Monday, 23 July 2007

My Nationals Curse

Well……. I’m pretty sure that I’ve had my fair share of bike drama now to last me for the rest of my cycling career, or at least I hope so.

This past weekend I was out on Vancouver Island for Canadian Mountain bike nationals in Mt Washington, BC. This was my second time up to Mt Washington (third time on the island), with the first being last year for Canada Cup finals. It’s a really quaint little mountain village, not very developed and not commercialized at all, with a really tough cross country course. The steep climbs and rooty descents are tough enough when it’s dry, but after days of heavy rain, all I can say is “ouch”.

Okay, a little touch on my bike drama, for those of you who haven’t heard; but I won’t go into the long gory details. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my bike was in bits and pieces up until an hour and a half before the start of the race. So needless to say, I had a very stressful 48 hours leading up to the race, and a very sleepless night; definitely not an ideal pre-race routine and I hope it doesn’t become routine. Thanks to the frantic help from Dallas the night before and from Ben from Shimano the morning of, everything got put together and I had a great working rig for the race. Needless to say, buy this point I was very mentally drained, which is something I have to work on because lets face it, things don’t always go smoothly.

Race time…..more than a little chilly (I swear I saw snowflakes) and more than a little wet, but hey, playing in the mud is always fun. It was a small but stacked women’s field, with all the big Canadian hitters in attendance, except Allison Sydor who seems to be moving towards the enduro events. Off the gun, Kiara pulls into the lead, and I grab her wheel as fast as I can. The first climb is a long double track climb straight up a ski run, which kicks up really steeply near the top. Due to the peanut buttery mud, everyone is forced to get off and push. At the top of this climb is a short technical uphill section followed by a short really steep open section which is tough enough when dry, so we are forced to run. By the time I reached the summit, my legs and lungs are on fire, but I’m sitting in a pretty good spot. The first technical descent I crash gently a few times, slide out on roots, front wheel getting swallowed by mud, nothing major, but definitely I don’t feel at ease. I finish the first lap in eighth position, with the next six spots really close in front. I’m not feeling great about how I’m riding, but I’m really happy that I’m managing to stay in contention, everyone is struggling with the conditions. Slowly however, my body seems to just want to shut down. Usually I’m really good with adverse conditions and being able to just slog through it, but not today. Every movement, every climb, every root, every mud puddle just seems to through me off, and my back is starting to seize up (courtesy of my smart recovery ride crash the week before). By the last lap I’m struggling to just finish the race. Somehow I manage to hold on to eighth place, but I have lost a lot of time on the girls in front of me.

I’m definitely not happy with my performance and how the weekend went. It’s really tough when you put so much effort and focus into an event and nothing seems to go right (which is maybe just my pessimistic post bad race attitude shining through because I did have a lot of fun), but at the same time, it’s these tough races and times that do make you a stronger athlete and person… not all is lost. Maybe next year I can crack my ever present nationals curse (which is all in my head) and get my redemption.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Canmore Canada Cup

Photo by Patrick Graham

Photo by Henry Yau

A few cool shots from a few cool locals..thanks guys.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Ziggy Gnarly

So, who survives one of the most technical and tough courses on the North American circuit, only to crash in the parking lot..yup that’s me. And then crash hard again the following day on an easy recovery ride….yup again, that’s me. Now, I’m a little bruised, a little scraped up and very stiff….smart. But enough stories of my inability to keep the rubber side down, for now anyways.

I must apologize, it’s been a while, I’m definitely not in Mont St Anne anymore. The week following that World Cup I was in northern part of Quebec at St. Felicien, competing in the second Canadian World Cup. I must say, what a great course and a great event overall. Besides a little bit of a rough start, rubbing someone’s rear tire and going down (we weren’t moving very fast mind you), I had a great ride and lots of fun, working my way up to 26th position. Oh yeah, I must mention, I did have a pretty hectic and stressful week, and ended up riding on a borrowed frame, that’s a whole other story, but it all worked out in the end.

Then, back to Cowtown for a little stay..yeehaw. My dad, brother and a few friends raced in the 24 hours of Adrenaline this next weekend in Canmore. Dallas and I loaded up his car and decided we’d help out, cheer everyone on and try to sneak out on the Canada Cup course. Everyone road great, lots of teams and an amazing number of hard core soloers, great to see. Had a great relaxing weekend, except for the absurdly loud generator only ten feet from our tent coming on at 2 in the rude, no sleepL

Now, this past weekend, the much anticipated Canmore Canada Cup…Return of the Ziggy Gnarly. Canmore always does a great job of hosting events, and with all of the great mountain terrain, you can be guaranteed an outstanding course. With a good solid and continuous 15 minutes (at least) of hard climbing each lap, I was definitely looking forward to the very fast singletrack and downhill sections.

Off the start Sandra Walter took to the front and I grabbed her wheel and gave it everything to keep pace with her. Nearing the top of the climb, appropriately known as “the oven”, Amanda Sin came out of no where and smoked by both of us. The three of us rolled over the top and started to descend together. Sandra, just in front of me, dabbed slightly on a small techy climb and I managed to squeak past her. Following close behind Amanda I knew that my only chance to win this race would be to take advantage of my descending skills (because she’s definitely a better climber than me) and I took a chance and passed her through some rough singletrack. I managed to hold my lead for the entire race for my first Canada Cup win of the season, and second of my career. It was very cool passing some really fast men that were suffering on the course (I know, that sounds really cruel), but with above 35 degrees temp, everyone was in a world of hurt.

My brother, Casey, and I have an ongoing race between eachother, and him racing in Senior Expert, we always race the same number of laps. He had a solid race, but this weekend I edged him out ever so slightly; but I’m sure he’ll take out on me on the skies this winter. Dallas had great race too, finishing 18th in the elite men’s cat, awesome, especially considering he’s still nursing a bummed knee.