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TR3 2012 Re-cap
Where to begin.
This spring I committed to the Salty Dog Enduro, a new style of racing for me. I really enjoyed the format and was looking for a summer full of different types of races to test myself in new ways. After a vacation in the Bahamas, and running on the beach to try to maintain some sort of fitness, I came home with a torn calf that also affected my lower hamstring. I thought I would be able to compete in the Furious3 on a team, but unfortunately wasn't ready.
With just three weeks to TR3, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to give it my "best" effort, and couldn't sign up thinking I would be disappointed in my performance. Angie Krasnay and I had won a free entry to the TR7 the year prior after having won the Open Women category. I am not sure if I'll be racing next year, and with a busy August ahead of us and not many competitive races available, I decided the weekend prior to the TR to sign up.
I fully anticipated it to hurt more, not having the hours or longer, tougher rides under my belt, but I was determined. I set a goal with Paul Attalla to really push it the first day, to test my body and see what I could do. I signed up for an early race time to avoid the heat of the day, fully knowing I would be among the fastest riders of the competition. Time trials are interesting - you're out their on your own for the most part, with only yourself and your Garmin to gauge your effort. My goal was to finish in 2hr 30min, knowing Mical Dyck, last year's winner with three Canada Cup wins and currently Canada's Cyclocross Champion, had finished in 2hr 17min. I exceeded my goal by 2 minutes, and beat two racers I didn't anticipate coming close to - Melanie Bernier (national ski mountaineering team and competitive mountain bike racer) and Jennifer Shulz (competitive mountain and road bike racer). These two fabulous racers finished first and second at Salty Dog this spring, while I finished third.
Sitting in second, I knew Melanie and Jennifer would be out to get me as only 1 and 3 minutes sat between us. And they were. Melanie worked hard on the first powerline climb of Day 2 and I kept her in my sites as long as I could. I knew the day was a technical one, full of climbing, so I decided to let go and ride my own race. I truly felt that Day 2 was where I would shine. I had a great climb to the Stupid Traverse- cleaning the entire thing for the first time on my XTC 29er hardtail! Slunt was a fun descent, but Brokeback killed me. My lower back was in spasms and I couldn't believe I was looking forward to the next climb up Motorhead Road. "Why didn't I bring Advil?" I remember thinking, also longing for my cushy Giant Trance. But I pushed on, and sucked it up on the bumpy Hedonism, knowing we still had the even rooty-er Sherwoody, Ben Emmet and Black Forest ahead of us. By Mega Hurtz and Old Goat, I got back into the swing of things, enjoying the descent and feeling strong. I was anticipating an additional climb after Gorbie, but when I saw we were just climbing Boom road I started to really push, and LOVED Hollow Tree at Fernie Alpine Resort - I think my best moment of the weekend (and maybe flying through Coal Discovery Trail - that rocked). I crossed the line 10 minutes behind Mical again, and 8 minutes behind Melanie. Jennifer finished 4 minutes behind me - I had third place by 7 minutes.
I was extremely nervous Sunday night, knowing the next day I had to really bring my A-game. I decided to start at the very front of the pack, and to stick with Melanie and Mical as long as I could. We climbed the Lungbuster route up Fernie Alpine Resort, and I was feeling really strong, staying on Melanie's back tire the entire way. I passed her before the descent of Megasaurus and really let go of the brakes. Unfortunately, I caught some air and landed hard - something I've learned you have to be a little more careful with on a hardtail. I glanced down at my tire and instantly felt as deflated as it looked. I let Melanie pass and assessed the situation, shakely. I had just recently moved to CO2 cartridges, and while I had practiced, I hadn't done it from scratch. I had also used a metal wire to secure my seat pouch as it had opened up on day one and I had lost all of its contents. All of this = extra time.
My first attempt at the CO2 failed. I didn't have a pump. I watched as rider after rider passed me by. When Angie, my partner from last year, came by she stopped to help. Seriously, amazing. We used her CO2 cartridge, but it didn't fill it up enough as there was a problem with my valve. Fortunately a trail ambassador came along and helped me to get it to a rideable level, noticing that my valve stem seemed too short.
Finally, over ten minutes later, I set off. I didn't have another tube or any cartridges. It was a gamble, quitting even crossed my mind but I thought of fellow rider Jesse Mong, riding after being stung ten times the day before. I was going to have to ride cleaner than ever. I also had a lot of time to make up.
I worked hard, all the way to the top of the powerline, getting myself into fourth place. But honestly, catching the top three ladies with that gap, their expertise and their eyes on the prize, would have been a miracle. Still, I fought for it. I've never felt so terrible! I pushed hard up the Baldy loop, making myself climb when everyone around me was walking. By the singletrack, I could see I was pretty shaky and had to reel myself in to avoid a stupid crash. Because I was pushing so hard, I didn't have as much time to take care of myself with proper refueling.
I enjoyed the descent and the amazing views, knowing what was done was done. Riding into the finish at Island Lake, hearing the familiar voices of friends and family cheering me on, I was happy, even though I knew deep down the podium was not going to happen this round. Of course, I still had to ask when Jennifer came in.
In the end, I took fourth place, 6 minutes behind third. If you remember, I finished fourth last year in the Furious3, 2 minutes behind Danelle Kabush!
Definitely some good lessons learned this weekend. Yes, I will be spending some time with the mechanics at Straightline this month practicing my tire changing techniques, among other much needed skills. But I've also learned that I can push myself harder and longer than I thought, and still recover for another day of racing.
I have another race lined up to close the season - something new and a bit epic. The Bow 80, September 9. For now I'm going to enjoy a bit of summer, but will maintain my fitness and work towards a good ride there. Kate Aardal is on the start list. Ouch.
I would like to thank all of my friends and family for their support and encouragement, especially Rich, Erin and Cheryl for their help out on the trails. I also have to shout out to Straightline and Giant - best shop and bikes a girl could ask for!
Also, to the Fernie riders - what a team! John O'Shanassy took third overall in 40+men, Jesse Mong 10th (after a weekend full of his own challenges), and Tom Ryan 23rd. And to my ladies, Angie Krasnay in 5th place and Ange Ethridge in 7th. I feel very proud to represent Fernie alongside you! Such an amazing group of strong riders.