So long 2008, hello 2009

Last lap of the last race of my first race season

At this time of the year, every serious websites are doing best-ofs and/or predictions/wishes for the new year so even though I'm far from being as serious as... let's say a magazine or something, here's my take on the yearly transition.

2008 was marked as the first year I raced bikes after many years of just riding them for fun or transportation. It was hard but I still had fun and it only made me want to do it again in 2009 with better preparation and with more knowledge of what I'm getting into. Racing results went like a long climb, starting at the bottom and climbing my way up, now I'll try to work on keeping going higher and faster next season as I haven't reached the top yet. The ball is in my camp.

Bike of the year

I had the luck to get 3 new bikes this year (not counting the old school city bike and the three steel road frames I was given) and I loved each one of them. First a Taurine just for a while, then a Scalpel and finally my 9 Ball cross bike. A common thing, they were all team replicas or actual team issues, all bikes designed to be fast, light and stiff with BB30 cranksets (a standard that has picked a lot of momentum in 08) and I would have a hard time finding anything wrong about the trio. My favorite is the Scalpel, it's exactly the bike I wished for so it gets my nod as bike of the year. I didn't spend too much time on the cross bike but it will be a valuable training tool in the spring and I just received the paperwork for my 09 racing license yesterday and the CX box is already checked...

Julien Absalon was the man in 08, well, in 07, 06, 05...

In both 08 and 09, world class mountain bike racing took place not too far from my home. Mont Sainte-Anne is a classic location that has seen mountain bike World Cups for years, will be back for 09 of course and will also be the site of the World Championships in 2010. It was the first time I went to spectate it. Big crowds, good courses and the pros love to come. After many years without top racing, Bromont was also the location of a triple World Cup in 08 and will also bring the world's best next summer. One negative point this year is that, because of a certain race in Beijing that happens once every four years, most top Euro pros opted to skip the two far for them Quebec rounds of the World Cup and stay home to prepare for the Olympics. That meant Julien Absalon crushed the field even more easily than usually and north americans surprised with much higher placings than we're used to (Geoff Kabush and Adam Craig had each two great weekends)... Next year should bring a more complete field and will make for even better racing so it's not a bad idea to book a trip to catch the two successive race weekends and come cheer your favorite racers. I'll be there, in Sainte-Anne at least since I will be racing (don't look for a giant tent with a DG logo in the pits though, even I am cutting costs in these difficult times).

Marie-Hélène Premont was good all year long

Although Geoff Kabush's 2nd place at Sainte-Anne wasn't as valuable as if the top riders were there, he showed before and after that he can mix it up against the best, the canadian XC and CX champion has had his best year in the World Cup and hope that his new team will have keep the focus on world level racing instead of doing mostly US national races he has been doing the last few years. Marie-Hélène Prémont was again among the best this year, winning a few and clinching the World Cup overall, in fact, I think the only race she didn't finish on the podium was at the Olympics, seems like Quebec athletes have a thing with Olympic pressure... Canadian cyclist of the year Catharine Pendrel had a true breakout year. She won her first World Cup in muddy Bromont, was close on the overall, finished 4th in Beijing and was one of the most consistant racer all year long. A good year for canadian mountain bike racing.

Will this bike race in Montreal in 2009?

One area where canadian racing is way back is cyclocross. With true winters, I found out that local racing isn't big and the season ened in mid october, that's almost when it starts in Europe. In the US, the sport is growing fast and it's not doing too bad in Ontario but it doesn't seem to pick up here. The national championship is way too early so participations slow down after that and since Lyne Bessette retired, it seems like Wendy Simms is the only high level racer left. What's the problem? Lack of interest? Not enough race organisers? Not enough push from the federations? I'm not sure and it's something I'd like to find out in 2009. I have played with the idea of organising some races with some possibilities in the Eastern Townships but Cross is a sport that I think could really work well in urban areas as it doesn't need too big or Everest like terrain, no need to close roads and it's such a spectator's sport that it could gain from densely populated areas. And with all the beer companies we have, I'm sure we could find some sponsors, think of it: 'La Maudite Course' sounds like a winner name to me. So my wish for 2009 would be to see a cyclocross race/serie in Montreal.

Happy drinks to put an end to 08 and for a good 09

But here I talk about racing bikes while the area is covered with ice and cold rain is falling, I'm finishing my first training block for next year and I'm tired (due to work, the lack of sleep and holiday traveling, partying and eating more than the training) so I also wish to get some rest in these holidays, just enjoying the time off, the friends and family and making sure that health will be fine to ramp up the training next week.

I also wanted to take the time to thank some people who have been very helpful throughout the past year. First miss Gerous for being there and putting up with me and my bikes, for pushing me in my racing and for being behind me everyday. Hopefully we'll keep the good times going and to help each other out in what will probably be a year with even more training and riding on my side and more buisness on your's. Also thanks to those who helped out, fixing me up with some nice bikes or parts, technical help and training tips or just exchanging about bikes, life and what not through here, at races or trailside. Also thanks to everyone who have took some time to read my thoughts, comment on them, write to me, I'll keep going in the new year and I'll try to keep things coming, be it with new unreleased bike parts informations or pictures, more exciting racing to follow from my part and some interesting projects coming to life...

If you don't race or even if you don't ride bikes, it doesn't matter, I wish everyone to be healthy, happy and that the new year will bring you good surprises, fine accomplishments and the will to take everything one step further in whatever you're passionate about.


La Grupeta de la Costa said...

La Grupeta de la Costa


Sandblogger said...

Happy Holidays! Good luck to you next year. It was fun reading about your racing experiences in Year #1. I found that my second year was nothing like the first. Everything clicked and I was twice as fast. Get excited, because you should have some big success in '09.