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…..so 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.