Lisa’s Blog – Western Open 2012

Ever since I crashed at the Western Open last year (2011) I had been waiting to come back and conquer the course in 2012.  All I was hoping for was to have a fun, clean race run.  I came away with a lot more than I had wished for.  Even though, in the end, I did not win my Masters category, I got more out of the weekend than I could have ever hoped for.

A couple weeks before our trip I found out that I won a contest to ride and train with Chris Kovarik and Claire Buchar.  They are both World Cup racers, and amazing people all-around.  They had a wealth of knowledge to share with the young guns in our group who are looking forward at a career of racing, and the older, competitive folks who were ultimately looking to have fun.

My weekend started off beautifully!  Normally I would get there late Friday to be ready to ride Saturday, but this time we got there late Thursday to be ready to ride Friday!  Already things were awesome – one more day of riding is always a plus.

The course is the most challenging of the BC Cup races, so the more time you can spend on it, the better!  It’s steep, it’s rough, and it’s scary.  The first time I rode the course this year I walked a section.  The next time I held on and prayed, and then after that I was surprised I walked it!  Silly!

Walking the course on Friday was a great way to analyse the course and to help me visualize it.  I have a hard time remembering the whole race course, so walking it made things a bit easier.

Saturday we started the day off making a plan for the day, and then a plan for each run – How many runs? How fast? Full run, or stop and go?  I ended up doing 3 runs on Saturday.  The course is so long and mentally and physically taxing that it takes everything out of you!

Sunday I did one run in the morning to get warmed up and to see if anything much had changed.  I didn’t want to push it too much in the morning, because I wanted to save all my energy for where it counted – the race.

The clinic was so beneficial to me.  I was able to put my mind at ease, focus on what I was there for, and take in all of the helpful suggestions they had for me.  I was the only woman in the group of 10 (besides Claire), so for once I was happy to be at the back of the group where I could try and keep up with the keeners.  Also, Claire always rode behind me, so she presented me with some tips that I continue to practice everyday that I’m out riding.

It was a pleasure to be in their presence and to get a new perspective on racing.  Getting past the mental images of me crashing last year was an extreme challenge and it was great to put focus on putting in my best effort and cleaning the slate.


Claire Buchar and me – after my race and before hers

It was not only about the race techniques that were so awesome though, it was their availability to answer any questions we had and support us through our uncertainties.  We also talked about mental focus, strength training, and nutrition.

For me this was a gift that will just keep on giving.  As long as I am riding I will always be working towards improving my skills, especially the things we talked about in the clinic.

In the end I achieved my goal of having a fun and clean race, and winning a beautiful 3rd place medal made by North Shore Billet.  Now I can go back next year with a different goal – beat my time!

The Western Open is definitely worth the drive – thanks to Stephen Exley, the race organizer!



Western Open 2012 from Gee Louter on Vimeo.

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