Monday, July 23, 2007

Muddddy!! But the Pendrels Like it!

First off Just want you to know my Bro finished 3rd at Canadian DH Nationals. Ripping! This set the weekend up nicely for another Pendrel on the podium.

Mt Washington Resort on Vancouver Island hosted the 2007 Mtb National championships. Mt. Washington is a beautiful hill with great vistas, riding and alpine meadows and lakes. As usual Tim Hortons was sponsoring the event and kept the riders and volunteers full of warm coffee and treats. These were especially appreciated this weekend as the weather was not cooperative. It rained pretty much straight from wed afternoon until Sunday morning. At times it was a light mist and at others full on down pour. Tuesday I did a tempo lap in 24 minutes (dry), but by race day lap times were 28-30.

After many days of rain, the course was very mucky. The opening climb forced all riders to dismount at some point. MHP as expected took the lead from the start, but I was able to maintain my top 5 starting position into the base of the climb and was fairly successful at the mucky climb. Melanie Mcquaid started like a storm and flew by me on foot to claim 2nd into the first woods. All the contenders were close as we entered the woods (Kiara, Wendy, Sandra, Mical, Amanda). We were all blown away by just how fast MHP could run. I think I spent 2 laps thinking about this before I regained focus on the task at hand. Man she’s just fast everywhere! She can go harder for longer whether on a bike or on foot. I think I would have actually raced closer in time to her had it been dry.

Melanie went down in a mud bog at the top of the first descent getting between Kiara and myself and allowing me to open a gap. After the first gnarly, rooted, and twisty descent we took a short fire road to a meadow which had become a soggy, mossy leg drainer. I slid out on a crossways log and Kiara and Melanie were on my wheel. Kiara and I rode away and I had the lead into the second descent. Kiara was descending really well behind me and I lost concentration and slipped going down. She sweetly asked if I was okay before smoothly taking the lead. I was able to stick with her down the descent and up the next climb. I wasn’t prepared to settle in though. I like the success I’ve been having and new I’d have to ride aggressively to get the silver. So, on the climb to the feed zone I sat in until I was ready to spring and then went for it. Through the feed zone, down a fire road and back into a neat climb that forced us to keep focused. I think I get to claim being the only one to clean this entire climb multiple times…yet MHP was still putting a minute+ a lap into me! At the top of the climb we rode up a rock face, across a rocky outcrop, down some steep faces and then do some twisty mucky single track before getting back to the start finish. I wasn’t cleaning the rock face in the wet so spent more time running than I would have liked, but overall I was riding well up and down. My Norco is perfect and Sram kept me shifting and on top off my gears all race.
Rob Jones captures the race and course conditions

It was a strange race because your muscles got so much more taxed than your lungs. I couldn’t race as hard as I would have liked because I had to be so smooth and calculated to clean things. After first lap I maintained my second place to the finish. Kiara still nursing a sore back after the MSA crash was third and not surprisingly Amanda Sin rode strong finishing 4th. Simms is back on track and moved up through out the race to finish in 5th while Mcquaid and Walter took 6 and 7th. Mical, who has to be praised on her ability to overcome adversity and keep smiling, built up a new bike that morning and feeling completely drained pulled off an 8th place finish. Good work Girls!!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pan Ams: A Golden experience

At the Mtb Venue

It’s pretty tough to sum up the last couple of days in a little blog report. The Games have surpassed my expectations. I don’t mean this in terms of my own performance, but the event as a whole. Doing a multi sport games is so different than going to a bike race. There were over 5000 athletes in the village from the 42 countries in Pan America.
Athlete's Village
Each morning the cycling crew would head to the meal hall decked out in our Canadian clothing and walk by people training on roller blades, bicycles, in soccer teams, and running groups. Each athlete, manager, coach etc was decked out in the colours of their countries. All around us were the banners of our sports and the flags of our countries. Each building contained athletes from one country and was covered top to bottom with flags. The interior of our building had a Canadian flag that was 10 stories high and filled the inner balconies.
Matt Toulousse and Ricky Federau sample the meal plan
The athletes had their own lounge where they could go on the internet, make phone calls watch tv, play foosball or just relax with other athletes. I got to learn so much about other Olympic events like Open water swimming –which appears for the first time in Beijing, shooting, fencing… It was fun to talk and see what the typical summer and travel schedule of a national team swimmer was like compared to a soccer player, which countries they get to experience.

The opening ceremonies were Friday night and the mountain Bike race was Saturday morning so unfortunately I did not get to experience that, but the Games still felt rich with experiences.

Thursday evening our Governor General stopped by the village to attend Canada’s Flag ceremony and give a speech. I was then invited to join with her and several other athletes to have dinner and mingle and of course take some photos.

The Race

One of the frustrations of the games for an athlete used to being very independent and determining their own travel plans and schedules is the enforced structure of a Games. Rio being the 3rd most violent city in the world was pretty protective of the athletes. This meant I couldn’t bike anywhere by myself and our only riding options were the race course and a 3km loop of an F1 race track.

This meant taking the bus to my event as the guys raced much later and none of the staff had bikes to go with me. So at 6:40 am, me and my 5 staff team headed to the mtb venue. Our mechanic Peter was awesome and had my bike dialed for the race. We were also assigned a therapist to be on site with us as well as our coaches and soigneur to handle the two feed/tech zones and representation.

The race loop was super fun. The ground was a mud/sand combo which was horribly sticky when wet, but hard and fast in the dry. After a fast start loop we headed immediately into the woods and up a steep climb made technical by a slick rock and several roots. The course wound its way up and down a forested hill several times offering many sharp corners and roots. We had one sustained climb of 2+minutes and a large section of over 1km of flat ground which lead back to the start finish. The course was approximately 6km and the women were given 5 laps + 2start loops.
Our Mechanic Peter Scoping out the course
Warming up was a bit of a challenge as I was warned to avoid all favellas (poor looking housing) as they may be inhabited by gang members. The only road available was really busy with traffic and pedestrians. On top of this I had a film crew trying to follow me and get some footage.

When the Horn blasted the start of our race we all took off. Mary moved to the front and I dropped back to 5th not being able to clip into my pedal and wanting it for the upcoming jump. The paced seemed slow so when the course opened I jumped to the front to lead the 2nd loop. Before we hit the woods however Mary overtook me and entered the single track first. She slipped on the slick rock and we all hoped off our bikes to run the first climb. After that it was me following Mary trying to see where I could gain an advantage. She seemed to be struggling on both the technical climbs and the descents so I focused on riding cleanly. On the flat stretch she was able to open some time on me, but I knew I could make it up in the woods if I kept focused. Sooner than expected on the first descent I came a round a corner to see that Mary had laid her bike down. She was up in front of me, but now I was determined to get by. The next opportunity I went to make my pass. As I did I got a stick caught in my front wheel. An annoyingly slow pass, but I got by and stepped on the gas going into a series of little climbs. I looked back on the longest climb and I had dropped Mary. Excellent! It was back into a good series of technical climbing and descending before heading back out onto the flats. Mary would claw in a couple seconds on the flats and I would put time into her in the woods…. excepting 3rd lap where I made a bunch of mistakes.

Things were going well for me. I knew I could win this race, but was glad it was actually happening. Last lap and I was given a report that Mary had burped her tire and had to pit for a quick fill up. I had over a minute at this point, but when you’re going for gold you’ll take all the breathing room you can get! I rode into the finish zipping up my jersey and thanking the flat surface so I could raise my hands and look like a pro without falling on my face!

My team was there to meet me at the finish with the most amount of media I’ve ever been exposed too. There were photographers, film crews, reporters with recorders and memo pads, you name it. I was told at this time that not only was I Canada’s first medal, but the first medal of the Pan AM Games. How cool is that!

When Mary (USA) and Laura Morfin (Mexico) crossed the line we were escorted towards the podium (with our doping control chaperones in tow). After the podium, flowers, medals, many, many photographs and interviews we were then escorted to a press conference where the three of us and some translators did a tri-lingual press conference. After this we were finally able to go pee…in front of our doping control chaperones. Although I had had little to drink after the race I was still too dilute from race hydrating and was told I would have to go again, but that I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything until that time. Luckily they relented on the no food, but held tight to the no beverages. Yes I did get a wicked dehydration headache and felt sick to my stomach from the heat all through the night. Finally I was released and got to go watch some of the men’s race. Unfortunately Ricky was already out with a slit sidewall and Matt was working his way up after a flat tire.

Interviews by phone and in person continued the rest of the day and up till 10pm. The head of the COC even let me borrow his cell to call home. Wow way to feel like a superstar. The reality of the day sunk in more and more. It wasn’t just another race.
We got back to the village around 4:30 and starved and sun burnt headed to the food hall. Each evening medal winners are called together to be recognized for their achievements. That night I stood with two other Canadians. Each had won a bronze, one in open swimming and the other in Taekwondo.

