Having grown up in Toowoomba, Australia, Andrew Cavaye is accustomed to dry dusty tracks accompanied by a generous amount of jagged rock. After some time spent on the EWS circuit, he realized that he was starting to outgrow the terrain his hometown had to offer. Signing a lease sight unseen, Andrew made the 7,431 miles move to Bellingham. Working a full-time position as a business analyst while training six days a week, a strong work ethic is not in short supply for Cavaye. Just after his opening race weekend, we sat down to talk about all things bike-related and his approach to this upcoming season.
Where did your passion for biking originate from?
I don’t even know, just ever since I was a baby I’ve been obsessed with bikes for no particular reason. My dad rode a little bit but he never really influenced anything. So I don't know, I just had this feeling to do it and just love it. It’s a freedom kind of thing. When I was a kid I just got on a bike and frickin’ disappeared into the bush. Since then, I started racing and it just kept growing from there. I think it’s still growing today. It’s just been like a childhood thing that’s grown into a hopeful profession.
What role has Bellingham played in developing you as a racer?
Well, I moved halfway across the world to be here. Yeah, I heard a lot of great things about Bellingham and really haven’t been disappointed. I signed a year's lease without even seeing my apartment. After spending some time on the EWS I realized that the terrain and stuff I have at home are not what I need to try and be racing EWS. I think we really have the terrain for it. It is almost like a double-edged sword, where it's super good and you can train really well but it’s almost so good that you kinda get lazy and you just ride good stuff and not janky EWS things.
Bellingham just really had the terrain to take my riding to the next level. Since moving here I’ve improved so much, it’s insane. Particularly, wet riding. I won a rainy race this past year and that never would have happened before I moved here.
You’ve had the chance to race both the Forbidden Druid and Dreadnaught; how do those bikes compare to one another?
I would say the Dreadnaught lets you get away with a lot. It’s very forgiving and energy-conserving because you just point and don’t have to fight it so much to keep it in line. Especially in rough stuff, you just plow through it and it’s not so tough on you. So if you are riding and you are tired it’s kind of forgiving. Whereas other bikes you have to work to make them ride well. It’s super confidence-inspiring in a way, you can point it down anything and it just kinda smooths it out, making it a little bit easier on you. It might take a little bit more to pedal than other things, but the descending performance trade-off more than makes up for it.
Man, but as for the Druid… holy crap. Last weekend, I won two downhill races on a 130mm Druid. I would race that thing on such gnarly stuff and it's still a trail bike I can pedal around Galby and just do massive pedal days on. If I could buy any bike that’s the bike I’d buy. You can just do so much on it and it feels fine… on everything!
How did your first race weekend of the season go?
So we started with Hub-A-Palooza in Spokane. It’s just a nice tune-up race preseason, you get to do a lot of racing in one weekend so it’s a lot of bang for your buck. It’s pretty relaxed, not super high pressure. So it’s good to get against the clock without a lot of pressure and just have fun with your friends. I did pretty well. I struggled with the weather, it was cold and I didn’t bring a jacket so I just dropped in absolutely shivering. Which probably led to me crashing on the first stage of the enduro. I just went over the bar into some rocks doing this janky tree wiggle. Bars got all turned, and my brake levers were all smashed down. So I had to ride the whole next section trying to hit my levers back up. It was pretty sketchy. Apart from that, I felt good. Good fitness-wise, good bike feel, just a solid pre-season race.
Then the next day, I did two downhill races in one day. I won the first race in the morning and felt pretty good, just quietly confident. Then the second race, funny story, I almost missed the start. I was sick from the cold, so I was just struggling. I was laying in my car in my sleeping bag just in my body armor and everything was ready to go. Just laying there trying to stay warm and then I wake up to Eric calling me and he’s like, “ Um.. whatcha doing?” and I was like, “Oh I’m just chilling, we still got a little while” and he goes, “Well, we are at the top and we’re dropping.” So I hopped out and I wasn’t too concerned at first. Then I began to look around and realized there was no one, everyone had gone. So I just hauled up the climb and when I got to the top there were only three people in front of me. So I had a minute and a half to catch my breath and put my helmet on. I won that one too.
I think this method of waking up late is proven. I don’t know, that’s the first time I’ve done that where I show up to a start and drop in straight away. I don’t know what to think about it. I am a very prepared person and organized so I don’t like feeling rushed but I kinda liked being at the top and not having time to think about much.
It sounds like you and Eric might be onto something. There seems to be a theme of having a crazy weekend and bagging a good result.
Yeah, that’s honestly pretty commendable of Eric. That’s like a staple of Eric, having a crazy weekend but somehow he’s on point. Meanwhile, I’m just there polishing my bike, making sure I’m ready to go. Actually, last year down in California I was staying in a hotel while Eric camped at the event. We turn up in the morning and we are all ready to ride and Eric is not even out of his tent yet. He gets out and he’s just like, “Where is my bike?” He had left it way down by the showers the night before. Then he just gets on the thing and goes racing, doesn’t check the tire pressure or anything. That’s not me, it would stress me out.
What were the high and low points of last season?
The high point was winning the CDC overall just because that’s a pretty sweet result. Going into the season I just had the low-key goal of winning a race and I ended up winning the overall. I’d say another high point was a random ride in Whistler where I got shown around. We did this ride that was just two hours of descending on the craziest trail I’ve ever done. I was just in a half shell and we were just doing crazy stuff. It was like rally driving because my friend who was showing me was just calling out stuff to me, like “drop”, “jump right”, and “jump left” and I was following, hucking myself off this stuff.
