The World Cup in Mont Ste-Anne, QC is the longest standing on the circuit. It has been around for 27 years and it is known to be one of the most challenging.
I came to watch the Velirium when I was a tiny kid; I would watch the races and run around the team tents to collect stickers, autographs from the pros and LUNA bars at the LUNA Chix tent. Then, as a small kid (not as tiny anymore) I would come to race the 10-11-12 years old Quebec Cups, collect some more stickers and cheer on Marie-Helène Premont. Then, in 2010, as a medium kid (17 years old), when I wasn't even riding my mountain bike anymore (I was doing triathlon), I came to watch the World Championships. I was in the area on a camping trip and I thought it'd be cool to check out what mountain biking had become and to cheer for Marie-Helène Premont. But then during the race, another Canadian was doing super well and I started cheering for her too. Her name was Catharine Pendrel and she finished 4th that day.
Who would've thought I'd be teammates and friends with her less than 4 years later?! Not me.
Anyway, for all the history behind this famed race, it is always special to race there. It's also a home race for me, and this year, it was the only World Cup I would be participating in, so I was pretty excited.
The only tiny little thing that was bothering me was that I got sick on Monday before the race. It was nothing too serious, but still a good cold. However, the last time I got sick must have been about 2 years ago, so I couldn't complain too much. All I could do was to rest, hope it would go away soon, and not worry about it.
The week in MSA was super fun and we had a really good time pre-riding and preparing with the team. Lea, Haley, Hannah, Catharine and I all rode together and helped each other with line choices on the dry course. I crashed once, but I didn't get injured and felt confident on the course. Once we finished pre-riding, it started POURING rain for all afternoon and all night Saturday. We were all expecting (and hoping) a mud fest on race day!
- We wake up and it turns out the course is not that wet.
- Haley and Hannah are racing early, they both do great races!
- I am pumped for the race. We prepare, and head to the venue.
- Michel and Chris have prepped my bike, Waldek has bottles and everything else ready.
- Warm up. I'm psyched. Take a minute to remind myself of some key points and what I'm about to do out there. i'm ready!
- Clean start. Crash in front of me. I go around.
- I feel like I'm glued to the ground, but I keep pushing and trying to pass people.
- I'm suffering like a dog. "Come on Magh, it will get better!"
- Get to the Beatrice climb. I see the clusterf*ck ahead. RUN.
- Pass a few people. I finally reach the cluster. Wait in line....
- Okay, now I can move. Get to the Beatrice climb: track stand while waiting my turn.
- It's my turn. I mess up, unclip one foot. WAHHHHH go down on one foot. Bambi on ice. I finally make it down.
- I keep pushing as hard as I can, but I am feeling super weak. Luckily, there is David, my family and hundreds of fans lining the course who are cheering for me! "That's awesome".
- On the final lap, I go through the feedzone and Waldek screams : "Do it for the team competition!" "Okay. Let's do this Magh. For the team!".
- I'm able to find a tiny bit of energy left and pass two people. Then I catch up to Evelyn Dong in the last few minutes and try to pass her several times. She goes left, I go right. She takes it wide, I take it tight. Can't pass. It will be a sprint. I try to go outside/inside on the last U-turn, I don't quite make it, I sprint from behind, she gets me.
At the finish line, Waldek welcomes me, congratulates me and we run to the podium. Catharine got third and we won the team overall for the day (Lea got 11th and me 27th) so we have to go quickly.
To be honest, I am a bit bummed that I didn't have a good day at MSA. My head was in the right place, but my body really didn't have any energy at all. It's a bummer that I turned out to be sick at that moment, but that's life and it's okay. Afterall, arriving healthy to an event is a part of the challenge and the preparation so the resposibility is on me, not on bad luck or anything else. On the other hand, I felt pretty good on the technical features, whereas I used to shit my pants on every single one of these descents in the past. So I guess that's a win...and even if it wasn't what I hoped for, it was my best MSA race ever. I was also very happy to contribute a tiny bit to the team winning the Overall on the day! The bonus of being sick was that after I took a sip of champagne, no one else wanted to touch it...so I got to finish it!
That was the end of the mountain bike season for me. I'm now on vacation for a week before starting to prepare for the cyclocross season! It's been the most fun mountain bike season I have ever had; thanks to great company, great events, amazing support and an improved maturity/honesty/calmness in my own little head!
I can safely say that I caught the mountain bike fever this season.