Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pictures from Offenburg

Waldek -the man behind the women- on the balcony of our hotel in Offenburg.

It was full on spring in Offenburg. The course is surrounded by blooming fruit orchards and vineyards. There were thousands of Spectators out enjoying the sun and racing Sunday, creating an awesome atmosphere. Many fans rode cruiser bikes there so the orchards were makehift bike parking.

Canadian Gals!

I've been horrible at taking pictures so am borrowing Rob's. For more pictures and race stories check out Canadiancyclist.com

Georgia and I riding together mid race. We had wicked weather leading up to the race making the course mostly dry and fast. Yeah Sunshine!

Luna takes the team title again with my 8th, Georgia's 13th and Katerina's 26th. Yes those are 5L cans of Beer.

Today Zeph and Waldek started the drive to Spain. They are awesome and definitely a huge part of the Luna Team's success. The gals get to fly in so we headed to Frankfurt today and fly to Madrid tomorrow.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ahhh, that was better. World Cup #2

After working myself over rather nicely at Houffalize I decided to try being a little smarter and conservative this weekend. I love the course in Germany with lots of time in the woods and was excited to race it.

The start was okay, but I let myself get squeezed out a couple times and ended up in the 20’s before fighting my way back up. Going into lap one though I was still within sight of the leaders. I got up to Sabine’s wheel and after being blocked by her a couple times trying to get by I figured there were worse wheels to be stuck behind. Sabine, Lene and I caught up to Georgia and the 4 of us were in a group together for about 3 laps. I felt comfortable on their wheels, but momentary inattention combined with Ren joining us allowed the other two to get away from me. Lap 4 I decided it was time to step it up and Lene and I would yo yo back and forth with the gap widening and closing. It felt great to be able to step it up the last quarter of the race and also made things more exciting.

I hung on to 8th till the finish and earned my spot on the Worlds team as well as my 2nd “top 2 Canadian finish” for Olympic selection. Still lots of important racing to go, but I like the trend.

Luna also claimed the #1 Team position again and were again given massive amounts of beer. Sorry hon, the can is too big to bring back through Immigration!!!!

So now it’s a nice Italian dinner and 2 days to relax in Germany before we fly to Madrid on Wednesday.


Post Race

We spent Monday to Thursday near Houffalize in a house we had rented for the week. I don’t think I’ve been that worked from a race in a long time. I felt like crap for 2 days and by the time I started some intensity Wednesday my legs were still angry with me. Wednesday afternoon we drove to Huy to watch the finish of Fleche Wallone. We got to catch the last 500m up the wall of Huy (steep!). It’s kinda crazy to see all the classic and tour riders up close. They’re just human after all- young lean guys suffering. I was hoping I’d get to cheer on the Canadian women for their race, but we missed it.

Afterwords we headed to Liege for some Thai food. Georgia’s family has been staying with us creating some nice non-bike-focused conversation and making sure we’re all eating well, very well. The weather has been pretty gray with a dense layer of moisture always in the air, but not much rain. The grass is so green and all the blossom and tree buds have opened up.

Thursday we drove to Offenburg, Germanys and switched from French to German. We’re staying super close to the venue and I hoped on the course for three laps yesterday. It’s the exact same as last year with some added gravel to help if it rains. Yesterday was actually our nicest day here yet, full on sunshine all day. The course is in pretty good shape and just as fun with lots of time in the woods, single track climbs, a long switch back descent and 3 steep chute descents. My legs are opening up and I’m really looking forward to racing this weekend.

John Deere

So after Houffalize I was given a new nickname, JD (for John Deere), because of my tractor-like desire to pull people around a course, short track, whatever. Good news is that when I can pull people around and still stay in the top 5 I’ll get a nickname upgrade, JDTI, John Deere Turbo injection. Oh yeah.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fruit filled waffles and Racing

How do they get the fruit filling inside the waffles? I’m not sure, but they’re delicious.

