Lessons from Grand Junction

There are two ways I could look back at this past weekend.

One would be to focus on my sub-par performance of yesterday, dwell on the fact that I didn’t do as well as I had hoped and have a sour memory of the event.

Or, I could think of all the positive things that happened during the weekend and remember the Grand Junction Off Road as a super fun event.

In the past, I totally would have chosen option one. I would have felt sorry for myself, dwelled on all the things I didn’t do well, and allow that one mediocre day to affect my self-confidence. This is no fun. And in the long run, having this bad attitude after all the bad races takes a toll on your overall motivation and makes you question why you are even doing this if it makes you so miserable.

Nowadays, though, I prefer to choose option number 2. I’m having so much fun doing what I do (racing my bike) and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Of course, I took some time to reflect on the race and tried to figure out what mistakes I made to make sure I can learn for the future. But once that is done, you have to move on. I know I’m not going to change that race by marinating in my sorrows for days. Instead, as I’m sitting in the plane and smiling by myself, I can’t help but to think of all the positive and fun things that happened this weekend...

  •  Experiencing Grand Junction's famous "clay" and getting a good dose of laughs: Our Thursday pre-ride turned into an adventure as we got stuck in a snowstorm, which turned the soil into “bentonite” (very thick clay). Katerina and I had to hike while lifting our bikes from the ground because the clay was so thick that it prevented our wheels to turn. We had to stop every 10 meters to clean our bikes with wooden sticks because they became too heavy. It was miserable and hilarious at the same time! 
  • The trails in Grand Junction are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G : Katka and I were riding pretty well together and had fun following each other’s lines. Also, the sceneries of the mesa and red canyon were beautiful!
     
  • Going for it in the crit: In the Fat Tire crit, I attacked with 4 laps to go and went on a solo breakaway. I ended up being caught by the group with half a lap (about 40 sec) to go, but that set up Katerina perfectly for the win! It was awesome! I was pretty happy about that attack because I normally hesitate way too much before attacking, but this time, I really went for it and it almost stuck. That was a personal win for me...and a real win for the team!
 Photo by Bill Freeman. It was fun using our team "numbers" during the crit. 

Photo by Bill Freeman. It was fun using our team "numbers" during the crit. 

  • Watch and learn - "Ha, that's how you do it": After the race, I watched Geoff Kabush win the men’s crit with a solo breakaway and by watching how he made it stick until the end, I learned how I needed to adjust my technique for next time. 
     
  • The Mountain biking community is amazing:  The crowds at the crit in downtown Grand Junction were huge and the atmosphere was vibrant. It’s always enriching to speak and hang out with all these people. Everyone is there to help each other and the camaraderie is great. 
     
  •  Grand Junction is a very cool place: We were staying downtown and it was nice to be able to just walk everywhere. The Main Street is very cute and has many cool shops, restaurants and street art. Nice place for a bike race!
 Picture from Epic Rides. During the whole weekend, the whole downtown was closed for the bike race and a music festival. 

Picture from Epic Rides. During the whole weekend, the whole downtown was closed for the bike race and a music festival. 

  • Learning from the best and finding our groove: Saturday morning, we had another great pre-ride. Katka and I exchanged the roles of leader/follower and I felt like we kept getting better and faster at riding those fun and challenging trails together. During that pre-ride, we ran into Geoff (Kabush) who also gave me some very good technical pointers and advices for the race. We got to follow him for a few sections and it was eye opening to see his line choices and learn about his approach to the race. The guy has so much experience and he was generous enough to share that knowledge with me - I felt lucky to be able to learn from such accomplished racers. 
 I don't have a picture of us pre-riding, because we were too busy pre-riding. So instead, here is a picture of Chris working on my bike :) 

I don't have a picture of us pre-riding, because we were too busy pre-riding. So instead, here is a picture of Chris working on my bike :) 

 

  • Sunday morning was the 43 miles backcountry race. Nothing went wrong, I guess I just had an off day…I simply wasn’t able to pedal as hard as I wanted and the other girls were faster. But, there were still many positives aspects to that race:
    •  Stayed relax, breathed well and didn't panic. 
    •  Felt like I was riding the descents pretty well and I was having so much fun doing it!
    •  Kept my head in the game and fought until the end (which paid off because I caught some people towards the end).
    •  Made some good decisions: I really went for it on the last descent and honestly, I don’t think I have ever descended so fast. That was cool. But I guess I over did it since I flatted my rear wheel as I had the 5th girl in sight. (Not the best decision). I kept riding for a few minutes with a soft tire and the traction was actually amazing ahah! But it was becoming softer and softer so I eventually stopped to put some air– that was a good decision, because if I had waited a bit longer, I would’ve had to put a tube and lose even more time.
    • Drinking and nutrition intake was on point! (Thanks to Chris and Myron for the feed!)
    • Katerina won, which is always cool! As usual, she taught me valuable tactical and technical lessons throughout the weekend. 
    •  Ended up 6th, which isn’t too bad considering that in the same conditions, one year ago, I would have "half-given up" and finished way further.
 Cool photo by Bill Freeman

Cool photo by Bill Freeman

 Photo by Kenny Wehn. Salty and tired after the race.

Photo by Kenny Wehn. Salty and tired after the race.

In the end, it's always a question of perspective and there are often many ways to looks at things. This more positive mindset allows me to be a lot happier and enjoy the process and the small progress a lot more. The Grand Junction Off Road 2017 will stay in my memory as a great weekend and as I’m going back home, instead of crushing me, these not-so-great results make me extremely motivated to rest, work, and come back better for the next race.

If you have never ridden in Grand Junction, I would suggest adding it to your bucket list of places to visit! Great food, cute town and gorgeous playground for biking, hiking and taking pictures. 

For now, I'm back to the shorter kind of races with a Canada Cup in Baie St-Paul next weekend. Excited for it!

 That's not me, it's my friend Serena. But isn't it beautiful?! Photo by Dave McElwaine

That's not me, it's my friend Serena. But isn't it beautiful?! Photo by Dave McElwaine

 At some point during that race, we rode in that canyon. So pretty! Photo by Dave McElwaine

At some point during that race, we rode in that canyon. So pretty! Photo by Dave McElwaine