Monday, July 20, 2015

The last 4 weeks have been quite the whirl wind, 4 heated races in 3 countries, triumphs and narrow misses.

After almost a month at home with great local racing in Squamish and Revelstoke, camping, gardening and a tough training block that left me using all my best mental tricks to bring quality to my final sessions it was time to hit the road again. 

US Cup finals
Travel began by touching down for 4 nights in Colorado Springs for US cup finals.  Heat, elevation and my always strong teammate Katerina Nash pushed me to earn a narrow victory as well as the US cup overall and this little belt. 

World Cup, Switzerland
By Monday, my manager Waldek and I were off to Switzerland to join our Swiss teammate Andrea for the 3rd World Cup of the season.  Lenzerheide was one of the most beautiful places I have had the fortune to visit.  It felt like a true summer vacation having clear and sunny skies every day  and time to read in the mountains after lake swims and fun training. 

After having focused on my start for the last training block I was happy to enter the singletrack in  6th and quickly move into first with Gunn-Rita.  We rode together for 2.5 laps before I slid out on a loose corner and never quite got back up to full speed.   The course was so fun to ride it was tough not to do too many laps in my pre rides, but it became quite punishing  by the end of the race. With a half lap to go I was caught and passed by a hard charging Lea Davison and claimed 3rd on the day.   The first half of the race were some of the best sensations I had had racing all year so I left the race excited for what could come and inspired by Gunn-Rita breaking the record of world Cup wins with her 29th and Lea Davison riding to her best ever World cup finish.
One of the neatest parts of the weekend was having the chance to watch and cheer for the u23 women’s race which was after ours.  It’s inspiring to see how talented and hard working the next generation of riders is.

Pan Am Games
As soon as the races finished, it was back to the airport, bound for Canada, but not home.  A quick change in the airport and I was in team Canada red and white rather than luna blue.  I’ve been fortunate to enjoy the excitement of a games event before (Rio 2007, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Glasgow 2014), but never a games in my own country.  Arriving in Toronto to the Pan Am colours was a lot of fun.  Through the week I went through some the usual Games extremes of being totally nervous and wired to completely relaxed and ready to go.

Mountain biking took place near Barrie Ontario at Hardwood Bike and ski so the mtb team did not get the chance to visit the games village in Toronto, but instead got our own perfect little village at Horseshoe resort.  We were totally spoiled with our apartments and catered meals.

Proud Papa.  Mum and Dad volunteered at the Games
Looking good on a rest day.  Our secured residence in the background 


In case you were wondering how tight the racing was.... two gals going for Gold

Our race course was on the same course we had raced at nationals one year previously.  The year before it had been a tough battle for the title with Emily Batty where after several laps I was finally able to ride away and become national champion.  

This year however the tables would turn.  The racing was just as heated, driving full gas from lap 1, but Emily raced with an assertiveness and drive that was impressive and on the last of 5 laps pulled away in the final minutes of racing to claim gold by 7 seconds.  I was disappointed not to win, but happy with the way I had ridden and fought to the finish and happy to earn silver for Canada and share the podium with Emily Batty (CAN) and Erin Huck (USA).
A 1-2 finish for Canada
 
Catching up with ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and family at Canada House after the race
The crowds were amazing.  It was so loud I could not even here my husband cheering on the climb, the event sold out and mtn bike fans and curious new comers lined the track.  It was a beautiful experience to get to race a home games, win a medal in front of Canadians and share that experience with them.

Emily and I were invited into Toronto for an outdoor medal ceremony downtown and then to visit Canada House.  By midnight i was finally able to get some sleep.

Nationals
But there no time to stay and enjoy the games.  Keith and I were off for the 10+hr drive to Saint Felicien Quebec for mountain bike nationals. After a pancake breakfast with friends in Oshawa Monday we headed to Ottawa for a night to check out the capitol and visit family.  
The bike paths in Ottawa are awesome for riding and seeing some of the most competitive commuter racing ever
We pulled into Saint felicien Tuesday evening just as the skies were opening up.  After 3 weeks of 34 degrees, temperatures had plummeted to 13.  I was feeling pretty exhausted from a busy Pan Am race day and two full travel days, but after so much racing and travelling it was time to target that aerobic base again and I logged some good rides on and off road leading into the race.  I was a little worried I might be tired for Saturday’s race, but the best thing about being beaten the weekend before is the motivation it gives you to not let it happen again!

Sometimes you need help to realize how hard you can go to win a race and this weekend it was my husband Keith out on course encouraging me to keep driving and asking myself for the 100% that allowed me to win.

After a relatively dry week it poured rain overnight and the course was extremely slick race morning. Although I was able to open a second here and there on the climb and descents on lap one a slip or not being able to see on the descents through incredibly fogged up glasses caused me to slow again.  On lap 2 I had to ditch eye wear and set to pushing for my best pace while racing mistake free on such a slick track.  I eventually pulled away at the crest of the climb and grew the lead to 37 seconds by the end of the race.  I was proud to earn my 6th national xc title and represent Canada for another season.
It got a little dirty out there
What a crew! Happy to stand amongst this group of up and comers and also to share the elite women's podium with Emily Batty and Sandra Walter who rode strong for 3rd



Flying home now where I will take part in Singletrack 3 and Keith in Singletrack 6 this weekend.  Some good local racing from our camper van is always a treat mid-season and I’m looking forward to my first transrockies event.

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