Mountain biker Jacob Tooke has already logged 900 kilometres and climbed more than 35,000 metres on the Vernon and area trails and hills.
The VSS grad is highly visible in his signature red Olympia Cycle jersey, duds earned since he finished fourth nationally in 2016 to grab a spot on the Canadian Junior National Enduro Team.
While Tooke is racing almost every weekend on the B.C. Enduro circuit, he will be heading to three of the Enduro World Series Events this season: the Big Mountain Enduro in Aspen, Snowmass, Colorado at the end of July, the Canadian Open Enduro in Whistler at the world famous Crankworx in August, and the season-ender in the Bluegrass Finalenduro in Finale Ligure, Italy in late September.
So far this season, the amiable Tooke has struck gold in the Vernon MEC BC Enduro West (u21), placed runner-up at the Williams Lake MEC BC Enduro West (u21), and snagged a third at the North American Enduro Tour/World Qualifier in Squamish (u21). He leads the BC Enduro Series for his category.
Tooke, who was born in Banff and moved to Vernon six years ago, used to ride for fun “to pass the time” with his father, Rob. Jacob attended a grade 10 freestyle ski academy in Rossland and got turned on to mountain biking.
“It’s definitely a big learning curve,” said Tooke, who turned 18 on June 3. “I have had a few broken bones and stitches and a few concussions. I had 16 stiches in my shin and nine in my arm. You just keep going though.”
The sport of mountain bike enduro racing is relatively new to North America but has gained a huge following in Europe. Enduro is a type of mountain bike racing where a series of downhill sections are timed, and the uphills are not. Riders are timed in stages that are primarily downhill, with neutral or transfer stages in between. The transfer stages are the uphill sections that must be completed within a time limit, but are not part of the accumulated time. Most races are 25-35km, broken into four or five stages, taking five to six hours to complete.
While he loves to compete, the 5-foot-6, 120-pound Tooke has learned the hard way that it’s not all about the results.
“I find that focussing on the results puts too much pressure on; it makes me stressed, tense and rigid, which translates to slow. When I can just focus on how much I love to ride my bike. It shifts my mindset, I’m looking for the best line, seeing if I can go just a little bit faster, or smoother, or bigger, not because I have to for the stage win, but because I want to for the sensation of feeling one with my bike and the terrain – even though I’m going really fast, it feels smooth, like a total flow state, that’s when I really accelerate.”
He pays sharp attention to his breathing as he goes through his pre-race ritual. He loads up on electrolytes, Solo bars and gels come race day and while he has hit the wall and contemplated surrendering, he has always persevered.
Tooke is a huge fan of 33-year-old American rider Travis Pastrana, a pro motorsports competitor and stunt performer who has won championships and X Games gold medals in several events, including supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross and rally racing.
“I’ve watched video of him when he was young; his stunts are amazing.”
In his free time, Jacob volunteer coaches kids in the local bike program Sprockids.
“I love riding with these kids, they are so keen to try anything – it reminds me of myself when I used to study the Silver Star website videos of the local icons the Van Steenbergens, longing to ride like that one day.”
Tooke will be representing Silver Star going forward.
“I’m so grateful for all of the support I’ve had from my local shop sponsor, Olympia Cycle and Ski, Smith Optics, Specialized and now Silver Star and Quest University, and of course my mom (Kate) and Dad… I’ve broken a lot of bikes over the years,” he laughed.
Tooke, who has an older sister, Georgia, and younger brother, Owen, has earned an Elite Athlete Scholarship to Quest University in Squamish, so he will be headed there in the fall to pursue his studies in arts and sciences as well as continue racing in the Enduro Series. He is coached by former Vernon rider Joel Harwood.
“I get workouts online from him and we chat about what I need to improve on and what he thinks,” said Tooke.