After a few mellow days at home, fellow Stan’s rider Erica Tingey and I joined forces and headed north again, this time a bit further, to Mont Saint Anne, Quebec for a round of the World Cup. After a weekend in Vermont feeling a little flat, I was excited to give it another go at MSA before a few weeks off of racing.
We arrived a little later than we were hoping on Wednesday evening and the sun was almost set when we pulled into the venue. Instead of taking the time to sort bikes, find and change clothes, we walked a loop of the course. The laps had been shortened a little so we were able to see a decent chunk of the course.
Having raced here last year, I had a pretty good idea of what was in store and the course looked as fun as I remembered! Loads of roots and rocks and tons of corners. It was extremely challenging technically and equally demanding fitness-wise with steep, grassy climbs, cut with difficult switchbacks.
Erica and I spent Thursday and Friday dialing in lines and sight-seeing in Quebec. We were staying with a friend of a friend of Erica’s on an island in the St. Laurence River and it was comfortable and relaxing leading up to the race.
The course at MSA is pretty incredible. Though the technical level was a little watered down this year, it is still much more challenging than anything else I get to race and night and day different from what I see in and around Park City. I love it! I really enjoy the stuff that terrifies me to try it – it feels amazing to ride something that looks so scary and seems impossible.
Saturday we got to the venue early to sort a few last minute details. We watched pieces of a few early races and then got going on our warm-ups. The start line of the World Cups is pretty wild. It is such an honor to stand in a group with some of the fastest women on the planet, surrounded by different languages and cultures….and to hear the cheers of a huge crowd.
Our start was fast on pavement and then quickly joined the course on some grassy climbing. I could tell in the first few minutes that my legs were pretty flat but I kept it pinned and followed wheels.
As I expected, despite cleaning challenging sections in practice, they feel pretty different once your heart rate is sky high. I put my foot down or ran more than I hoped in the first few laps but managed to keep it upright until the fourth lap. I went back and forth with some other racers for the first few laps and was a little surprised when I was allowed to start my fourth (of six) laps.
Instead of building steam and getting stronger as the race went on, I crumbled al little and my fourth lap was my sloppiest. On my third lap, I was chasing two racers in front of me and thought I was pulling the back a little. But on my fourth lap, they pulled further ahead and I fell back a place when I wrecked on a section I was cleaning every other time. I was pulled after that lap. I finished in 35th of 37 racers, two laps down. Not exactly a race I feel proud of but I did give it everything I had. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough for a satisfying result.
This was my fourth World Cup race and so far I have not been able to perform as well as the very first one that I did, two years ago in Windham. That was the only time I stayed on the leader’s lap and felt really good about my race. Beginner’s luck, I guess. Depending on what USAC does with their decision to force racers to choose sanctioned or unsanctioned races, I’m not sure I will race another World Cup and that definitely stings a little – I would like another shot.
I am happy to have a little downtime now before my backyard singletrack binge at the Park City Point 2 Point in a couple of weeks.
Despite not being totally thrilled with my performance, my bike and equipment were flawless. Continued thanks to: Stan’s NoTubes, Cannondale,Kenda, Verge, Magura, Uvex, elete, Griggs Orthopedics, fizik, GU,Crankbrothers, Northwave, 3T, Progold, ESI Grips, and King Cage!