I’d say the biggest learning experience last season was a mental thing that I picked up on about self-confidence and trusting your ability. In the past, I’ve incapacitated myself by just convincing myself I am not good enough or I’m not going to go fast, or I’m going to crash, or whatever. Last year I kinda flipped the switch, catching myself in those negative thoughts and being like, “No, you’ve done this a thousand times you are going to do this.” I think that I’ve just gained a lot of mental strength over the last year through racing. I had a focused effort towards that stuff because it was something that I lacked before. But, I don’t think I get too down about any lows, I just try to learn and bounce back.
Whether it’s racing or even just riding scary stuff, it’s so mental.
Exactly, I had this crazy mental block once, I don’t even know what the hell happened. I was watching my GoPro the night before a race and there was this straight rock garden and I did it fine on the GoPro but for some reason when I watched it my brain was like, “You are going to crash there.” I couldn’t get past it, I literally watched this section thirty times trying to get past that. So there's stuff like that where I need to convince myself I’m fine and not worry about it. A lot of people have the skill but just can’t handle it mentally. So many people could benefit from some mental training.
How did you prepare over the off-season?
This past off-season was a lot better because of the one before. The off-season before, I was out with a separated shoulder and had just spent all winter on a trainer inside for twelve to fifteen hours a week. So this off-season I was actually able to ride outside a bit. I didn’t really let myself have much of a break, which I think I would change for next season. I would let myself have a month off, rather than just a couple of days before being back in the gym. My typical schedule is gym two times a week, ride four, and one rest day. Skiing here and there and a lot of work. Because I have to take so much time off during the summer, I work a lot in the winter to make up for it.
I really am a program kinda guy. Almost every hour of my week is planned out because I am so about maximizing every hour in the day because I have to. I’m a full-time business analyst with a proper job while trying to race full-time. In order to get everything done takes a fair bit of discipline.
What are your plans for the upcoming season?
Oh so much, I'm doing six EWS races. The first round is in the UK in June. I'm spending the whole month of June in Europe. So I’m doing the UK, Slovenia, and Italy rounds. I’ve been to the venue in Italy twice so I’m feeling really good to go back there. Then I’m doing two North West Cups. I’ve shifted my focus away from the CDC. Last year the focus was CDC because I wanted to win those and that’s kinda all that was going on because of covid. This year I'm focusing more on the higher level, bigger field events. So only a few of the CDC races and doing some of the Canadian Enduros instead. So I’ll be racing at Sun Peaks, Whistler, and Vancouver Island. Then I’m also doing the two EWS races in Maine and Vermont and also the Whistler EWS. I’m also hopefully doing the downhill World Cup in Snowshoe. I’ll finish off the season with the Transierra Norte in October in Mexico. I was so bummed to miss that last year, it looked so good so I just had to jump on it this year. I’ve never done a blind event, it just seems like so much fun.
Which bike would go to Snowshoe?
Oh my Dreadnaught, of course! I’m gonna put a dual crown on it. I just think turning up there with a single crown would be a little insulting. I grew up racing downhill so obviously, I always wanted to do a World Cup but to get the points is super hard. You could win a National Australian downhill race and get like two points and you need forty to get in. I never got the points and thought that was over with and then I got a spot on the North West Gravity team through GGR. They are basically a full-on registered UCI Team and have available rider slots. I have low expectations but if I have the chance to race a World Cup I gotta do it.
If you could ride any trail in the world right now, which would it be?
I would go back to 2015 when I was a park rat on my chainless V10 and I would ride Original Sin to Freight Train to Dirt Merchant to Lower A-Line to Canadian Open. That was the line. Specifically in that time period. Not currently, but back then, in 2015 with my friends.
2010 Beerburrum, you finished 4/11 in U15. What advice would you give yourself back then?
Yeah! That is legit my first race. I actually remember so much about that. I don’t know if I’d tell myself to do anything different. I will just be like, “Hey man, have fun, you’ll be good.” I probably didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t care about the result, I was just stoked to be at a race. I’d just tell myself to enjoy and take it all in, I don’t think I’d say to do anything differently because that led to me being here. You can see, like two races later, I won so… but that was my home track and I was determined to win that thing. I remember my mum came to watch that one in Toowoomba and I was straight up with no armor, no knee pads and it's just a rock garden the whole way. After the race, she said, “I’ll give you my credit card and you buy whatever protection you want, everything!”
What is it like to have Eric Olsen as a teammate?
Ha, it's great! Honestly, he’d give you the shirt off his back to help you out. Just me being the way that I am, he can kinda stress me out because I just want to be really prepared and he’s just not sometimes. I remember at Silver last year we were running late and Eric was driving. I'm literally meant to be at the start in two minutes and he pulls into the Mcdonalds drive-thru. I was sitting there just stressing while he was ordering his coffee or whatever. Eric will be like, “Man, you got a minute. Literally a full minute!” and I’m just rushing to check my tire pressure and get ready.
Then this other time I took the day off work so we could leave and get to the venue at a reasonable time. Eric didn’t end up showing up until after I would have finished work. Then he says “Oh, I got to get my wheels from Sudden Valley”. It was a seven-hour drive so we ended up not getting there until 2 AM. That's just being on a trip with Eric, but you can rely on him to help. At China Peak my brake line kinked and my brake basically died. He spent most of the evening trying to fix it for me. In the end, it was unfixable and he gave me his spare brake. He’ll help you with whatever he can.
Andrew has come a long way from bombing through dusty rock gardens without kneepads. With six EWS stops, countless regional enduros, and a World Cup, Andrew has a packed season ahead of him. Since his two wins in Spokane, he has stayed on the gas, collecting a solid finish in a stacked field in Port Angeles. He most recently secured a podium finish at the absolute mud pit that was the first CDC of the season. It is evident Andrew has put in the work and then some, now all that's left to do is, as he says, “get on a bike and frickin’ disappear in the bush.”
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