Monday, August 3, 2009

Grrrrrrrrrr.....and that's not from the Canadian Bears!

Well it's 5:30am here in beautiful Bromont and I'm suffering post race insomnia. I have had a very restless night sleep as my brain has been overthinking again after another disapointing race due to mechanicals. So what better way to take out my frustration then hit these laptop keys with all my finger tip strength and have a little whinge at the same time to the wider world about my second Canadian racing adventure.
I'm not to sure yet if this will be my 'official' racing report, but it might well be as I have quite a few hours to spare before Zoe and I are head off to Montreal to catch our flights back home, but we will see how far I get....I haven't written my report for the race last week just yet, but I'm used to doing things back to front so it makes sense really. I'm not sure if I have introduced Zoe to you all yet, but she is my good friend from Sydney and races for an ace cycling shop called 'King of the Mountain' or KOM, so for those of you planning a trip to Sydney then make sure you check this cycling shop out....ask for Warren. Anyway back to what is supposed to be a race report.
The week leading up to the 6th round of the world cup series was spent in what I consider 5 star luxury. Apparently it is only 2 star, but for a mountain biker on a tight budget this place was amazing. The accommodation was called 'Auberge des Jardins' and was only about 30 minute cycle from the race course. It was a little off the beaten track, but surrounded by trees. It was a huge place that accommodated plenty of teams and riders here for the world cup. I loved the fact that every morning I heard birds rather than traffic and I even saw marmots and deer close by. Fortunately no bears, although today I'm feeling much like a grizzly.....and I'm sure I will get worse by this afternoon after only 4 hrs sleep. Anyway Zoe and I have been here since Monday afternoon and settled right into preparing for world cup 6. I was determined to have a good race this time round and the legs were wanting a good work too so I couldn't wait for yesterdays race.
Tuesday was spent recovering from the travelling and Coach Ross only wanted us to spin our legs on the road. So we didn't get out on course until Wednesday. The sun was shining and the track was in pretty good condition with only a few sticky muddy sections that were a battle to ride in places. Apparently there was a race here a month ago and the whole course was knee deep in mud, but we were told that since then the organisers had made the course a bit more weather proof. The course was really good fun, but tough. The climb started with short steep sections of fire road with a few metres flat inbetween, but there were a few slippery rocks that could catch you out so you really had to make sure you were in the right position and looking ahead. Then the climb undulated ever so slightly with a mixture of rooty and rocky single track....oh and did I mention the sticky mud. The type of mud that is quicker to run unless you have a nice thin tyre that will cut through it. The climb finished with an easier fire road section where there were plenty of places to overtake before more really fun single track over some small bridges and then onto some bmx stylee jumps that brought a smile to your face. Then the course became very rocky, but I was quite pleased with how I was riding until I suddenly hit a right hand switchback over a rock, the forks dived big time and I went flying over the handle bars full pelt. I was kind of shocked because it wasn't expected. I checked the bike over and tried to ride it again but the shock of the crash brought on some little shakes that I really didn't need tingling through my fingers tips at this point in time. I watched other riders attempt this switchback, but everytime I went to ride down it the person in front crashed before me which brought on more nervous little shakes. What was frustrating me was the fact that this switchback was no harder than what I ride in Luchon. Many of our favourite trails can have over 50 swithchbacks and it's the tighter lines I like to it's the only time I can occasionally out corner Ian who is too tall to take my sneaky little tight lines. I finally rode the switchback and this time I held it together, but only just as the forks compressed again. I figured I needed more air in them, and made a mental note to check the air pressure when I finished this loop. But then as I peddled off my bike felt like a pogo stick. I was fighting the front end of the bike every time I hit something. (Gulp) I think I broke my forks.....sorry. I played around with the rebound and just tried to take the smoothest line possible and then I hit a small dip that I would normally crusie through and once again I was over the handle bars and found myself hugging a tree. The last section had loads of rocks and roots, some wooden steps that I would normally really enjoy riding, but I coudn't get my weight back far enough on some sections and truly felt like a spanner. When I hit the fire road again I knew there was something wrong with how the forks felt, but needed expert opinion because my mechanical skills don't go far enough to know alot about how forks work.
My lovely new found friend Aarron from Magura USA wasn't arriving in Bromont until Saturday, so I had to practice with my forks pretty hard and that seemed to help, but I found myself carrying a shock pump around and adjusting the air pressure all the time because one minute they felt good and then they would go back to feeling like they had lost air. On Saturday morning I could only practice 10am-midday and my friend Friso who was my Magura mechanic last year who now works for Dt Swiss took time out to look at my forks....and it was confirmed I had damaged my forks. I am offically a bike bit destroyer!!!! I'm really fortunate that Magura are so supportive and go to great lengths to help Magura riders out. Mechanicals are all part of the sport and I have yet to hear of any mechanical thing since the industrial and technological revolution began that has never been broken or faulted in some way. It's the quality of the back up service that really means alot to most people, especially me. Every person I have met who works for Magura have been wonderful and I can't thank the team enough for looking after me. Anyway they thought the damping had gone, so the boys got to work and my forks were ready to roll for race day. Unfortunately I couldn't practice the course again, so I had to wait for the race to find out if all was well.
On the start line I was gridded at number 39. I had some fast back wheels to chase as many of the girls in front were Olympians and national champions. When it was time to sprint up the climb I knew today could be a good day. My legs were feeling good and I had made up some places, but then I got tangled up with another rider who slipped out, which is typical of the world cup starts as there are so many riders fighting for a position on the single track. But I was relaxed and kept fighting my way up past riders and trying not to be dropped by too many girls out in front, but then as I hit the first undulating section of trail I was off over the handlebars again. The bike had dived on me and I knew I was going to struggle on the descent. Struggle is an understatement. Even on the easier sections of trail I was constantly fighting the bike and had to back off the pace just to try and get down it in one peice. I lost loads of places on the descent, which was frustrating, but I focused on getting used to how the bike was feeling and just tried to take lines I could manage or simply run. I knew I was climbing well today, but the bike Gods decided I needed further challenges and as I jumped back on my bike my seat moved sky high so that I was forced to sit on the very tip of the saddle which changed my position on the bike entirely. I think my coach must have been wondering what I was doing in such a strange position, but I decided not to stop in the pit because I like challenges and I didn't want anybody passing me on the climb.
That was the story of my race really, a sore bottom on the climbs and the slowest pace I have ever ridden a race down hill. I checked my forks and they were down to about 25 psi when I had added 55 before the race. I finished one lap down in 33rd, so under the circumstances I still earnt good points. But it's the first time this year I have finished one lap down which is disapointing when my legs were feeling so good. But that's mountain bike racing for you and after talking to an American racer today who lost a front tooth and had worse luck than me yesterday, than you know that lady luck will be watching out for us both next time round. My coach Neil actually seemed happy with with my performance or maybe he was just putting on a happy face, but he did say that it's good training when mechanical hurdles confront us in a race. On the plus I have learnt so much these last two weeks. I have had so many mechanical lessons from Magura and DT Swiss. Even though I have missed Ian like crazy (yes you were missed love), I have learnt alot. When you have a husband who goes out of his way to be your mechanic and does a very good job at it too, it means that you don't always learn. I also have a terrible habit of switching off (only occassionly) when Ian tries to teach me something....he does it to me too, must be a husband wife thing. In my case I have never had alot of confidence when it comes to the mechanical side of mountain biking...but this trip I have discovered that I really enjoy tinkering with my bike. When I first met Ian I could never understand why he spent so many hours working on his bikes. Well I will have you know that I spent every afternoon up to 4hrs some days cleaning, polishing, tinkering, pulling, prodding and even taking my bike to bits and took great satisfaction in doing so.
Well I must sign off as legs are twitching for a run and some fresh air before all the traveling begins. But before I do so I have so many people to thank for helping me out here in Canada, as well as all my sponsors, family and friends who have supported me in my racing adventures.

