The Race That NO ONE Could Love….

This week I traveled back to good old Quebec to get some mountain bike racing in.  I felt like I didn’t have enough speed work done for my cycling in Temecula and thought this mountain bike racing would be good preparation for the middle of the Xterra season, and a goal of mine is to go to the Mountain Bike World Championships at the end of August. I worked hard on my cycling this winter, and need to test it against some mountain bike specialists so Danelle and I packed up to go beat ourselves up in the dirt a little. We got more of a beating than we bargained for. The Canada Cup race at Mount Tremblant went from a fun, albeit very technical, fast but slippery circuit with lots of wood bridges, roots and rocks, to a boggy, foot deep, muddy mess. It was the kind of course where you totally destroy your bike and have absolutely no fun in the process. Sorry Jim, this race was really what might define technical…like, can’t even ride your bike technical (I know, you took enough abuse after the report on Temecula, I’m sorry xo) I toughed it out to finish top five, but it was pretty far from expectations..

Mount Tremblant is an Intrawest resort about an hour and a half northwest of Montreal in the Laurentians. A tiny Whistler if you can imagine (well, it would be Whistler at minus sixty degrees in winter!), with cute chalets and all the restaurants and amenities you would want. We rode the course the day before the race when it had started to rain and it was comprised of short steep but middle ring climbs, technical single track climbs, and a few sections of cool rooty single track, with a very long section of single track to end the loop built up with wooden bridges and lots of new off camber sections. It was the race for a good technical rider, because lots of time could be made on the downhill, and none of the climbs were very long. I liked the course, even wet and slick, because I can ride that stuff well and felt I would be the strongest climber, so I was looking forward to the race. I have awesome fitness right now and knew I would go into the single track first and be gone.

So it rained all night, and then a couple hundred amateur racers raced in the morning. It should have been a warning when we lined up to race and the categories before us were still racing because they had gone so far past the expected time to finish their races. They decided we would do five laps, and in my head I calculated 25 minutes times five because going easy I had lapped in 30 so no problem. But it ended up a problem..

So we lined up, and in a pack of only about 30ish girls I didn’t care where I started but I went up far left on the front line anyhow, and when they said go, me and Mical Dyck were drag racing for the first loose climb. She was off the line before me, so I took this weird line on the left and hit a rock and heard a loud POP! as air burped out of my tubeless tire. I prayed for it to stay inflated and kept going, and about 500m into the race I had the lead and was going for it. By the top of the first piece of single track I looked back and no one was on my wheel and away I went.

On the second lap, I started to bottom out on rocks, and knew I was flatting, so about 1/2 of the way through the lap I stopped to put air in my tire. It took like 45 seconds to just get the Velcro loose to pull off my quick fill, so it was the slowest inflation ever, and I just pumped it up, jumped on and away I went. Instant problem, too much air meant the slippery muddy climbs were almost unrideable for me, but I didn’t want to stop again so I gritted my teeth and went. Because I had no traction on the rear, then the last piece of single track was a problem and I started crashing all over and by the bottom Mical and Catherine had caught me. No problem, riding through the lap point I just went to the front and started going hard and again got a gap, despite the fact my front derailleur no longer worked because it was caked with mud. Going through the feed zone I kept dumping water from the useless cups they were passing out to try and dislodge some of the muck and get some drive train function again. I was going okay, and got some time on the uphill, and then fell into a bog that was so deep my hubs sank into it, my leg was in to my knee. How I went without falling that deep the lap before was a mystery, but I picked myself up again, and got going. However, Mical again caught me by the bottom of the downhill.

Going into the fourth lap I decided to punch it on the uphill as much as I could and see if I could stay out of sight. The drying up course ended up causing me lots of grief with my rear tire so hard, and I slipped off a dumb rock uphill, into the forest, had to pick myself up and get back onto the trail, where Mical rode by me. So then I finally stopped to take some air out of my rear tire so I could climb better to get past her. But that was just the start on a fast rocky fire road downhill, I again hit something with my front tire, which then lost pressure and as I was turning to ride over a large slippery rock section I promptly crashed hard as my front wheel disappeared under me. After I picked myself up from that, I was done. I just couldn’t suck it up and pedal harder. Pedaling was not really the key for this race, it was about steadily slogging with your bike beside you through kilometers of thick mud, periodically jumping on it to pedal for a bit when it was a downhill. It sucked and it was an hour too long. My race time was THREE HOURS!! Not my day.

I finished anyways, but managed to lose ten minutes in the last lap feeling sorry for myself and considering dropping out (which was retarded because I would drop out and then just ride to the finish). It was a race of attrition, and after the nightmare of a race I was having, unfortunately, I just didn’t care anymore. I hope the next race involves more riding, because frankly, I am a better rider ON my bike. Danelle basically echoes my sentiments, but she didn’t like the course the day before the race either so she knew what to expect from the day. So now I have a totally gimped shoulder, I have raw hamburger meat for both legs, and a lot of bruises on my knees and shins. Too scraped up for massage, dammit!!

The top three for the day were Jaqueline Mourad (Brazil married to Quebecer), Mical Dyck (leader for the Canada Cup) and Catharine Pendrel. My hat off to those who persevered!

So, a week of Ottawa training with Danelle, starting with a long easy run today in Gatineau Park, and then we are going back for another one of these Canada Cup races. Hope it is better!! My poor Orbea needs some love in the meantime, it really took a beating.

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