone was stoked at the bottom and there were no real bad crashes or anything like that. I think people were pretty amazed to see what the bikes were capable of in that race.”
The 2021 Dunbar Series ended with the National Championships at Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, B.C., the following weekend, where McGauley’s time of 8:14.07 had him sitting in second place.
“I got a fairly clean run down and it worked well. I was in second place until the last guy came down and beat me. It was pretty exciting.” McGauley remembered.
Overall, McGauley was “pretty stoked” to finish third at the National Championships and to have his parents there, who he said were “pretty emotional” to see him race on a mountain bike again.
McGauley also wanted to thank everyone who helped him get back into racing including the Kootenay Adaptive Sport Association, Dunbar Cycles and the High Five Foundation.
For the rest of the summer, McGauley can be caught riding his favourite Sun Peaks Resort Bike Park trails including Canada Line, Steam Shovel and Mach.