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Local teens hitting all gears on national mountain biking circuit

Léo Chicoine, from Tiny, and Midland's Farland Lamont enjoy the camaraderie, competition and speed of mountain biking

Two local teens are riding high in the world of mountain biking.

Léo Chicoine, from Tiny, and Midland's Farland Lamont are in Canmore, Alberta this week competing in three mountain bike, cross-country races.

"It's going to be lots of fun," Léo, 16, tells MidlandToday during a phone interview while travelling to Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec this past weekend for a competition.

Farland races in the Cadet U17 division and is currently second in both the Ontario Cup and the Canada Cup series while Léo competes in the Junior U19 division and is currently first in the Ontario Cup series and was 6th after one race in the Canada Cup standings.

They both attend École secondaire Le Caron in Penetanguishene.

Léo, 16, originally got involved with competitive mountain biking about five years ago.

"There's this local series at Mountainview and they invited me. They said 'you should come race,' and I went and have just kept going ever since," he says, noting he enjoys the speed along with the friendships that exist within the mountain biking community.

"It's like a nice social sport I find too."

Léo, who is in Grade 11, says he also appreciates the training regime, which "gets me off the couch."

This year, Léo plans to compete in five Canada Cups along with three or four provincial competitions. He competed in his first Canada Cup two years ago and says he's been gradually climbing up the standings.

"I've put a lot of effort into just training over the winter and that's helped me a lot to move through the ranks in each category," he says.

Farland, 16, didn't make the Baie-Saint-Paul trip after finding a recent trip to Mont Tremblant "long enough."

The Grade 10 student has been biking most of his young life, but only at this high a level for the past three or four years, after "some nice people at Hardwood (Ski and Bike) gave me some opportunities to keep going."

Farland, who comes by his love of biking naturally thanks to his Dad Kyle, says that biking is a great stress reliever.

"After a long day, I get on my bike and when I come back, I feel better, I feel refreshed," he says, adding he also appreciates the "openness" of riding the trails.

"With other sports, you're stuck in a court, but in biking you can really do whatever you want."

Farland follows a training plan developed by his coach and notices steps in his development as his training regimen has increased.

"Eight hours a week, if you can pull that off, that's when you start to have improvement," he says, adding he does a lot of cross-country skiing, snowboarding and core strength work.

"Under that (eight hours), you end up going down because people around you are training more. For me, I think 12  

The Canmore competition is also expected to attract a number of bikers from the United States.

"Canmore is an amazing venue for cross-country mountain bike races as Léo knows having gone to the Canada Cup race last year and finished 7th," Léo's father Eric Chicoine tells MidlandToday.

"The terrain is very different from what we're used to in Ontario."

Chicoine says both his son and Farland are both outstanding volunteers for the Simcoe County and Mountainview mountain bike clubs.

And while there was no racing and just a bit in 2021 due to the pandemic, things got back into full swing in 2022, according to Eric Chicoine.

"Léo started racing more seriously winning both the provincial and national championship in U17 Cadet Sport (in 2022)," he says. "In 2023 he made the jump to expert and now races in U19 Junior level."

After Alberta, the pair will both head to Nova Scotia for the National Championships in the middle of July.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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