Friday, August 16, 2013

Whistler Crankworx

It has been years since my schedule has allowed me to make crankworxs and as many years since they have actually hosted an xc event.  Hopefully our paths will meet more in the future because riding there is a lot of fun!

Still low on racing, not to mention mtn biking miles I decided rather last minute that I was recovered enough from MSA that the Whistler Canada Cup on Wednesday would be the perfect mental and physical prep for me before Worlds in South Africa.

The cool thing about racing outside of World cups is that there is way less stress and more pure excitement for riding and racing.  I wanted to make some high quality race efforts, have fun on my bike and get excited about going fast.  This was the perfect race for it.  

I feel so lucky to have developed on the Canada Cup circuit making great friendships as we all pooled together to keep costs low and fun high.  Sandra Walter, whom was my travel buddy for my first World Cup campaign year in 2007 was also my stiffest competition at Whistler.  Coming off of a silver at nationals and 16th at the MSA World cup Sandra was on great form and one of the best technical riders out there.  From the start she was pushing me to find more up the climb but I nipped into the singletrack just ahead of her, Jean ann Birkenpas and Brandi Heisterman.  Sandra and I rolled away on the first descent, her pushing me all the way.  At the base of the "pure evil climb" I had a small gap and worked to expand it.  I continued to attack every climb and be as smooth as possible on all the descents and for each dry loose corner .

My race felt great.  I was aggressive and strong and by the end was able to build a 3min+ buffer.  I felt closer to my true racer-self than I have for quite some time, just going hard, not over analyzing, not pacing, just digging for more, not relenting and having fun. Catharsis.

Friends forged on the Canada cup from 2004-2007 were again my travel mates and podium companions at whistler 2013, racing because we love it and because we can always learn something that will make us faster next year than we are this year.  Congrats to Sandra for 2nd place and taking the Canada Cup overall for the 2nd year and to Jean ann Birkenpas finishing 3rd.

Now it is just under a week till Sandra and I board a plane to meet up with team Canada in Pietermaritsburg South Africa for the World Championships!  Wahoo!
Back to racing

The morning of the MSA World Cup I realized that for the first time in weeks I was more worried about my competition than how my clavicle, back and shoulder would hold up to the work out, a sure sign that my body is well on its way to recovery.

MSA this year was not the course of years past.  Every year our race courses shorten to accommodate better filming and exciting race dynamics.  In MSA this meant that going to the far side of the course, up a wickedly steep climb, through some very techy woods and down a rock garden was too far.  Instead we would weave through the venue and village lengthening our approach into the tricky switch back climb.  The course raced very well and still had lots of great singletrack, but the course was less decisive a factor in the results…It was more purely about legs.
Katerina takes the win

On this day it was my teammate Katerina that had the legs.  As she had the last two World cups she raced with the lead group all day often determining the pace and making the race interesting.  After 12 years on the Luna team and 3 silver medals, Katerina finally scored her first MTB world cup win and helped secure Luna as the top team on the day.

My race was not quite as exciting, but I did have fun riding my bike!  My start was ok and by the switch back climb I was making up ground.  In the woods people were walking and some blocking so I tried to run around them on another route.  I ended up losing the 4 positions I had just raced hard to gain.  Ooops. This meant I was now behind riders I needed to clear to stay with the front and as we descended down the mtn and then went into a long singletrack woods section the front inched away. 

It seemed to take forever, but eventually I worked my way up in position, but just could never gain enough.  The leaders were too far ahead and without racers in between to use as lily pads, leap-frogging my way forward I just didn’t find that extra gear.  I had to race my own race and I feel I raced a good race, but I am always looking for a great one!  In the end I was happy with 8th and the opportunity to be able to race in Canada and for Canada and Luna.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Relief and smiles

There is nothing quite like finishing your first race post injury and to even make it on the podium in a nice US Olympian sandwich!  Also congrats to country mate Amanda Sin on a fast 4th place and Judy freeman on a solid 5th.

30+ women from the US, Canada and Columbia lined up for the US Cup finals in Williston Vermont, just outside Burlington. Arriving at the venue you feel like you have arrived at a PGA course.  The course was so well prepped.  Half the course was open windy grassy fields that snaked around the Catamount venue, the other half was mostly uphill singletrack...I actually don't think there was a descent as with the 2 gap jumps and the big huck we kinda just jumped to loose altitude!

The women raced 5 laps and with the amount of wind I was hoping to get to the front with Lea straight away and put in a good fight for top spot.  I started great from the gun, but on the rare occasion i actually get a holeshot for 50 metres I always seem to loose 20 spots in the next 50 m.  That is exactly what happened and so entering the first woods I was outside the top 10 with no passing opportunities for 10 minutes.  By the time we cleared the woods I had managed to pick off/beg plead my way up to about 5th....but I was already 40 seconds off Lea.

For two laps I went to the front of the chase which dwindled down to myself and Marry Mcconeloug. I could not bring in time on Lea however, in fact Lea was still putting in time on me really stepping it up in front of her hometown crowd. When we realized the win would be elusive today I took a lap on Mary's wheel and rested up for a later race move.  Going into lap 4 I made an attack and was able to gain a precious few seconds, but the course was such that every time you could gain seconds the rider behind could coast back up in the draft on a grassy decent.  For the last two laps Mary chased at a couple seconds back, the real separator between us being her sliding out on a grassy corner. I crossed the line a couple seconds ahead of her happy with a second place, a clean race and 15 jumps under my belt.  My shoulder felt great...just the usual tight neck and back muscles from supporting a weak area, but nothing I could say that slowed me down.

This weekend of racing was perfect to help me build my confidence and sharpen my legs for next week's World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec.   Watch out for that Davison girl going for a podium too.  she's on fire!

Thanks to everyone at Catamount for putting on a superb event and not only supporting women's racing, but girls participation and development in mtn biking!
Festival of Fools in Burlington

Getting a WADA mugshot!

Mr Mathis keeping the bike clean before race day

Meet the Pros event in Burlington

The fans were great at this event!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

How's it Going?

Gladly the answer is good!

It has been 6 weeks since I broke my collar bone and I am back on the mtn bike and even going off of big jumps thanks to the inspiration of several youthful ladies that don't process the "what ifs" only the "what next"!

My back to form process involved 2 weeks on the trainer, 2 weeks of road and then split road and mtn bike training weeks as well as lots of athletic therapy.  I have hopefully learned to become more efficient in the saddle with all my seated miles!
 Enjoying some often missed mid-summer hiking in Penticton, BC.
 The trainer isn't so bad in AC when the other option is 38 degrees celsius outside

When was the last time I got to camp in the middle of race season?  Spent the weekend with my brother Liz, Fiona and Keith on Vancouver Island.

                                           Gaining strength and mobility at SAGE Kamloops

Back to racing!

This afternoon I will be lining up against most of the fastest women in the US for the Catamount Classic US Cup in Williston Vermont.   The Davison sisters (Lea and Sabra) have been hard at work over the last several years hosting Little Bella camps to grow female participation in mtn biking and now they have teamed up with Catamount to offer a race that highlights the women in mtn biking offering us higher prize money, we race the same distance as the men and race at the prime viewing time.

From Lea "Sabe and I are doing this to push women's cycling forward, to make a statement, and attain the equality that we deserve in the cycling world.  We are also doing it to show the Little Bellas that women are on a level playing field in the sport.  Should they choose to pursue cycling, there is some kind of fair future for them."

Fun racing and Lemonade socials with the little ladies is on schedule for Teal and I this weekend!