Stage 4: Sechelt to Langdale, 48.6km, 1400m D+
In a mountain bike stage race, you never know how you will feel. Sometimes, even if you are super tired, your body can surprise you and feel awesome. Other times, well, it can also feel horrible. Today was neither of these two options. I felt kind of in the middle.
This morning, I had a hard time getting out of bed and was wondering how I'd get it together to jump on the bike. I soon realized there is nothing a cup of Barista coffee and some french toasts from David can't cure! My brain was still feeling a bit groggy at the start, but I was optimistic things would turn around, especially since my legs were feeling okay.
In the morning, I carefully studied the course profile. It was going up and down, and up and down and up and down with a mix of trails and fire roads and some more ups and downs. After that deep and detailed study of the course, my strategy for the day was very elaborate: See how things go and how I feel and respond accordingly. Rocket science right here.
- At the start, given my groggy brain, I decided to not go too hard. Still, it was pretty steep and I had to pedal at a pretty decent pace to stay in touch with our usual group. I still made sure to keep it somewhat comfortable...(According to my Garmin, that was 275w AVG for 10 min...which is usually not that comfortable for me, but I guess all these BCBR hard hours are starting to pay off? Or I'm so tired that my heart rate doesn't go up and it feels easier...Whatever, I won't complain!)
- After 30 min..."Hmm still don't feel amazing, but the pace isn't too high. That's fine with me, let's just fake it for as long as possible and follow".
- Hielke (3rd girl overall and Netherlands Marathon MTB champ - cool girl) rode with us for about the first 45 min- 1h.
- Still following Katka.
- In my head: "Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say...Did they forget about Dre." Thanks Eminem for the song distraction.
- An hour in, I started feeling better. Took the lead a few times.
- THESE TRAILS ARE FUN!!!!!
- "....But nothing comes up when they move their lips" Some more Eminem stuck in my head.
- Feeling better and better as the time goes by and having a blast in the trails exchanging the lead with Katka.
- At 37km, we had been climbing for 2 km and I could see on my profile that we should be climbing for another 2-3km. Katerina and I were climbing together, I was at the front and feeling pretty good.
- Suddenly, I got an idea. Maybe I can try to attack? (I never had the guts to attack her before...I really look up to her and somehow it never quite felt right). I know that's stupid and she told me many times she'd be happy if I attacked the hell out of her.
- Inside dialogue: "Nah, don't attack." "Yeah, you should totally do it Magh" "Nah..." "Oh come on, at least try, otherwise you will regret". "Okay. If I do, I have to go quickly".
- "I'm going!" Open a tiny gap. "AHHHH Keep pushing Magh!" I get over a roller, and the road is flat..."Crap, that wasn't the plan...Keep pushing anyway!"
- Anyway, it didn't work. Once we hit the flat, Katka came back to me. I almost laughed at myself.
- 2km later, we sprinted to get first in the last singletrack downhill. I got it.
- Messed up in the first corner, she goes by. Not impressed with myself: "Wow. Newbie moves festival Magh..."
- Shredding fun singletrack descent together until "AHHH!!" I crashed and fell off a bridge. "UGHH" breathe cut for a second.
- Katerina is the nicest person ever. "Are you okay!?" "UGh, I think so!" She stopped and ran to come and rescue me from under the bridge. She makes sure I'm okay and we start riding again. 5 min later, she crashed. I stopped, make sure she is okay. "Lets just get to the bottom of this one and have fun!"
- We finished together.
Today was a super fun stage with amazing trails and fun fire road climbs. I'm super happy with the race. Mostly, I'm super grateful Katerina stopped to help me when I fell off the small bridge. That was a perfect opportunity for her to gain more time on me (especially after I had just attacked her), but instead she ran to help me. When she crashed shortly afterwards, I immediately stopped. It didn't even cross my mind to keep going. I care about her a lot more than about the competition, and I think she feels the same way. Never doubted that, but I sure appreciate it! In my book, good friends are a lot more important than a yellow t-shirt. BTW, I'm happy to report we are both okay, except for the fact that I might have a bruised boob.
Tomorrow is the North Vancouver stage and I'll do my best to not fall off any bridge! Should be fun :)