The Coaster has become one of my favourite races of the season over the last few years. The 2015 edition was no exception. The morning began with the very early ferry ride. Coffee, the company of good teammates and views of the coast makes it all worth it though. Before I knew it we were off the ferry, and after a brief laughter filled drive we arrived at the venue.
I did a solo warm up on the first climb of the course which (while it didn’t feel fantastic at the time) was just what the legs needed to be ready for the start. After the warm up and final instructions it was “go time”. I flowed down the fire road easily, and as I started fairly well back I knew I would have to move up soon. We were quickly onto the climb, and this was my opportunity. The start of the first race of the season is always a painful reminder of how tough bike racing can be, but my legs and lungs were up to the challenge. I passed a large group of riders early on, and continued to be attentive and move up. On the steepest section near the top I passed three or four riders who had dismounted. I was grateful for the newly installed 42 tooth chain-ring which made the steeper, punchier spots much more comfortable for me!
Over the next portion of the race I concentrated on finding good wheels to follow. I felt strong and several times continued to say to myself “I can go harder than this person” and pass, pushing forward to the next group ahead. I felt a little rusty in the first few sections of single track, but I improved as the race went on.
After some more rolling technical sections, we got to the most technical climb in the short course, called “Pumpkin Patch”. I was still with quite a large group, so I did my best to maintain position and try to ride as smoothly as possible. A couple of times I had to do a quick dismount when a rider in front of me faltered, but quickly got back to a solid rhythm. I remembered the section seemed to take forever last year, and it went by fast this time! At the top the marathon and short course separated, so a number of the riders I had been back and forth up to the point were no longer around. I went from being in a group to only seeing 1 or 2 riders. I enjoyed it though as I was able to set my own pace.
After a short fire road climb, it was into the first real single track descent of the race. I had a blast! I love the loamy lush green trails, and couldn’t stop smiling to myself- I think I even looked around if there was someone to shout “woohooo” at. When I came out, a group of the awesome race volunteers were cheering, and I got my chance to “woohoo” with and shout a thanks to them!
The rest of the race continued much the same way – beautiful rolling single track with a few tough smaller climbs and fire road sections. Before I knew it I was flowing down one of the last descents. As I neared the bottom, one of the young junior riders went ripping by – I thought I was descending well but man he was flying! I stayed with him on the final climb, but let him enter the last bit of fun and bumpy downhill first. I was trying to stay as close to him as I could and riding fast but perhaps a wee bit too fast, and smacked my knee on the end of a stump. It slowed me for a second, but I could hear the finish line, and knew it was only seconds away, so I took a breath, and rolled onto the finish.
I was pleased with my ride, and knew I had ridden well. I was even more pleased when I found out I had won my category (30+ women), and shaved 14 minutes off my time from last year! This made the post-race BBQ and celebration with my amazing teammates extra-special. Thanks to Team Giant Vancouver and all of our sponsors for making such a fantastic race day possible.