The Catharine Pendrel Interview

Canada's cross-country starlet Catharine Pendrel talks world title glory and Olympic disappointment

Catharine Pendrel at UCI Mont Sainte Anne with her bike
Standing Proud© Sven Martin

Catharine Pendrel

Age: 32
Nationality: Canadian
Hometown: Kamloops, BC Canada
2013 Team: Luna Pro Team
Discipline: Cross-Country Olympic
2012 Series Finish: 1st
Career Highlights: 2011 World Champion, 2010 & 2012 World Cup Series Champion, 10 World Cup wins.

If ever there was proof that a bicycle can take one on a journey, Catharine Pendrel’s first experiences and those subsequent are evidence of that. “I was born into horses so by the time I was 16 I was open to exploring something new. I wanted something to keep me active when I went to University. Bikes travel much more easily than horses. I had done nothing beforehand to suggest I had great athletic potential, but I loved the lifestyle and people I met mountain biking. I just kept getting faster and never stopped loving it or learning from it. My parents still have my horse, she’s 29! But no riding for me for years.”

Catharine Pendrell at UCI Mont Sainte Anne
Catharine Pendrel© Sven Martin

2012’s big prize was obviously the Olympics and who better to be in contention for it than the reigning World Champion. Catharine Pendrel was in undeniable form, winning the World Cup series in 2010, the rainbow stripes in 2011 as well as second in the series, she was in the form of her life. Yet the two biggest races didn’t work out in 2012, “Definitely it tainted my season. My goals were centred around the Olympics and Worlds and not doing well was a big disappointment. It was easy to forget that it was actually a pretty good season till August, but luckily I have great people in my life and a wicked team that helps put things in perspective. Sometimes you don’t get it right despite your best efforts, but you can get it right again. You have to keep looking ahead to the next goal.”

Mont Sainte Anne is definitely special. I love the terrain there and I draw so much energy off of the crowds and knowing the better I do the more exciting it is for them

Winning the World Cup series however marked down a third successive title winning year and the other two stand-out events of the year for Catharine went her way too, with wins at the legendary Houffalize World Cup and her home round at Mont Sainte Anne, “I’ve always loved racing those two events. Mont Sainte Anne is definitely special. I love the terrain there and I draw so much energy off of the crowds and knowing the better I do the more exciting it is for them. I was also racing Orbea’s new cross-country full suspension design and knew it would be a great reward for the engineers if it could win on its trial run. Houffalize is such a storied race. It suits me so well, but I had never won it before. It was just one of those great days where everything clicked.”

Catharine Pendrel racing the UCI 2012 World Championships
In the thick of it© Sven Martin

“I love doing what I do, but part of staying home in winter is to be able to be involved in my home community, see my friends more, camp, hike, do some “do-it-yourself” home and garden renovations and ski. Plus some of the best trails are in BC. It’s nice to just ride without a structured plan, just having fun ripping trails with friends.” Catharine says she’s feeling good heading into the new season but admits, “it took me a while to get back to that point after last season, but mountain biking is too much fun to not want to work hard to get faster. I’ll be racing the World Cup series again, looking for great races in Italy and at the Worlds. I have a lot of World Cups to win to come anywhere near Sydor, Dahle or Furtado in World Cup wins. Seems like a good goal to keep me pushing for years to come…”