Right off the heels of the first World Cup’s, I rolled through Quebec for two Canada Cup weekends in Baie Saint Paul and Sherbrooke for more racing and to collect points to improve my ranking for the next round of World Cups.
I was a little nervous about how my fitness, form, and motivation would hold up with four big weeks on the road, but coming back to Canada and spending the week leading up to Baie Saint Paul with Andrew, Brody, and Colton helped everything feel more like home.
The short track Friday hurt, but I gritted it out for second place after getting gapped by Maghalie Rochette with a few laps to go and held on for second. I just got a powermeter on my mountain bike this season, and it’s been pretty interesting. I don’t look at my computer for ever more than a passing glance in races, but afterwards seeing a new peak 60s while trying to follow Laurie Arsenault on the first lap did confirm that it was 100% a race right from the start.
Baie Saint Paul is one of the few courses I’ve been to more than once, and I feel that I’ve always ridden and raced well here. I’m not sure what it is about the track, it just seems to work for me – or I somehow know how to make it work. After the hot start in short track the day prior, I knew I wanted to be the one on the front dictating the pace rather than having it dished to me. So without completely sending it from the line, around the start lap I moved up and put an extra dig to dive into the singletrack first.
Laurie was on my wheel and we stuck together for the first lap, creating separation from the rest of the field; and then I got thinking… how do I make this happen? Quickly recalling how strong Laurie was at the end of the race in Bear Mountain, I decided better to try to make a break for it sooner than later. And it worked out.
I often find it difficult to identify “key moments” when races work out for me, because it just seems to happen. It’s easier to pick out when things went downhill in a less-than-ideal race, often because it’s me deciding the race is gone or because there’s an incident, a mechanical, or crash. In any case, it worked out; after a surprise 4th here in my first season and a sound 2nd last year, third time was the charm in Baie Saint Paul, and I got my first win.
Between Baie Saint Paul and Sherbrooke, I did my first UCI road race at GP Gatineau as a guest rider with the NCCH – a devo team out of Hamilton. GP Gatineau is one of the, if not possibly the highest, sanctioned UCI women’s road races in Canada. The trip over to Gatineau with junior cx-road-mtb superstar Magdeleine Vallieres Mills was a bit of a whirlwind, but also an insightful experience. It was cool to make the lead group and ride amongst some of North America’s top pro’s and see the race unfold from the front. I didn’t have the legs to compete like I’d hoped, but still rolled through for one of the primes to at least pay for gas. I was honestly more optimistic about how I’d feel about road after this race, and I think I’d still give it another try, but for now I’ll stick with the off-road stuff.
Back to Sherbrooke – the race track was rad, and the baking prep for the weekend was all time. I was, admittedly, feeling a little run down on motivation and mental energy coming in to the last event of my spring campaign. Fortunately though, my legs were still with me and with similar get-up-to-speed and go plan to last week in BSP, I turned out nice consistent, clean laps and picked up a second win. I really enjoyed the course here, it was fun to ride and to race, and challenged me to try some new features as well. Hopefully the Canada Cup comes back here in the future.
Now back home for just three weeks before another jump over the pond for the second round of World Cup’s in Vallnord, Andorra and Les Gets, France. After Germany and Czech, I was offered a spot on the National Team project for these races which was a massive relief and opportunity to be able to go back and race the World Cup fully supported. I’m really looking forward to it; I hope these strong domestic races, few weeks of training, and support team will give me a boost for this second part of the season!
If you’ve made it this far, you likely already know how important home and the people there are to me. As I spend more and more time away at races, it makes me feel way more isolated and disconnected from what really got me into cycling. I try not to let it make me too sad, because I really do enjoy the work I’m putting in to become a better racer and explore opportunities to take on big challenges and competitions. The travelling and athlete-lifestyle is tough for me though, it just doesn’t feel quite right or real. In any case, I’m doing my best to make it work, and have so much gratitude for everyone encouraging and supporting me to do this.