Haliburton’s own caps season with silver
By Darren Lum
Published Sept. 5, 2017
Getting to the podium for Haliburton’s Owen Flood was years in the making.
With his parents Melanie and Brent watching on, his second place in the under-23 class at the O-Cup Provincial Championships for cross-country mountain biking on Aug. 27 was the result of dedication and determination.
The second place equals the Maverix racing member’s best O-Cup finish, a second place in the junior class at provincials from a few years ago. He joined his teammates Liam Mulcahy, who was first, and third place finisher Malcolm Barton on the podium. They were all separated by close to two minutes.
Coming into the race at Sir Sam’s, Flood was aiming for a top-five placing in the under-23 field and a top 10 for the senior elite field. He accomplished both goals. He finished eighth in the senior elite field, the top level of racers in the Ontario Cup series, organized by Superfly Racing.
“For things to pay off, it definitely makes you feel good and things are working out, leading into next year. Gain some more confidence that I can compete with those top guys,” he said.
Flood had a hard time eating, feeling nervous and excited on the day of the race. This was a good thing, he said.
“Normally, when I get like that I have a good race, so it was nice to know I was feeling like that,” he said.
“That’s how I felt before nationals and I had a good race there.”
Key to the solid finish rested with his home venue advantage: his knowledge of the course, where he could attack or recover, and the cheers he could hear from supporters along the route.
“It was definitely a huge advantage,” he said.
He said uncharacteristically he got a good start, riding sixth in the opening lap. Although he dropped down to the 10 spot for the senior elite field (run concurrently with under-23 racers) with two laps to go, he managed to pull back the lost positions and more.
“Something clicked in my head. I was just able to find that extra gear the last two laps in the race and dropped the guy that was close behind me and then catch the guy [ahead] and leave him as well,” he said.
By the last lap, he had moved to second place, but his efforts were catching up with him.
“I worked so hard I started cramping ... not crazy bad cramping. Enough you feel it in your muscles so I was getting a little worried about that, but I knew I was in a good spot and had a healthy gap to the people behind me so I felt good,” he said. “All I could think about was finishing that race, that last lap because I knew I was in such a good position.”
This second place gave Flood enough points to finish 14th overall in the senior elite class, which includes well-known Canadian mountain bike racer Derek Zandstra, this year’s overall top senior elite rider.
His parents have always been there. They are his biggest supporters and his biggest fans.
Melanie was proud of her son and reflected on the past several years, which led to this moment.
“I have watched Owen’s commitment to the sport since the first Ontario Cup he ever raced. He has put a countless amount of hours into his training whether he is exhausted from work or fitting it in between classes and studying at school,” she wrote in an email.
“Over this season in particular, his focus and commitment has intensified and I have been able to see that intensity pay off with each race; both physically and mentally. Going into provincials he was noticeably in the ‘zone’ mentally; he was racing with almost an intensified confidence in himself. I think for the first time this season he was feeling like he was at the top of his game and racing on his home course kind of wrapped it all up for him. With every lap he held his position, he looked strong and you could feel that he had the strength and reserve to have a little extra at the end.”
Owen made sure to thank them, sharing his gratitude on Facebook.
In an interview with the Echo, he talked about what it meant to have his parents see his achievement.
“It’s nice to have your parents be there and see that too. They put a lot of time, a lot of money and effort in getting me around and taking me places, having me go places and race and train. So, to be able to show them that I’m putting in the effort and it is paying off ... is definitely nice to do,” he said.
He also thanked his coach Kyle Douglas, who has been there for the highs and lows, his team Maverix racing, and his sponsors, including team manager Jay Ennis for his work.
Flood’s mountain biking season might be over, but his work continues. He will be racing in cyclocross starting this October until into November.
During the off-season, he will hit the weight room to prepare for his third season of senior elite. He plans to race again in the national championships this coming season held in Canmore, Alberta.
Within the next two years, he is aiming to accumulate enough UCI points from racing in Canada Cup series events to be eligible to compete in a world cup race like the one held at Mount Ste. Anne.
Melanie said this wasn’t just a great way to end the season, but represents a solid beginning for his next season of racing.
“His podium finish was an amazing end to his season and a great beginning for next year. Watching him stand up there was definitely a defining moment and we couldn’t be more proud of him. It’s pretty awesome to see your son realize the success and reward of all of the hard work he did to get himself there,” she said.