Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ending one season, starting a whole new one!

Over the past several weeks I've traveled to Quebec to race Canadian National Mountain Bike Marathon Championships, competed in the Ontario provincials, and started a whole new season altogether! Both were solid results for the season, especially considering the work that I had to do through July/August (instead of training). With the close of the more competitive provincial and national race calendars, and the commencement of full time class again, I've set my sights to different goals: the University Cup series.

U-Cups are the most fun, welcoming, and inclusive races imaginable. To be a part of a U-Cup is to belong to a community of like minded people. The first university cup race is a two day excursion to Mansfield Outdoor Center,and has 3 races involved. Typically the Guelph team shows up Saturday morning bright and early, but this year (for the first time since I've been involved) Queen's University decided to join the campout and festivities! Now, I seriously doubted whether or not Queen's was capable of building fires and pitching tents, so Dan and I joined them Friday night. 

Maybe a third of the tents that actually were set up.
Thanks Jim Cassell for always being around with a camera!

Saturday kicked off beautifully, the temperature rose fast, and sun was shining! By mid morning, the other schools were starting to roll into the field where we had camped out, and there was an excited buzz around the site. Everybody was pitching tents, assembling bikes, and enjoying the sun!

Nobody messes with a Velociraptor in a race, and nobody can prove how they were really coloured!
Thanks to Adrian from U of T for documenting our weekend so well!

The mountain bike criterium is always the most fun to watch, then we all got a break. I rode the time trial course and helped out practicing lines, had a quick bite to eat, and then went straight into the time trial. The time trial is always a unique event in that it is individual, so it's almost impossible to really gauge how you are doing! I came through with a solid 8th place in the time trial, and proceeded up the trail with a bunch of guys to cheer and heckle the riders still on the course (some days is my real favorite part of racing U-cups). The evening consisted of swimming, chopping wood, a massive campfire and feast, and some of the best company I could imagine, U cups really are sweet.

Maximum aerodynamics were necessary for the Time trail
Thanks to Jim Cassell (my personal photographer, right Jim?)

Day two of racing is where you can really shine and show your skills in mountain bike racing; a technical 3 lap race. The first third or so of the lap is constant up and down on steep, tight trail leaving no opportunities for passing, and tiring you right out. The trail finally opens to a massive fire road hill, and once you hit the top it's more quick singletrack until one climb about 2/3 of the way through the lap. After this climb, more singletrack with some gnarly downhills and you're home free (or back where you started, heading out for another lap).

Some great ladies out on the bikes, we need more though! Tell your friends!
Photo: Jim Cassell

I sat into the pace of the other guys for the exhausting section of the first lap, then found that miraculously as we ascended the fire road hill, I was able to make many passes, and get into the singletrack at the top in front of the other guys (meaning that I can now ride my own pace, not theirs). Through the singletrack I bridged the gap to James Clarke and Trent Meyers, and settled into a nice train pace with them. By the time we finally hit double track again, James and I got by Trent, and then I edged James out to lead through the next technical bits. Unfortunately I couldn't hold Jame's wheel for more than the rest of that lap, but I had a serious good time racing with Trent.

Trent chasing me down, just around the corner!
Thanks to  Mark Dewan for posting these on Facebook

Throughout the race Trent would get by me, or get dropped by me, and he seemed to become more and more powerful on the vicious fire road climb. Trent complimented me on my ability to keep a steady pace, but my steady pace was not enough, and I finished a solid 6th place.

It was sad to pack up camp for what may end up being my last university cup camping experience, but I can always reflect on some of the fondest memories I have of racing!
To anybody who has even considered the University of Guelph Cycling Club, try your best to say hi and get in touch! Check out our forum at, and you're invited to a pot luck tonight (Thursday September 20th).
I'll be looking forward to the next adventure this weekend! 8 hour tag team race with Tori, and University Cup number 2 at Boler Mountain, London!

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