Leonie Picton was taking her time in Rossland on the weekend.
With the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro on tap for this Sunday, Aug. 9, her main goal was making it through a scorcher of a day in the British Columbian interior unscathed.
In doing so, Picton still surged past her competition by over a minute. Her five-stage time of 23 minutes and 57 seconds (23:57) easily bested runners-up Kylie Morin (25:11) and Amy Pryse-Phillips (25:22). She posted the best time in every stage and won two by 10 seconds. With another 500 points in the bank, Picton leads the overall title chase by 380 points over Pryse-Phillips heading into the final race of the season in Retallack on Sept. 5 and 6.
"I was focusing on not going super slow but riding within my limits. Usually when I race, I'll try not to break off a good line, get a little bit square.
"I just focused on staying within my abilities and not pushing it."
Picton explained she enjoyed the course, though there was a bit of white-knuckling during one particular stage, especially with any potential injury likely to devastate her Crankworx participation.
"They were all super fun. All the stages but Stage 4 were flowy and fun. A few of them had some rocky sections but they're just awesome pump track (stages)," she said. "Then Stage 4 was the complete opposite — it was a full-on downhill assault. It was a foot deep of dust and it was really scary actually.
"I was a little bit nervous about racing that trail because I didn't want to injure myself, obviously, one week out from Crankworx."
Even with the potential risk, Picton felt it was a calculated one, as she didn't want to show up on the world stage underprepared.
"I didn't want to have a weekend off and then be too fresh for Crankworx," she said. "I just wanted to stay on my bike. I was just using it as a tune-up weekend — you get through the weekend and then you focus on Crankworx."
The course was set to be released the evening of Aug. 4, so Picton hadn't yet had the opportunity to discover if her tutelage on the local courses was on track to pay off. At the very least, she has a strong season to put her in the right headspace going into Sunday.
"I'm feeling pretty confident, but you never know what could happen," she said. "I've only had one mechanical issue this season in racing so far, so I hope I have a clean weekend."
In the open men's category, Craig Wilson posted a win, besting Josh Solman by 13 seconds. Fellow Whistlerite Quentin Emiriau placed third.
Wilson noted he was only able to get in a single day of practice as opposed to two.
"I struggled, actually, quite a bit. I was a little disappointed in how I did. I try to compare myself to the guys that don't go to work during the week. Looking at the times I'm a little bit slower but being in the amateur class, I'm doing OK," he said.
Wilson is also preparing for Crankworx, and with the heat potentially impacting his health, acted to safeguard against any ill effects by drinking lots of water and walking instead of pedalling when given an option.
Still, he enjoyed the potentially treacherous fourth stage, which was more about bike handling than about pedalling. Like Whistler, the conditions were dry in Rossland and Wilson had to check his speed.
"I actually struggled a little bit because I was going a bit too fast and some of the corners were hard to negotiate," he said. "I actually banked on it being the easiest stage for me."
Wilson, who has won three consecutive races and hasn't missed the podium in any of the five outings, has an insurmountable 630-point advantage in the standings.
Other podium results came from Carter Krasny, who notched a second in the junior U19 men's division, while Ruben Guibert and Felix Abraham were first and third, respectively, in the junior U15 men's category.
Full results are online at bcenduro.com.