Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Ontario World Cup

Well it’s finally happened! It seems to be *summer* in that the race season has started! Sure there are no leaves on the trees, it was pretty cold and rainy the day before the race, but it was really great to see my friends and get back onto the Ontario mountain bike scene! I can’t even explain how happy I was to see my buds with their revamped Wolfpak racing squad, or just to heckle back and forth with people I haven’t seen in 6 months, tell them it looks like they got their new bikes at the ladies bike store, or that I didn’t know Canadian Tire was sponsoring people etc. etc. The weekend started Friday for me after finalizing my conference presentation (Oh yeah, I’m a grad student now at Queen’s), Tori and I headed out for the race and pre riding the course.

A bike selfie, the lightest sweetest bike at any race no doubt! I wouldn't ride anything else even if it was offered to me!

I was excited and smiling ear to ear, the way that biking makes me when I got to the course, got the bikes out and did a slow lap, working with tori over all of the obstacles and working on skills to boost confidence and get all set up for the race. I had a great second lap with local cycling legend, University of Guelph student, and world cup winner Peter Disera, oh and the (now injured) up and coming Braedyn Kozman. It sure was awesome to be riding quick in a group of guys in the trails, dipping and hopping through the trails, chatting, and acting as one quick caterpillar snaking through the forest. Saturday I was back to the course and reunited with the Pack, the Wolfpak. I was stoked to see the boys all out with their new kits, new bikes, and rejuvenated love for cycling. I got 4 laps in Saturday, which may have been a few too many - but that didn’t matter because I was back on the bike! Saturday night was the familiar feast (I only ride to eat really), then up to bed. I was a bit nervous about how much my legs hurt just walking up stairs and about an awful injury below the belt that I can’t discuss the particulars of in a public forum, so I filled up an ice bath and sat in there for 8 minutes. No more, no less!

Wet pre riding on course

This was the World Cup of Ontario Cups, and Quebec brought their best riders too (in addition to other racers from all around Canada). I was amazed to see that some guys who really haven’t raced at Ontario Cup races in years (too busy travelling Europe racing, I assume), and I was pretty amazed by the speed and smoothness of the race start too!

Canadian mountain bike celebrities at the front of the race start
 (Thanks to Mr&Mrs Bailey for always posting such great race photos online)

As the gun went off the whole group (44 of us) sped forward, trying to get into a good position before the singletrack. I was actually surprised when the course kicked up in a steep hill and I was passing people, making my way up the field to secure a good position into the first piece of singletrack. I focussed on riding smooth and being powerful where it counted, and found myself riding with a different group of people; guys who had always been able to beat me by a fair amount of time. Coming through for lap 2 I was more or less in the mix of the fastest non-world cup racers. It was exciting to be playing a dominant role in the race, right up in the mix.

Focus (another taken from Mr&Mrs Bailey's album)

Lap 2 was a bit of a turning point in the race because we began lapping other racers midway through the lap. This is because my poor buddy Braedyn went down (needing 36 stitches) at the start of his race, delaying the other starts. The late starts introduced a whole new type of tactics to the race: get ahead of the other riders and use them to block people. Unfortunately it didn’t favor me, because I would rather coach someone through the trail so that they can ride it faster themselves than make a dangerous and selfish pass. I continued to race my hardest and make fast passes any time that the course opened up, and pass only when I felt that it was safe to do so in the singletrack. I still managed to race a good race, and though a few guys got away from me in all of the lap traffic, I’m happy to say that I finished 21st! I managed to beat guys by more than 5 minutes who had beaten me by more than 5 minutes at the same race last year. At first I was disappointed by the number 21, but putting it into perspective (on a regular Ontario Cup last year I may have even made the top 10), I’m proud! All the work over the winter has paid off, and next race I'll be even faster, with less lapping to happen!

I'm also very proud of my girlfriend who raced to a 9th place finish in her first race in Elite! Elite Women Results
All smiles on race day! (another taken from Mr&Mrs Bailey's album)