Keeping The Rubber Side Down At XTERRA

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By Melanie McQuaid

April 26, 2007 — It is ironic that I would plan to write this story the week that I crashed out of the Sea Otter Classic mountain bike race, but also somewhat appropriate.

I went down in the cross-country race because I did not follow a number of the following rules, which when applied appropriately, can help prevent some unsightly post-race bruising. However, a couple of bumps and scratches are not that big a deal and the lessons learned can help you to find those few extra seconds to boost your finish.

XTERRA has a reputation as a “dangerous” sport, which I whole-heartedly disagree with. Poor bike handling skills equally contribute to crashes on the road as they do off-road. Riding a mountain bike and racing XTERRA can help you develop better skills to avoid crashes no matter what bike you are riding. In addition, mountain bike racing will help you corner better, descend better and help you to stay aero on your road bike by teaching you to relax your upper body while powering with your legs.

Here are my recommendations for a safe and speedy bike split:


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One Of The Coolest Looking Ads I Have Been A Part Of

This one is in the all time favorite list… along with that cool Shimano flip the two finger salute ad. Nice huh? This bike arrives in my size next week….so excited!!!




The only difference with my race bike will be I have pedals on it haha… and bottle cages for some Gu2O, that will help… and I will ride a riser.

Thanks to Fi:zi’k for the beautiful World Champ saddle.. that I will only ride for Xterras.

I also have special World Champ triathlon kit from Descente coming. Soooo cool. Same beautiful yellow/green motif to represent my partnership with Nature’s Path.

The schedule may have to change… I may not make it to the Fontana NMBS race but I am still trying to. In the meantime, I am going back to the roots of my mountain bike beginning and racing the Parksville Hammerfest! Isn’t it so funny how "hardcore" local mountain bike race names are? Haha, actually, Hammerfest is a super fun, technical race where we have a mass start. This is the annual "show Ross who’s boss of the mountain bike" race, as he normally schools me on our technical training rides but once we turn it into a race I usually get the upper hand. Stay tuned..

The 2007 Ocean Weasel

Sea Otter instantly becomes the Ocean Weasel when you have a bad race. This year, it was very, very much the Ocean Weasel. I went back to look at the report from Sea Otter 2006 and I pretty much could post an identical report in 2007 as I had in 2006. I was too slow, I got shelled all in the name of good training, had a decent feeling in the super muddy short track and suffered terribly in the cross country. Of course, this year I crashed hard (in the same section I crashed last year no less) and hurt myself so I had an unfortunate DNF. All I can say about disappointing races it that they are motivating if nothing else. I HATE bad races. They send me into a frenzy of recap and analysis followed by a few days of relaxation and refocusing. Although you don’t want to overanalyze bad results you don’t want to miss any lessons to be learned. If anything, I could predict what I was going to feel like given the camp I did in Phoenix. But since my swim coach Neil always says to not be alarmed if you are going fast, I always want to see if I can surprise myself. I guess not this time.

Sea Otter was mostly enjoyable because of the camaraderie I experienced with the BMC-Sports Garage girls and guys. What a super group of people! Congrats to all of them for their finishes and thanks to all of them for making my weekend much more fun. Particular mention goes to Scott Thomson… who, as the MAN at BMC, made the weekend a gong show by just being himself. Scott is one of those guys who can make you laugh in the most dire and disappointing situation. I am a lucky girl working with these people. An example includes arrival at the airport with Scott handing me a bag of Peets and chocolate. How much does that rock?

Anyhow, lots went on at the Ocean Weasel. I set up and rode my brand new Fourstroke 02 (the Fourstroke 01 is “coming soon to a store near you – in Julyish” and I will be on the Team Elite 01 in Temecula). Unfortunately, I did not warm up enough for the Time Trial or preride the course so I blew pretty much every corner and ended up 17th, 17 seconds off first. Silly little race. First unveiling of the new kit from Descente, what do you think? Pretty frickin wicked huh?

