A bout of mononucleosis deprived Evan Guthrie of the entire 2010 competitive mountain biking season.
Now the 20-year-old former Canadian junior champion is making up for lost time.
A fully recuperated Guthrie is in Barrie, Ont. this weekend for his third 2011 Canada Cup cross country race in as many weeks.
On May 21, Guthrie turned in a ninth-place performance at a Canada Cup in Mont Tremblant, Que.
Then last weekend, in extremely muddy conditions in Baie St. Paul, Que., the Peachland rider was fifth overall and second in the U23 division on the 34-km course.
If not for an equipment problem, the result could have been much better. Guthrie was solidly in second place after two laps when a flat tire put his race on hold.
“Sometimes people panic when that happens, but I tried to keep it cool, changed the tire and got back in the race,” said Guthrie. “I slipped as far back as 12th, but managed to work my way back to fifth.
“It felt like a big accomplishment. It was a really good ride, the best I’ve had in a long time.”
The year-long bout with mono now behind him, Guthrie is in the process of working his way back to the kind of form that earned him two Canadian junior titles, two junior World Cups and a Canadian cycle-cross title.
No longer eligible for juniors, Guthrie has stepped up to the elite category where the competition and experience level of the riders is superior.
“In juniors it’s like you’re a big fish in a small pond,” he said. “Now it’s like being a small fish in a big pond. Some riders don’t stick with it, it becomes too much for them. It takes a while to get where you want to go and I understand that. I’m going to keep my head fresh and be patient.”
If all goes as planned, Guthrie will compete at a pair of World Cups next month in Quebec and New York, then at the Canadian championships July 20 in Canmore.
He will also be looking to qualify for Canada’s team for the world championships in Switzerland in August.
Whatever results are to follow, Guthrie is grateful to be back on the competitive circuit.
“It was crappy when the (mono) happened, but there’s not much you can do,” he said. “It actually allowed me to do some other things for a year or so that I wouldn’t normally have done.
“To be back out there and feeling good and racing again, it’s great. It’s probably been a year and a half since I’ve felt this way. I get a lot of fun out of the sport at the same time.”
Guthrie rides for the Rocky Mountain Bicycles Factory team.