The Canada Cups up in Quebec are the closest UCI races for those of us on the East Coast, and are reliably technical, hard and fun. I went up to Quebec for back-to-back weekends for a crack at the Mont Tremblant and Baie-Saint-Paul Canada Cups.
Mont Tremblant is about two hours north of Montreal. The course goes all over the alpine mountain and laps through the European-style village (whose specialty shops include one devoted solely to poutine). It’s a hilly course with plenty of single-track and a rather hair-raising descent that includes super steep rock drops, a “bridge of death”, and crash pads and ski netting – presumably to lessen the “death” part of the “bridge of death”. This is a fairly difficult course under the best of conditions, but the thunderstorms the day before had made everything extremely slippery.
I messed up the start and was further back in the field than I wanted to be when we hit the single-track, and frantically made some stupid attempts at passing before chilling out and waiting for a more opportune time. Towards the top of the climb I passed new teammate Aleksandra Moradian picking herself up. After confirming she was okay I continued on, but that was unfortunately the end of her race.
Owing to the slipperiness of the course I rode the descent more conservatively than I usually would, losing some time to some of the women around me. Technical courses are usually my strong suit, but I think I haven’t spent enough time in the woods this year to get to the point of not having to think about where the bike will go. I finished in 11th place, not entirely pleased with my performance, but still good enough to pick up a few more UCI points.
The Baie-Saint-Paul course was one of my favorites last year – flowy, loamy, rooty, single-track with plenty of climbing. There were some changes made to the course for this year’s race and, given that Quebec had experienced one of the wettest springs on record, adding a two-kilometer climb was maybe not the best decision.
It poured in the days leading up to the race and, come race day, and what had previously been tricky-but-rideable was now much faster to get off and run. Parts of the downhill were so mud-logged that I was out of the saddle trying to propel myself down through the mire.
Instead of picking lines during the race, I found myself trying to remember which mud holes a wheel would roll out of versus disappearing up to the hub; whether or not there were rocks and roots hidden below the surface of mud to slip on and which parts it was faster to keep running rather than attempt to get back on the bike.
I hung in for 10th place, and collected 10 more UCI points, which is enough to qualify for the World Cup in July. Aleksandra had a strong race finishing in 6th, so there will be an Embrocation contingent heading back up to Quebec early July. Hope to see some supporters there too!
Submitted by Embrocation Team elite rider, Linnea Koons.