Georgia Astle wasn't able to repeat as the pro women's champion in the Norco Canadian National Enduro Series (CNES) opener at Vedder Mountain, but given the circumstances, she's alright with it.
When mountain biking legend Jill Kintner is in the field, you're not going to feel much shame in being the runner-up, as Astle was in the May 12 contest.
Astle finished about 55 seconds back of Kintner over the five-stage event, using the monster final stage to pass Jennifer McHugh, who had taken second to Kintner in each of the first four stages.
"I'm really happy with that. I really like Vedder, where we raced," Astle said. "It suited me: it's fast and there's not too much pedalling, which was awesome.
"It's a good confidence booster for the season."
It was the final stage, which took riders more than 14 minutes to complete, that Astle enjoyed the most. A repeat of the 2018 final stanza, Astle only practiced the second half in advance. She crashed on the first half, but recovered even with a sore wrist, got back into the zone and still ended up with the second best time on the stage.
"Last year, I raced it and it was also my favourite. I did really well so I just had a lot of positive momentum coming into it," she said. "I had a good mental game for that stage, so I really liked it.
"The end was probably what I was looking the most forward to ... There were flowy jumps, so I was pretty much just hanging on until I could get to those flowy jumps at the end."
She and Kintner didn't drop anywhere near one another, but Astle said she hopes she gets the chance to observe the Crankworx juggernaut and two-time Olympian more closely in the future.
"I'd love to be able to ride with her because she's in idol, for sure. She's such a powerhouse and it would be great to hang out with her and see her when she's in her race mindset," she said. "It would be cool for inspiration."
Still primarily a downhiller, Astle will race the CNES race in Revelstoke on June 16, as she will be in Scotland for the UCI World Cup downhill race in Fort William. Astle said she leans primarily towards downhill over enduro, though she races the latter when possible.
"My end goal this year is to do pretty well at the Mont-Ste.-Anne World Champs. I'll always have downhill probably a little bit higher because I know that I can do really well in them, but I'll never be able to compete with the EWS girls," she said. "Downhill is still a higher priority."
Though she's eager to get on her downhill bike with the Whistler Mountain Bike Park opening this weekend, Astle still plans to ride her trail bike plenty this summer in the hopes of lining up in Enduro World Series events.
Also at Vedder, Whistler's Wei Tien Ho won the men's 15-and-under division.
Full results are available online at www.canadianenduro.com.