Post weekend perspectives : The Pro and the Rookie.

The CX Fever project is now behind us and we thought we would look back at how it went by asking Maghalie and Hannah, the pro and the rookie, to share their perspective on the experience with us.

Here's what they had to say. 

Maghalie Rochette: CLIF Pro Team rider

When I first got the idea about the CX Fever project, the whole goal was to help someone else. I wanted for a young girl to experience a race weekend as if she was a professional racer. When you are a young racer in the U23 category, wether or not you have a team and support at the races can be the deal breaker that make you decide to keep at it and try to become a professional, or to be discouraged and stop racing. The idea behind the project was to give someone a glimpse of what it really is to be part of a team in order to inspire them to keep going and motivate them to work hard to achieve their goal. I also wanted to use this opportunity to share some advice about racing and introduce that person to as many people as possible in the cycling industry. 

As I said, the goal was to help someone else, but I didn't expect that I would be the one to benefit and learn the most from the experience! 

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As it turns out, in many ways, wanting to help someone else forced me to bring out the best version of myself during that weekend. Having Hannah around forced me to reflect on how I could try to help her the most; which brought me back to the basics. Sometimes, I think that when we get comfortable doing and repeating a task, it becomes such a natural routine that we tend to forget the basics steps. Those basic steps are the things we used to pay attention to when we weren’t as experienced, because focusing on those small things was the only way we could possibly achieve the task at hand. They are often the most important things though; the ones that made us good in the first place and that are still crucial if we want to keep performing.

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For example while pre-riding the course, I was forced to slow down a little bit to look at some sections and share some advice with Hannah, which helped me see things I probably wouldn't have noticed on my own normal pre-ride. 

Having Hannah also encouraged me to re-think my pre-race routine, which forced me to reconsider some things that don't necessarily make sense, but that I do for the oh-so-great reason that "I've always done it that way". It helped me to be more organized, to take care of myself better, to stay positive at all times, and way more.

During the race, at some point, as I was getting dropped and my body was feeling super empty and flat, I had a great battle with myself. I was hurting really bad and I wasn't going fast at all, but I had spent the whole weekend telling Hannah to focus on things she could control, rather than on the distractions on which she had no control over. So I had to talk to myself: "Come on Magh. Don't be that person who tells the others to "do what I say, not what I do!". So I followed my own advice. I focused on my pedalling rhythm and on relaxing my upper body, rather than ranting about the fact that my legs hurt..."It's a freaking bike race! Your legs are supposed to hurt, Magh! Focus on your cadence, look up, breathe!" Thanks to Hannah, I had that pep talk with myself which helped me stay positive and allowed me to actually have a good performance, even if my body wasn't responding so well. 

At the end of the weekend, I had learned so much that I even wondered if Hannah had been able to benefit from the experience at all. Had this whole thing been a super selfish act on my part? Did she even like the experience? At least, I was hoping she had as much fun as I did. 

Hannah Bauer: CX Fever Recipient. 

Coming into the weekend, honestly, I wasn't really sure what to expect. But it turned out to be an incredible experience.

Everyone was so incredibly nice and welcoming from the moment I showed up to the course. Coming from a still developing pro/devo team, it was so nice to have a clean bike every time I came back to the tent after a warm-up lap and not having to worry about my bike in general. Everything was just "magically" taken care of (thanks to the awesome mechanics). Everyone was so helpful and supportive in making sure that I had everything I needed. They made me feel as if I was in my own team tent, showing me where the Clif bars were, made sure that I had a chair, and even showed me where the espresso machine was. :)

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I think the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that Maghalie was just like all the other racers. Regardless of how great of a bike racer she is, she still faces the same things that I do. It was nice to have someone who has already gone through the same things I have and receive advice on how to deal with it.

However, the most important part of this weekend, for me, was that it was not "result driven" but more "goal driven". Despite nerves and being encompassed in a completely new atmosphere the weekend of a big race, Maghalie helped me to overcome some of my fears and to focus more on aspects that I can control, like looking ahead, staying focused, and keeping a positive mindset. The CX Fever Fund allowed me to step back and pay more attention to "minor" details that can often determine the outcome of a race.

One of the biggest challenge for me was that the course was so difficult! I haven't had a race like this one yet this season, so it was a challenge to handle both the course and my nerves at the same time. But the whole point of the CX Fever Fund is to encourage girls like myself to continue racing, not for the results, but for the love of the sport. In a sport that is so competitive, it is often difficult to remember why I began in the first place. This weekend allowed me to take a step back, remember all the reasons why I love to ride my bike, and wear the CX Fever Kit with pride.

As an aspiring professional cyclist, this weekend was definitely eye-opening. The support that these athletes receive is incredible, but it isn't always easy. Maghalie is 110% devoted to the sport of cyclocross and is extremely passionate about it. I aspire to continue to love riding my bike and share my passion with others, wherever that may lead me.

One thing is for sure though:  I will always have the fever! I am so excited to be racing back in North Carolina this weekend and for the rest of the season, but so sad that I will not be sporting the CX Fever Kit! 

