World Cup #3 Mont St Anne, Canada

Sunday June 29, 2003

I knew it was going to be one tough race. The field was stacked with the best riders in the world, all there to gain valuable UCI points and qualify their Nation's Olympic places. There were 87 starters. The temperature was slightly milder than the previous few days but still very warm in the late 20's.

I was 40th place on the start grid. Butterflies were fluttering furriously. I was nervous and excited about racing on the Mountain Bike again (since it was my first race in over 2 months). The start was one big dustball. There was a huge crash on the first corner which I almost got caught in, though skirted around the outside and regained the momentum. It had to be one of my best starts at a World Cup.

The conditions were dry and fast. There were two 4WD hills each lap, the first about 500m long, the second just slightly shorter. I was feeling strong on these hills and gained a few places each time. The technical course was demanding and required total focus and concentration. Needless to say there were many crashes and many anxious riders in the single track.

Transponders were fixed to our bikes at "bike marking," a process where the officiators number my bike frame and wheels to ensure that I don't exchange any of these during the race. These transponders provided some indepth analysis of results (see below). I finished in 46th place as first kiwi, ahead of Suzy Pryde in 48th and Sadie Parker-Wynyard in 53rd. The podium places were 1st Gunn-Rita Dahle (Norway) in a time of 1:51:43, 2nd Sabine Spitz (Germany), 3rd Barbara Blatter (Switzerland), 4th Irina Kalentieva (Russia) and 5th Marie-Helene Premont (Canada).

Finishing time: 2:10:14 (46th)
Start Loop: 2:49 (37th fastest)
Lap 1: 24:26 (48th fastest / 46th place)
Lap 2: 25:20 (54th/46th)
Lap 3: 25:59 (55th/50th)
Lap 4: 25:56 (42nd/50th)
Lap 5: 25:44 (44th/46th)

I can take a lot of positives from the race and know that all the hard training is starting to pay off. I also know what I need to work on and look forward to the next World Cup on Grouse Mountain in 2 weeks time. We head to Vancouver bright and early tomorrow morning.

Here's a pic of the kiwi contingent at Mont St Anne after the Men's race...

Enduring the heat in Quebec

It was a lengthy 30 or so hours to get to Mont St Anne. First stop was LA where we had 10 hours to kill so we got ourselves on a public bus into Santa Monica to check out some action rather than sit in what's got to be one of the most boring international airports in the world.

It was Monday in America and Santa Monica was buzzing. We noted the big name shops but preferred to exercise the legs with a walk along the beach front. Santa Monica Pier was a hive of activity with fun park rides, heaps of very talented artists and many somewhat interesting stalls. The beach which spanned as far as the eye could see was kinda empty apart from the constant stream of cyclists, runners, roller bladers and walkers using the pathways. The colourful Venice Beach was going off with a variety of music pumping, and hordes of people admiring the buskers and just cruising the stalls. We were a little disappointed with Muscle Beach, however as there were no real huge muscle heads showing their wares. We found a Southern American creole dinner of beans and rice, jambalaya, and Catfish. Then it was back to the airport for our flight to Toronto.

Christian managed to watch every movie shown on the trip over. Needless to say he had a little more jetlag to get over and after putting the bikes together and settling into our condo, priority of the day was to sleep.

So we've been in Mont St Anne for 4 days now. I've been checking out the World Cup Mountain Bike course. It's a 5.9km lap which is not too different from last year with 61% 4WD track and 39% single track. It's full on technical with rocky and rooty terrain. Great when dry but will be completely different if wet. And the heat has been amazing with temperatures ranging between 33-35 degree's. Quite a change from the 10 degrees in Wellington! There is speculation that it will rain over the weekend.

There's a great contingent of kiwi's here - Suzy Pryde & partner Chris (with the Specialised team), Sadie Parker-Wynard, Tim Vincent, Tim Madgewick, Nick Hotchin, Mark Leishman, Jason Clement, John Kirkaldie and Nathan Rankin. The Downhillers are racing tomorrow on a far shorter 1.4km course this year. And the Cross Country races are on Sunday - 11am for the Women and 2pm for the Men. That's all for now.

Twin Peaks Tour, Palmerston North

Sunday June 15, 2003

Stage 1: 42km road race with hill top finish, Punctured. 22=
Stage 2: 8km individual time trial, 16th
Stage 3: 50.5km road race with hill top finish, 6=
Overall General Classification 13th, 5th Woman.

