Sunday, March 18, 2012

World Cup Racing is Back!

7 Months later, this time wearing the rainbow stripes around my chest rather than racing to gain them, it felt like things were starting up where they left off. Maja and I were battling it out at the front of a race. This weekend however, one of the best women in the world was also my Canadian teammate Emily Batty, who showed she is not only aiming to make the Olympic team, but can go to London and perform. It’s always exciting when new riders reach the podium, and in such a convincing fashion, as it raises the bar for all of us. I couldn’t help feeling proud mid-race at the level and depth of the women’s field. The racing was tight, fast and covered some pretty gnarly sections. It was awesome.
Photo By Rob Jones And the race breakdown? I had one of my best starts ever, only to get caught behind a crash about 150 m in and ended up way back watching the girls in front of me snake up the switch back climb with no passing opportunities. But yes, I have lots of experience coming from behind in lap 1 and by the start of lap 2 I was up to 2nd chasing down Annie Last with 5 women in hot pursuit behind me. I got to Annie and took over the lead, but didn’t have my billy goat legs under me quite yet and was reeled in by the chase group of 5 behind me. Soon it was a group of 3, Maja, Emily and myself. The pace was tough on the climbs, but we were so evenly matched I didn’t feel I had the jump to make a clean break. I sat in waiting, and waited too long. Whenever I would plan for an attack, Maja anticipated it and accelerated, neutralizing it. If I were to go back and redo the race, I would have tried to be the one dictating the pace more, I would have fought harder for first wheel into the descents feeling I lost the race by getting yoyoed off the back following down the descents. But you don’t get to go back, you go forward and do it better next time. It was a solid start to the season, actually my best ever result at round 1 and it was definitely exciting to see new women taking to the front. In the end it was Maja Woslosczcka of Poland followed by Emily and Myself. Ester Suss of Switzerland took 4th and Julie Bressette 5th, while Luna team-mate Katerina Nash took 6th. Being March I am sure you will see some turn around in the results as the usual suspects come into form, but like every other year you will also see many break-through rides as the future riders of our sport start to shine.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mellow Johnny’s: The 2012 season has begun!

Well there is really no better way for the season to start than with reuniting with the team for a fun weekend in Texas, not to mention having good legs and feeling sharp technically.

It was my first time to Texas and there were quickly some cool things to note
When you say “Have a good ride” to some one they may respond “Yes mam”
People write yall in emails
I saw a live camel being transported along the highway.  Yup that was a double take
Happening downtown in Austin
Fun fans with lots of young girls taking up our sport
Cool trails to ride
                                          Our future national team riders came out to race and watch
                                                              Photo: Dave McElwaine

In the past, the race has been held on the infamous (lance) Armstrong ranch.  That property being sold we now ironically raced at the Ullrich family ranch.

The race was going to be fast, sub 1hr 20 with only 4 laps and the field was stack with the top US Olympic hopefuls all in attendance.  After 10 days in the desert and having just received my new and stunningly beautiful bike care of our awesome mechanics Chris and Zak.  I was feeling good on the bike and excited/nervous to see how the legs really were.

The Race
Georgia took the holeshot from the gun, followed closely by Emily Batty, Katie Compton, Amanda Sin and Myself.  Position into the singletrack would be key today.  The race could easily get away from you just by being  stuck in traffic as the lead motored away.

Before the first full lap I was able to jump to 4th and follow the train for a lap, getting a feel for how everyone was riding and feeling.  Everyone was riding well!  From behind I could hear Judy Freeman trying to get in contact with our group.

Sitting 4th wheel was a bit too dangerous.  Anyone who made a mistake on one of the step ups or got gapped in a corner would put me further from the lead so going into lap 2 I went to the front and pushed hard down the first descent and up the climb that seemed to hurt the most the previous lap.  Sure enough, by the crest it was down to 2 riders.  I had initially thought it was Georgia who had my wheel, but it was Emily Batty encouraging me with news we had a gap. 

The descents were loose with tight corners so it was a balance of trying to be fast enough to maintain our gap, but not overshoot the corners and go down.  On the next rough section I heard the sound of a puncturing tire and Emily’s dismay at a good race going sour in a hurry.  Emily had the legs and skill to push me all race, but instead today would for me, be about staying focused solo off the front.

People always ask how the race breaks up, but really when you go of the front it’s hard to tell what is really going on in the race behind you.  I know all the girls are strong and riding well and it will be fun to see how that shapes up at the first World cup and Olympic selection event March 17th in Pietermaritzburg.

Congrats to Judy freeman on a stellar ride, moving up from 5th to take 2nd and to Pua Mata who took 3rd ahead of Katie and Georgia.

Thanks Ted and Tobin for putting on a great event and for recognizing equal prize money for men and women.

Thanks Terra for hand delivering my skin suit 10 minutes before the race start when UPS didn’t make their deadline! Zak for tirelessly getting me dialed in on my new equipment and Waldek for that long awaited massage that makes the off season so long with out you!