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***

Looking back, I think that in our own way, we both had a great weekend and we both benefited a lot from the experience. After all, maybe that is the biggest lesson of all? We are all different, we all have different goals, different knowledge and we all have different perspectives. But maybe by embracing our differences and by sharing and interacting together, we all learn things from one another that we never would have learned if we hadn't taken the time to share with others. 

I truly hope we get to share and exchange more experiences like this, in the future. 

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Is losing a good thing?

I just finished cleaning up my closet and I have a bunch of sweet looking, red and white Garneau jerseys and skinsuits to give away. And while I'm sad to be parting with these clothes, I can now reflect on the weekend and I think I can safely say that it is a good thing for me that I lost the National title this weekend. 

...wait. 

"WTF is she talking about?!" 

Well, you are right to be asking that. Actually, a few hours after the race on Saturday, someone kindly told me that it might be a good thing for me, and even though I smiled to that person, all that went on in my mind was: "WTF is she talking about?!". 

A couple of days later, though, I can now agree with that person. That wise person was Mical Dyck, by the way (thanks Mical). And you know what, she is not the only wise one who has told me that.

So how did I finally come to that conclusion myself? Well, it took me a while to see it that way, because I was so mad with myself after the race. I wasn't mad at the fact Chirstel Ferrier beat me; she was strong, smart, raced really well, and earned that title fair and square. The reason I was mad is because I beat myself during that race. 

I knew it was going to be hard to beat Christel. She has been very strong this year and she is a very smart and experienced rider. Some people in Canada don't know her because she is only recently Canadian, but she has represented France at the Olympics on the road and she has finished in the top 10 at Cyclocross World Championships several times through her long and successful career. She's been living in Quebec for the last two years so we've had the chance to race each other very often at the local and provincial races. 

Anyway, I entered the race feeling ready and confident, but ready for a tough battle. Here's a short summary of how the race happened: 

  • I led from the start. Christel and I had a gap early on.
  • She was sitting on my wheel. The course was very fast, dry and not technical at all in the dry. It was physically challenging though. 
  • "Keep pushing Magh!" I kept pushing but couldn't shake her off my wheel. 
  • I kept drilling it at the front thinking I could eventually make her crack. 
  • On lap two, I heard her not clipping quickly, so I attacked. 
  • I kept pushing hard at the front and extended the gap to about 10sec. 
  • After a lap at the front, the gap was stable at 10sec and I was hurting. I started stressing out. "Crap, this is really hard and I'm not making up time anymore." 
  • "Should I slow down and wait for her? Should I keep pushing and risk blowing up?" 
  • While I was somewhere stuck in my head, questioning myself, I slowed down, but never calmed down. I wasn't present. She passed and attacked me. I got surprised. I tried to follow her. I started stressing out even more. 
  • Her gap grew to about 5-10 sec. I spent too much time convincing myself to calm down while I was trying to catch her. 
  • It took me too long to calm down and her gap grew. 
  • She won. I lost. 

To be clear, the reason that I feel like "lost" is not just because she won... She beat me (and won the race) which translated in me losing the race. That's a fact. But that's not why I'm saying that I lost. I feel like I lost because I beat myself and couldn't get out of my own way. I hadn't done that in a while, but it turns out I'm still not mature enough I guess. 

I didn't really sleep after the race because I was disappointed and mad, and that physically hurt me deep down in my belly. So I went straight in and reflected about what was actually hurting me that way. Usually, what hurts the most is the truth, and facing it is the only way to learn and move forward. 

So here's the truth: I messed up, I did a very bad job at controlling my emotions, I didn't trust myself enough and in the end, I choked. I tried to win too hard. I wasn't patient enough. I got nervous and questioned myself during the race. And when she passed me, I was still questioning myself about what was happening and why I couldn't follow, instead of actually trying to follow...all that because I didn't trust myself enough. 

Interestingly enough, without talking to each other, David and I came to the exact same conclusion. 

So, can losing the race be a good thing? I think so, and here's why: I race like that way too often, and I am just realizing it now. If I had won Nationals, I never would've made that realization. It wouldn't have hurt as much and I never would've thought much about it.

Sometimes, it needs to hurt for us (for me, anyway) to learn.  And I think this one hurt enough for me to learn a lot. 

Yesterday a good friend texted me something, as we were talking about my race. She said: "Sorry to say that, but that's sometimes more important than winning. I know it sounds bad, but you'll get it one day!" 

I think I get it now. In some ways, her message helped me to officially get over the past weekend by appreciating the lessons I had learned and to set my sight on the next goals of the season.

In the end, it was still a good weekend, because I'm coming out of it better than when I came in. The energy at the event was really good and I heard a lot of people cheering for me, or introducing themselves to me to talk about their Fever. Furthermore, my family as well as a few close friends, and sponsors were there to cheer me on and that is always a very special feeling. I'm lucky to have their support and the support from a few close friends who are with me wether I win or lose. 

I think I know who I'll give those Maple Leaf jerseys to... 

