Part 1: Mel Muddles Through Mountain Bike Nationals

I flew into Mont Saint Anne, Quebec for the 2004 Canadian mountain bike nationals and was greeted by pouring rain. Ontario and Quebec had been pummeled by rain and certain areas even needed to declare a state of emergency because of such heavy rain and flooding. This meant we were looking at a wet race, on slick, slippery and technical trails…..

The course would have been really fun, the trails were twisty and rooty, with lots of cool obstacles to keep you entertained. However, once they were covered with a foot of mud, they no longer were riding trails, they were hiking trails. Even some of the open climbs never became rideable, so we would be pushing our bikes in the trails and up the hills. It was a total mess.

So, on the day of the race, we all lined up for the start under threatening skies, knowing that the 5 laps we were slated to do was going to make the race a marathon, and off we went. As soon as we started the first descent it started raining, and then storming. No drying of the course on this day!

First lap was a race to the singletrack, which Marie Helene won, followed by Chrissy Redden, Karen de Wolfe, Kiara Bisaro and myself. Then when we were there, the running began. For a person with some run training, I was not incredibly fast when bearing a bicycle, even if my K2 was at its lightest. But I held on and went into the second lap in contact, which was when the juniors caught us. There were 170 people on a 25 minute lap, so it was a bit of a total mess. Going into a particularly hairy descent, on different lines, me and a junior managed to crash into one another. Thank goodness for Giro helmets. Ouch. At that point I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, a little pissed because this muddy mess was not going my way, and I managed to drop to 6th and consider all my good reasons for dropping out.

But thanks to Houshang encouraging me to catch the girls closest to me from the feedzone, and Allan from K2 for passing me water to keep my Shimano drivetrain functioning amazingly well considering the circumstances, I kept going.

I figured, I flew all the way to Quebec to finish this silly race, get up there girl! On the last lap, I caught fifth, put a ton of time on her and then went to finish at least respectably for a crap day. But Lady Luck was not finished with me yet, and with a kilometer to go, I managed to slide off my line, hit a rock get a flat. So, I scrambled to change it because it was too windy and technical the rest of the way to ride it in, and it took my about 5 minutes to scrape my 3 inched of mud covered tires off the rim, shove another tube in, get it seated and pumped up and get on my way. Four girls rode by. Caught one in the 5 minutes it took me to get to the finish, and I was 8th.

Not how I wanted to end the year, but I gave it everything I had on the day.

But the adventure continues, because goal number two of the weekend was to finish Keystone Xterra #2. So after no warmdown, a 30 second shower, a recovery drink and a quick goodbye, Houshang and I were off to try and catch my flight to Denver?. Which begins in Part 2: The Epic of Keystone.

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