Well as I keep saying I'm definitely getting back on track after an ill fated racing season that left me questioning whether I was physically able to continue racing this year. However whilst I waited for test results and a confirmed diagnosis I was encouraged by Mountain Bike Australia not to give up hope of World Championship selection. I didn't think I had a hope in heaven, but to my surprise I earnt a place on the 2010 Australian Team bound for Mont St Anne, Canada.
I can definitely feel the old me returning to life, but more importantly the chaotic situations that have always plagued my racing adventures are also back on track which I now consider a good thing, a blessing in disguise, without them what would I write about :)
So let me begin the first weekly chapter of KP's Cotic Bontrager 2010 World Championship Adventure here in glorious sunny Mont St Anne. Last Wednesday morning at the glorious time of 3am the adventure started. Bike bag was finally zipped up after too many attempts at squashing in extra bits and bobs without breaking the zipper. Ian kindly drove me to the aiport for my 5am check in. There were no tearful goodbyes as Ian would be joining me 5 days later and the sooner he was rid of his wife the sooner he could be on the plane and bound for Canada as well. To my relief I had a very smooth trip to Paris....but in typical Potter fashion that's where the smoothness ended and the chaos began. My flight to Montreal was delayed and the hour I had to spare to catch my flight from Montreal to Quebec City was looking less likely. I remained cool, calm and collected on the flight as I listened to some really bad dance music on the plane and realised to my horror that the guy sitting next to me was laughing and nudging his partner to check out my seated dance moves as I was bopping up and down to some Lady Gaga tune and I admit there was a few Britney Spears songs on full blast as well.
To my relief the plane touched down early. I dashed to collect my luggage and bike bag with an hour to spare, but first had to endure passport control.....40 minutes later and I was sprinting to baggage collection where I came to a rapid stop. An hour later and I not only missed my flight, but still no bike bag or luggage with my name on it. So I joined a que of very angry Canadians who also had missing bags, and waited.....and waited......and waited.....only to find out that nobody knew where my bags were...but sign here and they will be with you shortly was their response, well when they have been found that is. So I was put on stand by for the next flight to Quebec City and again I waited.....I finally arrived in Quebec City with no sleep in 26hrs (I blame Britney!)
The next morning I caught up with some of the Aussie team and head coaches Neil, Chris and Tim who were in charge of the camp. I couldn't wait to get stuck into training and start riding the course, but then I remembered that my bike and clothing were still en route (grrrrrr). Luckily everyone was on a recovery day, and Neil only wanted me to do a 30min easy spin and stretching so I wouldn't miss out on too much. I was kindly offered a bike to ride, so with my sneakers and the clothes I had been wearing since I left Luchon I headed off for some much needed bike time. Since I had no pockets in my shorts or T-shirt, I decided not to take a spare tube or pump, as I was only riding on road for 15 minutes in one direction before returning to the base, I also decided it really would be a steady ride, as I had no other clothes and didn't fancy sitting around all day with my mtb odour lingering, I may be kicked off the team if that happens. I had reached my 15 minute mark and decided to ride a little further just to see what was at the top of the small hill I was climbing........pshshshshsh.....I tell you what was at the top of that hill one frustrated Aussie who now had a flat back tyre and no spares (Doh!). So I had no choice but to run back and risk sweat stained smelly clothing, as I had a team yoga session which I would miss out on if I walked back. To my horror the very professional looking German national team passed by....and I simply gazed down and avoided eye contact, as I hardly looked like a member of a national team squad, let alone a mountain bike race team of any kind.
The next day I discovered my bags had arrived in Quebec City, but still no confirmed time as to when they would arrive in Mont St Anne which was about 30 minutes away. Now my humour was finally tested as everybody headed to the course for training and I was left in three day old clothing to play the waiting game. I also found out that for tomorrows training we would all be racing the Quebec Cup, which would be on the World Championship race course here in Mont St Anne. This was definitely a training session I didn't want to miss out on as I'm in desperate need of some race practice if I'm going to feel half the racer I was last year.
At 2pm to my joy a bike and fresh clothing had finally arrived. Bike was built in lightning speed and I was told to register for the race and train steadily on course for 3 laps. As I practised the course I didn't hesitate on any section and felt in full flow on my Cotic Soda. The next two laps were even better and although I'm still getting used to the 2010 Cotic Soda Cy designed for me this year, I knew I was feeling right at home on the technical rocky and rooty sections. I would be ready to race tomorrow so long as the legs remembered how to get back up to race speed overnight.