Up next is the Pan Am championships this weekend, where I'll be looking forward to apply the lessons I learned. I'm also excited because Hannah Bauer (CX Fever Grant recipient) will be joining our team for the weekend. Should be fun!  

Maghalie

Pre-riding with The Junior (Adam Roberge). It's always so fun to spend time with him. He's a real champ and always helps me to be better. Photo by Canadian Cyclist

Pre-riding with The Junior (Adam Roberge). It's always so fun to spend time with him. He's a real champ and always helps me to be better. Photo by Canadian Cyclist

Disappointed, but still grateful for everyone who was there and cheered all day! Photo: Jeff Faulds

Disappointed, but still grateful for everyone who was there and cheered all day! Photo: Jeff Faulds

Running with Christel.

Running with Christel.

Riding with Christel.

Riding with Christel.

I have a gap!! Photo by Jeff Faulds

I have a gap!! Photo by Jeff Faulds

Christel has a gap! 

Christel has a gap! 

Thanks for always being there for me! Photo by Jeff Faulds.

Thanks for always being there for me! Photo by Jeff Faulds.

Félicitations Christel!! (This means Congratulations, but we both speak French...) 

Félicitations Christel!! (This means Congratulations, but we both speak French...) 

It was very special to see Ruby win the U23 title!! I also got to give 100$ cheques to the SPICIEST RIDERS in the Junior and U23 categories for the fastest lap!

It was very special to see Ruby win the U23 title!! I also got to give 100$ cheques to the SPICIEST RIDERS in the Junior and U23 categories for the fastest lap!

Rubydoo with her big cheque and socks. She did very well this weekend. 

Rubydoo with her big cheque and socks. She did very well this weekend. 

Brody was the spiciest U23 man and won the CX Fever Hot Lap. It was really fun and rewarding to be able to give them a little something for their efforts. Special mention to Laurie Coulombe for the very cool looking Cheque! 

Brody was the spiciest U23 man and won the CX Fever Hot Lap. It was really fun and rewarding to be able to give them a little something for their efforts. Special mention to Laurie Coulombe for the very cool looking Cheque! 

We have sold A LOT of CX Fever gear this weekend. Thanks everyone, we raised over 500$ just this weekend. :) Photo by Scott Kelly.

We have sold A LOT of CX Fever gear this weekend. Thanks everyone, we raised over 500$ just this weekend. :) Photo by Scott Kelly.

When Mother Nature catches the fever

So I think Mother Nature caught the fever…

We’ve been working hard to spread it and it’s slowly becoming bigger... We now have hats, socks, t-shirts, cycling kits and a bike that won a world cup. But Mother Nature? She’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t expect SHE would join the movement so quickly. It's more contagious than I thought...

Here’s the thing though; I don’t think she really gets it. I know having the fever is kind of hot right now, but it’s not just about heating things up. Okay mama Nature?

The CX Fever is also about sharing the passion/excitement for ‘cross and enjoying the peculiar characteristic of cyclocross. Okay, I agree that one of those unique characteristics about cross is being able to adapt and ride well in varied and rapidly changing weather conditions. I also know that extreme heat and humidity is ONE option of weather conditions; but you know, there are also other options you can choose from…that’s the thing about the phrase “varied conditions”. It doesn’t always have to be the same thing.

Anyhow!

I’m teasing you Mother Nature – you know I’m not the type to complain too much about these kind of things and I’m actually pretty flattered that you caught the fever... But this weekend was HOT. However, although I really struggled with the heat during the race yesterday, I’m actually happy I had the opportunity to race in such difficult conditions.. I had a bad experience with heat last year, and I’ve been a bit scared of racing in extreme temperatures since.

*** (prepare for a radical change of subject)

On our team, we are all pretty close and the good thing about that is that you always feel like you can be honest and tell the others how you feel without being judged. We do like to make fun of each other, but there are never any real judgments. To use the concept of Coach K (Basketball coach of the Duke University), we also have a “family” type of culture, where everyone actually cares about one another and is genuinely happy and proud for someone else’s accomplishments - which eliminates any type of jealousy between us. I think that’s pretty special in an environment where we are actually competing against each other.

The reason I’m talking about that, is that this positive culture and support from the team allowed me to express my feelings about the heat, and to seek help. Together, we came up with various cooling techniques and strategies that we could use prior and during the race. Those strategies included:

-       Good hydration the week before;

-       Ice buckets to dunk hand and feet;

-       Pantie hose full of ice;

-       Wrist bands with ice cubes;

-       Icy water on the bike;

-       Shorter warm up, Umbrella boys, etc.

As basic as it sounds, this made me feel awesome. I was confident in those techniques, it gave me something to focus on and I suddenly wasn’t scared of the heat anymore. I was aware it was hot, but I was okay with it because we had all these McGyver techniques that I could use to help me out.

