Race Report – World Cup #7 – Bromont, Canada – August 3, 2008

After some hardcore resting and relaxing this week (including DVD watching and a sushi party) and some extremely muddy pre-rides of the Bromont course, I was feeling confident and ready for a strong ride. The course’s muddy, slick singletrack sections suited me, as they reminded me of winter riding at home! The 4.6km course was like two very different loops stuck together. The first half consisted of wide open climbs and descents up and down the ski hill, with the longest being up a downhill trail, complete with berms and jumps. It made for quite a strange climbing rhythm, but it was unique and way more interesting than a straight road ascent.

(l) Another great start for Marie and me! Photo: Martin Moreau (r) Yes, that drowned rat is me! Photo: Marek Lazarski

The second half started when we entered the woods for some fun, rolling, rooty, rocky singletrack made extra challenging by greasy mud. Luckily it rained all morning and during most of our race, which kept the mud thinner and easier to ride - when the men started in the afternoon, the rain had stopped and the mud had thickened to become even more challenging.

I had a good, rainy warm up on the road, and rolled up to the start already soaked. It was warm, though, so it wasn’t a problem. I had decided, since the race would be shorter (only four laps of the 4.6km loop), I would go all out start hard in order to secure a good position right away and get that confidence boost from being at the front of the field. And start fast I did! I was up at the front right away for the beginning of the first steep climb, but about halfway up, a rider slipped sideways into me, and I was forced off my bike, and unfortunately had to dismount and run. I believe this caused a chain reaction (sorry! I couldn’t help it!). But I managed to get on my bike again and kept on going. Right away I knew that I felt good. My legs were strong on the climbs, and when I hit the singletrack, everything clicked, and I felt one with the trail. I floated through the mud and over the roots and was way more comfortable than a lot of the other women looked out there.

By the second half of lap two, I was in 16th place and feeling like I still had a lot in me. I was on track for my best World Cup result ever, until…. No! It hurts to write this! I flatted. Pffft! As I was maneuvering my way down a steep S-turn with a rock face involved, I somehow wedged my front wheel in the “perfect” (when “perfect” actually means “worst ever”) spot - a rut between the rock and a root, which proceeded to lever the bead of my tire off the rim, thus instantaneously deflating my tire, and throwing me off. I knew exactly what had happened, so I picked myself up, pulled my bike off to the side, reseated the tire, and pulled out my CO2. Since there wasn’t an actual puncture, there was a chance I could reseal the tire, but no, not with my luck. The CO2 just went in the valve and out the side and that was it. I was stranded with a flat tire and no more air, so I picked up my bike and started running to the nearest tech zone, which wasn’t near at all - probably around 2km! I was able to ride quite a bit on the flat, but it was slow and sketchy, and I had to be really careful. I was passed by a tonne of women during this time, but I kept on going. When I finally reached the neutral tech zone, the gentlemen of Shimano took my bike and installed a new wheel. When I was about to take off, I noticed the wheel wasn’t turning at all, so they reset my brake caliper for me, so it was rubbing less. Finally I was back on the bike! I attacked up the climb, and passed several riders right away, and hoped to reel more in quickly. Unfortunately, after that long run and wait, my legs were no longer feeling as fresh, but I knew I had to continue attacking, or risk being pulled, as I had lost a lot of time. I breathed a sigh of relief when they let me through to start the fourth lap, and I managed to pass two more girls before the end of the race. I finished 26th, and had given it my all. I head home now, for some quality time, before heading back to Europe at the end of the month.

Thanks to Havi for the feed, Shimano for the wheel, SRAM for the unending love, and all the encouraging fans out there, who kept me going, even when it was looking grim!

1. Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Women’s MTB Team 1:37:43
2. Marie-Hélène Prémont (Can) Rocky Mountain 1:53
3. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Women's MTB Team 2:39
4. Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized Factory Racing 3:56
5. Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Women's MTB Team 7:06

26. Sandra Walter (Can) X.O-Felt Women’s MTB Team 23:18