Agonisingly close on Grouse Mountain

Sunday July 13, 2003

It could've been my day. I was on target for a top 20 ride (23rd place). I was feeling good and riding strong mixing it up with Aussie Mary Grigson, and Canadians Kiara Bisaro and Trish Sinclair when with 2 laps to go my race came to a disappointing end. I was following close behind another rider down a rock face into a dirt section with a few tree roots, a section I was riding fast all day. This time I was forced to take it slower because of the rider in front. It was a pretty slow-mo crash when my front wheel bit the wheel rut and jack knifed. My handlebars spun right around and jammed the brake lever across the top tube. I struggled to free the handlebars but without success. I'd wedged it good and proper. Many riders passed me by before I finally decided there was nothing I could do but walk the course to be lapped out and thus get some points, but I'd kissed my top 20 placing goodbye. In the end I was given a disappointing 55th.
Here's a pic of the start loop (I'm the 3rd rider behind Canadian Kiara Bisaro and Spaniard Silvia Planas.)

There was a starting field of 75 women but only 28 were not lapped out and managed to complete the entire 6 laps (and 2 start loops). The course was riddled with mechanicals and the ever dredded punctures - there were 17 DNF's (did not finish).

Current World Champion Gun Rita Dahle from Norway had yet another convincing win finishing in 2 hours and 9 minutes, 4 minutes ahead of second place-getter local Vancouver-ite Alison Sydor. Fellow kiwi's Sadie Parker-Wynard and Susy Pryde finished one lap down, 33rd and 39th respectively.

Again the timing system was provided by the main series sponsor Tissot and was done via transponders placed on the front forks of every bike. This provides some very interesting data about lap times and placings. I'll put the link here when their website has been updated.

This is the link for the Mont St Anne Analysis:
Here is the start list for Grouse Mountain

Twas the day before race day...

...and surprise, surprise the rain has arrived. It's 3:30pm on Saturday and down in Vancouver the rain is pouring down. I'm sure it will be the same up the Moutain - just as the top seeded downhillers will be about to start their final runs. If this keeps up overnight, it will be a very interesting race tomorrow.

The course is very different to last year yet just as short. It has a longer climb and just as much technical. It's very full on. The start loop is short at 560m but we head straight into a steep 4WD rocky ascent so that should give the field a chance to spread out a little. The course crosses over itself via a bridge at the bottom of the "Peak Plunge" descent. This is the longest descent of the course - it's singletrack, rocky, a few trees roots and 4 descent switchbacks. The entire descent can be seen from the event village. The rest of the course mixes in singletrack and 4WD roads with more bridges, steps, rocks and tree roots. Both climbs although not particularly long are steep and it can be difficult to keep traction on the loose rocks. A new area this year is the Sanctuary and around Blue Grouse lake. It's very scenic though we won't be stopping to enjoy the view. The course at 1100m in altitude is just under 5km and has a vertical drop of 100m per lap.

The Grouse Mountain World Cup is a triple crown event with Downhill, Cross Country and 4 Cross races. Apparently more than 450 of the world's top mountain bikers from 30 countries will be competing over the weekend and 25,000 spectators are expected.

Here are some links to the Event:

I'll keep you posted.

A win at the Escape Velocity Tuesday Night Criterium

Tuesday July 8, 2003
This local BC criterium series is also known as the "World Tuesday Night Championships 2003". Check out Escape Velocity Cycling Club's website for the series results.

There were about 15 women who lined up to race Cat 1, 2 & 3 on Tuesday night around Thunderbird Stadium near the University of British Columbia. I only recognised fellow World Cup Mountain Biker Eron Chorney so I didn't have too much idea on how I would fare against the local competition.

We started soon after 6:30pm and were up for a total of 30 minutes around a 1.5km circuit. The loop consisted of a hill at the start of the lap, a pedally descent, a flat section then a few sweeping corners around a round about and then back up the hill. I wanted to be aggressive tonight so after experiencing the fairly easy paced first lap I attacked up the hill on the 2nd lap. I was caught after about 1km. Back in the bunch there were numerous attacks up the hill but again we ended up back together.

