As most of you went off to do the 24 hours, I opted out at the last minute as I chose the mini version - the 2:40min route. (well almost) I was humming and hawing over racing the extended torture that is the 24, but as I spent almost all my time on the the downhill bike these past few months, I felt I would have more fun doing the downhill race instead. So I did.
The training I've been doing has mainly been hike a bike up fortune, waiting for the chairlift to open. I like hike and bike, yeh the fitness is nice, but it gives me the chance to read the course, look at new lines, and get my head focused on the new season. This year, though, I became quite sick for over 3 weeks, complete with some sort of ooze coming out of my eyes. It was horrible. This delayed my training quite a bit but in the end I managed to build up enough confidence to decide to race.
My race was on Sunday, but practice started the Wednesday before. I spent all night on the race course, constantly looking at new lines, sessioning sections over and over until I was happy with it. I took Friday off work and did the same. The course constantly changes with so many riders doing the same as me, new lines pop up, and old lines getting too rutted out to be smooth. I love this part of DH racing. Saturday was the same.
Race day started at 6am! In fact it was a double race day with Quebec Cup deciding to race twice in one day. Why 6am - every rider needs to put a manditory practice run on the the day. That run was between 7:30 and 9. I put mine in at around 8:30 as I opted to wait until the course was broken in a bit. NIce smooth practice run placed some confidence in me. I am ready.
My first race was around 10:55 so I went up to the start 15 mins early to warm up and get my head straight. At this point it is all mental. I get the call and I am up. 30 seconds - 15secs - 5secs - GO! I stayed nice and smooth and focused on breathing, something I have major issues with. Everything flowing. I have the course broken down mentally in three sections. First section done and clean. Second section is filled with big drops and stepdowns. Fun but can ruin a run pretty quick. I get through, nice and loose and perfectly clean. The last section is the rocky gnar. I get through perfectly, now is the time to drop the gears and pedal my ass off. I come through the finish in first! 2 Riders left. One is the Canadian National champion and his riding partner. Yeh they beat me but I keep on the podium for third!. Super happy with that. I couldn't have done more.
My second race was in the afternoon. I was pumped and ready. And more importantly, relaxed. I decided I would race beyond 100% and really push myself. I was called to the start, filled with confidence. GO! First section, smooth and way faster than my morning run. The second section was nice and smooth and a little faster too. I was definitely ahead of my morning time by a good 10 seconds easy. THe last section was the rough rock. I took an even better line through this time around and I had one little section left before the finish line. I didn't brake at all, just charged it. Before I new it, I was on the ground wrapped around a tree. I was fine, jumped up, picked my bike up, not knowing why I crashed, and started to pedal again. Thats when I realized why I crashed. Flat tire. That was it. My race was done. I was too far to ride the rest of the way on a flat - I would have destroyed my rim. Ah well these things happen. I would have been on the podium a second time. I would have also knocked off at least 10 seconds off my first time which is huge in DH. Overall, I felt it was a successful weekend. I am now preparing for the O-cup this weekend and am gunning for another podium. FIngers crossed. Don't forget to breathe!
Photography Credit to www.gabrieldistilio.com