The Red Bull race was a very high-energy, high risk way of realizing I’m only human. Before the race had even started, I had fallen pretty hard and been bandaged up in a very big way by the onsite first aid. The race started off lamanz (I had to run a fair ways to my bike, then ride my bike for a lap), and in all of the excitement, I went down hard taking about a two foot drop down to a gravel turn, and because it was so early I got held up behind other riders before I could get back onto the trail. By this point I had blood all the way down my other leg, my mouth was still in pain from the tooth incident, and my confidence was utterly shaken up. It was getting dark enough in the trails by the time I got to the singletrack to warrant a light, but I was too focused to turn mine on. The singletrack was surprisingly tough for a night race (the latter half of the world cup course), but that’s why it’s a Red Bull event, for spectators – it’s a paid event for people to do high risk things. One notable spot was going down a steep sandy rutted off camber (hill on the side of a hill) hill, then needing to turn immediately hard right and drop a few feet down some roots onto a sickeningly steep hardpack sand hill. They had a spectator section there, with lights and photographers blaring at the athletes, making it impossible to see where you were going. Needless to say a lot of guys were walking that section. The course for the xc riders was essentially a climbing section, a quick open downhill, over a couple of bridges through crowds, climb up again, then a techy singletrack section then a downhill bomb to a ladder bridge through crowds to the finish line, where my partner was radioed to start his run down the hill.
Unfortunately, I got into a pretty down mental state, and was exhausted and in pain anyways - strung out from all of the damage to my mouth and a general lack of sleep. I’m ashamed to admit that during the race I was just dwelling on my weaknesses instead of building on my strengths, my performance was probably the worst I’ve ever done, luckily my downhill rider Andrew Gibson picked up the slack! I shouldn’t have really been racing in the state I am anyway, I forget sometimes that I’m really only capable of so much, I’m not superman – yet. The night was great though, a big dj tent, and a pumped up atmosphere, we managed to have a great time anyway.
Day two in Mont Sainte Anne was the world cup race (unfortunately I didn’t come to compete in it!), women’s at 11:45 (starring Canadian cycling’s sweetheart Emily Batty), and the pro men’s race at 2:30, with my coach and idol, the amazing mountain athlete Eric Batty. I had a great time that day hung out with Emily in the morning; – she gave me a permanent marker and I made my “Team Batty” fanboy shirt and then I cheered. All I wanted was to show my support to Eric and Emily, especially Eric. Eric is arguably my biggest supporter, keeping me together and motivated. As my coach he keeps in touch, makes it his mission to keep up with not only how I’m feeling physically for training, but also mentally and emotionally. It’s especially great because he checks in with me, and it does really seem to matter to him. For Eric’s race I was biking across the mountain to different checkpoints to yell encouragement, I felt just as into it as the racers!
After the race I met up with one of the Canadians I mentioned when I first started my blog! Ross, the guy I met in the hostel in the mountains in Georgia went out for a couple of laps of the course. WOW. There is no way that I could ride that during a race. Its the kind of course they use to crown world champions, so of course it’s ridiculously tough. Not only is the course super techy, but it hits you when you’re the weakest. I’m talking about tough sections deliberately through the hills, or at the top of steep climbs when you are at your weakest, a truly trying event, it was no wonder that the pros were falling so much.
Day 3 of the weekend was an epic ride day. Woke up and met up with Jon’s coach Peter Glassford, and athletes Jared Stafford, and Andrew L’Esperance. Coffee was brief, then we packed up the condo and went out for our ride. We rode random trails around the hill, then went straight up to the top (a very big climb!). On the way up we met Krista Park of the United States, who rides for Stan’s Notubes, Cannondale, and Osprey packs (sweet!). She was super nice and we trucked up the hill together to the top of the gondola being used for the world cup downhill race, and took some trails down.
|Krista and I on the the way up!|
This ride included rivers, waterfalls, stream crossings, and even double black diamond downhill trails. I’m very proud of my bike for staying in one piece, and of me for staying on it at such ridiculous speeds, and such unsuited trails! This was exactly the ride I needed to recharge, I got into a great groove, felt the trail, learned to trust my bike, and rebuilt confidence.
It’s off for another adventure now, I’ll in Algonquin Park for almost two weeks starting Monday the 4th of July. I’ll be camping out at the wildlife research station, working in tandem with another Guelph student and helping out with specimen collection for the the Barcode for Life, which is a global organization trying to determine the genetic DNA sequence of every morphospecies on the planet. This will involve limited (if any) cell phone reception, and internet, and 12-14 hour work days, with no weekends! But I hope to see everybody at the Ontario Cup Next weekend!