Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pictures!


Today is beautiful and sunny and the first time I have realized how amazing the view is from Sandra's Balcony. Check out those White caped mountains. The humidity and overcast skies had kept them underwraps untill now.

You should be equally impressed that I have been updating my blog when all the tabs and instructions are in German. A little quirk to the blogger program being that it changes languages when it registers your computer is in a new country.

The view from our bedroom in Durbach, Germany. Vineyards as far as the eye could see.
Sandra behind the wheel of our Audi A3

The hail that greated me my second night in Switzerland. Check out the sky

Oh yeah. Sandra prepares a Kaffee lang at the touch of a button



Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday and Swiss delicacies

Today it poured all day. We decided riding easy in the rain would not be a very good recovery exercise so the day was rather focused on food and nursing the bruises and sore spots that seemed to pop up everywhere. It was a national holiday in Switzerland, a catholic holiday we do not observe at home. One of Sandra's relatives who is a professional chef came over and made us a mango stuffed lamb for lunch and Sepp treated Sandra and I to truffles from the local bakery. We are now headed to Solothurn to visit Wendy and Kris at their host families place for a raclette dinner. Raclette is a type of cheese. You melt slices and eat it with potatoes, pickles, pineapple and other things you might not think of putting cheese on but are very tasty together.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Racing the World Cup: Offenburg Germany

Sunday morning the skies were overcast and there was a good breeze. Much nicer racing conditions than 33 and muggy. As we rode over to the race site the first drops of rain started to fall, but lightly. At 10:30 all 110 girls were being corralled into our starting pens based on number. The top 40 positions were based on Houffalize (WC *1) results and then doled out according to UCI points. I was number 94, which was actually better than I expected. Alison Sydor was 80th so I was hoping to grab here wheel. Fortune was on my side as my number was called and a position behind Alison was still open. She had wisely lined upon the outside to shoot past the traffic that would clog on the inside of turn 1.


With 1 minute to go all of the girls behind me had squeezed up into my row and the whole area condensed into a mesh of girls waiting anxiously for the start gun. The gun went off and I kept my eyes glued to Alison’s back. She once told me it didn’t matter where she started, she could always make her way up to the start. I was hoping she would be true to her word. Alison did make it up to 12th position from 80th. By the end of our 2 start loops I had made it into the high 30’s. Pretty exciting. The girls were riding the chutes much better than I had expected which was good for the flow of traffic. At one point I got past about 5 girls by taking a different chute line, but on the singletrack climb immediately after I dropped my chain and was passed by about 7 girls. It’s pretty crazy to race for over 2hrs and be constantly surrounded by women the entire race.

As usual the European fans did not disappoint with over 15 000 spectators showing up and lining the descents and wooded climbs hoping I’m sure to catch a little carnage. Over the 6 laps I was able to steadily work my way up. Around lap 4 and 5 I started catching the girls I was used to racing, but not often beating like Georgia Gould, Shonny Vanlandingham, Alison Sydor and Heather Irmiger. I caught up to Sandra who was riding well and we road together for almost a lap before I squeaked away. Rain started hammering down on us mid race and rain streamed down the course. Girls started getting timid on the chutes. After initially feeling a bit timid I quickly realized they were just as rideable and sometimes better as brake bumps were smoothing out. I did follow one of the Chinese girls a little too closely down one though and had to do some one legged acrobatics to avoid crashing, but this only got me more cheers and I was able to keep going. The race was not without its crashes for me however. Early on I slid out on a corner and twisted my handle bars around. Last lap I was again to be bested by this corner taking a full on head plant. I actually thought I had broken my helmet, but later found out it was just the 1lb of mud stuck in all the air vents on the right side that made it sit so awkwardly. I also tore the buckle off of my shoe so I had a large piece of plastic dangling from my shoe and tangling in my chain rings. This made pedalling a bit tricky, but I was only about 1 km from the finish. On the last power climb –the one from the start loop - Ivonne Kraft went by me, but I stuck on her wheel for the descent. On the final corner I grabbed the inside line which was drier being under a tree and was able to come up alongside her for a finishing sprint through the soggy finish line. She clipped me by less than half a second, but I think that’s the most competitive sprint I’ve ever put out. I felt good at the end of the race and was really happy to have gone from 94th to 27th. This puts me 42nd overall on the WC circuit, not bad considering I didn’t race Houffalize. Only the top 40 girls get called up by WC points though, but this should still seat me at least in the top 60 for the next race in Champery, Switzerland in two weekends.