I arrived in Frankfurt Germany on Thursday and met up with Georgia, Katerina, Zeph, Waldek and Georgia’s mom Susan and partner Bo at the airport. From there we drive to Houffalize through German and Belgian country side. Houffalize is a small town with cobbled streets and stone houses. We rented a place outside of town in Cologne. It’s a great house with a wood fireplace, deer in the back yard and an overly friendly jack Russell next store.

It felt more like fall than spring when we arrived and I was regretting that I hadn’t packed my winter gloves as we did our road spin into Houffalize.

Day 2 we rode into Houffalize and hoped on the course for some easy laps. The course is fun with lots of climbing up streets and trails and multiple line descents through the woods. On the way home we picked up some fruit filled waffles (cherry and peach) and some tarts to go with dinner. I don’t know how European towns support so many bakeries, but it’s great!

Day 3 we again headed to the course. The venue is starting to get really busy, but we’ve got some space with the Orbea team so all is good. I just do one lap today. It rained last night and the course conditions have really deteriorated. At each descent there are 15 people overanalyzing the lines by standing right where we want to ride down. I hate stopping at descents, I’d rather just roll them and not let my head get in the way. I get grumpy as I feel worse and less confident on the course than the day before. I just want to be able to link it up nicely, but there are so many people. After a lap I head home on the road and the time away from the crowds puts my head back in a good place.

Race Day

Last night was a full moon. That has to be good for the Luna Team right? I had a great sleep and am excited to get the World cup season going. We get to the venue early and Katerina and I head out to check out the start loop. The constant drizzle yesterday has made the course really mucky and greasy, but Zeph has Medusa mud tires set up for us and I’m feeling confident on my bike.

This is the biggest women’s field I have ever raced. 130 women are at the line and everyone is hoping to prove themselves worthy of an Olympic spot. I warm up on the trainer. After yesterday’s experience with crowds I need to be able to keep my head straight and focus on warming up my legs which feel disgusting.

I get called up in 19th position, just ahead of Gunn Rita. Georgia, Katerina and Kiara are just in front of me and Sandra, Mical, Wendy and Amanda in the box behind. The gun goes off and we are speeding up a steep paved climb. Sandra has a wicked start and is in the top 5. I’m holding my own and catch up to Kiara and Wendy before the descent. I hit the woods in the top 10 (I think or close to it). My goal was to have as few people in front of me as possible because with the course conditions there was going to be lots of mistakes and I didn’t want to be loosing too much time to the leaders. Nearing the end of the start loop I caught up to Sandra and came through in about 6th. Next lap I worked my way up to Kalentieva and Gunn Rita. Most people would smartly think at this point that they should settle in as it will be a longer than normal race. Not me though. I think hmm I can go harder than this so I ride like a rookie just going hard without much of a plan because I can (at that moment) and drag two world champions around the course.

By 2.5-3 laps I’m starting to suffer. Georgia and Marie Helene catch me and I can’t stick with them. From there I switched to survival mode and just tried to not give up too much. I ended up loosing 7 positions in the last lap falling from 6th to 13th.

I’m still happy with my race though. I know I can ride with the best, I just have to be smarter about my pacing. I felt good technically and know that more time getting settled into the time zone will have me feeling stronger. I gave up a lot of positions, but you can’t loose anything if you haven’t tried for more. 2 years ago I would have lost 6.5minutes to the leader in one lap rather than over the course of a 2hr17 race, so I held it together pretty well. There are just so many women out there capable of closing a gap when weakness is shown.

Georgia finished 5th and Katerina 25th as she comes back from her knee injury. With my 13th we claimed the top women’s mtb team position and were called to the podium where we were given some of the local beer (which comes in 1.5 l bottles).

Marie Helene was 3rd, Kiara finished 20 seconds off me in 14th, Sandra finished 25th,Wendy simms 26th, Amanada in 38th and Mical top 60. Mical had stomach flu all last week and said her body just gave up on her mid race. That seemed a common theme this weekend with the mud, long race and first WC of the season there were a lot of spectacular bonks.

