May 9, 2008
Race Report - World Cup #3 - Madrid, Spain - May 4, 2008

I would like to title this report "The Rookie Mistake." You'd think after 10 years at this, I'm not a rookie anymore, but sometimes, at this level, I still do feel like one. It's pretty great when even MTB Hall of famer, fat tire legend, and multiple World Champion Alison Sydor winces, nods, and says: "Yeah, I saw you do that," shakes her head, "wasn't a good idea."

(left) I really like this photo - it shows such focus. Nice one Rob! (courtesty of Canadian Cyclist) - (right) Chillin' in the SRAM tent post-race.

What did I do? Well, seeing as I placed 46th, well below my top-30's I've been logging lately at World Cups, it wasn't good. Let's start from the beginning. I had another good start, but it was a very different course from the usual World Cups, as the field stayed together on the initial wide, flat, hard-packed drag strip, as opposed to stringing out in the start loop. I successfully maintained my position near the front, as women kept trying to come from the back (it was like a road peloton), so I had a traffic-free transition onto the narrower first climb. It all went well and I settled into a top-30 position for the first few laps. I was feeling pretty comfortable when a group containing Sydor caught me. I eagerly jumped on that train (so many open flat sections, meant it was important to be in a group), and thought: "Cool, I'm in a group with Alison, she's raced here before, she has a tonne of experience, she's smart, I'll follow her lead." That great idea lasted for a couple of minutes max, but as we neared another climb, I realized I was ideally positioned and I felt good. Those factors led to my next (boneheaded) thought: "I feel great! I'm going to attack this group and get five positions in one shot!" What I didn't think about was that I still had a big chunk of racing to go.
So I stood  up, stomped on the pedals, and put a gap between myself and the others, and it was good for a while (this was the start of lap 4 of 5), until I cracked royally and slowed down and the group caught me, and then other girls caught me, and then I was riding alone, and I felt slow, like my rear tire was going flat. I stopped and checked it, but it seemed okay, so I figured it was just my legs that felt flat. And then I had a stupid little crash in a corner, which totally blew all my momentum and focus. I like to call Lap 4 "Catastrophic Failure." Well, after finally crossing the finish line, it turned out I DID have a slow leak in my rear tire. All in all, I was kind of bummed after the race, but that didn't last too long, since I did come some positive things: first, my start was good again, and I was very assertive in defending my position. Second, I actually dared to take a risk (the attack), and if I had been able to maintain, it could have actually worked out! Next time I will just plan a little better.
Thanks a tonne once again to my knights in red and black - the SRAM guys, Mike, Martïn (he has an "i" with two dots in his name!) and John. They fed me chocolate and coffee after the race, so I am even more indebted to them. I now have two weekends off (I survived the six-week racing block!) before my next competition: Swisspower Cup #4 in Gränichen on May 25.

Elite Women - 39km

1. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Multivan Merida Biking Team 1:48:14
2. Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Rocky Mountain at s.t.
3. Margarita Fullana (Esp) Massi 1:13
4. Sabine Spitz (Ger) Central Ghost Pro Team 1:37
5. Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Women;s MTB Team 2:37
6. Petra Henzi (Sui) Fischer-BMC 3:01
7. Ying Liu (Chn) Chinese National Team 3:09
8. Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized Factory Racing 3:17
9. Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Women's MTB Team 3:32
10. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Women's MTB Team 3:43

46. Sandra Walter (Can) X.O.Felt 10:40