First it’s excitement to start riding again, then it’s the anticipation of competing, the race nerves, and finally the relief of washing away the unknown.
I travelled to Victoria on Monday, last week, to give a few extra days to reacquaint myself with mountain biking before the Canada Cup season opener on Saturday. The trails here definitely aren’t the buff singletrack I left off on back home last fall, but the race course itself didn’t present any extremely demanding or high risk features – rather, a ridable course where being able to ride fast and carry momentum through the technical choppy sections, then grind out the long climbs, would decide the race.
After a couple back-chattering races last summer, I definitely appreciated having a full-suspension bike to race through the rough terrain here. Sometimes I fancy the idea that I’m already riding as well or better than last year, but truth is it’s probably mostly the bike. Send capacity is going up, thanks to –ahem– the Crank and Sprocket Bicycle Co. in Orillia, but not past 9.887…
The field on Saturday had the full National Team in attendance, as well as some strong international riders. Starting the race with plate 11, I worked my way up to 7th after 1:24:25 of racing, +3:20 from winner Catharine Pendrel, +27s from top 5 and closing in the final lap… A really good place to start the season from, I’m happy. Lap times were almost laughably consistent, so the fitness is here – just need to find my legs and racing head!
Getting this first race out of the way is an enormous relief. As much as I like not having preconceptions of where I “belong” in a race, now seeing that I’m in the ballpark is nice… a relief after such a long drag from last August.
Outside of racing, it’s been an awesome week here with the Ontario team, a little off-bike adventuring, some time out in Hartland getting a handle on riding bigger features – which was a little unnerving, but now encouraging, and just catching up with friends and meeting new people. Life’s smiling, and hopefully the sun will keep shining as I head down to California for another two weekends of racing.
Race pictures elude me, but here are a couple other photos Glassford took this week. Tuesday posts for the next little while may be more life-recap oriented as I roll through these early races – but I do have a few “weekly posts” queued up for later!