After Buckwallow on Sunday, I rushed back to the 'Bridge to pack and give my bike some TLC before heading to Wisconsin. Team Trek Canada was kind enough to take me on for the week, so we left bright and early on Tuesday morning; Mitch and Cayley in their Trek hats and me with my guard firmly in place against any Trek-ness that may rub off on me (just kidding... but not really). Props to Mitch for driving the whole day to get us to Wisconsin in good time.
I think loving to ride and loving to race are two separate things that don't always go together. Some race courses are so "to the point" (go up this hill and then down it five times) that it wouldn't be very fun to simply ride them - the enjoyment you get from racing them is derived from a weird desire to blow your brains out. More rarely, you have the chance to race a course that is a blast to ride as well as race. Wisconsin was the latter type of race course; tons of swoopy single track, drops, as well as some killer switchback climbs. I was SO stoked to race the Subaru Cup course in Wisconsin.
I was a bit of an anomaly in Wisconsin for the whole weekend. I was the only person riding a Norco, and as such people knew I was Canadian even before talking to me! I was the recipient of tons of cheering on Saturday and Sunday purely for the novelty of being Canadian and riding a Canadian bike.
I had some bad luck on Saturday morning (about an hour before the race) when I realized that my derailleur hanger was bent/cracked and my shifting was really off. Flashback to less than an hour after leaving Barrie on Tuesday morning: "CRAP. I forgot my spare hanger. Oh well, chances are it won't break. It's too late to go back for it anyway". Oh, the irony. Anyways, the guys at Shimano were really nice and got my shifting working, but there was still a huge risk of my hanger snapping if I were to ding it off anything. I was more than a little wary, but I knew there was no sense in letting it throw me off, so I just tried to forget about it.
The XC race was alright (thankfully, my derailleur stayed attached to my bike). I ended up 14th overall, 3rd U23. I felt like I raced passably well - I tried my hardest, but my hardest on Saturday was flat and unimpressive.
The Short Track on Sunday was lightyears better. For those of you who don't know, a short track race is a short loop (1-2km) that we race on for about 18 minutes, plus 3 laps. It can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, and it is the most painful thing I have ever endured. The short track in wisconsin was full of sketchy, loose corners and had a couple punchy climbs.
My legs felt like garbage in warm up (to be expected after almost 2 hours of racing the day before), so I was pretty apprehensive about how the ST was going to feel. Everything changed on the start line, though, and I was ready to crush it. I lost count of how many laps we did - something like 8 or 9 - I just waited for the bell lap to tell me when the race would be over. Once I heard the bell, I made my attack to overtake 6th place and gave everything I had to hold it for the next three minutes. I crossed the line in 6th overall, first U23 and I couldn't have been happier.
Right after the ST, we packed up our stuff and started the drive back to Ontario. All I can say is Mitch is a champ (he drove through the night to make it back to the homeland). Big thanks to Trek for letting me tag along for the week!
Only 2 weeks left till World Championships!!!!!!!!!!!!!