Sue, Rod and Luna the dog came to cheer on the Luna team
For those that like the nitty gritty race details here you go. This year the organizers made some substantial changes to the course lay out. The hallmark descent was removed and replaced with a rough rocky one, the course looped back on itself even more than usual and 2 short but challenging climbs were added.
The women were scheduled for 4 laps and it promised to be slick if not actually raining. The start was going to be critical. After a relatively short climb up a mix of dirt road and grass we were fed into singletrack where passing would be impossible unless someone dabbed and let you by. Based on world cup points I was called up in 5th position. From the gun, things were a little dicey with a rider veering over into me, but everyone stayed upright. I let myself get forced off to the side on the grass climb and a surge of riders swarmed me. I entered the woods in 9th, but not in the top 3 which I thought would be critical to winning.
A gap of about 20-30 seconds opened between me and race leader Marie Helene by the first feed zone (<8minutes in), but I had the bit between my teeth and two steep climbs ahead before the end of the lap. On the first climb I moved up to 5 and picked off another rider in the woods. Into the rock chute I could see Marie-Helene followed by Irina Kalentieva and Marga Fullana. Everyone seemed to be riding the chute and a safe distance ahead for me to follow them in. I closed the gap fast though and was soon caught behind 2 of them walking it. Thankfully Marga stepped aside and I made it down safely. Willow Koerber meanwhile had taken the alternate line and slipped ahead of me. On the next grassy uphill I was able to repass Willow and squeak by Irina. Keith was waiting for me on the ascent into the switch back climb giving me time gaps to Marie and yelling enthusiastically for me to close it. I was able to get by Marie into the Switch backs and focused on cresting it hard to try to open a gap.
The rain at this point has started falling pretty hard and the rocks, roots and earth were slick. I held the lead with a small gap over the chasers until the rock chute where I did a “Catharine on the rocks” and scraped myself up pretty good while losing my time advantage. I got back on my bike still in the lead and had to refocus on how to open the gap again. Luckily I started putting my riding together better in the woods and after regrouping from the crash I knew I had to put out a fast 3rd and 4th lap. My legs were up to the challenge and the gap slowly increased until I crossed the finish line with 1 min 31 seconds over Irina Kalentieva of Russia. It felt amazing to win at Mont Sainte Anne. I’ve watched for years as other women have done it and had set it as a long term goal.
My teammate Katerina Nash from Luna and the BC Bike race rode an amazing racing finishing 3rd after spending a good chunk of the race in 2nd in her first World Cup of the season. Watch out for her in Bromont! Georgia also had a good day finishing 7th in a stacked field and giving Luna 3 solid results to claim the top team award. This weekend Chloe also joined us for her first World cup in 2 years and pulled off a top 40 which she’s looking to build on for next weekend.
My bodies is feeling a little worked from my tumble and the aggressive riding, but a nice relaxed pancake breakfast this morning with the team has the recovery process well on its way!