Over twenty elite women wheeled to the start line at 12:15 (aaaah, nice not to be so rushed like my usual super early triathlon starts!). The field seemed disappointingly small, but one factor is that the U23 women have had a separate start over the past few years. But since we have the World’s number one rider in the World Cup rankings (none other than my LUNA teammate Catharine Pendrel) and Canada is ranked number one in the World for women, staying near the leaders was going to be no easy feat!
My goal going into the race was to shoot for inside the top ten. I was a little nervous about the start as I haven’t done a serious mountain bike race in awhile and didn’t know how much speed I had in the legs. Luckily we had a small start loop to settle things down so I followed my bro’s advice to sit in and just move up when it was easy to do so. Once we hit the first real climb I was feeling comfortable at the back of the front group and was able to move up a few more spots before the first technical descent, the Laundry Shoots, which was a bit scary as I had to make it through the first few turns and drops with my right foot clipped out, but stayed up!
Nearing the end of lap two I was sitting in 9th with Brandi and Mical in 7th and 8th dangling within reach. That’s when a little hiccup happened and I got major chain suck. I ran out of the short piece of single track I was in and luckily was able to finally yank the chain out. Yay, my day wasn’t over because I was having fun and feeling good! By then Jean-Ann had caught me. She rode stronger and stronger and by the end she’d broken away, and my legs were starting to cramp so 10th it was for the day!
Catharine repeated as Canadian Champ with Marie-Helene Premont in 2nd, and Emily Batty in third. Interestingly, although there are some talented U23 and Junior women coming up in the sport, apart from my first running rival, Brandi Heisterman (who is also a mom of two and finished an impressive 7th after riding the last 3 laps with a fractured, dislocated finger!!), the top 10 riders in Canada has not changed up much since I began racing all the Canada Cup races about 10 years ago! That’s why it was fun to end the weekend today as part of the Fast and Female mountain bike camp to encourage girls from 9-19 to get into the sport. Kudos to Catharine Pendrel, Emily Batty, Amanda Sin, Catherine Vipond and Mical Dyck for taking the afternoon to teach an impressive number of young girls some bike skills and inspire them to get into mountain biking!