Thursday, August 13, 2015

Respecting your limits

Looking forward!

After slugging through to the finish line of my lowest World Cup result since 2007 I found a nice piece of grass to collapse on and contemplate what the heck had just happened out there. How had I gone from racing to win, to just trying to finish?  My manager, Waldek, worried came over.  He picked up my bike and spun the wheels.  I laughed.  I had already checked that.  My brakes weren’t dragging, just my body.

I pride myself on my consistency, I have finished in the top 3 of the World Cup overall since 2008 and top 5 in 75% of the World cups I have done.  When I’m off I can usually still piece together a decent ride, but after 3 laps of trying to hold wheels in Windham my dig was gone and I was just trying to turn my legs over. (If the race had been all downhill though I would have been on fire!)

As with any performance it is never just one thing that leads to having a good race and never just one thing that leads to a bad one.  Typically if you have the legs you have the head, and if you don’t have the legs a strong head can’t help you no matter how many tricks you try.  

Windham wasn’t an A race for me, but it was still important and I felt I could put out a good ride with some training load.  This course had always favoured me and I had won off of a big training week the previous year, however, training weeks are never stand alone events.  You must consider the weeks leading into them as well.  I didn’t respect mine enough.  It’s easy to ride momentum and still perform but eventually 9 weeks of racing in a row, 4 x 3-9hr time zone changes, 100+hrs of travel and training catch up to you.  

I wanted to race, to do as many events as I could and still build form for Worlds on September 5th and hopefully that long term goal is still a success, but for the short term I did not give enough respect to what the past two months had looked like.  As a North American, even my “home” World cup is 4500 km away.  So lesson learned, I’m not invincible:-) the depth of the World cup is damn good and sometimes just doing a bit less gives you much more.

So now into final prep and easing back into training surrounded by beautiful mountains and possibly every rider on the circuit, here in Livingo, Italy!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Mont Sainte Anne

And now that MSA went so well I can say that the stage race training hit was a great success!  I had raced day1 of ST3 pretty hard and so backed off on day 2, but then got caught up in racing again on day 3 and was a little worried that maybe I overdid it, but 2 days of recovery and then 2 days of light course prep had me feeling sharp and ready to go.

It was the 25th anniversary of MSA hosting a World cup or championship event. I always love racing here, the course is tough technically and physically allowing no hiding.  You have it or you don’t.  It suits my aggressive “go for it” race style and the fans create an awesome atmosphere.  The course was its usual gnarly self with the addition of a new rock section and was super slippery the day before the race.  I chose to ride my full suspension Orbea Oiz with Fox electronic lock out system and Maxxis ikon tires (18psi).  It was the perfect set up to have me feeling fast on the descents and able to put out power on the climbs.
Photos by Matt Delorme

I had a decent start but not good enough to not get caught in traffic on the first switch back climb and stuck going slow on the descents.  By lap 1 Jolanda already had an unsurmountable 50 second gap. With another half lap I was clear of traffic but the gap had grown to 1.22.  I set into chasing down the win feeling great physically and technically. Lap by lap the gap shrunk down to 34 seconds.  Not enough, Jolanda remains the woman to beat.

My teammate Katerina Nash rode to 7th in her first World cup of 2015 and Georgia to 25th and we were able to claim the Top Team award for the first time this year.  Emily Batty also took a strong 4th.

After cheering on the guys and our 3 Luna U23 riders, all of whom were able to finish the MSA World cup for the first time, we celebrated with team dinner and then the MSA 80’s party. With a few hours sleep and Madonna still playing in my head we were back on the road, this time to Windham for the next stop on the World cup circuit.

Singletrack 3; Life is good

Having done so much racing and travelling recently it was time to readdress my aerobic base before the next round of World Cups and travels.  But how do you get a good training hit that will help you carry form till September with only 2 weeks between nationals and World cups?  I decided to take a gamble on stage racing.  Doing the BC Bike race last year had worked so well for my July-September races that I felt a mini-stage race might do the trick.  Singletrack 3 , a transrockies event, was being hosted in my region of BC this year.  Keith was already registered for their 6 day event so I figured I could get in a solid training block …and some fun… with the 3 day event and still have sufficient time to recover for the MSA World cup.

I am so glad I did.  Although I live within 1.5hrs of all the stages I raced, of the 120 km of trails we did over 3 days I had only ever seen 20 km of them before.  The first descent we hit in Salmon Arm had me smiling ear to ear knowing I could easily come back to ride it again.  Each day offered superb trails, marking and race organization and so much fun.  

What I love about mtb stage racing is the community feel.  From the first night where we pulled into camping to see familiar faces already set up, to meeting riders during the race and hanging out rehashing the day afterwards, everyone had such great energy and excitement for the adventures that lay ahead with each stage.  
Photos by John Gibson

The stages were pretty short (ideal in my mind), my longest day being just over 2.5hrs of trails and each day had a timed descent where we could focus on putting out a best effort.   I was happy to make the top 20 overall on the timed descents, even better placings than my overall stage results.  Day 1 was Salmon Arm, Day 2 Silverstar mountain at 1600+m and Day 3 an epic 1.5hrs of hard switchback climbing to a 1200 m descent.  Needless to say it was awesome.

Living out of the van with Keith, sharing an adventure every day with friends and getting in some good training was the perfect summer training block for me.  I definitely see more mtb stages races in my future and was sad to stop at only 3 days of racing, but also excited to head to MSA for the World Cup.