Read Bev Anderson’s blow by blow account of her race at the 2019 UCI MTB Masters World Championships held in Mont Sainte-Anne, Canada recently.
Feeling relaxed and confident at the start line, I was called up first as the reigning World Champion, and that was special.
Being the oldest class, my cohorts were at the back of the field. I had a good start, no issues, at the end of the start loop I was just behind the leading women in my group, Karen from USA.
As we rode into the first single track, down-hill berms I was right on her tail, in fact having to brake, not to run into her. Then up steep switch backs, I was able to stay on her wheel.
I knew I needed to get past her on the single track along a ridge before we dropped into a long rocky descent to make some ground. That went well and I started pulling away.
I maintained the gap back up the steep, sandy, climbs, along the pump single track, into the feed zone and back up a downhill jump course into some forest roots, rocky single track, up a steep grassy field and dropping back down into some tech, rocky, rooty, single track.
The track there started into the technical, steep uphill section. I’m thinking I had about a 20 second gap only to catch up the last male rider, going quite slowly and would not let me past.
So, when we reached the hardest part he ground to a stop & again would not get out of the way or let me pass. Then I see Karen, who by the way is age USA cycle cross champ, pick her bike up & run past us up the track.
By the time I got past and back on my bike, she and another rider had about a 5 second lead as we went out onto a steep, grassy fire road. At the top, there was a sharp pinch back into the forest & a fast, technical, more roots and rocks, single track.
I caught the other rider but she would not let me pass, which was very frustrating. I had to wait until we hit the fire road to make a pass and whip down the grassy slopes to the feed station. I could see Karen, not too far ahead.
I was confident that I could keep with her. I followed her through the start/finish and back into the single track, staying with her until the other rider, did a mad passing manevour past me on the ridge, only to hold me up again on the downhill, again, so frustrating.
I couldn’t understand her tactics as she wasn’t in our age group. So, once on the fire trail I overtook again but Karen had made some time on me, though still in sight. This crazy game continued into the 3rd lap. About a half way around on the third and final lap, I was feeling really good and strong.
The other two were starting to tire and I could see I could make a move coming into the steep sandy climb. The other rider had gone right but had run out of stream & stopped, I came flying up on the left ready to pass both of them.
I’m thinking, I’ve got this, pass and just power away. However, she had other ideas, and moved her bike completely across the track, forcing me to also to stop, I could not believe this was happening at such a pivotal point.
She seemed to take forever to move and when she finally did, I couldn’t seem to pull my bike up, turning around realising the seat had gone under the bunting and it was now holding me back. By the time I managed to untangle the bunting, run up the last bit of ascent and get back into rhythm, the others were gone.
I chased like mad, only to finally catch one rider & have her block me again coming into the feed zone, it was a narrow, tight turn in and she was almost stopped. I was not happy and stormed past her in the zone. But the damage was done, it was only a short grassy track up, down & up again onto the finish line. As I came up the last climb I could hear the announcer proclaiming the new world champ.
It was the most frustrating race I have ever competed in, as I knew I was the strongest on course and had it not been for being impeded I know I would have won, barring a mishap.
Later, after describing the crazy behaviour of one particular rider, I was told that blocking was a thing, to help other riders. I checked on her and she was another US rider. I hope this wasn’t the case but if it were, I feel very disheartened.
Anyhow, I have come away with a silver medal in the world champs, feeling proud of being up there and really giving it my best. I need to thank Brooke Tranter, for helping training me, encouragement and support, and keeping the business ticking over while I’m away. Ben Mayes of Fitness Grand, Manuka for keeping this old body working hard week after week.
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