We’re hanging out in Belgium until Thursday when we’ll drive to Offenburg. I get plate 13 next weekend….Good thing I’m a ¼ Italian and 13’s a lucky number there. I think it’s going to be great and another epic battle for the front.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ahh, it is good to be home!

This morning I awoke to a great view out our bedroom window. It’s gonna be a good ride day!

I got home late last Monday after a flight delay which leads to a missed connection. I’m pretty used to airports by now though and found a nice little area to finish watching 24hrs solo on my computer and do some stretching.

Just being away 2 weeks has lead to a lot of catching up…. Well maybe it was the 100 lbs on new gear I brought home and had to unpack plus the two bikes I had to assemble. All good though! I kept myself very busy till Keith got home from work and we headed out with the guys for the after work group ride.

The guys have been busy while I was away and there is a very cool trail network arising from the dead pine debris littering Kamloops.

Keith and I have gotten in a couple great rides and I’ve gotten in some miles on my new Orbea Diva road bike. I’ve never had a 16.5 lb road bike before and am loving being back on Durace!

Friday night a bunch of us headed out to the local pub for Buffalo burgers and beer. It was a great time with all my favourite kamloopsians there. Such a wicked group of people have gravitated to Kamloops for the trails and lifestyle.

Saturday, as well as being the warmest day of the year so far at 22!!!!, was the Annual Kamloops Hall of Fame Banquet. This year I was nominated alongside local Ironman athletes Ivonne Timewell and Anna Desireau. All I can say is that I’m lucky they have to divide their talent and training time amongst three sports, because they’re some pretty accomplished women. I was able to walk away with the award for the 2nd year, but know they’ll be putting up some tough competition again next year for the honour.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Farmer Tans and flat tires

Yes, the farmer tan has once again marked my skin. By my 7th day in Arizona I appear to be developing a tan rather than the initial red glow... and they laughed at me using SPF 45 Sun Block!

Waldek, our team manager/soigneur and philospher has been a constant source of wisdom and advice. After drinking only 2 of 4 water bottles at the last race he has been continually expounding the importance of hydration. “Water is powerful. It moves boats”. He’s always good for a quote.

My job at the 2nd NMBS was not only to finish well, but to completely drain my bottles every lap. This job was made easier by the fact it was a 40+ minute lap and 30 degrees out. The penalty for not drinking would be cleaning the water bottles of the entire team.

The race

I got my first front row call up for an NMBS race and was ready to gun it for the front. My start got off well, but I saw my team mate Katerina go down hard on the pebbly ground before the single track. The course narrows really quickly and I found myself in a train with Emily Batty, Wendy Simms and a couple others. Georgia was already starting to pull off the front.

After some tedious blocking by others, Wendy and I moved up to the first chase group of Subaru-Gary fisher duo Heather and Willow, and Trek gals Lea and Mical. I happily settled in here for a while as Heather and Willow traded pulls and I gauged my effort level to the girls around me. After a while though I could feel the front of the race slipping away from us and decided it was time to shake it up. I jumped from 6th up to 3rd and then timed an attack leading towards a series of short, rocky descents and climbs. It worked and I found my self in 2nd with just Willow on my wheel.

Australian Delys Starr joined us soon after, but we were able to establish a large gap by the rough rocky descent leading to the finishing stretch. Willow and I were working well together trading pulls in the wind until I looked back and she was gapped. I had to go solo then (later found out she flatted) and came through the start to my 2nd (and last lap) in 2nd position with a nice gap on 3rd. Looking back through the cactus fields I could see Delys and at a gap a group of 4. I was reeled in by Delys and could feel the other 4 bearing down on me. On Delys wheel I was able to rest a bit and new I had to attack before the descent. I was able to get by and was joined by team mate Katerina Nash. Katerina took the front and Delys and the other chasers dropped from my wheel. All was going fantastically to plan until Pssst! Crap! I punctured on a rock. I hoped it would seal, but no luck. I used a Co2 to reseal it hoping the pressure would allow stans to fill the hole, but it was a nicked rim and it was deflating as quickly as my Co2 was loosing air- the spring jammed in the on position. So I have a flat, a tube, but no air. I rode the front flat in as gently as possible, being passed by many women until my tire finally gave up and rolled of the rim. Yeah my mechanics are loving me at this point!

