May 31, 2003 (Ft. William, Scotland) – Cross Country Mountain Bike World Cup #2. Going to Scotland was a very exciting and rewarding experience! Not only had I never been to Scotland before, but I knew much work had gone into the courses and we were in for a treat! Plus, with last week's results, I now lacked a good grasp on who my new 2003 competition was. Were they as fast in the woods as they were on the road? Could they actually race tight, technical i.e.: real mountain bike courses? Would they even make the trip to northern UK? These were all questions that lead to my excitement and anticipation of the upcoming world cup!
After 14 hours of travel, Ian (team mechanic), Judy (team therapist) and I, found our small (W.T.) villa. My team-mate, Liam, would join us later in the week. Ryder Hesjedal went home to Victoria, BC to train and Mary and Walker were training in Colorado. So, it was up to Liam and I to hold the Blueberry colours of Subaru/Gary Fisher!!
The course was one of the best environmentally friendly courses I've ever been privileged enough to ride. It had the effort and thought of a world championship or Games course! Even if it had poured rain for a week, the course would have maintained itself! Although, I'm glad we didn't have to test that theory, as it was warm and sunny the entire weekend.
OK, enough fluff. The Race:
Lap 1 of 4 started up a road climb to the first technical, singletrack descent. We started like a string of racehorses and as girls were flying uncontrollably off the road, I kept my combative attitude, but couldn't help wondering what they were doing… I unfortunately got caught in a crash with Marie Helen Promont (Oryx), but squeezed through unscathed, entering the single track somewhere around 15th. By the start of the second lap I had worked my way up to the top ten. The next two laps were fairly uneventful and as I was so focussed on my race and keeping the throttle fully open, I don't even really know what happened. I believe I moved up to as high as 7th, finally finishing the 35km race in 10th. Meanwhile at the front of the group, Gunn-Rita Dahl, Norway, was leading the push with Sabine Spitz, Germany, and Irina, Russia in a very tight hunt. The finish, apparently, was extremely close with Gunn managing the win by only eight seconds over Sabine and 12 seconds over Irina. Marie Helen came back from her crash, passed me on the 4th lap and finished 9th. A very spectacular result, especially leading up to the next world cup in Mt. St. Anne, Quebec on 28,29 June! Kiara Bisaro, Gears Racing finished a strong 20th, Alison Sydor, Trek/VW and Trish Sinclair, Gears Racing also finished the race with valuable UCI points.
Liam also had a brilliant race, finishing 18th.
Interest Notes of Scotland:
– Many of my new 2003 competition were “challenged” by the technical nature of the course. This was evidenced by the fact that there were four North Americans in the top 12, compared to last week where there were…none!
– The area of Ft. William reminded me of British Columbia. Beautiful trees, very lush and technical race courses. – There were many spottings of Men in Kilts. And, “no”, I didn't ask what they were wearing underneath….
– The Scottish people in the Ft. William area were extremely friendly and considerate…as long as you don't make them mad….then look out!!
– Scottish whiskey is especially smooth! Especially when shared with good friends! 🙂