Posted by Editoress on 03/31/08
Catharine Pendrel Interview
By Amy Smolens
Photos from the Luna Team Camp, by Amy Smolens
After two years with Norco, Catharine Pendrel has transferred to Team Luna for the 2008 season. Clif Bar is based in the Bay Area of California so Luna recently had its team camp in Mill Valley, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The four days in beautiful spring weather included meet and greet for the team members so Catharine could get to know the women she'd be spending a good part of the year with. The racers also got their Orbea bicycles (each gets a road bike, a full suspension and a hard tail,) Luna team kit, casual clothing, Avia sneakers for down time and Oakleys - all the things necessary to get ready for a long season that perhaps, will include a trip to Beijing this summer.
There were also plenty of photo shoots so the world could see just how stylish and professional Team Luna is. I was able to get a few minutes with Catharine before she and her teammates went out for a training ride in the hills of Marin County, the birthplace of Mountain Biking back in the 1970s.
Amy Smolens: Tell me about what you are doing here in the Bay Area?
Catharine Pendrel: I'm here to join up with my new team for 2008, the Luna women's mountain bike team. So we're just taking lots of photos and getting to know our teammates and preparing for the race this weekend in Fontana.
AS: And what do you think of your new Orbea bikes?
CP: They're awesome! Just a couple of little changes, a really hot paint job this year, and they feel really nice, they're really nice riding bikes so I'm looking forward to it.
AS: Tell me a bit about Team Luna - the organization, the riders and the ambience, for example.
CP: Luna is a super professional team. It's really cool to come down here and have phenomenal teammates that I'm hoping to learn a lot from. Everyone's really friendly and really welcoming and it feels really good to be here. I look forward to learning more about the Luna program as we go.
AS: Less than five months from now, August 22, is the Women's Mountain Bike race at the Beijing Olympics. Selections will be made by the end of June. There are 2 spots available for Canadian women. What are your thoughts and your approach toward making the team?
CP: I guess the way I like to look at it is if I can be the top Canadian then I for sure get to go (laughs!!) I think that always has to be your goal, to strive to be the best. But you know, there are a lot of selection events and it's gonna be a really tight competition with a lot of talented women out there, so I'm just gonna try and ride my best at each event. And you know, whether I make the Olympics or not I hope to have a really awesome season and if it just happens that a bunch of Canadian women have a great season
AS: What do know from the CCA about what it's going to take to be selected?
CP: There are two women's spots and the first spot will go to the person with the highest UCI points taking her top two results. That includes the first five World Cups and the World Championships. And then the second spot will go to committee choice, which will be weighed heavily on the same criteria.
AS: When do you head to Europe for those World Cups and where will you be based?
CP: Our first World Cup is April 19th and 20th so the Luna women will head over the Wednesday before that. I'll be traveling with Luna while we're over there so we're going over for the first three, and then we'll actually come back in between for about three weeks to rebuild our training base and then we'll head back over for the next two World Cups and the World Championships.
AS: Will you target specific races which suit you best or will you try to be consistent and race as hard as you can from now until Olympic selections are made?
CP: I think that to be one of the best in the world and to deserve an Olympic spot you have to be good at everything. Definitely there are some courses that suit me well, like Fort William, I had an excellent Worlds there (6th place last year) and I hope to have a really strong race there again (June 7 & 8). Two of the courses will be new for me so I'm not totally sure, but just seeing some clips on video I think they're good courses for me. So yeah, I'm just gonna try and ride well at all of them, make the most of every race.
AS: Is there a danger of working TOO hard to qualify and getting burned out for the Games themselves, as happened to Team USA four years ago?
CP: I mean, there's always that possibility. You just have to pay attention to how you're feeling for the season. But what's different from 2004 to this year, is that in 2004 it was based solely upon cumulative UCI points for the U.S. team and now we're taking our top two results so as long as we have two phenomenal races then we're ok. It's not like we have to travel all across the world chasing points, we have to do six races and at least have two of those be really good.
AS: And the CCA can make selections before the end of June, right?
CP: Yeah, you could be preselected based on previous years. For example, Marie-Hélène (Prémont) is pretty much preselected for Canada because she has been a consistent podium contender for years now, and she was our Olympic Silver Medallist in 2004. So definitely she is considered to be part of the team already I think, so that allows her to focus her training specifically on being there for August.
AS: So basically Marie-Hélène has one spot locked up and the rest of you are going for the other?
CP: Yeah, exactly!
AS: In World Cup races is it a bit awkward that you're racing for Team Luna yet you're keeping an eye on the other Canadians vying for that Olympic spot?
CP: Not really. I mean every race I go into I'm going for my own personal best performance so I want to be beating people that I need to beat for those Olympic team spots but I also want to be beating them just because I want to do the best I can in that race. That's how I can keep doing what I'm doing.
AS: How is your confidence level and how do your performances at last year's Pan Am Games and World Championships give you confidence that you can make the Olympic team?
CP: Definitely last year was a great season for me and above my expectations. It gave me confidence that yeah, I CAN, I should be aiming to ride at the front of a World Cup because I know I can be there. And I definitely think that confidence is part of being able to actually ride up there because you have to feel like you belong there and that you have the ability to be riding there and that has helped for sure.
AS: I read an interview with you from a few years ago in which you said the Olympics were a dream to you. With what you've accomplished over the past year what are they now?
CP: Definitely the Olympics are still a dream but they are a realistic dream and one that I hope comes to fruition this summer!!
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