Offenburg World Cup Germany
Women - 34.9km, 110 Starters

1. Irina Kalentyeva (Rus) Topeak-Ergon

2:02:38

2. Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood

at 1:28

3. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Multivan Merida Biking Team

2:20

4. Margarita Fullana (Esp) Spiuk-Tau Ceramica

2:20

5. Sabine Spitz (Ger) Ghost International Racing

4:57

6. Tereza Hurikova (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna Mtb*

5:11

7. Chengyuan Ren (Chn) China*

5:30

8. Maja Wloszczowska (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb Team

5:54

9. Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher

6:30

10. Kiara Bisaro (Can) Opus

6:50

11. Susan Haywood (USA) Trek-Vw

7:11

12. Cecile Rode Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International

7:44

13. Eva Lechner (Ita)*

8:07

14. Nina Gohl (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team

8:15

15. Elsbeth Van Rooij-Vink (Ned) Beone Mountainbiketeam

8:26

16. Anna Enocsson (Swe) Ghost International Racin

8:29

17. Petra Henzi (Sui) Fischer-Bmc

8:41

18. Ying Liu (Chn) China*

9:00

19. Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Tonis Pro Team Kirchberg*

9:19

20. Nathalie Schneitter (Sui)*

9:30

21. Renata Bucher (Sui)

9:43

22. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Womens Mtb Team

9:58

23. Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized

10:08

24. Anna Szafraniec (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb Team

11:17

25. Rosara Joseph (NZl)

11:24

26. Ivonne Kraft (Ger) La Carrera-BTS

12:13

27. Catherine Pendrel (Can) Norco

12:13

28. Laura Turpijn (Ned)

12:27

29. Laurence Leboucher (Fra)

12:52

30. Jingjing Wang (Chn) China

12:59

31. Nina Homovec (Slo)*

13:11

32. Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher

13:23

33. Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Womens Mtb Team

13:27

34. Sandra Walter (Can) XO Felt

13:41

38. Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood

15:13

54. Wendy Simms (Can) Kona Les Gets


Living it up

After arriving on Tuesday in Zurich I was again packed and ready to move on to Germany on Thursday. Sandra and I lucked out with our rental car. They were out of VW Golfs so we got to take an Audi A3. It was a beautiful car. Everything just felt smooth

It took us less than 3 hours to get to Offenburg and that was only because I failed as navigator at a crucial moment. Offenburg, literally translates to Open Castle and is the Gate to Germany’s Black Forest where they boast over 4000km of cycling paths and trails. From Offenburg we drove a couple minutes to the township of Rammerswier, the site of our race, and then further along to Durbach. Along with fellow Canadians Wendy and Kris we had rented the upper floor of a house for 49 euro a night. Pretty sweet deal. Our little apartment was only a 10 minute bike ride from the course. Durbach is known for its great wine especially Riesling. A local winery supplies sample bottles for guests at all local hotels.

First impressions of the race course were good. The course was about 95% wooded with at least 4 intimidating chutes and a couple drops. There was a steepish open climb on the start loops and some rough grassy sections to separate riders initially and then the technical sections and a deceptively long climb that wove in and out of the woods and onto brief open road sections. The soil type was such that rain would make it a bit greasy, but not disgusting and the large amount of canopy would also help.

Thursday night we all awoke to huge claps of thunder and pelleting rain. An inspection of the course next day however revealed that it could withstand a night time shower quite well. My Kenda Karmas were perfect for the conditions. Friday and Saturday were dry, but it was hot going up to 33 degrees and extremely humid. I rode from the course to our lodging with a back pack on and immediately had to strip off my soggy close and grab a cold shower. It was gross.

Thursday Sandra and I headed into Old Offenburg. The streets were all cobbled and closed to cars which made strolling around and checking out all of the markets, shops and bakeries a treat. If only they could get the tobacco free laws in place here. We were constantly dodging cigarettes and couldn’t eat inside. We made the wonderful discovery that an ice coffee here was coffee with a scoop of ice cream in it! That night I tried my first dish of Highland cow served up with some gnocci. The meat is lean and tasty.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Willkommen a Switzerland

After a fun evening catching up with my friend Dominique and then a morning spent with my best bud heather in Montreal I am again on the road.



