My final week in Canada started just as the first did with a little dusting of snow and the temperature in single digits. However as with the previous weeks the weather got a lot better plus the roads certainly got a lot more interesting and even more off road.
When I first arrived in Canada and looked at a map I thought they had maybe taken that map and simplified it by putting the roads in a square style, similar to an underground map. But no, the roads are actually that straight and configured in squares. Just in case anyone is in doubt as to exactly how straight the roads are and maybe feel I have been over exaggerating here’s two pictures. The first is my view in front of me, the second is the view behind me.
Luckily I got to avoid those roads this week as it was my re-introduction to mountain biking courtesy of mike’s mum’s full suspension Kona ‘the king’, some juniors making me look silly in a heap of trails and the first round of the Ontario cup XC MTB race in Mansfield. Having only ever ridden a hard tail mountain bike I was very excited to try full suspension and I was impressed. I particularly loved the way you could just ride over everything and didn’t really notice. As I found out when Mike set me up a tree trunk obstacle course from the wood pile in the garden while we were waiting to go training one day. The next day he made me chop up the wood so I felt truly Canadian.
Mike coaches a really nice group of junior boys and a girl and so Wednesday’s training was definitely my first off road challenge of the week. I had forgotten how much harder you have to try when you are starting up again just to get the right lines in the trails, while your brain is constantly remembering your not on a cross bike and can actually ride everything and anything at all times. We set off down a steep descent after 10 minutes of riding just to turn around at the bottom because the trail stopped and to then walk our bikes back up the hill. The memories of exploring came back and I was soon feeling a lot better and much more relaxed.
The race at Mansfield came and went as I had anticipated. After my initial excitement of finding the first lap relatively easy I struggled from around 45mins and moved from the front group of 3 to being gradually overtaken by individual riders during the next 2 laps. I was pleased with the start and how quickly I improved my technical abilities in my first week of MTB training but would have preferred to complete my trio of podium places since arriving here. I can’t wait to get my Kona MTB and definitely want to get out doing more training and races back in Europe.
In the cross season I am constantly looking for how to get that couple of seconds quicker and sometimes it can take so much time and effort to make a miniscule improvement. This weekend felt good as I could list a million things I could do differently to make massive improvements, which, as strange as that seems is really pretty exciting.
I’m back in England now and have already started to miss a little bit of Canada. The space there was just so vast it always felt fresh and quiet. Plus the English just don’t understand that to us Canadians its just ‘hockey’, there’s no other kind than the game on ice eh?!