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June 30, 2007

getting tangled up at the start.

getting tangled up at the start. (Image credit: Ralf Schuable)

Squirrels, Bagels and Maple Syrup…

Yep I'm in Canada , Mont-Sainte-Anne , Quebec to be exact. The food here is awesome. Bagels, maple syrup, fresh fruit and fruit in pastes and fancy jars… life is pretty good in Canada ! And almost as exciting - there are so many squirrels here. (I saw my first squirrel in Germany during my warm up at the Offenburg World Cup and I nearly fell off my bike with excitement). I'm being spoilt by squirrels here in Mont-Sainte-Anne, there are little brown ones with big fluffy tails, little stripy ones and there are lots of little furry things scampering in the forest that I'm starting to think aren't even squirrels. Its all very exciting.

Amidst the squirrel-sightings and bagel-eating, I've also been riding my bike a fair bit! Yesterday was the XC World Cup, and despite being a bit disappointed by my performance I had a brilliant day.

The World Cup…

Once again my race didn't quite go to plan, it seems adversity is following me around the World Cup circuit (or visa versa?!). I was caught up in the pile-up on the start loop and my poor bike suffered a mashed drive train. During the first lap I was becoming increasingly frustrated by my gears slipping and crunching, however after a while I started seeing riders whose bikes were as bad as mine and they seemed to be persevering… so rather than throw a tantrum, I decided to relax and try to do as much as I could with the one or two gears that were almost working. I soon worked out that the trick was jumping off and running rather than pushing on the pedals or changing gears – perhaps not a very efficient strategy, but at least I could keep moving forward towards the finish line.

I found the racing more aggressive than the two other World Cups, maybe it's because I started faster than the other races and the girls are a bit more aggressive further up in the field. Who knows! After the start loop crash, and in the context of my short and stunning history of crashing and burning on both World Cup courses, I played it conservative and backed off rather than fight to hold my position. Lame I know, but I am literally covered in cuts and bruises and am still nursing (well, enduring) an injured lower back and an irritating little puncture wound to the forearm.

The course was brilliant, and despite my crunching drive train I could still appreciate the fun and flowing course. The support from the cheering crowd up the zigzag climb was something special, I've never heard anything like it in a XC race. Somehow once again I finished in the 40s, this time 42 nd place, 15mins18seconds behind the winner. Each race I feel like I'm coming last so it's always a surprise when I wander to the results list and see I'm in the 40s. It's also strange that I've been relatively consistent (48 th , 48 th and 42 nd ) despite the massive contrasts in courses, conditions and “hiccups” during the races. I'm certainly consistent; I just wish I could race faster!

Only one week left

There's only one week and one World Cup left until I make the trip home to Australia . Although the novelty of World Cup racing has well and truly worn off, I wish I could stay longer and keep racing –it's awesome! It's been such a steep sharp learning curve, and despite all the mistakes I've made, I'm enjoying racing and training for racing so much more now than when I was home. I didn't really think the World Cup scene would appeal, but it does and I'm utterly hooked. (I just wish Australia was closer to all the action so racing XC was a little more practical!)

I am loving Mont-Sainte-Anne, it's a perfect place for training; So many fun trails that seem to go on forever, warm summer weather, relatively quite roads with so many bike lanes and great signage, and the delicious food… it's going to be difficult to go home to icy Mount Beauty! It's also really social here at the moment because most of the World Cup riders seem to have opted (like us) to stay here until Thursday, and constantly bumping in to the World Cup athletes kind of makes the World Cup series a lot more friendlier and somehow more grassroots.

A little slide show… The lack of computer access has been frustrating, and the weeks have whizzed by without record. Therefore in an attempt to illustrate how I have been filling the weeks, I have attached a few photos.

Thank you for reading and happy riding,


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Tory Thomas

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