Me and Dominique

YO Y Heather

Sandra picked me up this morning at the Zurich airport and drove me back to her uncle’s place near Bern. Thy live on a farm they share with their family. After a very slow bike build…can’t wrench too well on 2 hrs sleep…Sandra and I went off on an explorative spin. Switzerland is an amazing country for road riding. The majority of roads are one or two lanes with no shoulder, but there is little traffic and the drivers are respectful of cyclists. There are so many little roads that we literally picked directions at random. Left, right, down a dirt path, through a field, a forest, past some cows, each with a cow bell chiming. We did end up getting a little lost and more than a little muddy, but the weather was beautiful and sunny and my legs didn’t feel as disgusting as I had expected. We even saw 3 baby foxes. I guess this is pretty rare as out of Sandra's relatives only one of the four had ever seen a family. Sandra and I figure it was because we are so foxy ourselves they felt comfortable in our presence:-)
Building up my Norco Hardtail. It rides so nice! Check out that glove tan line.
The view from the balcony of the Schai's place

We then headed to the grocery store…always an adventure in a new country and selected some interesting yogurt flavours, fresh pasta, and spiced meat. We are going to go out for our first taste of horse meat soon too. We then went back to meet up with Sonya and Sepp our hosts. Sandra has promised to teach me the Swiss national card game tonight so that I can take part in her weekly card game at her grandparents place as well as make it to 9:00pm before crashing into deep slumber!




Oh...I almost forgot. The Schai’s also have a wonderful coffee maker that at the touchof a button grinds my coffee and gives it to me just the way I request it. It’s so good I don’t even need to add sugar.






My coach Dan Proulx just let me know he got engaged too so a big Congrats out to Dan and Sarah!

Trouble staying put

I don’t seem to be able to spend much time in Kamloops these days. I got back from the Norbas in California and decided I should really add the bromont Canada Cup to my trip to Europe. It would be a chance for me to race my hardtail before the world cup, pick up some UCI points and hopefully prize money. I’d also get to meet our new Eastern Events guy Havy and get at least 3 hourse closer to Switzerland’s time zone. I found out my parents and brother were all going to be there as an added bonus and I was going to get the chance to see 2 of my favourite girlfriends. Wicked. The only down side was that it meant only one weekend back with Keith before I was off for four weekends!

Bromont for the Canada Cup



The view of Bromont from our wicked chalet

So Wednesday I was all packed up again and on my way to Montreal. I arrived to a very damp, cold and wet Montreal at midnight. Heather was there to pick me up with her sister Marina and we all headed back to her place. After a very short sleep I got a call from Mical. They arrived in Montreal at 7:30 am and could give me a ride to Bromont. SO I quicklt hailed a cab and arrived at the airport. Once rentals were sorted out we headed to Tutti Frutti for some good breakfast. Mical was travelling with a bunch of fun Albertan DHer’s. We made it out to Bromont before noon and got the bikes together. I headed out for my ride debating between road and mtb, but it was so wet and cold mtbing was the only option. I did 2 laps of the course and it was more of the same good stuff Bromont always provides. It seemed like a bit more climbing this year, but good descending. The course was already a river due to the rain so I was hoping for some dry weather.

I got my wish. No rain until about 30 minutes after the DH podium on Sunday. Friday I headed out for a road spin and reaffirmed my desire to spend some real time here with Keith and our bikes. I just love the area. Anyhow, although this ride was good for my legs, it proved problematic for my race as I missed the fact that they cut out a section of a course (1 climb and 1 descent). Saturday I was ready to race. Havy had my bike all dialled in, my legs were feeling great, my fan club was set. Even though I didn’t get a call up to the line I still had my best race start ever being second out of the start after Marie Helene Premont. The race was to follow this pattern for all but half of the first lap where I went off course. Focusing ahead on what I thought was the course, I was scanning the ground to find the least mucky route up the climb and completely missing the arrow that told me I should have turned right. Some Flagging tape would have been helpful here, but ah well. So I did an extra climb got almost to the top and realized there were no arrows pointing me to the descent. Sure enough I turned around and saw 4 girls go by below me ON THE COURSE. Well at least now I knew why I couldn’t see Marie up the climb! I was so mad I had screwed up my wicked start and the gap I had gained. I madly charged after the girls down the descent and was gaining on them fast. Emily showed me some nice lines on the descents, but I wanted the girls in front. By the last descent I was around Amanda sin and got Mical just after the start finish. I then set off to catch Marie. I knew I was climbing and descending faster than the girls behind me so my goal was to stay as close to Marie as I could. The rest of the race went really well. The weekend of riding in Revelstoke paid off as I was riding really well and I was climbing strong. I finished the race 3:30 off MHP so without my detour that was a gap I was really happy with. I was able to put 6 minutes into 3rd which was also pretty cool.



