This was my 4th time traveling to Colombia for a bike race and my 3rd time competing at the Cali World Cup. Cali holds a special place in my heart as this is where, in 2009, I won gold medal in the team pursuit with my fellow teammates, Steph Roorda and Tara Whitten. Since then, there has been a sense of nostalgia every time I come back to this track. One never forgets the first time you get to throw your arms in the air after a win while wearing the maple leaf on your back. I would like to think that of that moment as the one that jump-started my track cycling career.
But back to the current times… This was the first race Tara, myself, and Steph have done together this year so it was exciting to suit up with them and see what we can do this time around. We were on world record pace for the first 2km and we were about to qualify first with only 2 laps (500m) to go. But there is a reason it is called a team pursuit. The final time is taken when the front wheel of the 3rd rider crosses the line. I was on the front for the finish and when I crossed the line and saw no one beside me (we finish stacked up across the track to minimize lost time) and then looked back and to watch the rest of my team cross the line seconds after me (seconds is significant when we are talking about missing the medal rounds by, for example, 0.001 last year), my heart sunk. You don’t get a medal for winning the 2.5k mark in the team pursuit and almost never counts. The reality of it all is that at the end of the race, we could not hold onto the pace we had set early on, we did not break the Canadian record, our final time was slower than both World Cups prior, we did not finish together as a team, we did not get the chance to battle it out for medals, and we placed 7th.
We took a risk and sometimes the outcome doesn’t always reflect what you set out to accomplish. Call me corny, but as Wayne Gretzky says, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. We did not go out and do a safe, pretty ride to come in 7th…we tried to do some spectacular and well, we blew up spectacularly!
This World Cup was bittersweet. We are showing great promise. With a little more team practice and a little better race plan, we will nail it for the Olympic Test Event in London, England in February (our next race). These past two seasons of qualification is all a process for the Olympics next summer and THAT is where it counts.
I believe, do you?