Secrets From The Saddle: All things Cycling PODCAST
27. Canadian Olympian, New MOM. Will she Head to Tokyo. Meet Powerhouse Mountain Biker Catharine Pendrel
February 3, 2021
In this episode, you will learn: How one woman dominated the Mountian Bike podium for 17yrs, bringing home multiple medals for Canada. As a NEW MOM, will she head to Tokyo or retire?
Meet Catharine Pendrel Powerhouse Mountain Biker who dominated the podium for 17yrs, bringing home multiple medals for Canada. As a NEW MOM, will she head to Tokyo or retire?

Settle in and enjoy this interview. Catharine has so many words of wisdom it's hard to pick just one.


Catharine Pendrel  
Husband Keith
New baby girl DARA arrived Jan 26
Interview conducted Jan 20
A member of the Canadian National team since 2004, Pendrel was the world champion in cross-country mountain biking in 2011 and 2014 and the 2007 Pan American Games champion. She is also the current reigning Commonwealth Games champion when she won gold in Glasgow. Additionally, Pendrel is the 2010 World Cup Champion as well as the winner of the 2012 UCI and 2016 World Cup Series. She won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

Pendrel was a competitive horse rider in eventing prior to selecting mountain biking as her primary sport. Her brother Geoff Pendrel is an elite downhill mountain bike racer. He introduced her to the sport as a child through the trails he built on their horse farm. Pendrel's first race was on a bike borrowed from her brother. She noted that she got into mountain biking because she "sucked at all the school sports." She recounts that her first rides on her bike were often quite nervous ones ruled by fear, especially on descents where she would walk her bike down, she said that "what I remember from starting is falling and crashing a lot."

She then headed from the East Coast to the West Coast where she began riding at the University of Victoria. There she had to convince future coach Dan Proulx into taking her on, as he was quoted "Catharine and I often joke because, no, I didn't see (world champion potential) in her at first. It took a lot of persistence and hard work over time. She had to bug me a bit to get me to coach her at first and luckily it all worked out. It just goes to show you, you can work hard and make something happen."

Her first international competition was at the 2004 World Championships in Les Gets, France where she finished 46th. Prior to competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Pendrel competed at the 2007 Pan Am Games where she won gold. She finished 4th at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the cross-country event just 9 seconds out of a medal position. Pendrel was not as notable a rider at the time as her hero, teammate, and gold medal favourite Marie-Hélène Prémont who did not finish after a lingering and unknown illness caused her to retire from the race.

This near Olympic success helped launch Pendrel's most successful period. She won the 2010 UCI World Cup Series before winning the 2011 World Championships. These achievements put her as one of Canada's top medal favourites for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In advance of the London games, she had won an online fan poll to be selected as Canada's flag bearer, though the Canadian Olympic Committee eventually selected Simon Whitfield as the flag bearer.
She was also put into a favoured position to win at the London Olympics by winning the test event prior to the games. At the Olympics Pendrel finished back in 9th place, disappointing the high expectations of her. After the race, a tearful Pendrel said that "I felt so strong yesterday and today just didn't happen. You know I'm sorry because I know everyone in B.C. got up at 4:30 [a.m.] to watch me. It's just what I had in the day and unfortunately, this only comes every four years. Maybe in Rio."

Secrets From the Saddle HOST and CREATOR: Sylvie D'Aoust
FOLLOW Me on Social Media

Cycling Skills & Technique Courses: Stop wasting energy with poor pedal stroke form on the trainer this winter.