Today’s Quebec Singletrack Experience stage took us to the resort town of Lac Beauport where permission was granted from 68 private land owners for us to ride a circumference of the lake up in the surrounding mountains. But don’t think this was a quaint pedal around a pristine lake where I nibbled on pan au chocolate and sipped rosé…today was a beast.
After the initial 5K of frenzy for position, I settled in with a group of 4 riders. I was happy to be in their company. My legs were feeling good, for stage 5 that is, and I was enjoying the technical climbing (that felt endless). I was a little ahead of my comrades where there was a down tree on the trail. In my enjoying all things challenging mode, I used my Bend, OR skills to bunny hop the tree. A few feet from that I popped out on the road, a volunteer at the crossing waved me onto the trail and I was back to climbing. My ego was in full swing as I didn’t see the guys behind me and figured they ran the down tree like a barrier. And after climbing for a few kilometers, I recognized a feature and knew I had somehow looped back onto an earlier section of trail. Frustrated at myself for my boastful error, I turned around and found my mistake. I was to turn at the down tree, not go over it! The course was marked, but my showing-off distracted me.
I knew that Laurant, the woman in second, likely got ahead of me but I knew that going hard to catch back up would zap too much energy. I have a significant time lead and decided today I would cash in some of that time. I was isolated, which is tough for me on a hard day, so I found my stoke working the most efficient lines on the twisty roots. More climbing. Some hike-a-bike. Slow, high tech descents that I was not able to recover on. I will admit, I am tired. The last climb was grueling for me. When my cadence fell to 60 RPM in my smallest gear, I walked. Just when I thought I was at the top, the trail turned for an upward trending traverse. And then the trail looked familiar. Again. Somehow, I missed another turn and ended up on another earlier section of the course. I’m not going to lie, I felt defeated. I turned around again to find where I missed my turn but could not find it. I found some volunteers whose job was timing, so they did not know the course well enough to point me in the right direction. I was approaching riding 5K more than the course should have been and decided to go down the timed climb that would take me to town and the finish line.
It was the right decision for me. I am here to race bikes, challenge myself, ride amazing trails, meet great people, and have fun. I do enjoy being in the hunt for the women’s GC win, but it is the hunt that I love, not the accolades of a prize. This is stage racing. It is the fact that the winner of the race is not necessarily the most fit, best rider, or most familiar with the terrain. It is the rider who rides smart, within themselves, and embraces the adventure that usually ends up on top. And some good luck helps too. I told the race official and director of my decision to cut to the end of the course, missing the final descent. They will figure out how impose a time penalty, but I get to keep racing! Time to soak my weary body in Lac Beauport, eat some tasty lunch and watch my fellow racers in Dragon boats!