Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Girl’s Racing Diaries (cont'd)

I've been spending a lot of time on my mountain bike since the last time I posted. Let me give you a glimpse of my adventures.

I left off in early July at the beginning of a very dense block of racing. First, Neil, Imad and I drove up to Val-Morin for a QCup at a new venue: the Far Hills cross country ski resort. Since it was within a 2.5hr drive and we were tired of being away from home, we opted to drive up day-off. This meant no pre-ride. Lesson learned: I won't bother racing if I haven't pre-ridden. I had no focus on the race itself because I was trying to remember what was coming up around every next corner. Oh well, it was neat to check out a new set of trails.

Next was a weekend in Kingdom Trails that really got my spirits up. It was the most fun I've had on my bike all year. I really felt that I was learning to go faster through singletrack, something that I wanted to improve on this year.

After having so much fun at the Quebec Marathon in East Hereford, Neil and I decided to make the trek up to St-Raymond (near Quebec city) for another marathon. They called this one "Le Bras du Nord: the longest, toughest, but most beautiful marathon of the series." Well, it wasn't the longest or the toughest, and definitely not the most beautiful. Neil and I both pulled off great results (I won the "Petit Bras" and Neil came fourth in the "Gros Bras") but it was not memorable. I didn't see a lick of singletrack. We do not recommend this one.

The next block of racing was a big one: Bromont Canada Cup, followed by Quebec Provincial Championships and ending with the Quebec-MSA Marathon. I was already starting to feel tired from the previous few back to back races, so I wasn't sure how long I'd last. As it turns out, I didn't last long. Bromont attracted some of the best women from around the world (including Mary McConneloug) since the World Championships are at MSA coming up this weekend. The pace was fast and I totally cracked going up the insanely steep and technical climb during the second lap. I don't ever remember pulling out of a race before, but I did at Bromont. I skipped Quebec Provincials as well and regained some balance hanging out at home. This left the Quebec-MSA marathon to look forward to and I'm certainly glad that I was recovered for this one.

As you've read, this race was epic. With over 500 people registered we bee-lined to the front of the corral at 9:30am for the 10am start; so much for a warm up. The first "neutral" 11km was extremely scary due to the accelerating/ decelerating lead out car that caused chaos in the group. About 9km in, we took a sharp left hand turn up a really steep road and I started gasping. I had a really hard time keeping up and was really frazzled by the time we got to the dirt. So many girls had passed that I'd lost count. Not good. I eventually calmed down and settled into a pace. That's when things started to get really fun. I found my legs and slowly ticked people off during the next 30km hydro cut section. Then the "mountain passes" began. Surprisingly, I felt really comfortable climbing the steep pitches and I was gaining lots of ground on everyone walking around me. During the last two hours I felt like I made up 100 spots! Then the last 9km descent arrived: I had been looking forward to this but my body was so tired from 4.5hrs of hard riding that I could hardly hang on to the handle bars. Quite a few men caught me on the way down, but I was able to stay ahead of my women rivals. Overall, I finished in just over 5hours with a 4th senior woman placing and I had a really good time! Definitely something to remember.

'Cross is next!


Jeff Connolly said...

Way to go Anna! That sounds like an awesome Summer. You really are challenging yourself to do your very best and achieve your goals. I think that's great. All the best in your upcoming competitions, for you and Neil!


Matt Surch said...

Quite a display of mental fortitude last at MSA Anna, congrats on pulling off both a great result and a great ride. Its hard to have fun and place well; accomplishing the combo is always special.

Cross, here we come!