In a year chalked full of personal bests, Coquitlam's Sandra Walter is looking to cap off her cycling season by scaling the summit - literally.
The 32-year-old cross country mountain bike racer will compete in this Saturday's Union Cycliste Internationale's World Championships in Saalfelden, Austria, and is one of only five Canadians to make the trek across the pond.
Once in the idyllic central European town, Walter will be tasked with traversing a 4.6-kilometre course that contains 180 metres of vertical gain per lap. Roots, drops, rocks and other technical speed bumps will be thrown her way over the course of the races, which typically last up to two hours.
"The race will be very challenging, both physically, technically, and mentally," Walter said in an e-mail to The NOW. "The World Championships are very special, because they are one of the few races in which we represent our country and wear the Maple Leaf jersey."
Prior to this weekend's marquee event, Walter had put up six individual victories this season alone, including two Canada Cup wins and the overall national series title. On top of those victories, Walter and her Xprezo-Borsao Factory teammate Jean Ann Berkenpas rode to a first-place finish over seven days at the TransRockies Challenge mountain bike stage race held earlier this summer.
She also took fifth at the Canadian XCO Mountain Bike Championships in early June, as well as a career-best 16th place in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event two weeks later.
Add it all up, and 2012 represents the most accomplished season in Walter's 15 years in competition.
"I have been achieving personal bests throughout my entire 2012 season," she said. "With that kind of consistency, I can only believe my race on Saturday will be no exception."