Inequality is something female cyclists continue to be faced with. Racing primarily in Belgium, it is even more prevalent. When I heard hints of my hometown Jericho VT girls, Lea and Sabra Davison promoting a Pro XCT mountain bike race at Catamount with equal prize money (and then more prize money for the women thanks to G Form!) I was filled with desire to be there. Looking at dates of our team camp in Austria, team photos in Belgium and the Pro XCT in VT, it was proving quite difficult to sort because dates were overlapping. In another inequality story altogether team camp didn't happen for the women on Telenet Fidea and I was able to avoid flying half way across the world for a single day of photos. And so, a week prior to the Pro XCT my early August suddenly became much more free and I could come home to Jericho, hang with my dad and get in a good couple weekends of mountain bike racing!
Catamount is an outdoor family center about 10 miles from where I grew up in Jericho. That is where it all began for many bike racers. My brother Dan isn't one to brag and boast, but I think he is fairly proud of his scouting ability for female bike racers. Indeed, he was instrumental in getting the Davison sisters on mountain bikes and later, getting me into bike racing. While my first tire tracks on dirt were indeed at Catamount as a young pup on training wheels, I didn't keep the momentum going as Lea and Sabe did. Whilst in VT I kept on a ski racing trajectory until it hit me square in the knees that I no longer loved participating in the sport of ski racing. It wasn't until I had moved to Colorado that I took to bike racing. A bloody shame I have realized now, when I return to Vermont and its playground of trails. Nevertheless, brother Dan and Catamount and that purple Balance AL-750 have made some dreams come true.
My dad's house transformed into a bike racer hostel and he was ever-present cooking for hungry bike racers and then cheering us on at the races. Chloe and Judy stayed at the house and Lea lives about a mile from the house so our biker gang was in full force. On Friday we pre-rode the course together and I felt lucky to ride with the proper experience of those 3 and local legend Andy Bishop. Out of nowhere I found some confidence and was willing to huck myself off the A-lines. That feeling of floating through thick humid air, far above the cheers and woots of spectators, waiting for land to hit your tires, it is addicting I tell ya. It is an entirely new feeling for me and I like it.
Saturday's fast start in the cross-country hit me like a jackhammer cracking the pavement at 4am. It felt a total shock but I kept my head, kept momentum flowing, kept riding the A-lines and was able to claw my way into the top 10. I wasn't fast but I was steady and man alive, I had fun on that course. I won't lie, I am proud of myself for stepping up to the A-lines because A-lines have haunted me in the past, but I am gutted no one captured me sailing through the air. Guess I need to be closer to the front end of the race for photographers to catch me!
I was ready for a bit of revenge on Sunday. Lea had utterly destroyed us all on Saturday so we had to make her deafening Vermont cheering section see a bit more back and forth racing. Normally I race more conservatively and with more smarts but today I took a flyer on the 2nd lap and immediately opened up a sizable gap. It was a nice change to feel that wind out front and hear my name on the loudspeaker but within a lap a group of Lea, Catherine and Chloe had caught me. I tried to stay glued to them but I was blown. The next group of 4 caught me and I dangled, catching them in time for the hill, getting popped, catching on again, getting popped. I had one massive effort in me but couldn't recover from it. I blew myself up into smithereens but I had my 1-lap of glory and it was fun. I rolled across in 8th, never able to close the gap for good to contest the sprint.
Several riders hung around Vermont for a few days following because Mont Sainte Anne World Cup was the weekend after Catamount. Our biker gang grew and we met up for breakfast, training rides, maple creemees and BBQs. It was a fun week in preparation for Ste Anne and I was even able to hit up one of the weekly Wednesday Catamount training races. I am happy I was able to be a part of a hometown race that took proper strides toward equality.