After 15 minutes there was the prime sprint which picked the pace up considerably. I wanted to take this out. I was sitting about 5th wheel on the slight incline to the line. I gained some speed and went around the outside thinking I almost had it sewn up when I was pipped in the last second by sprinter Marnie Prazsky.

Marnie continued on strong and together we hammered the hill to get a break on the rest of the field. It didn't take long for this gap to open up to half a lap and we held this to the end.

On the final lap in the final kilometre I was sitting on the front with Marnie comfortably tucked in behind. I eased up a bit to allow Marnie to come through but this wasn't gonna happen so at about 300m I got out of the saddle and sprinted for the finish. I half expected her to come around me but I burried myself deep and took the win by a bike length. It felt great. And lucky that it was only after the race that I discovered that Marnie was a track sprinter!

Being an out of towner I got noticed. But more importantly my bike got noticed due to the morning's action in the Tour de France. Fred Finot of the Jean Delatour team had been up the road for almost 200km before being caught within the final 2.5km. The Scott Team Issue bike sure got a lot of coverage, and the locals were impressed to see the same bike at their criterium.

Enjoying Vancouver

We've had a great time so far in Vancouver enjoying the milder temperatures and new training routes. My next race, the 4th World Cup, is this coming weekend atop Grouse Mountain in Northern Vancouver. The course marking and race registration takes place on Wednesday so I can't practice the course until then.

We're staying with my friend Fi McKissock's brother Nige not too far from downtown Vancouver. It's a fairly large house with many people coming and going. Usually 4 people live in the house with Nige and one other in the basement. We've taken over Karri & Nico's room who have gone to Italy for a holiday and we have the upstairs to ourselves.

We arrived in Vancouver a week ago. It took us a couple of days to get our bearings and find some good training rides. Our favourite one has to be around the University of Brittish Columbia (UBC) with wide roads and shoulders and a scenic road around the beach front. The traffic is very considerate here - to both pedestrians and cyclists.

We've been lucky to have the use of Karri and Nico's dog car - yep, the one they use to transport their 2 dogs. Sasha and Zeb are German Sheppard Crosses and very adorable. On Friday we headed up to Squamish - some 60km north of Vancouver. It's changed so much since I passed through on my way to Whistler in 1991. I rode some really fun trails in Squamish - quite the Mountain Biking mecca.

Needless to say after all my fun on the trails I had to keep Christian happy with a trip to Tim Horton's, the famous Canadian Donut chain. Check out the pic of Christian feeding his face...

I ventured up Mount Seymour to find some of the great technical tracks that BC is renown for. I found Pingu and Pangor. The guys riding them were fully kitted in pads and armour and thought I was crazy to ride these trails without them. The North Shore (North Vancouver) is famous for it's North Shore Bridges and these trails had no shortage of them, some of which were pretty narrow. The terrain was rocky and hard packed and had some tight passes through the trees. I had a fun run down the mountain and managed to take a couple of wrong turns, but I eventually found my way out. All great fun.

Christian joined the locals on their Saturday morning bunch ride. What he thought was going to be a 2.5 hour easy ride, turned into a 6 hour mission including 2 decent hill climbs (10km up Mount Cypress and 12km up Mount Seymour). And there were only 8 of them!

The weather has been far milder over this side of Canada. It's ranged from about 15 degrees to the early 20's. At times I've had to wear polypro and arm warmers! I think it's going to be cold up Grouse Mountain..... and at the moment the long range forecast is rain for race day (but I'm sure that's likely to change).

We've also done some sightseeing with a trip on the sky train out to Burnaby and New West Minster then into the city. We spent some time wandering around Gastown and Chinatown. Gastown is the oldest neigbourhood in Vancouver which grew from the logging camp that first attracted white settlers to the region. The cobblestoned area and brick buildings were very quaint.

The food here is fantastic. Very reasonable and heaps of variety. Vancouver is a very multicultural city - heaps of Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese.... and Brazilian, Portuguese and German restaurants. We're making the most of it!