Cotic –

Bontrager –

Magura Forks & Brakes –

Torq & Torq Australia –

A Quick Release Holidays –


Skins –


And co-sponsors Crank Brothers, Exposure Lights, Bigfoot bike and travel bags, 661 gloves, Ergon Ergonomic bags, Nokon cables, Sundog eyewear and Purple Extreme Lubricants.

Plus very special thankyou to Cy from Cotic who goes above and beyond just giving me a bike to ride. Tony, Jude, Aarron from Magura who all took the time to help me out when I was very stuck without a brake and who also taught me alot at the same time. Jude, Aarron and Troy too from Cannondale I really appreciate your mechanical help. My coach Neil Ross thankyou as always for believing in me and making my legs get stronger. Thankyou so much to Zoe for being such a super race mate! Plus thanks to Zoe and staff here at Auberge Des Jardins, your hospitality has been wonderful. Plus I can't thank those of you who send me little encouraging emails, it's always nice to hear and makes all the hard work worth it. And you get a thankyou too Ian, even though you couldn't make this race I was very relieved when you emailed me answers to all my mechanical fact I was shocked that I received such a long email :)

Must dash!

Cheerios for now




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Kelvin said...

It sounds like you're missing your hubby out there.

anthonyy said...

Last week your Magura brake lever fails, this week your Magura fork fails, after Magura have fixed it for you. Result - you can't stop saying good things about Magura!

Sooner or later, you're going to have an uneventful race, right? Don't worry, we won't be bored!

Kate Potter said...

I have never known any bike or bike bit or anything electonic or mechanical not to fail at some point. Nothing on this planet is perfect or holds together in one piece forever, but I guess what I was trying to point out is that when you own something that breaks and people you hardly know make it their business to do what they can to fix a problem for you then I am always so grateful because at one point it was looking like I wouldn't have a bike to ride for a few days. I went to three bike shops who didn't have a brake I could buy off them. In both my mechanicals, especially the first one it was through a bad crash on extremely muddy terrain that caused my brake lever to snap. It was the worst conditions I have ever raced in on an extremely technical course. One of my mates who raced also broke her brake lever and snapped her's just the nature of mountain biking :) Perhaps I should take up running :) I would hate for you to get bored, but I have to admit smooth races are always hard to write about :) Take care KPxo