With A Rebel Yell, We Went For More, More, More….

This weekend was the polar opposite of last weekend. Instead of cold, muddy and rainy, we got super hot, humid and sandy in sunny Southern Ontario. I like the hot and sandy course at Hardwood Hills much better, and had a bit better weekend as a result, but still not what I was looking for. We had two races this past weekend. On Saturday I won the short track, which was a good start, but again on Sunday, I ended up going backwards on the last lap and ended up fourth. I had lots of problems during the day, and nearly dropped out had it not been for some great cheering from junior Emily Batty I would have stopped trying to fix my mechanical (I was about 100 metres from the start finish) so thanks for that! Marek Lazarski was also really great, one of the photographers, and he has been a great cheerleader the last two weeks! I am really frustrated from my last two cross country races, but I think these lessons I have been learning having races with adversity will help me be better at more important races this season. Regardless, I was looking forward to better results, but will be more hungry next weekend at the nationals as a result. Lots of funny things happened in Barrie (well, they are funny now) so to our weekend we go back?. Continue reading “With A Rebel Yell, We Went For More, More, More….”

The Race That NO ONE Could Love….

This week I traveled back to good old Quebec to get some mountain bike racing in.  I felt like I didn’t have enough speed work done for my cycling in Temecula and thought this mountain bike racing would be good preparation for the middle of the Xterra season, and a goal of mine is to go to the Mountain Bike World Championships at the end of August. I worked hard on my cycling this winter, and need to test it against some mountain bike specialists so Danelle and I packed up to go beat ourselves up in the dirt a little. We got more of a beating than we bargained for. The Canada Cup race at Mount Tremblant went from a fun, albeit very technical, fast but slippery circuit with lots of wood bridges, roots and rocks, to a boggy, foot deep, muddy mess. It was the kind of course where you totally destroy your bike and have absolutely no fun in the process. Sorry Jim, this race was really what might define technical…like, can’t even ride your bike technical (I know, you took enough abuse after the report on Temecula, I’m sorry xo) I toughed it out to finish top five, but it was pretty far from expectations.. Continue reading “The Race That NO ONE Could Love….”

Problems At The Season Opener

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H.L. Mencken

I’m flying back from the Sea Otter Classic reflecting on one of the worst races of my career, trying to evaluate objectively without being overly emotional about this experience. I didn’t really want to go and do this race, knowing that I was sick, on antibiotics, and generally not feeling great. My decision was to go anyway and see if it came around. It didn’t, and now that the race is over I have to try and take something away from this experience that is positive. When you don’t go well it is tough to pull the good stuff out of your races, but I think it is important to always learn something from bad performances. I made some decisions over the past few weeks that were likely wrong, but now that they have been made, how to move forward and go on to the next challenge….

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Part 1: Mel Muddles Through Mountain Bike Nationals

I flew into Mont Saint Anne, Quebec for the 2004 Canadian mountain bike nationals and was greeted by pouring rain. Ontario and Quebec had been pummeled by rain and certain areas even needed to declare a state of emergency because of such heavy rain and flooding. This meant we were looking at a wet race, on slick, slippery and technical trails….. Continue reading “Part 1: Mel Muddles Through Mountain Bike Nationals”

July 3, 2004 – McQuaid’s Yard Sale in Calgary Olympic Park

OH NO Canada!

Canada’s 137th birthday and the 2004 Calgary World Cup are now said and done, and I was somewhat a part of both. I was flying to Calgary on the 1st of July, happy to be seeing my Ford Cycling teammate Dara Marks-Marino for the first time in a LONG time (both of us have been racing crazy, but in different countries!), and actually, it has been a while since I have been to Calgary. The race was held at the Calgary Olympic Park, so cross country and downhill mountainbiking in the shadow of the huge ski jumps from the Olympics. Kinda cool, I have only raced in Canmore in the past so this was all good for me. I like the course too, a good combination of power climbing and riding with some fun twisty singletrack. The down side is there is, like, NO passing, for a long ways. Start was critical…

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June 7, 2004 – Reflective On European Campaign

Ah, back to the land of paranoid customs officers and the joy of starbucks, my first trip to Washington and the weather is thus far cooperating, even if my customs guy really was not… I did get into the country but not without a lot of exhausting interrogation and form filling. I holed up in a coma for 10 hours to recover, and now sit in the coffee shop planning my next steps. With the flag flying half mast as a reminder of the loss of one of America’s presidents, my heart was still happy to be back in North America, even if it is only my part time home I was returning to……

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May 16, 2004 – NORBA Nestled In Birthday Festivities

If you have to travel away from friends and family on your birthday weekend, there are certainly worse places than Sonoma, California to do so… and even though my birthday is actually tomorrow, Monday is not a good birthday day, so I considered the weekend the actual days for celebration. The race we were competing in did have some moments worth celebrating, and I was lucky to have some friends come in to do some birthday type celebrating as well in the midst of all the racing, so it was pretty good all round. To top it off, the race was earlier than expected so I am writing this report from the Air Canada lounge in Vancouver…. I managed to compress my weekend away to about 48 hours which is pretty awesome for travelling across the border… but I digress……

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April 18th, 2004 – Ford Claims Podiums At Sea Otter 2004

The Sea Otter Classic has finished, and our team had some highlights and lowlights to color the weekend. The race was held in Monterey, and for most of the weekend it was cool but sunny, perfect mountain bike racing weather!

All three of us raced, myself, Dara Marks-Marino and LIsa Matlock. The race had four stages, ie four individual races all of which counted towards an overall GC…. stage racing!

