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Saturday, July 21, 2012

National Champs!

I'm back in BC after a three week journey to the east coast for some awesome racing action!  The last stop before heading back to home was back at Mont Saint-Anne for Canadian National Championships.

Although, riding on a little bit of high coming from Windham, my body and brain were definitely starting to feel the effects of my major crash at the World Cup on this very same track just two weeks ago.

I was actually pretty pumped to get some "retribution" on the course, and during practice I was able to find a few new lines, and hit the big sender under the Gondola!  There was a slight change at the beginning of the course...but we still got to hammer down the wide open ski section!!!  
      
My seeding run on race day was a little scattered but I was able to stay on the bike and position myself well.  On race day...which was also my birthday...I was feeling a little tired and kind of scattered - It was pretty frustrating but I was able to hold it together relatively well.

My race run was definitely not the best run I was looking for,  but I stayed on the bike and was able to take about 10 seconds off my time from a couple weeks prior at the World Cup so I was stoked about that!  I ended coming away with a 7th place finish, and whole new appreciation of the traveling and racing demands of all those seasoned World Cup riders...I was only on my trip for a little over 3 weeks and was feeling some of the affects of being away from the comforts of home!

As I look back at the whole experience I think overall it was a successful trip!  My Santa Cruz V10 is holding up amazingly and the Marzocchi suspension has been ridiculous!

Unfortunately now it's right back to work and school.  I'll definitely have to make some time over the next couple weeks to fit in a little TLC on the body and get prepared for Canada Cup #2 in Panorama, BC!

Until next time...happy trails!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Windham World Cup #5

Next stop on the three week journey was Windham, NY for World Cup #5....This was my first time racing this course and from watching last year's race I knew there were some big jumps, and I had heard that rain could be a mjor factor here, since the dirt is very clay like and super slippery when wet!  Thankfully this year I was more prepared with a tire selection to fit the bill just in case....
Top of the race course


In the end though, we had nothing but sunny skies and it was dry, dusty and loose!  I was pretty pumped, because a lot of the top section was kind of Pemberton like, with some steep and loose shoots...lots of fun.  
Big gap jump in the top section
Throughout course walk and the first day of practice almost all us girls were wondering how we were going to hit all the huge jumps...apparently they were built even bigger this year!  After a few good warm up laps it was time to session some of them...I hadn't ever hit gap jumps this big before, but I was confident enough to do three of them.  Me and fellow Canadian ripper, Lauren Rosser, teamed up to seesion the first big 35-40 footer (so we were told by the trail buliders)...the plan, no breaks and pedal hard - The plan worked and it felt amazing to conquer a jump that big!  That definitely gave me the confidence to hit the big step down box jump at the end as well...but I just couldn't wrap my head around the big road gap and the massive finish line jump so I opted to do the ride around on them.  Considering my major crash the weekend before, I really coud not afford to risk another big crash:(   
The rock garden...thank god for the sign:)
By qualification day I was feeling good and had most of my lines all dialed.  I felt like I was riding well and was confident heading into the start gate.  My run went fairly good with just a few minor errors up top...but I cased the step down box jump big time and was so close to crashing...I probably had the save of my life riding that one out...entirely on my front tire, I am still not even sure how I saved it but was sure glad I did.  When I came through the finish line, I was sure that the error cost me a spot in finals but when I looked up at the big screen there I was sitting in 15th!!  I was able to hold onto that position and was really stoked on my RESULT!

Now it was time to prepare for finals, and my plan was to just perfect all my lines, and not to bother with stressing over hitting any more of the big jumps that I hadnn't already hit.  On race day I was pumped, and little bit more relaxed than for Quali's...I started my race run off well, and despite getting sucked off course a bit - by a cross rut coming out of the first sandy chute - I felt pretty solid in the top section.  As I made my way through the snaking turns of the middle section though I washed out in one of the corners just before heading into the rock garden!  I was super bumped, but tried to get back on the bike as quickly as possible...probably only loosing about 12-15 seconds.  I had another close call on one of the jumps heading into the finish line, but pulled it out and crossed the line with a 3:29.  Not really the run I was hoping for, but I really did try to leave everything on the race course and despite the crash ended up 19th in Finals!
Heading into the steep sandy chute
It was such a crazy race for the women...Tracey Hanna busting her seat off on the landing of the final finish line jump, Emmeline Ragot having that major crash righ at the finish line as she landed that same jump, and Rachel jumping off course over the road gap...it all made for some exciting racing and in the end Rachel came away with another win.  For the men, Aaron Gwin took the win...but it was a great day for Canada with Stevie Smith riding his way into 2nd place finish...so close to Gwin!

Overall I was pretty happy with the weekend and to have a world cup finals race under my belt!  Not much time for celebration though as it was time to head back to Mont Sainte-Anne for Canadian National Champs...one step closer to the end of this journey and getting the much needed work on the injuries from my crash the week before.  My body was definitely feeling the effects of my crash at this point and I really could not wait for some really good physio, massage,  and chiro!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup #4


I headed out on a three week journey to the eastern side of the continent for some more racing action on June 19th...first stop Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup!  I was super pumped to get to come back here to race becuase the course is just so awesome and the fans are great!

This year I was travelling with one of my Canadian racing buddies from the east cost, Kristen Courtney, and my good friends living just a few short minutes away from the mountain opened their home up to us once again!
Amazing view of the hill
We were greated with quite a different site this year...sunshine and blue skies!  It was kind of nice to see, considering last year it pretty much rained the whole weekend.
Braaaap!  
The top of the course was different than last year...it was wide open and super fast!  I loved it...it defenitely helped saved some energy for the bottom...which also boasted a new section that ran its way through the old 4-Cross course.

Practice day came, and I was pumped to ride!  Maybe a little too pumped though - I was having a great run, but when coming into the last section, the old 4-Cross course, I overjumped a set of doubles and had a major crash.  I scorpioned big time, and hit my head pretty good - I was a little bit out-of-it for about 10 minutes but when I finally made it back into the pits things were coming back together...man was I in a lot of pain though!  I had to take the whole rest of the day off practice and wasn't even sure if I'd be able to race:(
Course drawing...study, study, study
I drew a pretty detailed course map during my course walk, and since I didn't realy get any practice in before qualifications...I studied my "art work" dilligently the night before to help myself memorize all the twists, turns, jumps and multiple rock gardens.

I was super sore the next day, but considering the crash I had, I felt pretty good.  It was hard to make the decision whether to race or not, but in the end I decided to do a couple warm-up laps and then decide.  I banged off two great top-to-bottom laps with no stopping and decided to race!  
Kristen and I just before heading up for Qualification
I had to take it easy, but it was another great experience...especially since I'll be coming back to MSA in a couple weeks time for Canadian Nationals!  My race run was smooth, and I was happy with myself for pulling it together.  I ended up 26th; not too far off of a qualifying time...pretty amazing all things considered!
The finish line!
On the day of finals, I was hoping to see Emeline come through with the win (short girls have to stick together)...Rachel ended up taking the win with Myriam Nicole in second, and Emmeline in third.
Emmeline Ragot ripping into the first rock section
Rachel Atherton flying through the second rock section
I was pumped for Canadians, Casey Brown and Micayla Gatto for doing amazing in finals!  Micayla ended up with a podium finish in 5th place, with Casey close behind in 6th. Claire and Miranda both had some mishaps on course, but ended up 12th and 19th respectively.  There were a total of 6 Canadian women racing at this world cup all living in BC (and 9 Canadian women in total), which I think says a lot about the sport in our province!