The last month of the mountain bike season and the transition, or lack thereof, to the cyclo-cross season was quite hectic. I'm just coming out of my post-season, airplane over-exposure, time change decompression and the batteries are finally starting to recharge a little.
I just finished one of the final steps in my recharge cycle before hitting the 'cross season full on; a trip up to Hornby Island and the birthplace of my relationship with the mountain bike. It is kind of a pilgrimage for me to go back to the trails I started riding on and it is still one of my favourite places in the world.
It really is a magical island even when you are not smoking anything like a lot of the locals. One of my favourite stories is from around age 15 when I was doing trailwork on Hornby. In exchange for helping out for the day I was given a joint; Hornby is a bit of a hippy island and a joint was pretty much like cash. I don't smoke and I was hungry so I headed down to the local gathering place, the Co-op store. It seemed pretty normal at the time that I just traded the joint with some dude for a burrito. Still sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Worlds, and the rest of it
Anyway, back in August I was pretty excited to head off on the final stretch of the mountain bike season down in Australia for World Championships. The only downside was that once again I had to leave Australia immediately after the race and beer was extremely expensive. This required me to make an 'on the fly' switch to some fine local wine for my final preparation.
I got down to Australia a little early to enjoy the local food and spend some time on probably my favourite course in the world; I had been looking forward to this race all year. I was a little oblivious to people landing on their heads, or braking their bikes on the rocks, as I just kept riding around lap after lap with a smile on my face hitting the options, jumps, and railing the berms.
Team Canada started off Worlds quite successfully, although it was frustrating, as we grabbed a silver in the Team Relay. The frustrating part was we lost by six seconds and it was pretty easy to count the ways we could have made up six seconds. My cross country race went quite well - my best result ever, fifth - but I was also left thinking what could have been.
Many people didn't notice but Gary and I pulled off a 'Formula One' fast wheel change early in the race which left me just 15 seconds off the lead group of four. It was quite windy so for the rest of the race I time trialed by myself as I watched the front group in a road race just ahead. That's racing and I'm glad we have some more great World Championships courses in the years coming up.
The next day I was able to win the unofficial short track World Champs which was a fun series of jumps, berms, and rhythm sections. Canberra put on a great event and it was good to see that Team Canada seems to have some good leadership and potential for the years to come. Everyone is looking forward to racing in Canada at the Mont Sainte Anne World Championships next year.
Back to the World Cup circus
After Australia the travel really stepped up a notch as it was back to Canada for a day and a half and then off to Europe for the final two World Cups. It was a tough transition which left my body feeling like a sack of hammers. It certainly wasn't special but I managed to get my body across the line with some average results and gain enough points to stick eighth overall in the World Cup.
Champery was another great course and I will look forward to Worlds there in 2011 as well. Schladming not so much; I think I might enjoy racing straight up a bobsled course more. Many high fives were given and a lot of active recovery was done on the dance floor at the post-race shindig. There was little time to regroup before Las Vegas, the tradeshow, and the start of the cyclo-cross season - only two to three days, actually.
Interbike was a little odd this year as it felt like I hardly had time to walk around and say hi to everyone. We, well mostly Gary, was flat out getting our 'cross bikes ready for action. The bikes got ready, and felt quite brilliant, but not surprising my CrossVegas legs were pretty mediocre. Ms. Pink made it to town and it was nice to squeeze in a couple good meals together; the restaurants are probably my favourite part about hanging out in Vegas.
Our two to three days together blew by and then I was packing up and getting ready to head to Wisconsin for the first USGP cyclo-cross weekend. After a couple more days of standing around and travelling, Wisconsin actually went surprisingly well, with a couple of top five finishes. Going straight into cyclo-cross season felt a little crazy but it's something I look forward to every year. I really enjoy seeing old and new friends at the races and the atmosphere, with the gathering of the guys creating a lot of laughs.
Cyclo-cross also means it is my time of year to increase my beer and cheese consumption. Luckily I got on the program quickly in the brief respite I had before Canadian 'Cross Nationals in Edmonton. I was quickly up five pounds and I needed it all as it dropped well below freezing with some good wind chill and snow. I dug deep to find my wind briefs, long sleeve windproof undershirts, ski gloves and managed to stay warm enough to grab another national champion's jersey.
The group in Edmonton put on another great event followed by some more festivities which make the cyclo-cross season so much fun. It's good to see everyone after the race enjoying a beer and some laughs, or for some, like the legendary Roddi Lega, looking for some redemption by putting on a stuffed skinsuit and telling grandma jokes at the bar.
The one good thing about travelling so much is that some times I can combine it with a visit with friends or family. It was great to get a chance to stop in on my sister and family to spend Thanksgiving with my young niece for the second year in a row. Apparently everyone she sees in spandex is Uncle Geoff.
More travel is on the schedule for the next couple of months but things are a little more relaxed for cyclo-cross season. Luckily I don't have to leave North America for a while and I get to see Ms. Pink and the animals a little more often. Although the cyclo-cross season is getting a little more serious in North America it is good to see most of the guys can still be relaxed and focused on it at the same time.
No Tears, More Beers... That's it, That's all,
Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain