• Holly Harris

Monte Sainte Anne UCI World Cup

Finally! After much planning and training I made it to my first stop of my OS journey - Mont Saint Anne. After a brutal 35hr travel leg from Australia we landed in Montreal where we stayed for the night before driving to MSA.

Anticipation was high, MSA is a World Cup track with a reputation for being brutally hard both up and down. Not only was the course challenging but I was in the dark about where my form was and how my final months of winter training had treated me.

After a few days of practice I was feeling as confident as I had ever felt on a World Cup course. Rather then being stressed about how I was possibly going to lug myself around the course I was actually excited! I was enjoying the descents, rocks seem to suit me! The legs where feeling alright considering the travel and my head was in a good place.

Photo - EGO-Promotion

Much to my surprise I qualified for the short course! A 21min race on the Friday that allocates the top 16 with better starting positions.

For me it was a good opportunity to test the legs. Overall I was really happy with my race my legs felt better then expected, unfortunately my lack of experience got the better of me and I got tangled in a minor crash which detached me from the main bunch.

Even though my result was nothing impressive I took confidence in how good my legs felt. For a first time in a long time I was more excited then nervous for a World Cup XCO race. I was in the best form that I have ever been in for a World Cup and I was ready to show that I was more then just a number dangling at the back of the race trying to escape the 80% rule.

** See my Short Course Blog Post **

The final day of course practice felt good, I had a little bit fatigue in the legs from the Short Course but that was to be expected after putting yourself in the good ol Red Zone for 20mins. The anticipation for Sunday was building, excited to have the Gunn Rita colours on for my first ever Elite World Cup.

Sunday morning I kept pretty normal, it was strange racing at lunch time, in my previous years I raced in the morning as I was in the U23 category. I rolled down to the track, and holyyy ... it was warm to say the least, I had sweat dripping down onto my top tube and I hadn't even started my warm up! A little different to Armidale winter that's for sure!

As I began my warm up I definitely didn't have the good feels like I did on Friday, my Heart Rate was a little lower then usual and my legs where not so compliant. I thought this may just be nerves so made sure I had a good Warm-up and rolled into the start box. Standing in the start box is always a weird one for us privateers as we have to stand in the box hoping a warm up was good enough to last us the 15mins till race start whilst everyone else continues their warm up on rollers under the shade of an Umbrella .. ( I obviously had the most high tech umbrella ;))

Photo - Matt Rousu

Photo - Matt Rousu

We lined up in the start grid, I couldn't believe it.. standing amongst so many legends of the sport.

We where off and into the start loop... SHIT! The start was so fast, straight into a fire road climb. I gave it absolutely everything, Gunn-Rita had given me some smart advice - Invest in your start. I went so hard I had black spots but for some reason my legs where just not answering. I felt like I was fighting it from the gun.

Photo - EGO-Promotion

After the start loop we got to one of the steepest and trickiest climbs on course. My throat was tight, my lungs where screaming but my legs where cement. How could this be happening ?! I was feeling so good the past few days, this was going to be my race!

Throughout the race I kept making silly mistakes, mainly due to the fatigue I had right from the get go. I was just a potato rolling around the course trying not to get mashed.

Surely enough I was lapped out. I could not help but feel so disappointed in my performance. How could it go so wrong ? What did I do wrong, was it food, training, jet lag, or none of the above ?? Did I deserve to be there ? I almost felt embarrassed that I had ridden so poorly in the company of such incredible riders.

After some reflection and a good nights sleep, I snapped out of my negative funk. Riding Mountain Bikes is tough and racing World Cups is harder, getting around that course is amazing enough in itself!!

I am in Canada doing what I love with My Dad and my brother. How many people get to do that ?? I am going to use my weekend, learn what I can and make the changes I need to but most importantly stay confident and positive for La Bresse.

I know as an athlete you put a lot of pressure on yourself, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's what gets us out training when other's wouldn't even consider it, it's how we push through the pain and how we make sacrifices in order to be faster! Unfortunately it also makes bad performances hard to swallow, especially when we've worked so hard. I am slowly learning to appreciate bad races for what they are - learning opportunities and chances to grow and improve.

I am so thankful to be involved in such an incredible sport filled with incredible people and grateful forall the experiences it gives me, both good and not so good.

Thank you to everyone for all your messages, it makes the tough days not so tough! Now for a week in MSA enjoying the incredible trails and then onto La Bresse !

Photo - EGO-Promotion

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