Monday, May 25, 2009

Tremblant, Day 1: Pre-ride!

I made a decision this season to stretch myself a little more in terms of race experience. I wanted to broaden my horizons so to speak, and take on greater challenges (not that racing so far hasn't been challenging enough ...)

I took the day off work on Friday and got a head start out east Thursday night. After a peaceful night passed on the shore of Charleston Lake, lulled to sleep by the frogs in the Bay, I set off to meet my grampa in Gananoque for breakfast before rolling out for the border. It was an early start so the light was lovely. I got some nice pics of the lake at its calmest, as well as some of the spring blooming going on. Click to enlarge!

The drive to Tremblant from Gananoque was exciting. Driving in Quebec is a much different experience than Ontario. The construction was one thing, but then there was also this nagging feeling that there just wasn't as much room to get around. I mean that in terms of the space other drivers give you and in the seemingly non-existant on merging lanes to get on and off all the different highways I tried out. But enough of that. The minivan and I made it just fine.

Once I got to Tremblant it was a whole other story. Finding the hotel proved one of the more challenging tests of the weekend. At last, I narrowed its location down to the parking garage but couldn't figure out where to check in. So I did a quick walk around the vicinity and discovered the reception. I also discovered a sign telling me the reception had been moved to another hotel and so the search resumed. All this messing around was cutting into my preride time so I was getting quite antsy. Finally, I got kitted up, and went out to see what I could see. Mostly, I saw the end of very long registration line-up.

At last, I was grinding my way up the first of many uphill kilometres. I was so happy to be out in the sun on a new course. It was my first time racing in Quebec, and my first time riding XC there so I was eagerly lapping it up (excuse the pun). The first section of singletrack was everything I hoped for and more. And each section afterwards seemed to get ever-the-more challenging so I was definitely getting the stretch I was after. That feeling of accomplishment after sessioning the tough spots and riding out successfully is what makes the sport so fulfilling.

Here are some shots from the course:

Of course, about then is when I let my elation get the better of me, stopped paying attention for a split second and slammed my front tire into a tall root. That set off a chain of events that left me choked-up trail side while I waited for the blinding pain to go away. The root jarred my progress so much that my foot came unclipped on a trajectory that landed my pre-damaged knee straight into the stem.

So much for preriding. Since I couldn't walk very well, and climbing was no longer on the menu, I went back to the Sweet Pete's/Primary-Trek tent to lick my wounds. And that's where my frown was turned upside down again!

I was lucky that Chris from Sweet Pete's was there with the Primary-Trek downhill team. The DH races were set to run on Sunday so Tremblant was full of riders of all kinds. Chris introduced me to a number of extremely helpful people over the weekend. First was Jean, a truly amazing mechanic. He was kind enough to "Make-Ready" my bike so at least it would be in racing shape come Saturday, even if I wasn't. Cables were greased, shifting fine-tuned and then we even reset the controls on my handlebars allowing me to brake one-fingered, and shift with just my thumb. This came in handy big time on the rough singletrack and descents. Arm pump crept right up into my fingernails at times so I was grateful I didn't have far to move my digits to scrub speed and change gears. Then he even polished it up for good measure.

Jean makes ready my trusty steed

The next person Chris introduced me to was his lovely wife Carly.
She cooked up an amazing pre-race pasta spread complete with cheese and cracker appetizer and served with a side of ice-pack for my wounded knee. I vote Carly the weekend's MVP because as if that weren't enough, she was a willing volunteer to bake in the feed zone on my behalf for the duration of the race. So thanks to Chris and Carly for all your help this weekend!

After a great dinner, it was off to the hotel room (not an easy feat ... still averaging about 30 minutes to find my room at this point) to mix my potions and get some rest. When I got there, I discovered I'd deactivated my room key, so I had to hike around to find the other hotel, get it remagnetized and then find my way back, but even with that little hiccup, it was a lovely night in Tremblant. If I didn't have a race the next day, you'd have found me at the Cafe D'Epoque swilling beers on the patio for sure.

I slept great, and woke up ready to rip. And thanks to religious icing and copious amounts of Advil, even my knee was on board.
To close, here is the pre-race coverage from

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