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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Focus


"Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and focus on what could go right!"...This was the theme for me as I made my way back to Whistler for Crankworx, one of the largest mountain bike festivals in the world, after a tough weekend at the Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup.
Sending it into "Heckler's Rock" | Photo: Dave Cheng
This year at Crankworx my plan was to kick things off with the 4th round of the Enduro World Series and then rest up for the Canadian Open DH, which would be the final spectacle of the 10 day event.  

I've been trying to find my feet within this whole "Enduro" racing world (a race format that has riders racing down several stages of long tracks, consisting of varied undulating terrain and total ride lengths upwards of 4 hours, 40km and 1600m of elevation) since last season and while I thoroughly enjoy the adventuring, social aspect and mass quantities of single track you get to ride, I just haven't quite found my stride. 
Stage 3 of the EWS | Photo: Scott Robarts
As a DH racer, I've been accustomed to rip, roaring, fast-paced race tracks that are generally no more than about 5 and a half minutes long, where your weekend consists of riding the same trail over-and-over until you perfect your lines and really find your edge.  The enduro format is just such a change for me and it seems I still really need to find the perfect recipe that allows my brain to focus and refocus several times throughout the day.

Despite Whistler being sort of like "home-turf" for me, aside from the final Bike Park stage I'd never even heard of some of the selected trails, let alone ridden them, so it was pretty cool to explore some of Whistler's vast network of valley trails.

After weeks of dryness, mother nature decided to show-up and drop copious amounts of rain on the resort just in time for race day, making things pretty zesty out there.  Whether the weather played with my psyche or whether I hadn't really recovered from my incident in Mont Sainte-Anne the weekend prior, whatever the case Sundays epic adventure turned out to really be an exercise in futility for me.
Stage 1 EWS | Photo: Sven Martin
It felt like I was off my bike more than I was on it, but the day trudged on and there was a good mix of good times and absolute carnage.  I think the thing I really like about the Enduro format the most, is the fact that you're around your mates all day and everyone exchanges "war stories" as the day unfolds.  My biggest take away is that I'm 100% positive that enduro racing is not about perfection, but rather weathering the storm...this format is a true test of character and having the ability to endure whatever might be thrown at you.  Needless to say I was pretty deflated after 10 crashes over 4 stages, but I kept pushing on and finished stage 5 with a nice conservative, clean run through the bike park and was there to celebrate some great riding and enduring by all those who made it through the day!

After a well deserved few days of rest (and some awesome Crankworx parties) it was time however to focus in on the Canadian Open DH...
Canadian Open DH | Photo: Zettz Clothing
Vivid memories of past years' "season ending" crashes haunted me as "D-Day" moved closer...I had even thought that maybe I should just sit the race out in favour of ensuring my survival for other fall adventures that were on my horizon.  The more I pondered this thought however, the more I got angry with myself for letting fear rule me for even a minute - So of course I put my "big-girl pants" on and got down to business...the Canadian Open track was (and still is) one of my favourites, I just couldn't sit on the sidelines!

As the final stop on the Canada Cup circuit, this year riders would have a seeding run on Saturday leading into race day.  I love seeding runs as it gives you a real race-like setting to see where you're speed is at and figure out where you might need to turn things up, or pull back.  The weather was pretty nasty that day so I decided to keep things safe and just cruise down the course and save myself for Sunday in hopes of snagging some precious UCI points.
Negotiating the wet roots in finals | Photo: Scott Robarts
With the Red Bull Joyride being moved to Sunday (due to a rain out the evening before), the day's schedule was a bit off, but the sun came out midday and would make for some epic racing conditions for us pros later in the afternoon!  As the races got underway all us ladies were pretty casual up top before dropping in, but despite this I was still nervous and trying to push out any negative thoughts to focus in on what could go right instead of what might go wrong.  Things were going great in the first top section but as I came into one of the last woods section, my mind started to think too far forward to the jump line crossing the road (where I took myself out last year).  This momentary laps of focus on the "now" had me go off-line and have a minor off the bike crash; thankfully nothing major and I was able to get back on course and finish strong.
Men's and Women's Podium | Photo: Colin Meagher
It was a pretty awesome day of racing for both the men and women, and fellow Canadian rippers Casey Brown, Miranda Miller and Claire Buchar crushed it to take three of 5 podium spots (1st, 2nd and 5th respectively) with Mark Wallace capturing 2nd for the men!  I settled for 7th on the day, but felt pretty pumped that I fought through some major mental demons and am still in one piece and ready to rock for the rest of the season and into fall!

Until next time...