1. Marie-Hélène Prémont (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood 1:52:59

2. Catharine Pendrel (Can) Norco Factory at 3:30

3. Amanda Sin (Can) 3 Rox Racing 9:23

4. Mical Dyck (Can) Trek/Terrascape/Calgary Cycle 10:18

5. Emily Batty (Can) Team RACE.com 12:14

A New kinda pain

That night I had my family over to my condo for Super. It was great to do some catching up. Next morning Geoff and I were both racing. I was doing a sprint event the organizers were putting on and he was racing the DH. I headed out for a road spin, but ended up on trails. They just looked too good. Then I headed over to check out the sprint course. It was an approx. 400m paved climb followed by a fast fire road descent. I had no clue what kind of pain I was in for! Only 5 girls were brave enough to show. Me, Mical, Emily, Julie Sanders and MC Superenant. Due to numbers the winner would be decided by best score from 3 runs. We lined up, both feet clipped in with some one holding our bikes. On the go we took off and I quickly felt the shock of a maximal effort. Mical and Emily took off and I just couldn’t match them, but Julie was pressuring me. Next race Julie saw she could have me and put out a great start leading up the climb, but being overtaken finishing third ahead of me. 3rd lap I knew I had to beat Julie to finish 3rd overall. I put it in the Big ring and was first out of the gate. With the other girls max power zapped I raced way closer to the lead this lap, but still finished 3rd. Mical took all 3 wins and Emily 3 2nds. It was super fun and I hope the event draws greater numbers at Tremblant. The men’s races were really exciting. It was just such fast racing! The men had 5 heats of 3 or 4 racers with the top 2 from each round going onto a final. It was interesting to see how a different type of event allowed different riders to shine. Mike Garrigan won followed by Raph Gagne and Steph Widmer.

The next morning I felt like I had been run over by a truck.









Revelstoke

How many times can I say that this is one of the greatest places on earth for riding? We headed to Keith’s family home for Mother’s day. Unfortunately we got little time to spend with Sues and Grainger as a trip to Golden got them trapped on the other side of a mudslide and meant an overnight in Golden and a long detour home the Sunday. Keith and I did get in two fantastic rides of 3+ hours of single track though. Saturday my chest was sore like I had done too many push ups, just from pumping the bike through the terrain. I was a single track climbing machine and keith was having trouble loosing me on the descents, just the training I had been looking for. We also got to spend some time with Brendan and Amanda at Float Bikes. The shop was insanely busy so we decided to end the day with some Mt. Begbie Beers and a BBQ. All in all a great weekend.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Short Track

After hitting up the Kids race at 2:00 i got out for a warm up. After the morning's spin my legs weren't feeling too bad. I got off to a descent start and then set to picking girls off as I tried to move up. About 12 minutes in my motivation was starting to wain as I was caught in noman's land between groups. When Emmet and Smith caught up to me though I snapped out of it and fought to stick on their wheels. After a lap together I could tell I was was stronger on the climb up the 4 cross and the last single track section, even on the descent and weaker on the flats so I used this to plan my tactic and was able to narrowly scoop both for the descent last lap and take 14th position. This was a step up from last weekend as I raced smarter and the field was deeper. In my mind this is the best ST course on the circuit because they put energy into making it a good mtb loop rather than a loop around a grassy field. We ahd climbs, descents, burms, jumps so it was fun and intersting. Alsion was top canuck taking 3rd, Simms 9th, me in 14th and Trish and Christy in 20th and 39th respectively.

Max took 3rd in the men's, Kabush 5th, Seamus 11th, Roddi 16th

Top NMBS XC result

Yesterday was my best race of the season as well as my best NMBS result to date. Conditions were pretty close to perfect for the women’s race. It was a comfortable temperature with a slightly cool breeze. We got to race at 11:00, a nice change over last weekend’s 2:45 start.

I was called up to the last spot on the front row as I am now ranked 8th in the series. It was the position I least wanted however as it would get me caught on the inside of a tight corner. If I had the ability to get to the corner first I would have been stoked, but knowing the other girls up front can out power me in a short burst I chose to line up slightly behind and between Georgia and Heather.

