BC Superweek part 2

3 lasts crit remained for this second part of BC Superweek. (The full week is 9 races but I had to go home earlier for work)

July 8th, UBC Grand Prix

Technical course, 5 turns, including a hairpin turn. I knew the hairpin could either be a good or bad thing for me. That turn would definitly make it a harder race and those who don’t have the legs wouldn’t be able to stay. On the other side, it would be a positionning game from the start, and if you can’t keep your position near the front, the energy you will spend at the back would make it impossible to do anything in the race other than surviving. I got surprised how early people went on the start line. 20 minutes before the start and everybody was ready to go. That was the first mistake, now I had to start at the back. It was as hard as predicted, very hard! 7 riders, including my teammate Jamie Gilgen, got in a breakaway early in the race and fortunately for them they made it to the finish. For me it was a whole different story, the story of slamming the break and gunning out of that hairpin and never sit behind anyone, keep moving up as much as I could. Many riders got dropped again as I managed to stay in but I was in survival mode the whole race. I came in 29th

July 9th, Gastown Grand Prix

Gastown !! The race everybody was waiting for, with $13 000 in prize money. This year they added Gastown as part of the USA Crits series. Many riders who compete in that series and look for points showed up. 75 riders on the start, that’s the biggest field I’ve seen in a crit! I was excited to take part of it after having heard so much about it, about how hard it is to stay in, how dangerous and technical the course is, how bad the road is, how crazy people gets, how aggressive the riders are. Yep it was exactly all of that. 3 turns this time, including one hairpin again, and another little zigzag on the bricks, a long slightly uphill stretch on cobblestones and terribly damaged road, thousands of people against the barrier all around the course, a live stream and a Lamborgini as the race car.

This time I planned to show up at least 25 min before the start. I got there 30 minutes before and people were already getting on the line. Crazy. I was feeling really nervous, you could feel the tension in the air people were eager to start the race

Realdeal/Gears warming-up before Gastown

Finally we heard the gunshot. It started just so fast!! After waiting for 30 minutes I felt like I would get dropped right away, my legs felt toasted. But no time to think about it, there was so much happening, all the wheels moving and bouncing all over the place , then slam the breaks on the brick and jump and again and again. I’m glad I adjusted my tire pression : 80psi on the front wheel and 85psi behind. Yes, this is how bad it was. The fact that it was only left turn this time made it easier to keep my position, to stay in the wheel in front of me, when cornering. Although I couldn’t do anything more than surviving again. Came in 33rd.

You heard about the Lamborghini hitting a woman on the final lap.. I hope she’s ok…

July 10th, Giro di Burnaby

This one felt so much smaller after Gastown. The field was actually much smaller and much less aggressive. It was the same kind of course as UBC : 5 turns, one hairpin. Perfect road this time, it felt just awesome. I have to say I was starting to feel tired after a big week of racing. I had a hard time at positionning in the begininning of the race, not a surprise, so I waste a lot of energy on that hairpin even though I knew it’s something I can do over and over again, much more than others riders. I was actually getting so tired that I just kept going when things slowed down and I took the front for a bit. But I couldn’t hold my position for too long, they are so confortable at turning so close to each others I’m not as confortable yet, especiallly not when I’m getting almost blind after gunning multiple times in the hairpin from the back!

Then near the finish I found my way to the front again when I heard the bell for a preme lap. Jamie was not too far when I told her to get on my wheel and she jumped right away as I start pushing up the pace to make sure she’s up there with fresh legs when the sprint start. I might have push to much actually, nobody wanted to come around yet as I was running out of gas. I should have known I didnt have so much gas at first, but anyway, I gave her everything I had, it didnt go as expected but we tried it, for the first time in 5 crits! I guess we had to try it once and fail to learn from it before succeeding. I went so hard that I totally exploded this time, and got dropped on the final lap to came in 28th. (my result is shown wrong again they had problem reading my plate number apparently but should be fixed soon)

About the trip

Because cycling isnt just about racing…its also about having fun! And we had some awesome time with the team. Ok it was a bit hard sometimes to coordinate everything with no manager, 1 car to fit 4 people and 4 bikes.. but we made it !! We went to the famous Musette Cafe, then had dinner in town in Vancouver, I had never visit Vancouver before, it was an exciting night. Then on friday we went to see and cross the suspension bridge (which I didnt enjoy the « cross » part so much.. I like riding on 2 wheels, not walking in the air…)

And ohhh a big tragedy happened during the week. My ipod stopped working. End of the world. But as an athlete you got to find a way to adapt yourself to situations so I listened to the pop commercial stuff the girls were listening in the car. I thought it would be terrible, until I heard this one song : Fancy by Iggy something.

Yoyoyo :p this isnt what I usually listen to..but I loved this one so much that it became « The BC Anthem » ! Wouah-Di-Di-Wouah Ouh-Dah Dou-Dah Wouah-Di-Di-Wouah as I like to sing because I’m French so I’m allowed to sing whatever I want Ok! (There is also a dance that comes with it…hopefully that never goes on the web..)

And one last anecdote, I signed my first autograph as a cyclist ! My haircut might have helped a little, haha. She just dyed her hair purple that night to match her favorite racer Gillian Carleton. Cute. I think blond is cooler :p Cool haircut = Fast haircut, thats for sure. And she’s a racer too, from an awesome cycling family I had the pleasure to meet. She might be kicking our butt in just a few years..

Kaelen Coles-Lyster and I after Gastown

So I’m on my way to home now, I wish the rest of my team RealDeal/Gears all the best for Tour de White Rock.

In conclusion, after this big week of racing: I’m super happy with what I accomplished. I got to finish all the crits and to me, compared to where I was last year, it’s awesome. 

I proved I have the fitness to race with the fastest women and crit specialists. Cornering and keeping my position is something I can learn and definitely something that I will get better at with time. What you cannot learn is having the mindset and the determination it takes to hang on day after day and that’s what I showed. If my legs aren’t stronger (I know they are, or will be in a couple of days off), my mental certainly is, BC Superweek gave me a lot more confidence.

For me BC is the end the first part of my season, the road part, as I will start focus on the track until track nationals in October. Time to dig a little deeper as I like to say…

Marie-Soleil Blais

Marie-Soleil Blais

Bike Racer & Adventurer

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