What a day!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pan Am Games

Me, Ricky and Cam arrived in Rio just before noon today with some Canadian swimmers and Badminton players. Although a 9 hr flight from Houston we all got in some good sleeps and were feeling rested....but hungry!

Pan Am games staff was there to greet us at the airports and we had our very own customs line. We were loaded into Pan am game deckled busses and shipped off to the village through the rustic and poor looking city. Although looking a bit run down, South American scenes always make me breath deeply and smile. There's something really appealling to the simpler parks and buildings, to the people patiently going about their daily routines. Upon arrival we were sent through airport like security stations and given our accreditations.

All the Canadian stay in one building with cycling getting two apartments. Showers had to wait. we wanted food! Off to the huge cafeteria we went and loaded our plates with the great selection of food. Back in the apartment after a 2:30 lunch me and Ricky had a couple good laughs trying on the 4+ Team Canada outfits of clothing we were provided with by the HBC. Ricky's were all on the large side, but I made out alright although our opening ceremony hats are of unique style.

Thursday we get to check out the course. I am really pumped to be here! Unfortunately the opening games are the night before our race so that'll be a no go, but am looking forward to the rest of the week.

North Van, Squamish, Whistler

So if you're reading this you've already realized I don't stick around home much. Thursday Keith and I took off for the Vancouver area. We did a quick stop by Norco and Marzocchi to pick up some stuff. Got a sweet new Norco back pack by Ogio. Naz got me dialled with my Corsa too. We then headed for Grouse Mtn. It was the start of some bad luck for us though. We did the nice climb up to 7th secret. Keith letting me do some intervals on the way up to the trail head. Some guys from Big Bike in france were there test riding some Norcos. Keith unclipped at the top and Crap. His pedal spring broke. Using stiff clipless shoes without being able to clip in on North van trails seemd a bit sketchy so we dissappointedly headed down the fire road. By the time we got to Oil can though Keith was grumbling and ready to give it a try. He could actually descend pretty good unclipped and we had a wicked time on the new trail.

We had a great night hanging out on the beach in Van, had some japanese food with Chris at the eatery and then crashed at Chris's place. After a wicked sleep we headed out for coffee and a leisurely trip to Squamish. Keith, now a teacher on holiday, is starting to relax into the role.

We headed out to ride the gearjammer course which hits a lot of the single track squamish has to offer. We got in another great ride - aside from my face plant into a bog - and headed to whistler that evening pleasantly fatigued. We ran into a bunch of people who had guest ridden in the bC Bike race while out for some grub and then headed back to our friends Sandra and Jeanine's place to hang out for the night.

We started sunday morning with some breakfast with the girls and Liz and then rode out to "Comfortably numb". This was the last (7th) day of the BC bike race and they were on this section of trail. They started with Zipline (a repelling type thing) before heading out for a lot of gnarly single track climbing up comfortably numb. Where their course cut off and headed back to the village the epic length trail continued to the left and Keith and I took this route. We were having a blst on the rugged trail when after about 1hr15 of fast trail riding Keith's derailleur hanger shears in half. Not knowing the trail at all and beeing told it took anywhere from 3.5 to 7 hrs we decided to play it safe and head down and out the BC Bike race route. Him coasting and pushing with one leg. It was a bummer to not be able to finish the trail, but we still got in a great ride with tons of Single track. We already have a trip back to Whistler planned and have been tossing around the idea of racing the BC bike race as a team. Maybe after 2008 though.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Birthday shout out

Just wanted to post a Happy Birthday to High school friend Kim Paquette Today. Kim and her husband Mark had a new addition to the family on the 13th of June with the birth of their first baby Nicholas. Congrats guys!!!!

Pan AM Games

On Tuesday the 10th I head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Pan American Games. The Games are held every 4 years. I’m home for just a week, but Keith and I already have some epic rides planned in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton this weekend!

I will racing for a gold medal on the 14th. I haven’t a clue what to expect of the course or the weather. It will be winter in Brazil and the course from all accounts is pretty much flat. The US will be sending Mary McConneloug, Mexico Lorenza ? and Brazil Jacquline Mourou. On the men’s side Canada will be sending Matt Toulousse and Ricky Federau.

I’m hoping to have the opportunity to meet some past heroes from my horseback riding days at the games and to meet some top Canadian athletes in other sports. With Nationals the following Saturday, however I will have to be very focused on quality workouts and lots of recovery. Ricky, Matt and I return to BC on the 16th after a long flight and begin our Nationals preparation.

