Though it may not be necessarily far away, the airport customs line and french culture made going to Canada feel like I had gone over seas. After arriving in Montreal, a couple of Bear Development teammates and I made our way over to the Mont-Tremblant resort. The beautiful area and architecture was similar to that of a french village, bustling with tourists. We spent a couple days there on course dialing in lines, eating dinners in the village, and enjoying the scenery. Before long, we had to set aside our tourism and it was time to line up for race number one.
A 4:00 pm race start was a little unsettling, but at the least it gave us some time to keep resting. The race wasn’t super deep in numbers, but was definitely stacked in names. This combo made for a stellar race because we weren’t being lost in the mass and it allowed us to actually compete up front with some big guns. We surged off through the village square, descending sets of stairs, making our way up some doubletrack that funneled into technical single track. The course was wet in a few places, benefiting me as it made the rocky sections a little sketchy. This made getting up front pretty crucial. I got myself within the top 10 and found some flow through the duration of the race. I fought “mini battles” within the race with a rider every now and then, keeping it smooth on the techy descents. Thankfully I was able to stick it on the last lap, placing me in a very satisfying 6th position. This race served as a kickstart to my trip in Canada, providing some encouragement about the week and race ahead!
We made our transit a mere 4:30 hours over to Baie-Saint-Paul…and I thought Mont-Tremblant was french. Our quaint village by the Atlantic thrived on its old french heart and served as our home for the next week. With the course a quick 10 minute spin away, we were able to get on course plenty early and often. This race actually rewarded line choice and smooth riding, as it was very technical and raw. It featured well-spaced sections of double track climbing in between steep, techy single track climbs and descents. I absolutely loved it. A true mountain bike race course resembling that of a World Cup. Our week full of baguettes, brie, and Netflix came quickly to a close as race weekend came upon us.
Another 4:30 pm start time had me anxious all day. The race at BSP surged off at a much more brisk pace than that of Mont-Tremblant. We were jostling for position all the way to the first single track section where everyone was forced to scramble into line. Apparently someone up front wanted to keep the heat on because the first couple of laps were HOT. We battled every where there was a slight opening from the single track, thus the race stayed tight the whole time. The technical climbs and rocky off-camber descents in the course kept us on our toes. If you weren't mentally on tap, the demands of the course could cripple you.
The style of course played to my hand and I felt strong early on. I began to fade towards the middle of the race but trying to minimize my losses I was able to keep steady, consistent lap times...giving it one last push on the final lap. I came within about 10 seconds of one more rider in front of me on the top of the final climb and was able to close it down to mere feet on the descent. The finishing sprint didn't go my way but I landed a very satisfying 14th on the day-a top 15 in an international UCI C1.
Overall, my first trip to Canada was a true blessing. Being able to travel again kept my soul happy and getting to race on two of the finest examples of cross-country courses made me more than pleased. Two teammates and I organized the logistics and day-to-day planning while there, making it an interesting but satisfyingly independent trip. The experience was priceless and the UCI points I gained through racing are going to be so valuable going forward! Experiences like this are why I love what I do and am grateful to God to be able to do it. Thank you to all who make this crazy journey possible.