Sandwiched between two big days of the Quebec Singletrack Experience was Stage 4 at Lac Delage. Have you heard of it? Yes, then you must be a fat biker. The trails here are reputed to be the best fat bike trails in North America! I’ll tell you that they are the real deal mountain bike trails too. Our fearless race director, Francois, told us today would be an easy day, one where we could restore some energy. The stage was the shortest so far in time and distance, but I was on my A game for 19 kilometers of single track.
Being from the Northwestern United States, I often ride trails that are steep, muddy, rooted, moss covered, slick rocked, tight or twisty; but all together, this is something new. I am enjoying playing on this type of terrain. A sense of humor when my bike slides sideways down a trail, believing in my skills to just let go of the brakes and allow my Pivot Mach429 to do the work, and embracing the fact that my skills apply here too is making me excited every day to ride again. Today the new challenge was rain. It was not a downpour, but the already mucky trails swelled with the added water. Giant puddles of unknown depth, trails that more resembled a creek bed than single track, and slime mud that had me aiming for the off-camber roots for traction was a whole new challenge. Challenge accepted.
I started off the day charging in the front and quickly dialed it back. In a tight bunch, I was unable to look down the trail and if I slowed the rider behind me would run into my rear tire making me stiff and not riding my best. It was a great call, because as soon as I could go my pace and see several feet ahead of me I started to figure out how to pilot my bike. Before I knew it, I could discern mud with grip from mud that was like sheet ice and would even use the sheet ice to whip around a boulder or switchback. Roots became allies to match my wheels and preferred lines. Boulders became launchpads. Suddenly the unpredictability was predictable, and the fun was exponential. Don’t worry, my legs are tired, and I was always thrilled to be at the top of a climb!
Aside from a mountain bike skills lesson from Mother Nature, my stage was uneventful. And that is always a good thing in stage racing. Two of the SQuad riders followed me for the second half of the course, I’m not sure if they followed me because they were worried I would have problems or simply because they enjoyed chit chatting while I was gasping for breath cleaning an uphill obstacle, but it was nice to have company. I believe my stoke to play on trails that are challenging for me was the key to my crossing the line today as the first woman!
Expect the unexpected at Lac Delage