This is my second time in Lac-Mégantic, my first being my first Nationals. I was certainly coming back to this place with mixed feelings. A little past history: I finished nearly last at the time trial and was unable to finish the road race two years prior.
There are couple reasons that Road Nationals were being held here again. Some may remember that Lac-Mégantic’s town was devastated by an explosion from a train derailing. This occurred only a few days after the Masters and Juniors had been there racing and only a week after Elites, U23’s and Para athletes had raced. So Cycling Canada and cycling communities across the country got together and raised funds to go back to the town. Another reason that we raced here again, the hills are incredible and several routes can test all abilities.
So here we were, Stevens – The Cyclery girls all together once again for the events that we had been training for throughout the winter and racing throughout the spring/summer. First off, individual time trials.
It was a tough course, with two laps of an out-and-back course equaling a total distance of just under 30km. Climbs on the course would slow the speeds down quite quickly and it was important to choose the parts that you wanted to give full gas on and where active recovery would happen.
This kind of a race requires a lot of mental strength just as much as physical strength. Preparation is important on and off the bike. Having a routine coming into the warm-up, something that is always the same, helps with mental prep. A ritual, just like spinning the baseball the same way before a pitch or dribbling the ball a few times on the foul line before shooting, get the mind ready.
Starts are drawn randomly except for podium finishers from the previous year.First off was Emily, then Carrie, Ariane, then myself. Amélie was right after and Annie took to the start as our last team rider. Starts go a minute apart, and knowing the rider in front can serve as motivation to pedal harder and faster.
My race was a good one compared to last year, and to my first. I started off steady, keeping the pace a little slower knowing I still had 3 more “laps” of the course. I gave some gas on the hills and reserved on the down hills. A slight mist started on the second lap (after the first turn around). I passed a rider and that gave me a little more steam to my engine, maybe too much as my chain came off where I lost seconds. This style race pushed my limits, my lungs burnt as well as my legs. The final turnaround started me on the third lap and I knew that I had to hold a little reserve for the last third of the course. My visor had started to fog up which made it hard to focus and hard to see. Lap 4 and a couple hard efforts remained until the finish line. I did my best, and after crossing the line, I knew that I had nothing left, that I had done all I could.
Annie crossed the line, finishing a strong 6th place and I was able to complete a seasonal goal of finishing top 10 at Nationals (7th place). It’s hard for me to say how the other riders felt, but I know my teammates and I know that they gave their everything.