This report filed August 25, 2005 on http://www.insidetri.com
(Jamie Whitmore and Melanie McQuaid have waged a seesaw war over the past three years of Xterra – Whitmore capturing the world championship on the strength of her run in 2004 and McQuaid using her vicious bike skills to take the world title in 2003. Who will prevail in Maui, at the 2005 world championships on October 23rd? Here, Melanie writes about how a strong rivalry can force competitors to improve beyond perceived limits.)
A rivalry exists when one strives to obtain something simultaneously with another – something which only one can possess. In sport, there can be only one winner, which is why sport inspires some of the greatest rivalries in history. A great rivalry is something quite special. It allows competing athletes to create a history in the sport beyond themselves. It allows their actions, their efforts, and their heart to be permanently recorded with the spirit of sportsmanship and competitiveness. I can think of some great rivalries which will forever be linked with that sport: Armstrong v. Ullrich (cycling); Evert v. Navratilova (tennis); Allan v. Scott (triathlon). The story of their competition remains vivid beyond the victories, and I feel proud that within the sport of Xterra for the last three years I have participated in my own rivalry, McQuaid vs. Whitmore. Having close competition can be one of the greatest ways to explore your own ability as an athlete, and it can make even your losses become some of the best races of your career.
I’m a little late in catching all of you up on the past week in Redlands, mixing it up with the road chicks, but it was a pretty big week and it took a couple of days to catch my breath and regroup. Now that I am at 37,000 feet on my way back to Victoria I can reflect on the awesome week Team Ford had road racing in California.
The first cool thing is that our team is specifically a mountainbike team, and we were the only mountainbike team in Redlands this year. This is unusual because in years past there would be a number of mountainbike specific teams that would travel to CA to get some training in to prepare for the mountainbike season, but this year it was only us and 26 other road teams. I have to point out at this point that we kicked ass and finished 6th overall, in front of some very good road teams.
So I will break it down for you day by day. Day one was the prologue, a 5km uphill time trial at Mt Rubidoux by Riverside, CA. This was our first top 10 finish of the week as I got 9th in the stage, and Sara Noble, our secret agent from the Rocky Mountain team, took 14th in the stage as well. Solid day one.
Day two was a new stage. Lots of kilometres in the cross wind topped off with a nasty climb at altitude up to a village called Crestline. Basically it is like heading to Big Bear. This was Sara and Daras day, as they kicked ass and rode up at the front, with Sara cracking the top 10 and Dara staying up with the lead girls. Lisa was having a wicked day as well until she flatted on the climb, and still managed a strong finish. I kinda had a rough day, was rode into the ditch, took too much wind, but sucked it up and finished okay.
The next day was another day of flat and cross winds capped off this time with a 10km climb. I was in no mood to parade to the bottom of the climb, and rode very agressively to try and get a break away. In the first 5km I went away with a small break, which was caught, and then I attacked again and noone came with. So I decided to train and see what would happen, and basically rode until the first QOM to steal some points and then waited for the pack to get me. We then rode together to the climb which felt pretty awful to me, but Sara rode at mock speed, and finished again in the top 10. Dara and I rode in about a minute apart and LIsa not far behind that.
The Panorama Point Road Race is a short circuit race of 65km, with a big fat 20% wall in it. I was starting to feel great by the end of the week and was intent on getting out of the pack and doing something fun. A break did get away with Amy Moore from Quark and Grace Fleury from Scuba Genesis (and a Rona and Basis girl who were dropped), and I thought for sure we would be gone but unfortunately noone would work but me…. other plans in the works. But again, no point in going back to the pack, might as well do some training. Eventually Lynn Bessette, SUe Palmer and Kristin Armstrong caught us on the last lap while hoofing it away from Genevieve Jeanson, and I tried to hold on as hard as I could but after pulling for three laps they gapped me on the wall. Our break was caught with that of Jeanson, and that lead group rode in behind the three front runners and I got 8th. The other girls did well in staying with good strong packs as the race really broke apart on this stage.
In the criterium on Saturday we all rode in the pack, and despite covering every break opportunity, nothing got away. Won some money, got some sprint points to take third overall in the sprinter competition, but I couldn’t get up there on the last lap and ended up 14th. The rest of the team stayed in and upright!
So the last day was our very best day of teamwork by far. The race was hard, and although I rode agressively to try and get away, I didn’t have the legs and frankly, was really hurting. LIsa rode amazing and was there on the last two laps, handing me a coke and some water, and offering all kinds of help. Sara was beside me pacing me and encouraging me to not give up ( I felt SO bad!) and Dara was up front as well riding safely with us as a team. Our fantastic riding on that stage, having three team members in the front group and one seconds off, moved us in front of Webcor who only kept two in that group, to take 6th overall.
So if you have been paying attention, our team finished in the top 15 EVERY stage, top 10 for four stages, made all but the last major break, and in general were female bad asses.
It was such a fun week! Sara took 16th overall, I took 19th overall, Dara was 26th and LIsa 39th. Not half crappy for a bunch of dirt girls.
We would like to thank the McClintock family for such a rockstar homestay. The groupie van was awesome.
Thanks to our soigneur/mechanic/driver/personal assistant Ian Abbot for getting us to and from the races happy and in top form!
I also need to thank my coach, Houshang Amiri at Pacificsport National Cycling Center, Team Ford and our Michigan cheerleaders 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.
I’m out for a couple of weeks to prepare for some mudstomping in Sea Otter.