AKA – Will it never stop raining…
Day 1 – Practice
We headed out after work Friday night and the drive to Panorama was super cool. Near Invermere, we encountered a pack of Bighorn sheep on the road. We arrived late Friday night, and managed to get our camp up just as the rain started up again. So much thanks to Silver Star, who loaned us a tent, without which the rain would have been awful. It rained literally the entire weekend, and everything had a thoroughly damp feeling.
The track was super wet and ridiculously slippery. It barely stopped raining all weekend, and the mud developed into the consistency of peanut butter. There were a bunch of new wooden features built for the race this year and I found them to be pretty intimidating. On my first ride down, I didn’t hit a single feature. The jumps I found particularly frightening, I had hit tables that big before, but never gaps. There was a road gap right near the top of the course, and another gap at the very bottom. I really have to thank Kyleigh Stewart, who let me follow her down for speed checks, which gave me the confidence to hit everything on the course.
Other challenging sections included the “dollar sign” and the rock garden. The dollar sign was a steep and rooty chute. On my first run down, I intended to just go for it and head right down the middle. Then I saw the rider in front of me careen down in an out-of-control fashion and run directly into a tree. After that I got off my bike and navigated a line that incorporated the curve at the top, but straight down after the tree. It was still sketchy, but ride-able. The other section that unnerved me was a rock garden. I tried to pick a good line through, but there was a creek running through it. This, combined with the rain and mud, made it insanely out of control. The only way to get through it for me was to just hang on and try to be loose over my bike – because I didn’t have a lot of ability to steer.
The course was long and my stamina ran out quickly with how rough it was, so I spent some time in my practice runs trying to find a good balance between conserving energy and pedaling.
When I looked at my posted race time, I was surprised to discover that I had been placed into the Pro Elite category. I wasn’t really sure what to do about that, and seeding time was fast approaching, so I just went with it. Seeding was just as stressful as racing, and I went down in the rock garden. I got a bit confused as well – because someone was behind me. Even though I had crashed, I didn’t think I had lost that much time. I pulled over to let the rider behind me go past – and it ended up being some random guy on the trail! This obviously killed my time, but I guess it was only seeding anyway.
Day 2 – Race Day
Even though I got to bed early, it took me a long time to fall asleep, so I didn’t feel very rested (this seems to be a pattern). Ironically, it actually stopped raining for the early racers, but by the time I went down (Pro Elites ride last) it was raining again! I opted for a safe run, and just tried to ride smoothly. My time wasn’t amazing, but I made it down with only minor incidents and no crashes. Still trying to find that perfect level of charge…
Personal Change Takeaways:
Keep in mind that these are my personal takeaways for myself. The nice thing about biking in particular is that different things work for different people. These are just some things I’m going to try differently or focus on more in my next adventure.
- Figure out the categories better – get a second opinion.
- Look for little features you can pop off in order to carry speed better.