So I started the race super confident and fired up. I had a good start and after two laps, I was in the top ten and feeling good. But at some point, I suddenly started feeling super dizzy and a bit nauseous. It just ht=it be out of the blue. I knew that feeling and I knew that I shouldn’t push it too much. It was frustrating because I wanted to keep pushing and battling, but I knew that feeling too well and wasn’t willing to get too deep into it. I spent the rest of the race managing that dizziness and focusing on what didn’t require my body to create too much heat; the technical sections and cornering. A few times I tried to push it, but my body quickly reminded me I had to back off.

I lost positions during the whole 2nd half of the race and finished in 20th place, not feeling very good. I was cooked. It was a bit frustrating to know that I wasn’t pushing as hard as I wanted to, but that was the best my body could do in that heat and I have to respect that. It’s easy to judge ourselves in those situations, but honestly, I was quite proud of myself after that race because I think I managed it pretty well and it was a huge step in the right direction to make me more confident in the heat.

In the end, it hasn’t been the beginning of season that I wanted. In my opinion, I’ve had two pretty mediocre performances at the first 2 World Cups, but I’m honestly not too worried about it. It’s a long season and I’m confident I can be where I want to be. 

Despite these results, I’ve had a really good time racing, preparing for the races, chit-chatting with the cross communtiy and hanging out with the team.  It’s pretty special to have these 2 World Cups in North America and I’m grateful I got to participate in those. The support from the fans have been amazing and as usual, I feel like I am the luckiest to be on a team, working with my favorite people.

The next race is KMC Cross Fest, which will be the first event of the US CUP series. Should be fun. 

Here's a very cool video that Bill at CXHairs made for the team: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZjcjl2lwlu/?taken-by=maghroch

Love these guys. Hannah would also be a part of the hug, but she was not there... We all struggled that day in Waterloo, but at the end of the day, when you your best and spend a weekend doing what you love with people you love, it's hard to be too bummed out :) 

Love these guys. Hannah would also be a part of the hug, but she was not there... We all struggled that day in Waterloo, but at the end of the day, when you your best and spend a weekend doing what you love with people you love, it's hard to be too bummed out :) 

Pre-riding with my faves. 

Pre-riding with my faves. 

Racing. 

Racing. 

Katerine won the first World Cup! Even though I was kind of bummed for myself, I was so very proud and happy for her :) 

Katerine won the first World Cup! Even though I was kind of bummed for myself, I was so very proud and happy for her :) 

We were so fired up before the race in Waterloo! Photo by Clark Maxwell. 

We were so fired up before the race in Waterloo! Photo by Clark Maxwell. 

No so fired up after the race... 

No so fired up after the race... 

Cooked... 

Cooked... 

Just hanging out in an ice bucket after the race...

Just hanging out in an ice bucket after the race...

CX Fever project Part II - How to prepare for a cyclocross race?

It can be pretty stressful and overwhelming to do your first cyclocross race. As humans, we are often scared of the unknown, because we have no idea what to expect and aren’t sure how we can prepare ourselves to face that in the best possible way.

Hannah Bauer, the CX Fever Grant recipient has been racing cyclocross for 2 years. However, it’s only this year that she started to dip her toes in the UCI Elite Women racing waters.

Before the first race of the weekend, I asked Hannah how she was feeling and if she was excited for the race. She told me that she was excited, but also pretty nervous, so I asked her what made her feel that way. “The fact that it’s such a big field and that it’s a "UCI race" scares me a little” she said. She was also nervous that her equipment might fail her, because a similar situation had happened to her at her previous race. 

Having those anxious thoughts are perfectly normal and understandable; everyone has them. Furthermore, Hannah is only 17 and this is the highest level of cyclocross racing in North America. But honestly, being nervous means that you care and that is a good thing.

Based on her thoughts and on the challenges Hannah had faced at her first UCI event a few weeks prior, we came up with a strategy together in the hope of making her racing experience more enjoyable, and help her be satisfied with her performance.

Here are a few of the cyclocross race tips we came up with: 

Focus on what you can control

Hannah mentioned that she was a bit nervous about the fact that she would be racing in such a big and competitive field. She felt as if she was jumping into the unknown. As humans, we are often scared of things over which we have no control. So one of the best ways to bring down the stress level is to focus on yourself and on the things you CAN control. With Hannah, we sat down and pointed out some things that she could concentrate on that would help calm her down and feel as if she was in a more familiar environment. Those things included knowing the course by pre-riding it, making sure she ate well before the race, making sure her bike was in good working order and doing the warm up she was familiar with. We also came up with achievable goals and small reminders on which she could focus on during the race.

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Set achievable (and controllable) goals

As stated above, it is crucial to focus on things we can control. With Hannah, we came up with very simple goals that she could focus on during the race and that would ultimately help her have a performance that she could be proud of. One of those goals was to look ahead during the race. This simple act would help her to see what was happening in front of her and prepare or react in the best possible way for the coming obstacle. Another simple goal that we set was to consciously take some deep breaths in all of the descents so she could relax and recover as much as possible and be ready to attack the next hill.  

"Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm". Personally, that was all I was thinking about on the brutal climbs during the Pan Am championships race. Thinking about my pedalling rhythm helped me not only to go faster, but also to have my mind focused on that, instead of on how much my legs were hurting at that moment.

"Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm". Personally, that was all I was thinking about on the brutal climbs during the Pan Am championships race. Thinking about my pedalling rhythm helped me not only to go faster, but also to have my mind focused on that, instead of on how much my legs were hurting at that moment.

If it doesn't work, don't force it. Just commit to running! 

Sometimes on a cyclocross course, some sections can be challenging and give us some trouble, but we are stubborn and keep on trying and crashing on them. Being perseverant is good, but the problem with that stubbornness is that after many attempts at trying and messing up a feature, we can become nervous and scared about that particular section. Here's a scoop: there are no awards for riding a section! And you know what? Most of the time, if we are not 100% sure we can clear an obstacle, it's faster to run it! So if you can't ride a section, don't sweat it, just commit to dismounting off the bike quickly and running the section with momentum. That will help you go much faster than trying, messing up, getting off the bike and then starting to run from a stopped position. During the pre-ride, Hannah and I identified which sections we wanted to ride and which we would commit to run.

Dismounting quickly and keeping a good momentum while entering a running section is a great cyclocross training drill that you can practice at home.

Dismounting quickly and keeping a good momentum while entering a running section is a great cyclocross training drill that you can practice at home.

Find the "Cluster spot"

During her first UCI race, Hannah mentioned to me that after the start, she was stuck behind a big crash and lost many positions, which ended up being a struggle for the rest of the race. I gave her a spoiler alert: in a cyclocross race, there will ALWAYS be a tricky section where people will mess up on the first lap and create a big cluster. How do we get around that initial crash then? By preparing for it. 

Before the race, Hannah and I pre-rode the course together and we identified that first technical section on which we thought the first pile-up would happen. Hannah was able to successfully prepare for it during the race and she committed to running that section, rather than riding into the cluster and then being forced to dismount. 

The first technical section of the race was a muddy and tricky off camber. 

The first technical section of the race was a muddy and tricky off camber. 

"I knew this section was coming, so I got off the bike quickly and started running. This allowed me to pass a few girls, which was a great confidence boost in the race!" - Hannah Bauer

"I knew this section was coming, so I got off the bike quickly and started running. This allowed me to pass a few girls, which was a great confidence boost in the race!" - Hannah Bauer

Give yourself a chance

Sometimes, we don't achieve the result we were hoping for and we can be pretty hard on ourselves. But a disappointing result doesn't necessarily mean we did a poor performance. It's important to give ourselves a chance and make an effort to find what we did well during the race. This will help to build confidence and make bigger improvements. When I asked Hannah what had gone well, she said that she was able to achieve one of the simple goals she had set for herself: "I was looking up ahead during the whole race which helped me prepare better for what was coming. I even passed many people on the first tricky section, because I saw it coming and I was ready!". 

"I had a GREAT start which enabled me to stay mid pack during the first lap. This also allowed me to have a clear mind and stay very focused." - Hannah Bauer

"I had a GREAT start which enabled me to stay mid pack during the first lap. This also allowed me to have a clear mind and stay very focused." - Hannah Bauer

" Sometimes I'm pretty hard on myself for not being "better", but it's critical for me to remember that I really haven't been going at this for too long and to find the positive things I have been able to achieve." - Hannah Bauer

" Sometimes I'm pretty hard on myself for not being "better", but it's critical for me to remember that I really haven't been going at this for too long and to find the positive things I have been able to achieve." - Hannah Bauer

These simple tricks are not rocket science. They are actually pretty basic steps, but they help us feel in control of what we are doing and help reduce the stress before a race. Even if I've been racing for a long time, I always keep these in mind when I'm preparing for a cyclocross event.

Once the weekend was done, Hannah told me that following this plan and keeping these pointers in mind gave her a structure and helped her  know what to concentrate her mind on during the weekend.

Good luck for your next event! 

2017 season in random shots.

 I was scrolling through my camera the other day, and it reminded me some good memories from the mountain bike season that just ended. I really enjoyed racing this summer, so I thought I'd look back at the past season, but rather than looking at race results or writing too many words about every event (which I already did), I decided to view it with a different perspective. 

My goal was to do a recap of the season without using any racing pictures or people pictures. However, it certainly is the people who were there along the way that made this summer such a memorable one.

 I'm a newbie at taking pictures, but those are some shots that I took throughout the summer; most of them have nothing to do with racing, but they are all related to racing in one way or another and are associated to moments that had an impact on me during the season. Some are just offering behind the scenes look at the race season. Some pictures might be silly or ugly, but if they are here, it's because they reminded me of a good moment.

So here is a recap of the 2017 MTB season. Thank you to everyone who was involved and who made it so fun!

Now the goal is to practice taking pictures and take a few photography classes so next year's pic-recap can be much better hahah...

March/April

After CX Worlds, I had about a month off the bike. Dave and I went camping in the Grand Canyon. We woke up a few hours before sunrise and hiked/ran 35km across the canyon.I injured myself with all that running and my achilles tendon bothered me for the following month. It was dumb to run 35km with no preparation, but I guess the view was worth it! Taken by trusty iphone. 