Mel in the 4 minute, 29 second time trial

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Mel’s Training Camp in Phoenix

For 10 days after the NOVA race, I was training in Mesa, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb southeast of the city. Most of the roads I was training on were used in the Arizona Ironman the week I left so I had a good idea of what that race would be like. Windy! I was hosted by Debi, Kevin and Tiffany and my little mini camp was awesome. I think I got a lot of hard work done thanks to good weather, good friends and huge motivation. It is amazing how a little sunshine really changes my attitude as I was getting pretty desolate in the Victoria rain before I left to do the NMBS race.

After a day or two of somewhat casual training to recover from the mountain bike race, I hit the training pretty hard for about 9 days. Is this the best thing for Sea Otter? Probably not, but when your main focus is Xterra some mountain bike results may become casualties. I was focused on a hard block with some solid run volume. I also wanted to use the long climbs that are available in Arizona so along with the running I had a date with Mt Lemmon and a lot of plans with Usury Pass. Arizona is fantastic in April as the weather is ideal (80-90 degrees) and although the traffic is insane in Phoenix, if you can get out of the city it is so picturesque. That said, drivers in Phoenix are incredibly inconsiderate, bordering on homicidal, so I would be on your guard at all times riding in that city. The naive little Canadian was shocked and appalled at some of the behavior she witnessed in Phoenix. Can’t we all just get along, people?

The second night in Phoenix I visited the Phoenix Tri Club for their monthly meeting. What an AMAZING organization! The junior program is so incredible. I actually got to meet their main elite juniors, including Stuart and Claire Moty, and it is so motivating to hear how stoked they are about racing. In fact, Stuart wanted to talk mostly about mountain biking as he was pretty keen to buy a mountain bike. See, eventually everyone will be assimilated to Xterra. Read more

NMBS#1 Nova Mountain Bike Race

If I don’t write a race report does it make a race go away? If I didn’t write anything really only a handful of people would know I was racing. One of them is Jenny Smith, who kicked ass. Another is a pregnant Jenny Tobin along with Michael (who was also there racing) and a bunch of other NORBA racing types. I guess it is important to write about a race where it was tough, I was struggling, I considered dropping out after about 40 minutes but I soldiered on to finish no matter how slow I ended up going. Yep, you are only as good as your last race and the shine of World Champion form is wearing off and now the reality that I have a whole new season to kick it up a notch is upon me. I have always had spectacularly bad races to go with the outstanding good ones but it still stings when a race is forgettable. However, a lot of people put effort into my being at this race so I have to acknowledge them for their efforts and I have to send a shout out to all the talented chicks that kicked my butt. Thanks to Scott for sending emergency kit so I would not have to race naked. Thanks to BMC-Sports Garage for helping in the feed zone so I actually completed the distance this weekend. Thanks to the girls who were so friendly to me this weekend when I was in the way. I couldn’t get out of my own way let alone that of the girls trying to pass! Haha….

I am in pain. Lots and lots of pain. It is that kind of pain you are in when you are asking your body to do something it truly does not want to. It is amazing how much more it hurts going poorly than rocking out going fast. However, doing these efforts is important as pushing through a bad day makes a good day even better. So I guess having three tough days in a row is going to pay off in oh, about SEVEN months when I actually need to be going well. Keeping that in perspective is important because I really felt bad this weekend and it is hard not to get discouraged.

I decided on Monday to come to Phoenix, Arizona for the first of the NMBS mountain bike series races, mostly because the weather sucks in Victoria and I was tired of training in the rain. I have a couple of big weeks on my bike but really I have been doing a lot more run quality than bike quality this year so I came here knowing it would be tough. Of course, I did not adjust my expectations because as my swim coach Neil always says, “Don’t be alarmed if you are going fast!” Once upon a time I did very well on this course so I enjoy coming to this venue. I also have a very cool family to stay with, Kevin, Debi and Tiffany so I am feeling pretty comfy and settled. Debi and Kevin were off to Oceanside to do the 70.3 this weekend so I was left to my own devices with this race. Probably best since I came home frustrated about three days in a row…

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