I’m not quite sure what happened in the start, but somehow I got shut out and was nearly down in a crash. I found myself with way more traffic than desirable so I sat in for the short single track section until the road opened up onto pavement and then I hammered. All of a sudden I was up to top 10 and was able to continue picking girls off on the single track climbs. By the ¾ lap mark I was in the top 7 and trying to get past Irmiger who wasn’t ready to just give up her position. Eventually I got past her and Katie Compton and put some distance into them. By the flat stretch Alison Sydor and Katie Compton had teamed up to pull me in and I got to sit on a wheel for a bit. Compton is not only a good cross racer, but a talented descender as well with enough finesse to be hopping her rear wheel over rocks. The three of us came through the start finish together and headed out on lap 2. Knowing I was the strongest climber of the group and weakest on the flats I attacked the base of the climb and opened a big gap. Sydor and Compton came back to me after the pedaling descents and flat sections. Can’t say I was descending so hot. I had three spills in the preride getting caught in ruts so chose to be cautious and stay upright rather than risking a crash. Alison and I eventually stretched the gap on Compton and were closing on Shonny and Haywood second lap. Third lap I went on the climbs again as I was feeling quite the climbing machine and didn’t want it to come down to a sprint between Alison and I. Haywood and Vanlandingham had opened on me at some point and although I could gain on Sue on the climbs she crept away from me elsewhere. Last lap across the flat it was Alison and I again. I tried to flick her through to take a pull, but she wasn’t willing which worried me because I could see Jamie Whitmore and Wendy Simms behind us. I took a slight crash on the last descent and Alison right on my wheel was able to squeak by and open a couple seconds. We both hammered the last flat, tough technical little climb, the last couple of whoop bumps into the final short descent and finishing stretch. Alison took 6th and me 7th beating last year’s best result of 8th at Brian Head.

I think taking Thursday off and Friday light gave my legs the extra jump they needed and I felt like I was finally getting back to my old race form with room to go up from there. That night Christy, James and I hit up the Olive Garden.
We’ve stayed the last 2 nights at a hotel in a rather sketchy part of Ontario, Ca so I was pleasantly surprised when I headed out for an easy spin this morning at 8 and found a great route out to the foothills of some mountains…which the smog was finally thin enough to reveal. Now I’m just hanging out with some coffee waiting for the Short Track at 3:15 today.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Santa Ynez to Redlands

Monday Morning Mical, Trish Max and I headed out for a spin in Santa Ynez. We rode a section of the tour of California in Reverse and as we descended down a quiet road through vineyards you could see the names of Basso and a few others still chalked onto the pavement.


Road spin in Santa Ynez

After the ride we headed towards LA to drop Mical off near the airport as we headed on towards the Beach and then Redlands. We kinds forgot our directions and didn’t have a map so we ended up in downtown LA in a small neighbourhood where Hispanics yelled out “White power” as we drove by in the Rocky Truck. Time to find out where we need to go. We eventually found our way out, dropped Mical off and Headed out to Huntington Beach, but catching all the rough sections of LA on our way there. California is crazy. There are some grotesquely ugly industry areas just miles from great beaches and dilapidated neighbourhoods a block away from clean wealthy ones.


Huntigton Beach LA

We made it to the beach by 5:30 and Mike and Max tried out the Salt water. Trish and I enjoyed burying our feet in the sand watching tons of surfers out on the water. It wasn’t exactly swimming weather for me yet. After that we went restaurant hunting. Having the team truck and trailer, parking was a bit hard to find, but we saw a bike shop and thought they might be willing to accommodate us for an hour. So we pulled up as an employee was putting out the Trash. Mike said, “Hey Max talk to them”. Max rolls down the window and leans out, “Hey” “Pro racers” .... and the rest of us burst out laughing. Poor Max still has to endure us repeating the story over and over again. I roll down my window and ask if we can use their parking for a bit and they’re all game.

So we find ourselves at this little Mexican place where you order at the Bar. A wicked plate of mixed meats fajitas (steak, chicken and roast beef) and 4 beers cost only 14.95! The food was wicked, the music early 90’s and the surrounds funky with over 50 TV’s, disco lighting and tons of paraphenalia.

At around 10 we rolled into Redlands. We are staying with an awesome family there. Their home dates back to 1888 and has been furnished to match the times. The family has hosted teams and riders for over 10 years for the Redlands classic and are Trish’s “Californian Parents”.


My wicked accommodations at Perfect Day Ranch where we have been eating Fresh Avocados and Lemons from the trees.

On Tuesday we did over 3hrs on the road tracing some of the Routes from the Redlands classic including a nice climb up to 1500 m and a tour of the crit race which has 8 corners, is mostly flat and looks really fun to race. Wednesday we did a preride of the Fontana course. It’s in better shape than last year. The climbs are more sandy, but the descents way less sketchy. We’ll see how a couple hundred laps by riders make it deteriorate by Saturday’s XC race though. The temperatures are warm and the smog is hovering around us at all times, but my time in Redlands has been peaceful and rejuvenating and I’m really hoping to get that top 5 finish I know I’ve got in me this weekend.