After CX Worlds, I had about a month off the bike. Dave and I went camping in the Grand Canyon. We woke up a few hours before sunrise and hiked/ran 35km across the canyon.I injured myself with all that running and my achilles tendon bothered me for the following month. It was dumb to run 35km with no preparation, but I guess the view was worth it! Taken by trusty iphone. 

That's a crappy picture...I didn't have the camera yet. But looking back, it was an important moment of the season. Cactus Cup was my first race of the season, after only 1 week back on the bike.  Here, I'm preparing overnight oatmeal in the van before going to bed, which is all part of glorious #vanlife haha. I did not feel ready for the race and almost opted out of it before it even started. I suffered like a dog during the 3 stages, but I was able to put my emotions on the side and do what was important during the race and that set the tone and gave me good momentum for the rest of the season.

That's a crappy picture...I didn't have the camera yet. But looking back, it was an important moment of the season. Cactus Cup was my first race of the season, after only 1 week back on the bike.  Here, I'm preparing overnight oatmeal in the van before going to bed, which is all part of glorious #vanlife haha. I did not feel ready for the race and almost opted out of it before it even started. I suffered like a dog during the 3 stages, but I was able to put my emotions on the side and do what was important during the race and that set the tone and gave me good momentum for the rest of the season.

The season started with many fun rides in Arizona this year. The first full month of training/racing I rode almost exclusively on my Occam, which is a bigger travel (140/140) bike. I even raced Moab Rocks Stage race on that big bike (and I think it gave me an advantage on the rough terrain). 

The season started with many fun rides in Arizona this year. The first full month of training/racing I rode almost exclusively on my Occam, which is a bigger travel (140/140) bike. I even raced Moab Rocks Stage race on that big bike (and I think it gave me an advantage on the rough terrain). 

May 

Whiskey Off Road - first big goal of the season for me! 

Whiskey Off Road - first big goal of the season for me! 

This is Sarah. She works for the Little Bellas and is a great friend of Sabe and Lea Davison. In May, David and I headed to Vermont for a 4-5 days training camp with Lea. We had some great workouts together and some good laughs. On the last day of the camp, we skied up and down Mt Stowe (on May 12th). Sarah didn't have skis, so she used a sled to get back down. The camp ended with a training race in Sherbrooke and that week or training gave me lots of confidence for the races that were to come. 

This is Sarah. She works for the Little Bellas and is a great friend of Sabe and Lea Davison. In May, David and I headed to Vermont for a 4-5 days training camp with Lea. We had some great workouts together and some good laughs. On the last day of the camp, we skied up and down Mt Stowe (on May 12th). Sarah didn't have skis, so she used a sled to get back down. The camp ended with a training race in Sherbrooke and that week or training gave me lots of confidence for the races that were to come. 

The Baie St-Paul Canada cup happens on a pretty cool milk and cheese farm. These are Canadian cows and there are only a few of those left as most have been extinct. That weekend in BSP was one of the most fun - not really just because I won my first UCI C1 race, but mostly because we got to spend it with Stephen Hyde and Ian Gielar who both became good friends of Dave and I. 

The Baie St-Paul Canada cup happens on a pretty cool milk and cheese farm. These are Canadian cows and there are only a few of those left as most have been extinct. That weekend in BSP was one of the most fun - not really just because I won my first UCI C1 race, but mostly because we got to spend it with Stephen Hyde and Ian Gielar who both became good friends of Dave and I. 

Is your bike clean? At many events, hotel parking lots make the perfect bike washing/maintenance spot. This particular one is in Grand Junction, Colorado. 

Is your bike clean? At many events, hotel parking lots make the perfect bike washing/maintenance spot. This particular one is in Grand Junction, Colorado. 

A shinny bike prepared by Chris before the Grand Junction Off Road. The 3 of us were a team for all the Epic Rides this year. We had a lot of fun! 

A shinny bike prepared by Chris before the Grand Junction Off Road. The 3 of us were a team for all the Epic Rides this year. We had a lot of fun! 

Gotta stay hydrated! In the CLIF Pro Team van, you can always find an extremely generous selection of all types of CLIF Bar products as well as many of these Camelbak bottles. 

Gotta stay hydrated! In the CLIF Pro Team van, you can always find an extremely generous selection of all types of CLIF Bar products as well as many of these Camelbak bottles. 

June

In early June, I was feeling extremely well in training, so I decided at the last minute that I wanted to ace the Canada Cup in Horseshoe, ON. The morning of the race, it was about 40C degrees and super humid. As soon as I realized it was so hot, I was scared and didn't want to do the race. I didn't tell anyone and convinced myself to take the start. I did the first lap, and although my body was actually doing fine, I couldn't think of anything else than the fact that I might collapse at any moment and do another heat stroke like I had done in Rochester. So I quit the race after not even a lap. I felt like a real looser and wasn't proud of myself for quitting and not facing my fear. However, I still have good memories of that weekend, because we visited Ruby's family, had a very fun pizza night at their house and had a wonderful time with Ian, Stephen, Rubz and Dave. I also learned a lot from that failure and was able to conquer my fear of racing in the heat exactly one week later at Carson City! 

