Canadian National Championships - Mont Ste-Anne, Que., July 19, 2008

The Nationals hurdle - it’s always so high! For the past several years, the National Championships have always been a stumbling block for me, and unfortunately, this year was no exception. It’s true, the Canadian women are super fast and always pose a high level of competition, but I know I can hold my own among them! I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get over my Nationals nerves to put together a solid ride on Saturday, but a hard and unexpected crash on the first lap threw me off my game early, and I worked to pull it together again mentally afterwards.

Check out my hair. Now that's body! Photo: Marek Lazarski

I had a great start, heading into the woods near the front of the field, and rode most of the lap technically clean until the aforementioned tumble. At that point, Mical caught me near the end of the lap and quickly put time into me, as she was riding the twisty wooded trails much smoother than I was, as I’d lost momentum and focus. Throughout the following laps, I felt strong on the climbs, and constantly saw Kiara and Mical ahead of me, but I would get gapped on the descents, only to reel them back on the uphill. But I just couldn’t dig that little extra deeper to regain contact.

On the final two laps, I picked it up, and was making small gains on Mical, but when I took a wrong line descending on the last lap, I hit a rock hard. At first I thought it would be okay, but it was soon obvious that my front tire was losing air. I still had over half a lap to go and I rode the tire out until I got to the second tech zone, hoping someone could give me a wheel. I was out of luck, so I tried to reseal the tire with a CO2 instead. The tire didn’t hold, so I jumped back on my bike and hoped it would last for the rest of the lap. It was okay for climbing, but quite sketchy on the downhills, so I got off and ran the big D’s, as I didn’t want to crash stupidly and mess myself up for the upcoming two World Cup weekends. With my tire completely flat, I was running the final km of rooty singletrack when Villeneueve passed me for seventh place. I was bummed to lose the position, but these things happen in racing.

Congrats to Kika for her courageous race and Wendy for putting together a solid ride. Thank you so much to all the supporters out there, especially Jeanine, Keith, Daniela, Benoit and Adam. This race was just a warm up for Sunday’s World Cup. I’ve worked out all the kinks and I’m ready to rock it!

Sandra :)

1. Marie-Hélène Prémont (QC) Rocky Mountain 1:42:12
2. Catharine Pendrel (BC) Luna MTB Women's Team 0:06
3. Wendy Simms (BC) KONA 4:10
4. Amanda Sin (ON) 3 Rox Racing 5:42
5. Kiara Bisaro (BC) Independant-VM 10:20
6. Mical Dyck (AB) Terrascape/Trek 11:47
7. Caroline Villeneuve (QC) Opus/OGC 14:48
8. Sandra Walter (BC) X.O-Felt Women's MTB Team 16:07
9. Jean Ann McKirdy (BC) Rocky Mountain 17:04
10. Karine Travaillaud (QC) Specialized 19:49