Canadian Catherine Pendrel won her second elite cross country world championship of her career on Saturday in Hafjell, Norway. She dominated the race from start to finish and was only slowed briefly by a flat tire on the final lap, although she never lost the lead.
"It feels good to win the second one. You go through so many changes in confidence going into a race like this," said Pendrel to Cyclingnews. "I have been one of the most consistent women but out of 11 world championships I've done, or 10 up until this one, I'd only medaled once. I couldn't figure out why it didn't happen more when I'm so consistent."
That one medal was the gold in Champery, Switzerland in 2011.
"I came into this wanting to have a good race because my last few world champs haven't been great. I wanted to perform to the best of my ability. I was ecstatic to see what that was on the day."
Pendrel broke her collarbone earlier in 2014. It was the second time in two years, but this time her recovery and comeback went smoother. In a way, the injury was a blessing in disguise.
"It helps to have a forced break due to injury for motivation. You get fired up, you're committed, you do very focused training. It may not be the most ideal training, but when you come back, you're motivated to ride and thankful to be able to do what you're doing rather than being tired of what you're doing."
"It's different when the injury is a familiar one. For me, last year I had displacement (in the collarbone) and this year I didn't. It healed more quickly and I didn't injure my back this time. It still took the same amount of time on the trainer and road bike, but I was less scared when I got back onto the mountain bike because I wasn't protecting myself so much. I also gave myself more time to come back by riding longer on a road bike."
"Then I was more confident when I got back on my mountain bike. It was easier to come back from an April injury than one that was 10 weeks before Worlds. It was very stressful last year, but this year, I knew I could come back."
Pendrel had a great second part of the 2014 season, but even after the final World Cup in Meribel, France, she was wondering if she was starting to loose her form though she admitted she was training through the event.
Life changing rainbow jersey
While Pendrel was the first to say that being world champion doesn't change your life, she was looking forward to some time in her rainbow striped jersey.
"I don't have any plans for more mountain bike races this fall, but you'll see me riding in it around town and going to coffee shops or shredding wicked trails I didn't have time to ride this summer," she said.
Like men's winner Julien Absalon, Pendrel chose to ride a full suspension on the rocky course. Bronze medal winner Lea Davison did, too.
"It helped me relax and make fewer mistakes in the early woods sections. If you could stay smooth, it was an advantage and I think I saved energy and got my gap more quickly. I couldn't believe I got the gap as soon as I did. Three laps in, I thought I'm leading the world championships and then I knew I shouldn't think about that."