By Loren Mason-Gere
Kona Adventure Team and Astral sponsored pro Cory Wallace lives an amazing life. He spent the last decade traveling the globe, racing and adventuring. At this point he’s ridden, bikepacked and competed on nearly every continent in the world and somehow still stays focused enough to win repeated World Championship titles. For 2020 he was lining up another big year with competitions in 9 different countries including a bid for a 4th consecutive World Solo 24HR Title in Australia in November. In January he kicked off training as planned with a high altitude trek in the Everest region of Nepal followed by a month of base miles in Thailand. Then he bounced back to the Himalayas for another round of high-altitude training and planned to kick off the season at the Andalucia Bike Race in Spain. You can guess what happened next…
That’s right, Covid19 emerged, and everything changed. Not only were his races cancelled, but Nepal went into full lockdown and he was stuck in the country with no flights home and limited services. Cory was staying at a Monastery with 35 local monks when the country closed its doors. Regardless, he kept training levels high, capitalizing on the 9700 foot elevation of his new “home” for altitude training as he continued his training, hoping for a strong end of the season. But by July, with races cancelled, delayed, and rescheduled throughout the year it became apparent that racing was off for the year. He switched his mindset from race training to adventure mode.
“Being stuck in Nepal during lockdown, I had the opportunity to discover the amazing riding around Kathmandu without the normal chaotic traffic and pollution.” He shares. “It was a great 2.5 months, truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was limited in what I could do, so the focus turned to staying closer to home, doing workouts from the house and riding locally keep the system balanced.”
In order to keep cabin fever at bay and keep up his motivation he hatched a plan to help feed the region’s hungry. Poverty levels are high in Nepal and with all tourism cancelled due to the pandemic, the already fragile economy took an enormous hit. His fundraising rides distributed around 15,000 meals to the nation’s hungry. These included multiple “Katmandu 360” rides (360 km around the capital city in a day, with a ride time of 14 hours) and an “Everesting” ride on the rugged, dirt roads leading to – you guessed it – the Everest region. The air there is as clear as you would expect.
“It's really been a year of living day by day and rolling with the punches.” Cory says. “By lowering my expectations the mind and body adapted well to a simpler life. It's turning into a good opportunity to rest and recharge after years of running around the World racing and adventuring. Once Covid19 is under control it will feel that much better to have our freedom back to chase our dreams. Until then it's time to relax, stay safe and help the World deal with the fallout of the Pandemic.”
In October, after months “stuck” in Nepal Cory finally caught a flight home to his hometown of Jasper, Canada. After two weeks of quarantining and “cross-training” by chopping wood and helping around his family’s property, he’s back to training on his old stomping grounds and plotting adventures to come. Just as Cory provides us with inspiration to seize the day and live out our wildest international adventures in “normal times” his story inspires us to make the very most of what we have during this tumultuous year.
We can’t wait to follow along another year of his mind-bending adventures and see him nab yet another World Championship title in late 2021.
January- Trek Everest Region, Nepal. Start training with a tour in Thailand
February- Training in Thailand, Andalucia Bike Race, Spain
March- Jerobam MTB, Costa Rica and El Reto Del Quetzal, Guatemala.
April- Project in Sri Lanka with Sirilankan Airlines, Sri Lanka. Race MTB Uttarakhand, India
May- Train high altitude, Nepal. Race Trans Costarica MTB, CR
June- Gravel Unbound USA, return to Canada.
July- BC Bike Race, Okanagan24, Canada
August- La Leyenda MTB race, Columbia, Leadville 100, USA
September- Marathon Champs, Canada. World Marathon Champs, Turkey
October- High altitude training, Nepal
November- World 24 Champs, Australia
December- Off season
January- Trek Everest Region, start training in Thailand.
February- Training in Thailand, dislocated shoulder in Nepal.
March- Solo Trek In Himalayas, Lockdown in Himalayas.
April- Lockdown in the Himalayas
May- Lockdown, Live at Monastery.
June- Lockdown, Live at Monastery, Complete Everesting ride.
July- Lockdown in KTM. 3 Cancelled flights.
August- 3 weeks open then Lockdown. Kathmandu 360 ride. 3 cancelled flights.
September- Lockdown + curfew. Airport opens in Nepal but no real flights . 2 cancelled flights.
October- Finally get a flight to Canada. 14 day quarantine, cross-training.
November- The unexpected.
December- The unexpected + Christmas.