Catharine Pendrel has a puppy, Mingus.
The 38-year-old Olympic bronze medallist cross-country mountain biker was certainly in need of a new companion, considering her most-recent tagalong, bad luck, was a real downer.
Pendrel, a two-time world champion (2011, 2014) and Kamloops resident, broke her left humerus (the long bone between the shoulder and elbow) last summer, an injury that wreaked havoc on her season and forced her out of two World Cup events on the seven-stop circuit.
She bailed and landed on a rock during a ride with friends at Harper Mountain on June 2, the tumble that led to the break.
Prior to that, Pendrel had started strong — showing signs she was ready to kick the Olympic hangover she dealt with in 2017 — with a seventh-place finish at the first World Cup in South Africa.
The misfortune began in Germany at the second World Cup stop, with a fall that contributed to a 17th-place finish, and continued with a flat tire on May 27 in the Czech Republic, a puncture that slowed her to a 24th-place result.
Another flat tire derailed her effort at the world championships in September in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. She finished 14th.
The three-time World Cup champion (2010, 2012, 2016) wrapped the 2018 circuit in 21st place.
Missing about two months’ worth of racing hurt Pendrel’s world ranking, which has dropped to 34th from 14th last June.
The good news: It’s 2019.
Pendrel, husband and coach Keith Wilson and Mingus hopped in their sprinter van and dashed about 2,500 kilometres to Prescott, Ariz., for the Whiskey Off-Road, a race scheduled for this Sunday that doubles as another tuneup ahead of the World Cup season.
“I feel good,” Pendrel said. “It was challenging with the winter we had this year. I kind of didn’t have too many bike miles before I did the first race. I’m feeling better every race and more efficient and excited for the season.”
Race season began in March. Pendrel has already competed at U.S. Cup and Canada Cup events, along with the Pan Am Championships in Mexico, earning world-ranking points and finding her legs along the way.
The most encouraging result to date came at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, Calif., on April 14, a bronze-medal victory in which Pendrel finished behind American Kate Courtney, the current world champion, and Annika Langvad, a former world champion from Denmark.
“The results are never the full picture, so I’m just hoping that ... uh, sorry, my puppy is getting a little upset … yeah, it’s just always nice when you put in the work and it actually shows in the results.”
Pendrel is aiming to be at each of the seven 2019 World Cup stops, the first scheduled to run from May 17 to May 19 in Albstadt, Germany.
Racking up points along the way will be key to improving her world ranking, used to determine starting position for some events, including the world championship, which will run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que.
Pendrel, a six-time Canadian champion, may benefit from racing in familiar territory at worlds.
“Having raced so much on the course and having a tonne of family from New Brunswick being able to come and with the support of people coming out to cheer on Canada, it will be good momentum for us,” said Pendrel, the Fredericton native.
The springer spaniel didn’t interfere with the interview after the early interruption.
Now if bad luck would only leave Pendrel alone.
“Hopefully, we can keep that to a minimum,” Pendrel said. “It is building, but I’m close to top form.”