Our Inaugural South East Championships in Pelham, Alabama

This past weekend Xterra visited Alabama for our first ever South East Championships event. The venue was spectacular, the locals incredibly friendly and the result was exactly what I was looking for. A first place finish – which ties up the series going into Richmond. I have to say that Alabama was a difficult race for me. First because I wasn Continue reading “Our Inaugural South East Championships in Pelham, Alabama”

Slogging Through The Sea Otter Mudfest

 

My first race this season was the Sea Otter Classic, mountain bike racing’s annual pilgrimage to Monterey, California. This race is a big festival with downhill, bmx, dirt jumping, road racing and cross country mountain bike racing mixed in with some fun rides and a big consumer trade show. It is a gigantic circus at the Laguna Seca Race Track where one of the toughest challenges is to find the start and get there on time while riding through thousands of spectators. Mayhem is always on the menu.

I was racing the stage race which was done in Omnium format so each stage carried points rather than time to determine the overall GC. However, the biggest race was the cross country on the final day since it carried UCI points which eventually will determine who goes to the Olympics for their country so most athletes were focused on this final day. There was a star-studded female field with reigning Olympic and world champion Gunn Rita Dahle, cyclo-cross world champion Sabine Spitz, Commonwealth Games Bronze medalist Kiara Bisaro, three-time world champion Alison Sydor, and two-time Olympian Jimena Florit (who has left us to go back to mountain bike with Luna Chix!). I was super excited to test my fitness against the best to see where I am at in this early stage of the season.

 

Although not every race was a great one, I did have at least one trip to the podium and I got some excellent training out of the super marathon of a cross country. I have to send out a big thank you to my bicycling sponsors because this weekend was very hard on my equipment. Thank you to Shimano for the overhaul and to Orbea, Maxxis, Fox Racing Shox and even Saris for your help this weekend (that pump was handy). I am really fortunate to have you guys to help me as well as my coach Houshang Amiri, who was there to see the good, the bad, and the very ugly….Thanks and a shout out go to all this year’s partners (who are all in the Sponsor 2006 section!) but especially Saucony, Nature’s Path, Orbea, Sundog, Shimano, Maxxis, Fox, Aquaman, Gu, Profile, Titec, Fizik, Powertap, Powercranks, Computrainer, Kinesys and Rider’s Cycles for building a top notch machine for this weekend!

 

 

Continue reading “Slogging Through The Sea Otter Mudfest”

Racing With The Mountain Bike Girls, Part Three…

The last race of my three week mountain bike adventure was the Canadian Nationals in Mount Saint Anne, Quebec, which will now be known as Marie-Heleneville. It is really great how big a star she is in that area (and more and more, around the world) and just goes to show how important local support is. Mt Saint Anne is about 45km from Quebec City, and always offers mud, short climbs, and soem really gnarly trails, and this year, despite the warm weather, was all of the above. My goal for the race was a solid top five and that is what I did…. Continue reading “Racing With The Mountain Bike Girls, Part Three…”

Repeat at the Xterra Canada Championships!

Repeating as Canadian Champion required some hard sweat equity as mother nature added some new challenges to last year’s course around Buntzen Lake in Port Moody, BC, just outside of Vancouver. In addition, the Xterra Canada crew changed the run, making it much longer and much more hilly, and some really cold water to swim in made this race the perfect last race as I prepare for the US Championships at Lake Tahoe in 2 weeks… Continue reading “Repeat at the Xterra Canada Championships!”

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”

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.