In early June, I was feeling extremely well in training, so I decided at the last minute that I wanted to ace the Canada Cup in Horseshoe, ON. The morning of the race, it was about 40C degrees and super humid. As soon as I realized it was so hot, I was scared and didn't want to do the race. I didn't tell anyone and convinced myself to take the start. I did the first lap, and although my body was actually doing fine, I couldn't think of anything else than the fact that I might collapse at any moment and do another heat stroke like I had done in Rochester. So I quit the race after not even a lap. I felt like a real looser and wasn't proud of myself for quitting and not facing my fear. However, I still have good memories of that weekend, because we visited Ruby's family, had a very fun pizza night at their house and had a wonderful time with Ian, Stephen, Rubz and Dave. I also learned a lot from that failure and was able to conquer my fear of racing in the heat exactly one week later at Carson City! 

On Friday night after the Carson City Fat Tire crit, we came back home pretty late and the sky was so pretty. I was excited and couldn't fall asleep, so I decided to try nigh photography for the first time. I had no tripod, so I was balancing the camera on the balcony. I was also using a 30sec exposure, so I was doing 1 stretch between each picture. 

On Friday night after the Carson City Fat Tire crit, we came back home pretty late and the sky was so pretty. I was excited and couldn't fall asleep, so I decided to try nigh photography for the first time. I had no tripod, so I was balancing the camera on the balcony. I was also using a 30sec exposure, so I was doing 1 stretch between each picture. 

On Saturday, the day before the Carson City Epic Rides, we went to the river in Truckee to relax and cool down. It was over 100 degrees all weekend, so chilling in the cold river felt very refreshing. Plus, it's always fun watching Rubi and Lola run around! 

On Saturday, the day before the Carson City Epic Rides, we went to the river in Truckee to relax and cool down. It was over 100 degrees all weekend, so chilling in the cold river felt very refreshing. Plus, it's always fun watching Rubi and Lola run around! 

This picture is a bit weird but I kind of like it. The Blitz, in Bend was one of the best event of the year. It confirmed what is so amazing about the mountain biking community. No one is judged, everyone is accepted, everyone respects each other, and everyone friendly teases each other about their beer chugging or armwrestling abilities (or lack of). In the end, we all just love riding cool trails and having fun.

This picture is a bit weird but I kind of like it. The Blitz, in Bend was one of the best event of the year. It confirmed what is so amazing about the mountain biking community. No one is judged, everyone is accepted, everyone respects each other, and everyone friendly teases each other about their beer chugging or armwrestling abilities (or lack of). In the end, we all just love riding cool trails and having fun.

I came back home after the Bend/Carson City trip. Dave and I went camping in Gatineau before watching our friends Ruby and Adam at the TT Nationals. That ended up being a key trip for me; the camping night felt like a tiny refreshing vacation. Then, I had a really good training in the rain and hail on the Gatineau roads in the morning. Finally, watching my friend Adam win TT Nationals offered a great deal of motivation and inspiration that powered me through the rest of the season.

I came back home after the Bend/Carson City trip. Dave and I went camping in Gatineau before watching our friends Ruby and Adam at the TT Nationals. That ended up being a key trip for me; the camping night felt like a tiny refreshing vacation. Then, I had a really good training in the rain and hail on the Gatineau roads in the morning. Finally, watching my friend Adam win TT Nationals offered a great deal of motivation and inspiration that powered me through the rest of the season.

Spectating at Canadian TT Nationals - sometimes, spectating gives you a very interesting perspective on racing. 

Spectating at Canadian TT Nationals - sometimes, spectating gives you a very interesting perspective on racing. 

July

BCBR was a very last minute decision for Dave and I. We got the "OK" to race on the Friday (7 days before the start) and started trying to book a RV for pickup on the next Tuesday...but the Monday was a Canadian holiday and everything was closed. We had about 3 hours to call everywhere on the Canadian West Coast to try to book an RV. This one was the last one available everywhere in BC and Alberta. So glad it worked out :) 

BCBR was a very last minute decision for Dave and I. We got the "OK" to race on the Friday (7 days before the start) and started trying to book a RV for pickup on the next Tuesday...but the Monday was a Canadian holiday and everything was closed. We had about 3 hours to call everywhere on the Canadian West Coast to try to book an RV. This one was the last one available everywhere in BC and Alberta. So glad it worked out :) 

The ferries were definitely a highlight at the BC Bike Race. Such a fun way to relax and appreciate the view after a hard day of racing. 

The ferries were definitely a highlight at the BC Bike Race. Such a fun way to relax and appreciate the view after a hard day of racing. 

