As we head into mountain-bike season and Fernie trails fill with riders, many people are feeling excited about the sport, whether longtime riders or brand new. Whistler-based mountain biker Claire Buchar is a great example of someone with pure love and inextinguishable passion for mountain biking.
Splitting time between both Whistler and Australia with her partner and fellow mountain biker Chris Kovarik, Claire has been tearing up the trails and competing over a long career. She has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, including being on the Canadian National Team 11 times, a Bronze at the World Championships in 2011, and multiple Canadian National Championship titles. Claire recently began an expansion of her involvement in the world of mountain biking by starting Kovarik Racing with Chris. Kovarik Racing is a way for the pair to be involved in racing, coaching, rider development, and allows them to be part of many different aspects of the mountain bike world while still competing.
How does the biking scene differ between BC and Queensland?
One thing I have noticed that stands out is that in Australia, it is a bit more race-oriented. Perhaps because to ride a lot of venues, there has to be a set ride day or race, so you race to ride. In BC, we have free reign over so much terrain that people just like to go and get lost and aren’t bothered with racing so much.
What qualities do you find are most important in the riders that you surround yourself with?
I’ll ride with anyone and I surround myself with many different riders. There are always qualities in everyone that you can draw from. You can always learn something from somebody. That’s the beauty of it. We are all so different in our make up, from all the different experiences we’ve had in our lives, but we are all brought together by our love for riding and being out on the trail.
How do you support and mentor others who are beginning to enter the professional mountain biking world?
I’ve been involved with many different kids, youth, women specific and adult co-ed camps. This year, we have a little Rider Development Team that we will be coaching and mentoring at most of the BC Cups throughout the season. It is pretty fun and rewarding, and it’s crazy when you realize how much someone looks up to you and how much of an impression you can make. It’s a pretty big responsibility.
Which riders have played a mentorship role for you throughout your career?
I see inspiration in a lot of different people and things. And not always from within the mountain-bike world. I get inspired by peoples’ attitudes, creativity and approaches to challenges on the bike and in the business world. I take bits and pieces of what I like and can relate to from many different people, places and concepts.
Do you have a routine on race and comp days that you go through to prepare yourself?
Not being 100% focused on racing these days, I like to keep it pretty simple, fun and relaxed. I’m not expected to produce any crazy results anymore and any nerves I get are from putting pressure on myself, which is legit and it’s that competitive drive in me. I just have to remember to be realistic. But with all the experience I have, I trust that when I get into the start gate, I will know what I’ve got to do.
Have you ever experienced a professional low point or a time when you considered doing something else?
Yes, of course. It is not as glamorous as most people think. And it is a lot more sacrifice and hard work than what people see on Instagram!
How do you motivate yourself on days when you are not feeling 100%?
I suck it up and get on with it. You aren’t going to achieve your goals, whatever they may be, if you’re always waiting around for when you feel 100%. I also know by now that I will always feel better afterwards. I also practice gratitude. As much as I can I try to focus on what I’ve got going for me at that moment, that day, in general. That can change your perspective and help you find that motivation.
Many people feel that their chosen sports play not only a significant physical role in their lives but also are integral to their mental health and moods. Would you say that biking has this dual role in your life?
Absolutely. Exercise, being out in nature, exploring, being curious and being a part of a rad community is more healing and balancing than any pill.
Were there any major challenges in getting Kovarik Racing off the ground?
Building any business or brand has its challenges and takes time to grow. I’d say, moving twice a year from Whistler to Brisbane and then from Brisbane to Whistler is a big challenge but it allows us to follow the seasons so that’s the upside to that one.
What has been the most rewarding part about starting Kovarik Racing and getting to take a multi-faceted approach to your sport?
Being able to design our own program and create our own work has given us a lot of freedom and flexibility to do our thing. We have found a way to do what we love and that’s passion for you.