Bring on the racing

After 6 weeks of no racing, it’s now time to get back into it to ramp up for the northern hemisphere season. I eased into it gently. First up a 50 minute (plus 3 laps) criterium in Levin.

Levin Criterium, Saturday May 24 – 3rd

7 riders competed in the A grade crit around a 650m circuit right on Lake Horowhenua. It was a neat course with 4 sweeping corners, fast but nothing too technical. Jason Clement was showing his form before heading to North America the following day by getting a lap up on the field early on. After about 30 minutes I punctured but got a wheel change and got back into the race. Jason ended up putting in another 2 laps on the field beating Chris Sanson in 2nd and myself in 3rd. The race was a good blowout and a good way to ease back into things before the following weekend’s Tour of Taranaki.

Tour of Taranaki, Saturday May 31- Monday June 2 – 27th

This year I decided to give B grade a go. And this year there were 6 women competing against the 40 men to make B Grade the largest bunch of the tour. There were a few stage differences from racing C grade last year: stage 2 of 75km (C grade 50km) and stage 4, the mountain stage meant we raced to the top of the Mountain – a 6.8km climb (C grade finished 2.5km past the mountain gates). The longer stages didn’t worry me – the mountain climb did!
Click here for the media release.

Stage 1: 4km time trial, Hawera, Saturday May 24
10:45am start, 6 mins 47 secs; 41st (3rd Woman); 1st place 6m; 1st Woman Sarah Ulmer 6 min 28 secs
The strong southwester wind made the 2km out to the turning point a battle into the head wind however we got the tail wind to push us up the hill to the finish. It didn’t help that I had a shocker of a start and pulled my foot from my pedal losing a few vital seconds.

Stage 2: 75km road race, Hawera, Saturday May 31
1 pm start, 2 hrs 1 min
Again the wind played a large part in the afternoon stage however despite the strong cross winds the bunch didn’t split up too much. Within the last 5km the guy in front of me dropped a wheel and suddenly there was a 10m gap. 3 of us chased hard, rounded a corner, and whammo - smack into a zippy little dog. A tiny fox terrier sprinted out in front of us after the lead bunch had passed it by. With no time to react the rider in front of me hit the dog and careered off into the grass, somehow keeping his bike upright. There was little I could do and ran straight over the dog. Then the rider behind also rode over it. Luckily none of us came a cropper as that could’ve been one messy scene. The dog screamed but picked himself up. What a shock! By now the bunch were 50m ahead and it took us a few minutes to compose ourselves. We never caught the bunch and ended up 30 seconds down.

Stage 3: 64km, circuit race (2 laps), Inglewood, Sunday June 1
9:20am start, 1hr 52 mins
Good old Pukerangiora hill – a steep little sucker and one I have bad memories of since the 2001 road nationals when I dropped a chain twice and ended up pulling out of the race. The hill climbs went well and I was feeling good. On the 2nd lap, about 10 minutes before the hill I’d taken on board some sugar, something I didn’t really need but thought I might with the hill coming up. I had a good climb going over the top with the lead and transitioning well to move to the front to recover. There was only about 5km to go but then I struggled in the cross winds and I went backwards. I think the sugar intake may have caused me to blow. I was feeling terrible. I lost three and a half minutes in those final 5km. Oh well, a lesson well learnt.

Stage 4: 45km Mountain stage, Inglewood, Sunday June 1
1:40 pm start, 1 hr 34 mins
I was not feeling the best during the first lap around the Everitt Road block. Yet again more cross winds so I positioned myself close to the front of the bunch. A few breaks got up the road – the first one including Sarah. It was a slow grind up to the mountain gates. Then the bunch kept a steady tempo up to the 2.5km point. It then started to splinter and I moved forward ahead of the other women. With a clear path I set my own tempo and rode solidly. At 20 minutes I was thinking the top had to be close but alas a spectator enthusiastically told me it was only one kilometre to the top. I got another check at 400m, but then the hill got steeper. The last 400m had to be the worse. At 100m I was elated – I was thrilled with my climb and to be the 2nd woman to cross the line, only 30 seconds after Sarah. I finished 8th overall. From the mountain gates the 6.8km climb took 25 minutes 19 seconds.

State 5: 77km road race, New Plymouth, Monday June 2
9:20 am start, 2 hrs 5 mins
A testing circuit with heaps of hills to challenge ones legs especially after the previous days stage up the mountain. There was a fair amount of wind but luckily no rain as was forecast by Jim Hickey. Attacks were going most of the stage but nothing lasted and ended up in a bunch sprint with Sam Ross still in yellow.

I finished 25th in GC and 4th Woman.