Redemption at the California races

So many times in the past, I’ve done races that weren’t honest. I mean, my performances weren't honest. I was either panicking because things were not going as I had planned, or I was subconsciously holding myself back because I was scared to know what I was really worth if I gave 100%. For some reason, I didn’t want to show myself what I was really capable of. I wasn’t able to leave it all out there, because I was afraid that the result of it would not be as good as I hoped, and that it would affect my self-confidence even more.

It was a weird situation, because I was tricking myself in thinking I was giving it all...by panicking, my heart rate usually still averaged 190bpm for the race, but it was completely inefficient and didn't make me go fast. 

Basically, I was lying to myself over and over again...and when you think aout it, that’s a pretty shitty thing to do. After all, if there is one single person in the world I can be honest with, I think it’s myself. 

And how can you know what you need to work on if you never truly show what you’ve got? That’s like shooting yourself in the foot. There is no way to know what are your strengths and weaknesses if you don’t really try your best and offer an honest performance. Consequently, you can’t improve as efficiently as possible.

Anyway, 2 weekends ago was the first US Cup of the season in Fontana, CA. Heading into the event, my record at this race was horrible: DNF in 2014, 16th in 2015 (I had to google that one) and another DNF in 2016.

Bonelli hasn't been much more positive in the past for me. When I think about that race, all I remember is crashes, bandages, tears, disappointment, more bandages and a couple more tears. But I was determined to turn it around this year! As Beyonce says in her song Love Drought, from there: "Only way to go is up"!

After a successful race in Fontana and a busy week at team camp, we were happy to go to Bonelli to end the trip with another weekend of racing. Click here for a quick recap of Fontana! 

 Tired after a busy team camp...but clearly fired up to race!

Tired after a busy team camp...but clearly fired up to race!

Here's how the race went: 

  • Ride to the course with the team. Thinking to myself: "They look so cool all riding as a group!." Sign to myself "Okay ladies now let's get in formation!
  • Eva receives her little gift from Katka and I! We laugh, we hug. 
  • Warm up. Eat a pack of the new CLIF Bloks Salty watermelon...Miammm! 
  • Call up. Announcer calls up everyone. Haley and I think we are funny as we shout all of our teammates rap names. 
  • "Catharine Pendrel"... QUICK C!!! 
  • "Lea Davison".... L-Diggity! "Notorious EVIE" etc... 
  • Start! 
  • Amy Beisel and I get tangled up. We fall off our bikes. Run for a few meters. Get dropped. "Well, that is not an optimal start!" 
  • "Try to catch the end of the group in the start loop". See everyone slowing down..."Ouff, I wish I could slow down too." 
  • "Come on Magh, take advantage of this and catch up!" 
  • For 3 laps, I move up through the group. 
  • Head starts being tired... "Eat a gel Magh!" 
  • See Eva and Haley Smith in front. "Gotta catch up!" "Don't brake in those downhills!"
  • Slide in a corner. My left foot catches me before my brain even realizes I'm sliding. "Nice work left foot!" 
  • Finally catch up to Eva and Haley. 2 laps to go. 
  • We are battling for 6th place, but Rose is not too far in 5th. "Let's do this!"
  • Try to accelerate. Everyone follows. "Well, that wasn't very convincing Magh!" 
  • Eva tells me to wait until the next lap to try to attack. "Got it. Smart!" 
  • Last lap. I lead on the pavement (not smart). Attack at the bottom of the hill (not smart). Haley counter attacks. I panic for about 10 seconds. Get dropped. "CRAP!" "Stop panicking". 
  • Eva gets a gap on Haley. I finally calm down. Chase for a full lap. 
  • Finish in 8th. Super happy with my effort and race! "That was so fun! Fitness is slowly coming together!" 
  • Big improvement - I only panicked for 10 seconds instead of 1.5 h! "Going in the right direction!" 
  • At the finish line, Eva explains to me the strategy she was trying to tell me in the race... "Oh, now I get it. I completely messed it up! Oops."  
  • I'm lucky to be learning from the best in the sport! 
  • Eat Dave's banana bread. Exchange race stories with everyone. Cool down and ride back to hotel. Shower, chill, massage by Waldek. Order from the Lucky Elephant Thai place. Team dinner in the hotel lobby with our take-out thai food 
  • Make strategy for tomorrow's short track. Mayhem, Excitement and Confusion happen. We are pumped. 
 Alexis goes around another rider on the singletrack climb. "Brilliant, I'll do the same thing!" Alexis messes up. I mess up too. "Not so brilliant after all. Be patient Magh." BY Dave McElwaine

