Pro Development

Kona Pro Development Rider Hannah Simms Reports from the Canadian Gravel Champs

Kona Pro Development Rider Hannah Simms Reports from the Canadian Gravel Champs

Just when I thought I’d seen the Ghost of the Gravel at its worst in 2023, it managed to deliver colder and muddier conditions to host the 2024 Canadian Gravel Nationals Champs.

Enduring the 2023 mud-fest in Water Valley, AB helped to mentally set expectations for the grim, wet, 3ºc degree weather. But, you can only procrastinate warming up for so long and at a certain point all that’s left to do is keep your thermal layers on and go battle in the foothills of Alberta last weekend.

Photo: Cody Shimizu

Despite the gnarly conditions, for the most part, it was a surprisingly good time out there. Some mud is always fun to spice things up and add some slippin’ and slidin’ style tech to an otherwise pretty smooth, fast-rolling gravel course.

The real highlight though, was getting to experience an all women’s start. And, not just with a handful, but solid field of riders. After all the hype from the epic nine women sprint finish at Unbound, I’ve got to agree it’s pretty darn cool to actually have a women’s race, know where your competition is and have more interesting tactics at play than simply who can hang in with the fastest group of dudes.

Photo: Bill Quinney

I had a really solid day hanging with the front group until an attack split things up around the 35km mark. Regrouping with another female rider we went back and forth leading to catch some riders in front of us. As the mud started to tack up and turn to peanut butter, the other rider’s bike gave in to the mud. I kept rolling solo the last ~45km (the less fun part) cautiously shifting and hoping mine wouldn’t meet the same fate. Holding my position to the end, I finished the day with a 6th in Elite Women!

Photos: Bill Quinney

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