CANADIAN NATIONAL MTB CHAMPIONSHIPS
Mucky. That is the only word to describe CDN Nationals this year. After a week of rain, the Mt Washington race course was mucky and it was cold. 8C! Mid July - where the hell was summer?!? My tan sucks. Now I consider myself a bit of a mudder so I was OK with the conditions but it was a bit ridiculous come race day. I had a good start, hitting the opening climb top 5 but it was pretty much unrideable for us XXs (and even most of the XYs although Norm claims he rode it lap 2). I saw powerhouse Marie Helen Premont jump off only a quarter of the way up the first climb and start running so that was my cue to give up on my slow inching forward motion and put my mad CX skillz to work. Although I haven't really been running since March, there are not a huge group of mountain bikers that run so I considered it "advantage Wendy". Until I saw Xterra World Champ Melanie McQuaid (Natures Path - Orbea) rocket past me. I figured she was putting in more running miles than I was. But on the technical descents my Hei Hei supreme and Maxxis Advantage tires were ripping through the mucky singletrack quite nicely. Melanie is a fighter so we battled back and forth the first lap. I should have been smarter and saved my energy because by the time we hit the second climb of the first lap I was pretty fried and Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing) passed me as I fumbled up the climb. I pulled myself together at the start of lap 2 so when Sandra Walers (XO Felt) tried to pass me up the second climb, I jumped off my bike and "ran" my long legs up the hill to get my buffer back.
The "good" thing about pushing your bike up a steep muddy hill is that things are pretty slow going so 1. you can see where your competitors are (Premont, Catharien Pendrel (Norco) and Kiara Bisaro (Opus) were no where to be seen while Sin and McQuaid looked closer than they actually were) and 2. your super fan club can get a good long look at you suffering. Since I live only an hour and a half from the venue some friends came out to cheer me on in the pouring rain. Hard core. Did I mention it was only 8C? I might not have been winning the race but I definitely had the best cheer squad. Catharine Pendrel told me after the race that a little girl kept asking her "where's Wendy?? is Wendy coming soon??" whenever she climbed past. Yeah! Score one for me. There were also (soggy) foam fingers scattered about the race course cheering me on which I love!
My second lap was pretty good after I collected myself together and recovered from the first lap. I was riding the descents really well and was making time there but losing time on the climbs (until I started to run). I started to reel in McQuaid and was within 5 seconds of her but she pulled away again. I thought that might be it for me but my super fan club was screaming at me so I couldnt let them down. I was making time on Melanie again in the final lap so I started to gear up for the catch. This time I had to be smarter. Don't use up ALL my energy in the catch so I could gap her a bit. I like to think of it as "catch and release". I rode a section she had to run and opened up a small gap. But she kept coming back like a zombie. Everyone was yelling at me and I was SO close to the finish. I dug deep and held it together to stay ahead oh her. I rode the rock garden section perfectly while I could hear McQuaid behind me bobble and start running. That was enough for me to take off and finish the race in 5th. Not a podium but it felt like a podium effort to claw out that 5th place finis so I was pretty happy. Its been a long rough season with not a lot of energy for clawing. It was good to feel like I was racing again. Unfortunately 5th was not enough to get me a spot to Worlds for Canada (they are only taking a team of 3) so the disappointment came later.
Thanks to all my friends and family who came out to cheer me on and support me. It made the difference. I wish I could bring you to ALL my races!