Monday, 18 June 2012

If you ain't first, you're fifth

This past weekend was the Canadian MTB Nationals at St. Felicien, Quebec. Having never been to St. Fe before, I was super excited to get on the course and experience what all the hype was about! The course definitely lived up to my expectations; it was fun, fast, and unforgiving. In other words everything that a Nationals course should be. After getting lost a few times on my first lap (getting lost on a fully taped course is one of my specialties) I was ready for a legit lap with my teammate, Mike GP (#greatguy). I've honestly never had as much fun on a pre-ride!

True to my style, I began to get nervous a good 4 days before the race. On the start line, those nerves proved useful and I had a wicked start! Unfortunately, the good start was a short-lived phenomenon, and I rapidly fell back within the field throughout the first lap. I could have used a pair of training wheels during that first lap! I knew I had to turn it around, and I managed to do that (at least partially) during the 2nd and 3rd laps. I made back a few spots, and was riding the technical way more cleanly. I'm sure everyone felt the same way, and by the time the fourth lap rolled around I was cooked. I managed to hang onto the position I was in, but all I could do was survive. It wasn't what I was hoping for, but I raced my heart out and didn't give up!

It's a tough pill to swallow when the success you've been hoping and working for proves elusive. Like most of the U23 female riders in Canada, I was hoping for a podium performance at Nationals. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. I ended up 5th place behind four very deserving young ladies. While I'm not 100% stoked on my ride this weekend, I AM stoked to prove myself these coming weekends at the North American World Cups. I think you can take a defeat one of two ways: you can become discouraged, or you can use the loss as motivation to become a winner in the future. 5th wasn't my goal, but I know that it was a good stepping stone towards placing 1st in future years. I've honestly never been more excited to improve!

My Norco teammates had some sweet races this weekend, with both the Andrews (L'Espy and Watson) placing 9th after tough races in the heat. Brett (aka Princess) had an excellent race for his first year U23. So proud of my boys ;)! The team relay was GTs, as expected. The week in St. Fe was pretty sick; how can it not be when you're living the trailer park life? It's bitter-sweet that Nationals is already over as we move on to the next races, but every weekend offers a new opportunity to crush it and race in different places! I'm loving the cyclist life right now.

Once again, big thanks to Norco, Havy, my coach, and (of course) my parents for getting me everywhere this year! 5 days till the next race - can't wait!!

 So fast I'm blurry (naaat)

 Princess :)

Post-crash Watty 

Lespy crushing the start

Monday, 4 June 2012

First blog post.. woooooooo! hooo.

What's this? Haley Smith has a blog? That's right. As if there isn't already enough junk to sift through on the internet, I've decided to add a little more :). Hopefully you'll find it interesting (or at least not deathly boring)!

My brother recently told me that the best blogs are those that read like diaries; dripping with secrets and an "I don't care what anyone thinks about me" attitude. I'll do my best to make this one of those kinds of blogs, but I'm afraid I'm somewhat lacking in the secret department. Instead, I'll tell you the stories behind my racing results and everything that goes on in between races. And maybe (if you're lucky) I'll come up with a fat, juicy secret from time to time.

This past weekend (yesterday) was the final stop on the XC mountain biking Canada Cup circuit of 2012 (WHAT? The season's OVER?). An unfailingly awesome venue, Hardwood Hills managed to provide a fun and relatively fast course despite the billion mm of rain that fell in the few days before the race. The riders from the earlier start times were coming in pretty clean and free of mud, so I was hoping for good things on the race course. But apparently I jinxed it a few days back, and the skies opened up on us just before the Elite start. The rain turned the course into a slip 'n slide (literally), which was a ton of fun, but made for a pretty long race.

Despite the 1km of false flat double track right off the start, the pack managed to stick together. This made for a frustrating bottleneck upon reaching the first piece of single track. I didn't get the position I was hoping for into that first section, which meant that I was playing catch up for the rest of the race. To be honest, I don't remember much of the specifics of the race. The five 6km laps seemed to meld together in my mind. I remember jockeying for position with Mandy Dreyer and Heather Grey for the majority of the 4th and 5 lap, falling (a lot), and trying but failing to clear the mud out of my eyes, but all in all the race was a bit of a blur. I got stuck behind a couple crashes in the slippery single track, and crashed a few times myself. On the plus side, I had a great start (felt super strong) and managed to gain a few positions from start to finish.

When all was said and done, I finished 3rd U23 and 9th overall. It wasn't the result I was hoping for, but I also can't complain! Cayley Brooks had another awesome race (that girl is on FIRE). Congrats also go out to my Norco teammates for killing it (as usual)! Big thanks to Norco and Uncle Havi for getting us set up for the race and lugging us across the eastern half of the country for the Canada Cup series!

Also this weekend, I attended my first event as a Fast and Female Ambassador! The day was awesome, as myself and the other ambassadors got to share our experiences, ride, and hang out with some awesome young female athletes. Definitely check out Fast and Female if you have a chance!

It seems crazy, but nationals are in less than two weeks now! Going to use the next week and a half for some much needed recovery and therapeutic rides on the trails here in Uxbridge. If you're interested in seeing results from the Canada Cup series check out Cycling Canada, and photos are at Canadian Cyclist.