What a great race!
This world of bike racing is crazy exciting in many ways. Mostly because it’s totally unpredictable what will happen within the next 1,5 hour, when you stand on the start line. Of course you can have a pretty good idea of where you’ll end up, but the amount of factors that has to add up for you to achieve and realize your potential can be endless. On the other hand if it wasn’t for all those factors, bike racing would loose it’s value.
In Mt. Sainte Anne just a little over week ago I had a race, that on paper might look ok, but in fact felt awful. It was as if I ran out of out power already at the end of second lap. From here it was more about surviving than racing. I was really frustrated. Coming into the race I had a feeling, that my shape was good, so “dying” on the second lap didn’t really fit into that picture. Luckily I have some good people around me, that helped me seeing things in the big picture. My coach also kindly reminded me that right now my shape is not peaking, since I’m building up towards XCO Worlds in Norway. In the time before and after the recent Marathon Worlds I’ve been focusing a lot on endurance and base building and only recently started going into “fine-tune” mode to get the speed needed for xc racing. One of the prerequisites for fine-tuning shape is, that the base is build up first.
When you race at a pace going over your limit, in cycling it’s common to describe it as “burning off a match.” In Canada I simply just “ran out of matches” by burning too many of them at the beginning of the race.
Accepting the fact, that I’m only building towards having a solid arsenal of matches in Norway, it was much easier for me to go into the race in Windham. The strategy was clear: Not going over my limit at the beginning of the race. Many of you might watched the race (otherwise you can catch the replay at redbull.tv), and saw how I wasn’t at the very front of the race the first lap, but only moved up to second position on lap two. I stayed in second spot the entire race, until the top of the climb on the very last lap, where Tanja Zakelj put in an impressive final surge and passed me. At this point I wasn’t able to counterattack. I stayed in third position despite having on my rear wheel an eagerly chasing Jolanda Neff, who had recovered after fading on the second lap.
The race was not only unique in the way that I had a strategy and stuck with it, but also because mentally I was “there.” My head was empty and I was riding on instincts only accompanied by the rhythms of a song, that repeated itself over and over again. That’s when racing isn’t painful, but feels good, and that it what keeps us cyclists continuing working hard to be on top of our game.
So, for now I’ll spend a week in Denmark before heading off to France for the World Cup Finals. This time with a front row start position. Remember to catch the race live at redbull.tv
Photos by Michal Cerveny (Specialized)