I spent the past week attending the Canadian National Mountain Bike Championships, Mt. Washington, BC., accompanied with Cory Zetterstrom, Andrea Bunnin, and Erica Musyj.
Let me start by setting the scene for you: 6oC, raining nearly 24 hours a day for our 5 day stay, poor visibility from clouds that wouldnít seem to leave, and being able to see your breath while outside. As you can imagine, this made the course quite interesting to ride and was grounds for the organizers to cut the laps from 6 to 5.
The race starts off with an extremely steep 1 km climb with a short section of up-hill single track. Starting 2 minutes behind the Elites, and due to heavy congestion on the first lap the entire U23 field was forced to run their bikes over the starting climb. Luckily that section got better as the race progressed but still forced the racers to get off and run near the end of climb. Bike pushers included the '07 National Champion, Geoff Kabush, which makes aspiring racers feel a little better about his utter domination.
I was feeling strong with the race half over, and was gaining rapidly on the racer in 6th place. At the top of the climb on my third lap, I was approximately 15 seconds back from 6th and was chasing hard in a single-track descent. However, here my race took a turn for the worse and I got some mud sprayed into my eyes and was unable to see. I canít tell you what happened next but I remember picking myself up off some rocks. Seemingly unhurt, I continued on my way for maybe another 10 minutes, before I started to notice some pains in my chest. This was followed by labored breathing and considerable speed and power loss, comparable I imagine, to a 12-year-old girl on her way home from school. I still managed to finish my race without getting lapped, but unfortunately dropped to a 10th place finish.
I was lucky enough to have some Saskatchewan supporters; Dean & Trish Etienne and the entire Winter family who kindly helped me off me bike and cleaned me up, as by that time I was quite Ďbunged upí. Thank-you for that guys! Itís much appreciated. As it turns out, I separated a couple of ribs from my sternum (the hard thing between your boobs) and as a result I am quite sore today and won't be on my bike for a few daysÖ. On the bright side, I wonít have to do anything around the house.† I think I should be good to go by August 19 for MTB provincials on my backyard course, Wascana Trails.
With my first year of Espoir under my belt, I have to stay that I passed my expectations and despite my recent bad luck, it was a successful year. I was the top first year Espoir in every National race and finished as high as 5th and never lower than 10th. I got to travel all over Canada and the U.S.A. doing what I love to do, which in my opinion can never been seen as a waste of time, whatever the results.
With the season winding down, I need to thank the people who made my racing possible: Edmonton Road & Track Club who funded many of my races; SCA for sending me to Nationals and all the other support provided; Sask Sport funding; Sean Kukura, cycling coach; Shawn Kuster, strength and conditioning coach; the boys at Dutch Cycle; all my sponsors listed on my athlete profile; and of course my Parents who support me every step of the way.
You Stay Classy,
Iím Andrew Thomas