What a heartbreaker!

My awesome travel buddies Sandra(L) and Mical (R). We shared the backseat of a very well packed subaru for the 4 hr+ trip from MSA to St Felicien. The Hadley brothers commandeered our ship and are responsible for the efficient use of space demonstrated in this pic.

I’m flying home from what was definitely a career best performance for me. Still flying in my head with more than a little disappointment mixed in. I finally got that great call up I was striving for being ranked 22 on the World Cup circuit, but with Fullana and Dahle missing I was wearing plate 20. I had done 2 days on St Felicien’s course and was feeling good. It had been raining on and off the last 3 days, but the course was holding up well. Even though it was littered with roots and predominantly single track, traction was awesome with my Kenda Karmas. Everyone was talking about how fun the course was, how much work organizers had put into the event and how spectator friendly the course was.

My only trepidation headed into the event was trying to pass in the long sections of single track. Our B&B hostess had prepared Sandra, Mical and I a delicious oatmeal breakfast by request and my parents had arrived in town the evening before to cheer me on and take on Feedzone duties. Best Mom and Dad ever!

The gun went off and 78 women charged from the line. It was a bit slow going on the loose gravel, but by the time it turned upwards I saw my hole shot as I deeked out onto the grass beside the road taking the steeper, but traffic free line. I came through the start finish in the top 20 only to loose 5 or more spots on the first switchback climb out of the start as someone in front of me laid their bike down and the girls behind me got off and ran, but I was caught in the tangle. I gained some spots back through the feedzone and tried to be patient through the woods making decisive passes when the opportunity arose. The laps went smoothly and I settled into a hard rhythm. I continued to move up posting the 5th fastest lap 2 and the 4th fastest lap 3. From top 15 to top 10 and within 1 minute and closing on top 5 and a world cup podium. I felt awesome. I was riding cleanly and consistently and being fed reports that Chinese rider Ren Chengyuan was fading fast in front of me. 6th position was well within reach. Lap 4 of 5 and with about 1.5 km of hilly terrain to go my left leg flung from my crank. I looked down to see my pedal stuck to my cleat. I’m sure my jaw dropped as I stared in shock at the pedal that should still be attached to my crank. I couldn’t believe it. This shouldn’t happen during the best ride of my life to that point.

I was able to get the pedal off my shoe and tried to thread it back on. No luck it kept catching on the threads and stalling. I cleaned it out and metal shavings came away and a piece of crank thread was missing. I started to run, but realized how big a run I was in for and the women were streaming by me. I stopped again, tried again, but with no 8 mm I wasn’t having any success. I finished the lap with a combination of running, 1 legged pedaling and the sketchiest descending I’ve ever done. Descending with your seat up, 1 pedal and no ability to stand up or keep the pedal up was definitely more than a little harry. I came through the start finish and carried on to the tech zone. Shimano as title sponsor was waiting to help me out. Joey took control and with an 8 mm and some manipulation got my pedal back in. After loosing 10 minutes I was back on course for 1 final lap. I rode a strong final lap and worked my way back to 30th, but this was obviously a very disappointing finish for me.

I crossed the line composed, but seeing the looks of sympathy on everyone’s faces made me breakdown. I got only a couple pedal strokes further before UCI doping control was by my side chaperoning me until I was reading to be tested. “But I was tested yesterday: I said. It appears it didn’t matter as yesterday it was the Canadian centre for Ethics in Sport and today the UCI. I then had News crews approaching me to get my story and I was able to collect myself. 1 hr after the race and I still hadn’t had a moment to myself to go over what had happened in the last couple hours. I was disappointed to say the least, but my body was in one piece, my legs are fast and I was confident. A phone call to Keith helped me put things in perspective and focus on how wicked the first 3.5 laps were!!!

Sandra had a career best World cup finishing 21st and Mical rode strong on a borrowed frame finishing 26th. Kiara still hurting from her crash at MSA finished just outside top 20 and Wendy Simms 29th. We hung out to watch the men’s race, being able to watch a lot of the race right from the day lodge. It was fun cheering on all the guys with Ricky, Kabush and Seamus finishing in the top 21.

After the races we headed out for some grub. Sandra found out to her dismay that a Calzone Marco had spaghetti and meatballs inside, but the rest of us made out okay. A stop for Ice cream gave us the energy needed to pack up our bikes and get prepped for an early morning wakeup.