Edmonton·Audio

24 hours nonstop: Jasper's 3-time world champ of endurance mountain bike racing

Jasper's Cory Wallace is still catching his breath after winning the World Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Brazil this summer. It’s a title he’s taken three years in a row.

‘I like challenges and I think it’s the ultimate challenge’

Cory Wallace takes part in the World Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Brazil in July. (Fabio Piva)

For 24 hours, there's no sleeping and no real stopping for eating.

Endurance mountain bike racing is non-stop pedalling and Jasper's Cory Wallace is the king of the hill in the sport. 

Wallace is still catching his breath after winning the World Solo 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Brazil this summer. It's a title he's taken three years in a row. 

"It's pure exhaustion," Wallace said in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active on Tuesday. "At the same time, you have a big adrenaline rush." 

Learn about a thing called World Endurance Mountain Bike Racing and meet Cory Wallace the Jasper native who is the sports three-time World Champion. 10:03

The 35-year-old athlete rode more than 460 kilometres in 16 laps through the mountains of midwestern Brazil to win the July championships, which are staged every year in a different country. 

Twelve countries participated in the race: Brazil, Canada, the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, Paraguay, Ukraine, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Australia and Spain, sending a total of 241 riders. 

Three-peat

Wallace took his first solo championship in 2017, dethroning Australian Jason English, who had dominated the sport seven years in a row.

Wallace got his start mountain biking while growing up in Jasper. 

"It's a mountain biker's heaven," Wallace said. "I grew up playing hockey and mountain biking was just a way to stay in shape for that."

He had a passion and a talent for longer racing events and, at 23, he took up racing full time as a member of the Kona Endurance and Adventure team. 

"I just like the freedom the bike gives you, where it takes you, the friendships you make," Wallace said. "To me, there's no better way to see the world than on two wheels."

His first 24-hour race was in Canmore in 2009. He thought he'd pull over after six hours.

"I just went through one boundary and another boundary," Wallace recalled. He made it through the entire 24 hours. "That destroyed me that time. But I just saw how much room for improvement I had.

"I like challenges and I think it's the ultimate challenge … you just have to never stop and never quit."

At pit stops, Wallace eats sticky rice balls with Himalayan salts in water.

For his efforts, he took home a free ticket to the next 24-hour championships in Australia, including his flight and accommodation, and about $3,000 in prize money. 

Despite Australia being Jason English's home turf, Wallace feels confident about his chances. 

"I think I've really cracked the code on this 24-hour race," he said. "It took me eight world championships to finally win my first one ... I feel like I have the system figured out now."

About the Author

Thandiwe Konguavi

Reporter/editor

Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist, born in Zimbabwe. She is a reporter/editor at CBC Edmonton. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca. Follow her on Twitter @cbcthandiwe.

With files from Rod Kurtz

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