Stage 6: Squamish, 53km, 1415m D+
Oh boy. That's not how I imagined today would be.
That's not either how I imagined I would cross the line in front of Katerina for the first time in my life... Spoiler alert: not an awesome feeling!
In the past few days, I've been talking and joking a lot about how I could beat Katka. The truth is, I don't really care about beating her. In my opinion, she is the best bike rider and racer in the world across all disciplines. The only reason why I want to race with her and be competitive is because I know that the closer I get to her, the more I improve and the closer I get to be one of the best in the world.
Actually, there are other reasons too... One of them is that I think it is just respectful for her, every other racers, our sponsors, everyone who helps me out and for myself to do my best everyday. Secondly, I'm trying to prepare for XC Nationals, so it would be stupid not to do my best.
Anyway, here's how today went...
- 6:30 AM. Super hard to get out of bed but pumped to go explore Squamish trails.
- 8:20 AM. Getting dressed. "Man I don't feel like putting sunscreen on today". It's the little things that get you after 6 days... (Don't worry, I still toughed it up and put it on!)
- 8:40 AM. Warming up with Katka. Ironically, I told her this morning that even if I was writing all about our " daily battles" I really just saw it as a positive and friendly competition.
- Start. After 15 mins, Katerina flats her rear wheel on a fire road.
- I yell: "Are you okay?! Do you need help?". She says "I'm okay."
- For the next hour, I am confuse. "Should I wait? Shit. I don't know what to do. I should've asked her what to do". "F*ck this Magh, she has other cats to whip** than telling you what to do. Make a decision for yourself." "Okay, just keep riding, but not too fast, just the same pace".
**It's a french expression...not sure it translates, but I'm going for it. It means she has other stuff on her mind.
- I keep riding and a bunch of guys are passing me. I'm kind of stuck in my head and super unsure of myself. I also struggle at finding a rhythm. Then I get drop from a big group and start to feel lonely. "Hmm...it's way more fun when Katerina is riding with me."
- I look up. There's a group right in front of me. "Oh come on Magh! Man up. Just catch up to them and ride with them, it won't be as lonely." I catch up, but then we enter a singletrack and I'm kind of stuck behind. I tell myself : "Okay, Magh. Get it together. She's not there but I can still enjoy the day and have fun in the trails. Get in front of them so you can ride your pace!"
- That's what I do. I eventually find a rhythm. I get to the front of our group and start riding my own pace. After about an hour, I kind of got comfortable in my discomfort and was able to set a good pace.
- After a while, I look back and only our Aussie friend Brett is riding with me.
- The views on the side of the course are breath taking. "Brett look at how beautiful it is up there!" "Ya mate!"
- Have a blast in the fun descents. "Trails are SWEET around here!"
- Catch up to Corry Wallace who is having stomach issues. He guides me down one fun descent. "That was so fun! Thanks Corry!" Then, he drops me in a pedalling section.
- Ride by myself until the finish.
- I'm hungry.
In the end, maybe it was stupid to feel bad. It wasn't my fault if her tire went flat. That's bike racing after all, mechanical problems happen. It totally could have been me and I would not have been mad if she had kept going. I felt pretty bad for a few hours, but I'm good now. There was one thing I wanted to make sure of and that's that she didn't have to lift off my spirits and console me. I'm old enough to do that on my own! So I am over it and now I'm excited for tomorrow, because we only have a 12 sec difference in the overall standings.
Also, Katerina was not mad at me. I know because she invited me to go jump in the river with her... Hmm. On second thought, maybe she invited me because she wanted to drown me?
Nah I'm kidding. She's professional and knows how to deal with that stuff. I'm the one who needs to learn from that experience. I think I did learn; once I got out of my own way today and got over that little incident, I was riding well and really had a blast on the fun Squamish course.
12 seconds... Who knows! Maybe she did it on purpose to make things exciting!?
We'll get everything figured out in Whistler tomorrow.