I have been waking up rather early as I'm still on French time, and was ready to race over 2 hrs before warm up had even started. I was experiencing strange sensations all over and realised I was very giggly, too talkative for my own good and acting a bit of a clumbsy prat. I had to take myself away from the group to control my giggles, and I wondered if there was something in the water here, as I must admit I felt rather tipsy....but I was simply high on life. I managed to control my excitement during warm up and again noticed strange sensations in my legs....THE BUZZ FACTOR HAD RETURNED!!!! Only trouble is I could feel myself losing control of it.
On the start line I was buzzing and couldn't wait to race. I wasn't thinking about a race result or trying to beat anyone, I just wanted to ride my bike HARD and make the most of these new found physical sensations before they disappeared on me again. 3-4 months ago I had no leg strength so on the start line I was cautious and kept my chain in middle ring, whilst girls around me were in big ring. I was finally set free and attacked the small climb ahead of me....oops I had more leg strength then I realised, but in completely the wrong gear and was overspinning in the sand and making a right mess of the first few metres. I then some how managed to ride into a huge stump and was off the bike and running in last position (way to go Kate!). But as I giggled to myself, yes the giggles were still there, I was back on track and moved from last to the back of the lead group that included my friend Rowena Fry (national Aussie Champion) and you all should know up and coming British Under 23 star Lilly Mathews, as well as a hand full of Canadians and Americans. I wasn't nervous at all, but I was over excited and having too much fun for my own good. I was out of control on the single track and making mistake after mistake, but as I was so relaxed managed to hold it until I hit a steep sandy shoot with a right hand bend at the top of it....too much speed later and next minute I was performing a superman manouvre as chest hit saddle and I was flying towards a tree...this time I was swearing at myself 'YIKES!' (I won't type what real words flew out accidently :) ). I could hear Row behind me giggling to herself, which then brought on more internal gigles as I was still breathing hard trying to act like a racer. There were at least 5 more almost stackful moments, before the last one on lap 1 knocked me off the bike as I decided to see how hard I could hit every wheel trapper of a rock on the last descent of the lap... the last rock finally won and I was sent over the handle bars. As girls flew by I forced myself to calm down and refocus on the task at hand....to survive!
The next three laps I did calm down, and I was passing riders on the climbs and holding my position on the descents. The single track descents were mostly impossible to pass on, so it was best to ride smoothly and save your energy for the long energy zapping technical climbing sections. I had no idea what my position was, but was gaining on Lily Mathews and caught her up on lap 4 at the top of the last main climb, when I heard her ask me if I wanted to pass, she must have thought I was an elite guy who were racing at the same time...without even thinking I said 'oh yes please', and then realised I should have spoken in a deep male voice as when Lily realised it was me there was no easy passing to be had (doh!). I followed Lily down to the arena and was ready to finish when I realised Lily kept going. I must have lost count as I thought we had finished. I really had to dig deep now as my body was feeling the race and mentally I wasn't prepared for another lap. But I focused on catching Lily and attacked before a tricky single track climbing section. I then had three quarters of the lap to go and really dug deep as I wanted this to be a hard training session.
When I crossed the line I had no idea where I had finished, but was surprised at how many girls had finished in front, girls I recognised and knew I had passed on the first lap......mmmmm?!?!?!? Very confused, but didn't care as I had so much fun out on course today and am so happy to be back wearing racing lycra kit again.
When I started my cool down I met up with Coach Neil Ross, who always keeps me thinking, but I didn't quite understand what he meant by saying if the race had been 5 laps and you passed first place on the final lap where do you think you finished?' It was a riddle that I didn't quite grasp at the time until I discovered that Lily and I did one lap too many. Lily crossed the line in first for the 4 lap race, but I crossed the line first for the 5 lap race.....BUT as we were the only elite women to race 5 laps we were both disqualified.....HUH?!?!? So although we were the strongest riders out on course today, we were both second last and last respectively, well at least they gave us a place as we were told we were given a disqualification to begin with.
Anyway I'm just pleased as punch that I'm back racing again, and feel the strength returning at long last. Ian, the Aussies and I leave for America on Thursday for the last world cup of the year before the World Champs week commences next Monday back in Mont St Anne. I have no delusions as to where I'm likely to finish in a world cup right now, but if I can go out on course with a smile on my face and a little more buzz in the legs than I will be one happy Potter....I will be back again with another update and alot more pics soon.
Cheerios for now
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