It’s always a challenge to write a report on a race that just doesn’t go well. In the past, a large gap in my web updates usually indicated that I just wasn’t performing quite how I’d like and not in a great mental spot. But I’ve also found it useful to dig back through my writing at times to refresh my memory on how I’ve messed up in the past. So, here’s to hoping I learn something from this not-so-great-race experience and hopefully I can help answer the question, “what the heck happened to Chloe?”
The week leading up to Mont Sainte Anne was pretty challenging because I was trying to do way too much on too little sleep. I’ve been a ‘bad sleeper’ during bouts of training in the past but last week was an exceptionally bad week that was compounded by early flights, stress, and a bad reaction to a prescription sleeping pill that left me zombie-like for a day. On the Thursday before the race, I caught the 3:30 am shuttle to Mont Sainte Anne only to get marooned in Philadelphia after my flight to Quebec was cancelled. The delay wasn’t that big of a deal but I missed Friday’s training session on course so I took the opportunity to try to get some extra rest. That was a smart call to make as I felt rested and focused during my final (and only) course pre-ride the day before the race. I headed out on my first lap with my teammate Kaylee. She already had some lines dialed in so we stopped and talked through the technical features and then gave each one a try. The course in Mont Sainte Anne is typically one of the most technical on the circuit but some added features and a shortening of the lap made it, hands down, the most technical World Cup course I’ve ridden. Due to some overnight rain, the rocks were slick and that made the terrain even more treacherous. I spent most of my pre-ride in baggie shorts and my G-Form knee pads.
After a lap with Kaylee, I connected with Shaums March for a second lap. We looked at a couple alternate lines and made a couple small adjustments to my suspension setup on my new Niner full-suspension bike. After that, I rode one more lap where I squeezed in some race openers (short efforts to simulate a race-like effort) and linked all the technical bits together. So despite a small window of opportunity to learn a very technical course, I had some great help (thanks Kaylee and Shaums!) and ended up feeling very ready for race day after my pre-ride.
Race morning was tough. I still felt groggy from an over-the-counter sleep aid and generally felt tired. Coffee didn’t seem to help much either (which was not normal). Even so, I felt like I handled the morning well and didn’t put too much stock into it—sometimes you just don’t feel great. And I do my best not to count myself out before the racing starts. I was called up as one of the last riders in the third row but I opted to take the first spot in the fourth row and stick to the barrier on the far right. I questioned that decision for a second or two but there is no moving once you’ve picked your spot. All the initial corners were left-handers and I figured there would be more space on the outside to move up.
When the race started, my gamble paid off. Once we cleared the first left-hander, we started up a steep service road and the right-side was wide open. I took the opportunity to pedal my way towards the front. The effort it took was pretty huge, but not unlike other World Cup starts—this time I just happened to see an opening and go for it. By the time the start loop ended, I may have been in 11th or 12th place. And that was the most exhilarating part of my race. How cool would that have been if I could have stuck it? But I ended up settling into a much slower pace and fell backwards a handful of spots as we switch-backed our way up to the infamous Beatrice descent. And then a rider lost traction in front of me and I was off-and running (I didn’t think that happened in the top-15!). From that point onwards I slid backwards in the field. I just couldn’t climb and accelerate into the punchy sections like everyone else. But I rode the techy downhills well and managed to enjoy my new full-suspension setup with a FOX iRD remote lockout.
Honestly, I still don’t know where I finished. I got pulled from the course and didn’t bother to check the results. Sometimes it’s better not to know and it really doesn’t matter. Bad races happen and they really help put the good ones in perspective. So my job this week has been to recover, look ahead to Windham and hopefully find my race-legs.
Plus, I roped Drew and Kaylee into spending a couple days in Jericho, Vermont with Ed. I can’t imagine an east coast trip without stopping into Jericho for a visit. We had some wonderful meals together and generally got to catch up on some much-needed rest.