I like that picture because it's a perfect coincidence that there is a retro colour to the pic - I didn't modify it and didn't plan for it. The night before the Squamish stage at BCBR, Geoff Kabush invited us to park the RV in his neighbourhood. We got to see his sweet 1976 Volkswagen minibus. This year, I ended up seeing Geoff at a couple different events, as we were on a similar North American based schedule. I felt very lucky, because on many occasions, he took the time to share his incredible knowledge and experience with me, even if I didn't ask for it. A few times I saw him on course and he showed me some good lines. Other times, he shared pieces of tactical advices or his opinion on material choices for particular conditions. His experience is invaluable and his willingness to share had a very positive impact on my racing this year. Canadian mountain biking is lucky to have such a great person and role model to learn from!

I like that picture because it's a perfect coincidence that there is a retro colour to the pic - I didn't modify it and didn't plan for it. The night before the Squamish stage at BCBR, Geoff Kabush invited us to park the RV in his neighbourhood. We got to see his sweet 1976 Volkswagen minibus. This year, I ended up seeing Geoff at a couple different events, as we were on a similar North American based schedule. I felt very lucky, because on many occasions, he took the time to share his incredible knowledge and experience with me, even if I didn't ask for it. A few times I saw him on course and he showed me some good lines. Other times, he shared pieces of tactical advices or his opinion on material choices for particular conditions. His experience is invaluable and his willingness to share had a very positive impact on my racing this year. Canadian mountain biking is lucky to have such a great person and role model to learn from!

CLIF Bar was a sponsor at most of the races I did this year. It's pretty fun when your main sponsor is present at the big events. CLIF Bar always sets up cool hang out spots at the events and everyone is welcome to chill, chat and eat good stuff. This was on BCBR day 4. It was a hard race, I was cracked but it felt good to sit under their tents and relax there with David and Troy.

CLIF Bar was a sponsor at most of the races I did this year. It's pretty fun when your main sponsor is present at the big events. CLIF Bar always sets up cool hang out spots at the events and everyone is welcome to chill, chat and eat good stuff. This was on BCBR day 4. It was a hard race, I was cracked but it felt good to sit under their tents and relax there with David and Troy.

The day after BC Bike Race, David and I met with one of my best friend, Sandrine. I hadn't seen her in over 2 years. She took us on a little hike (with a bit of rock climbing, in sandals) down to that waterfall. It was so fun to spend some time with her while recovering from the stage race. 

The day after BC Bike Race, David and I met with one of my best friend, Sandrine. I hadn't seen her in over 2 years. She took us on a little hike (with a bit of rock climbing, in sandals) down to that waterfall. It was so fun to spend some time with her while recovering from the stage race. 

Smokey skies as we drove into Canmore, AB. I just love the colors on this pic. I took it from the car as we were driving and that cyclist timed himself perfectly to get in the shot :) 

Smokey skies as we drove into Canmore, AB. I just love the colors on this pic. I took it from the car as we were driving and that cyclist timed himself perfectly to get in the shot :) 

When travelling in a RV, you rarely want to take time to set up and take care of yourself. But when you're trying to perform well at Nationals, you have to put that little bit of effort into it. Most of the time, it's wll worth it when you get to stretch and roll in spots like these. 

When travelling in a RV, you rarely want to take time to set up and take care of yourself. But when you're trying to perform well at Nationals, you have to put that little bit of effort into it. Most of the time, it's wll worth it when you get to stretch and roll in spots like these. 

I don't know what I would do with him! When the team is not at races, David does everyhting for me, from prepearing the bike, handing the bottles, entretaining me, training with me, etc. Here, he is being creative and using the car rack on the RV as a bike repair stand, before Nationals. 

I don't know what I would do with him! When the team is not at races, David does everyhting for me, from prepearing the bike, handing the bottles, entretaining me, training with me, etc. Here, he is being creative and using the car rack on the RV as a bike repair stand, before Nationals. 

One of the goals this season was to swim in as many lakes as possible. Dave and I were pretty successful at this. Here, we are doing an Ice Bath in a glacial lake in Canmore, AB a few days before Nationals. The Wildfires in BC and AB were enormous this summer and the smoke situation was bad in the days leading to the race. However, it all cleared up for race day!

One of the goals this season was to swim in as many lakes as possible. Dave and I were pretty successful at this. Here, we are doing an Ice Bath in a glacial lake in Canmore, AB a few days before Nationals. The Wildfires in BC and AB were enormous this summer and the smoke situation was bad in the days leading to the race. However, it all cleared up for race day!

August

I ran a 32T chainring with a 11-42 cassette pretty much all season. But in MSA, I indulged and put a 11-46 cassette. That extra gear was nice to have on the steep climbs down there. 

I ran a 32T chainring with a 11-42 cassette pretty much all season. But in MSA, I indulged and put a 11-46 cassette. That extra gear was nice to have on the steep climbs down there. 

Some mussels are swimming in the paella while the other ones are waiting their turn in the background. I annoyed David all summer about making a Paella... After the MSA World Cup, I took a week off and we finally made it. It was delicious and a lot easier than I thought...we should make it more often! :) 

Some mussels are swimming in the paella while the other ones are waiting their turn in the background. I annoyed David all summer about making a Paella... After the MSA World Cup, I took a week off and we finally made it. It was delicious and a lot easier than I thought...we should make it more often! :)