Alexis goes around another rider on the singletrack climb. "Brilliant, I'll do the same thing!" Alexis messes up. I mess up too. "Not so brilliant after all. Be patient Magh." BY Dave McElwaine

 Post race. "Oh, that's what you meant!" 

Post race. "Oh, that's what you meant!" 

Short track:

  • Little spin to coffee shop. 
  • Team breakfast. Review short track strategy. We are pumped. 
  • Ride together at the venue. Warm up on XC course with Eva and Andrea. 
  • Start! It all goes well. I AM PUMPED! 
  • After 1 minute. 2 girls crash into each other right in front of me. No time to react, I crash too. 
  • "CRAP!" Chain rings and wheels are coming from everywhere. "Stay in a ball until the whole peloton passes Magh." 
  • Stand up. Check if I'm okay. I'm okay. "Should I just give up now?" 
  • I am DFL at least 30 seconds behind. "Let's give it a shot Magh! Maybe I can still help the team if I can catch up!" 
  • Start chasing. David, Ryan, Waldek are cheering on me to get back on the group. "This is hard, and not that fun." 
  • Start picking up one girl at a time. Go full gas in fast corners to gain time. "This is super hard, but it's getting more fun." 
  • I finally catch up when there is 3 laps to go. "Phew!" I can finally chill for a few seconds.
  • Tell my teammate Haley: "Haley, what's happening in the race? I just got here!" I learn we have 3 girls in the first group. 
  • Nothing really happens in the last 3 laps. 
  • At the end: Bummed I couldn't be a player in the race. Happy with my effort! 
  • Our team strategy didn't really work out...But it was fun!
  • After the race: Cool down with Lea, pack up everything, Waldek cleans my wounds, little team briefing, say goodbye to everyone. 
  • Dave and I drive to Parks BBQ in L.A. We eat delicious Korean BBQ. Drive to LAX, fly home! 
  • It was a great week end!
 Chasing by myself.... Pretty much all I did in the short track. Photo by Rachel Pageau.

Chasing by myself.... Pretty much all I did in the short track. Photo by Rachel Pageau.

 When I finally catch up to the main group! Phew! Photo by Dave McElwaine

When I finally catch up to the main group! Phew! Photo by Dave McElwaine

In the end, I was super happy about these races. I didn’t win and I got beat because I wasn’t fit or strong or good enough on the day. But you know what, I’m okay with that. Actually, it is great, because it was an honest performance. I couldn’t have gone any faster and now I know exactly what I need to work on. 

I used to panic and hold myself back because I wanted to protect myself form facing my fear of not being good enough, but it only hurt me and made me feel bad because deep down I knew that I wasn’t doing my best. This weekend (and last weekend in Fontana), I saw that I wasn’t good enough yet, and I was so freaking happy about it and about the way I raced! I was present in the race, I had fun and I was trashed when I finished, but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what I came here for. When I think about it, my fitness was probably not as good as the last 3 years I did these races, but my performances were the best I have ever had on these courses and I’m psyched about that.

Now it’s time to head home for the next week and keep up with the work/rest so I can bring my fitness to where I want it to be.

We really have a good team spirit this year. I think it must be all that rapping together that helped us create a strong bond...

After all these years, I think I finally caught MTB Fever! I'm excited for what's coming this season. 

Cheers everyone.

P.S
Stay tuned as I'm working on a little behind the scenes recap or our team camp. 

 Just got hit by MTB Fever. Photo by Dave McElwaine. 

Just got hit by MTB Fever. Photo by Dave McElwaine. 

 Korean BBQ - Suggestion of Anthony Bourdain! 

Korean BBQ - Suggestion of Anthony Bourdain!