An Interesting Month

It has been an interesting month. There was so much excitement, focus, fears and dreams leading into the Olympics. It had been a great season so far. I knew I was strong, but wasn’t feeling like the rider I was at the end of last year. The Olympics came and my worries were confirmed, I wasn’t where I wanted to be, my best. That being said I was still a top ten rider, possibly a top 5 rider, but the weight of my shock and disappointment drug me down despite my efforts to fight against it. I had only planned for success and not being successful made the Olympics feel like a bad break up. I had put so much time, energy and emotion into that one event, it didn’t go well and now it was gone and those Olympics would never be back. I felt the loss, it was heartbreaking, but like all hearts they just need some time to heal and I am healing because I know I am more than a bike race and things could definitely be A LOT worse than only finishing top ten at the Olympics!


Healing came for me though some good time with friends and family, camping, and riding for fun and not always for improvement. Healing also came from all the letters and notes I got from all of you. That little girls are out riding their bikes up climbs now saying “I’m climbing like Catharine” or taking their tricycles off of little backyard jumps. I didn’t reach my result goal at the Olympics, but through my success over the last few years I realized I was able to draw a lot of people in front of their TV’s on August 11th to watch women’s mtn bike racing. Many little girls, that felt a connection with Emily and I as Canadians, or Georgia, Katerina and I as Luna Chixs wanted to go for a bike ride that day and that is a pretty beautiful thing.

Prepping for worlds I wanted to rebuild my base, threshold and focus on my strengths to get good sensations and confidence back. A 20 min FTP test confirmed I had World class power, just not best in the World power, but still this gave me confidence. I had some rest and now some time to be ready for Worlds.

In the relay I had put out the 5th fastest women’s time, not what I would normally do, but with a huge rainstorm that morning I was off on the slick trails. I knew that in the relay at least, I lost my time in the woods more than in fitness and I could ride much better technically by Sunny Saturday. I was still fighting some Olympic demons in my head, but going out and racing for my team, going hard and knowing I could climb with the top ladies helped me focus for what I would need Saturday. My team of Geoff Kabush, Mitch Bailey and Marc-Antoinne put out some killer laps to earn Canada 5th position, our best result since 2008.

My home for the week.

Although not perfect, my preparation was good and by race morning I was excited and confident to race. The beautiful surroundings and sunshine in Saalfelden, Austria and the fun course definitely helped! As reigning World Champion I had the honour of wearing the number one plate. I had a strong start and after the first corner onto the main road I went to the front and no one came around me! This worked against me as, so unusual and not trusting my form 100% I thought maybe I was going too hard, but as soon as I backed off 20 girls swarmed me and I couldn’t repass them before the descent. Rule of thumb: If in doubt, just giver.

I finished the start loop just inside the top 20. By the end of lap one I caught several girls on the climb, but then lost a lot of spots with a crash and finished the lap only having moved to 15th. From there I went out and clocked the 4th fastest laps for 2 laps moving me into 5th. I could see bronze position at one point only 25 seconds ahead, but with 3 laps to go and a very tight race behind me I had to have something special and I had just used my special to get into 5th position. There were very fast women just 10 seconds back that were recovering from crashes or mechanicals. At the crest of the climb 4.5 laps in another rider scooped me before the descent and with no passing spots I had to ride my brakes down a long descent and all the women we had just climbed away from were on my wheel. That became my race, with slowing climbing legs I was getting passed at the top of climbs and then had to descend slowly to the next climb where they would further stretch their gap. I ended up losing over a minute on the last 2 laps, but 10 positions!

yup, that's me

The plus side is wow, that’s great depth. The down side is crap in a year I went from 1st to 15th at Worlds! But honestly I can just accept that race for what it was. I did my best to go into worlds ready to do well, but what I really need to do to get back to the top is take some time away from intense competition and play, dig in my garden, read some good books, listen to some music, in normal work terms, take a vacation. It has been an intensely wonderful process, becoming an Olympian. I learned some hard lessons about my own lack of invincibility, but these hard lessons are those that teach you how to find success in the future. It is okay to want something deeply and pour everything into it. Sometimes you will fail, but those times that you don’t are so rewarding and wondrous that they are worth risking failure for the opportunity to do something special.

Congrats to Julie Bresette on an extraordinary season, Sabine Spitz who now holds an Olympic medal of every colour and to my Luna team mate Georgia Gould who claimed bronze in both the Olympic and Worlds Championship races. What seasons ladies!!!

Team Twenty Twelve: watch for our album and Squash art soon
Best crew of roommates I could have asked for.  


allison said…
I really appreciate your honesty and self-deconstruction so to speak. It's "easy" for the rest of us to sit around and wonder what happened, and while there may not be "one" thing that did or didn't happen, it's good I think that you can see the season for what it is/was, find some positives, and still be charged up for next season.

You'll always be an inspiration and I know I'll be rooting for you for the next four years.