The race opened with a new stage, the Super XC, which was a circuit race with a lot of paved road and a small bit of gravelly singletrack. The race was to go for 75minutes, so we didn’t know how many laps we would do at the beginning. It was pretty windy, so it meant the race was a bit negative because it was very difficult to get away from the group with all the wind. It was somewhat flat-ish as well, so hard to make moves. The group came in as about 25, and I had a good sprint and finished 3rd (first team podium of the weekend!) and Dara came in 16th.

The next stage was the time trial, which was 6 miles on a new course. It was a lot of downhill and then a big wide open fire road climb basically to the finish. I raced as hard as I could despite feeling a bit off, and ended up rolling in 8th, and my teammate Dara was within seconds of me (we were actually all within seconds in the top 10) and she took 10th, and moved into 10th overall while I was in 6th at this stage.

The short track was on Saturday, a 20minute criterium offroad… this is the exciting spectator day as tons of people were there to watch. It was very cool. I wanted to erase some time from my disappointing time trial and attacked very hard to make a break go, and it did. It was like deja vu of last year as I was in a small group with two Luna girls, Alison Dunlap and Katerina Hanusova, and the two of them worked me over with team tactics and I got outsprinted to the final critical turn again, and took second. We had a good gap on the field which achieved my goal and I moved into third overall. Dara finished with the group and remained in the top 10.

So the final day was the cross country, two giant loops on a new-ish course. I was very focussed and went hard on the start to make sure I made the initial selection, but very early in the race I knew I was in trouble. I had no legs at all, and for a lap I fought to stay with the leaders where I knew I belonged.. but after an hour and a half of racing I was shivering with cold while RACING . I was having real trouble at that point and decided not to risk anything and I cut my losses and had to retire from the race. Dara was racing quite well until a mechanical sidelined her and dropped her just out of the top 10, but a good showing regardless.

So two podiums for the team in a world class field. A disappointing finish but it looks like all is in order for the big races coming up in Europe. Next stop for the team is Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico, a road stage race, then the team will go to Sonoma for the second NORBA stop.

Thanks so much go to my support people. Most importantly to my coach Houshang Amiri of the Pacificsport National Cycling Center. I would also like to thank Ford Motor Company, Ford Cycling (www.quickrelease.com), K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Arq Salon, Pacificsport, and Deuter.

March 22, 2004 – Top Spot at First Mountainbike Race of the Season

My initial three weeks in Phoenix culminated with a fun little stage race at McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills, AZ. Our team was doing tons of photos and stuff around the race so we didn’t really bring our "A" game, but we were there to stir it up.

The first stage was an 8mile time trial around the desert. Very bumpy, lots of twisty, turny singletrack.. a fun course. I chose the K2 Razorback SL because the rear suspension really helped on the super bumpy sections. Unfortunately, I encountered a rider with a problem on the trail, in a blind corner, and the only line around her was through a rough little rock garden, and I flatted. I hadn’t put any Maxxis tires on at the time and the flat cost me a lot of time for a 36 minute race (for me, the winning time by Chrissy Redden (SUbaru-Gary Fisher) was 33 ish).

My teammate, Dara Marks-Marino, did well and took a podium spot for the team in fifth, and my other teammate Lisa Matlock was around me in the standings.

The next day was the short track, about a 1000m loop with a cool singletrack section. I didn’t want to finish as a group because I desperately needed time to start clawing my way back up the standings. I got the hole shot off the start line and went mental for three laps just to see what would happen. By the end of the second lap, Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and I had gapped the field and we were trying to distance ourselves further. We worked really hard, I had a couple of scary moments where I bashed into stuff, and we came to the finish together. I rode the Maxxis Larsen TT on the front and a High Roller on the rear, and all the bad lines I chose didn’t really matter. Chrissy finished first and I took second with her, and Kiara Bisaro (Gears Racing) was third. Dara moved into fourth overall with a sixth place in the Short track and Lisa finished with a group in 22nd.

The final day was the Cross Country, three laps, and was guaranteed to be a very short race. I needed two minutes to move into the top 3, and I needed more than that for second, so my goal was just to make sure I moved to the top 5. It was HOT, like 94 degrees, and the course was really smooth with lots of wind so there was tons of drafting. I decided to try my short track tactic and see if it would work for the XC…. and told my teammates that was what I was doing. I went super hard off the front, and halfway through the lap, Chrissy and I were away, but Kiara was dangling close by. I pulled hard, trying to get us away from the field and Chrissy and I worked well to keep moving fast. The end of the lap came so fast with us going about 23 minutes for the first one…..and the end of the race came even quicker. There was no chance for me to get away from Chrissy, so I just attacked as hard as I could about a km out from the finish, and managed to gap her to come in alone, with her very close behind, and Kiara coming in third.

The win in the XC was enough to move me up to fourth overall which was good for my first race of the season…Chrissy Redden(Subaru-GaryFisher) was first overall, Kiara Bisaro(Gears) was second, Kelli Emmett(Specialized) was third, I was fourth and Trish Sinclair (Gears) was fifth. My teammate Lisa had a great race, coming 10th in the XC and Dara had a rough day but still rode at the front and took 9th overall.

So I would like to thank my team for helping with my first win of the year… my coach, Houshang Amiri at Pacificsport National Cycling Center, Team Ford and our extra help from Ian Abbot, David Myers and Paul Alman. I would like to thank Ford Motor Company, K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Cliff English (Competitive Edge Training Systems), Arq Salon, Pacificsport and Deuter.