Eventually I get a Co2 from a women sidelined with a snapped derailleur. As I fix my flat Mical stops in for a casual visit. Stopping long enough to say “You too?” and having a little chat before heading to the finish. I rode in for a stunning 34th or something with my battered rim. Bummer.

All but one Canadian flatted that race Amanda Sin finished in 12th right behind my team mate Chloe. Georgia again took the win followed by Katerina. As crappy as my luck was Katerina had it tougher. After the race Waldek checked out her wounds from the crash. There was a toonie sized patch of skin missing from her knee exposing bone. She was whisked off to the hospital where I picked her up several hours later with a sore and stitched knee. She’s supposed to immobilise it for 10 days. She can get her stitches out the day we head to Europe for the first World cup. Needless to say, she’s pretty bummed out, but we’re confident the rest won’t hurt her awesome form and she’ll be going strong for the World cups.

Back to Kamloops!

Cactus & Coffee

The Luna Rig

Saguaro Cacti - It takes 50 years for each limb to sprout

At the course> The venue itself was pretty flat but mountains surrounded us on all sides

NMBS 2 in Fountain hills Arizona was an Omnium event. We arrived Monday after a long day on the road to be greeted by pleasant temperatures and many Saguaro Cacti. Racing Started Friday with a super D (more aptly named TT), Short track Saturday and xc Sunday.

This meant we had a pretty relaxed schedule so lots of time for desert rides, coffee and putting the feet up. Keith had no sympathy when I complained of boredom one evening.

The mechanics were stoked because the free time meant they could get in some wicked rides. Tuesday night all the mechanics and a couple riders got together for a BBQ and I got the inside scoop on how not to be a pain in the but rider! The week was also a good chance to get to know my team mates better without so much other stuff going on.

Super TT – the course was a sub 20 minute predominantly fire road track that varied from flat to 1% descent with a couple short climbs. The only technical demands were some pebbly corners. Mostly, it was about pedalling your heart out. Having only done one off road TT before I found it hard to gauge my sub 20 min effort, but was working hard when Wendy Simms caught me from behind. I expected her to hammer away, but found I could comfortably sit in and was planning my attack to try to take back some of the time she put into me. We went down a little dip and then chain suck. Or what I thought was chain suck. My chain had actually gotten tossed around and ended up jammed between my cassette and frame. After releasing my rear wheel I was able to free up the chain and get going again. I have to admit my heart wasn’t in it anymore knowing that that much time in a TT meant I was way out of the running. Georgia won by 2 seconds over Katerina, Wendy finished 3rd at 7 seconds, Delys Starr 4th and Mical Dyck 5th (Yeah girl). I finished 29th meaning this was my call up for tomorrow’s short track race. Chloe finished 17th, Emily Batty 19th, Catherine Vipond 20th and Amanda Sin 31st.

Short Track – After Breakfast Katerina and I headed out for a spin to loosen up our legs. The Short track started at 4:45 so we had loads of time to burn. Rather than using last year’s nighttime downtown crit course, this year the short track was held at the venue. The course was fun with some good corners and a steep sandy pitch we had to cyclocross up. I lined up in 3rd row behind my team mate Chloe. All the Lunas got off to good starts with Georgia, Katerina and Wendy again establishing themselves as the women to beat in short track. Chloe and I moved up into the top 10. Technical short tracks usually work better for me and I raced well moving up into 5th until fading back to 7th after a pull in the wind and not being able to stick with the girls behind me when they attacked.

Katerina took the win this weekend followed by Georgia. Wendy who had crashed earlier in the race finished 4th to Delys in a super close sprint. I rode in 7th, Mical 9th, Emily 14th, Chloe 17th and Vipond 18th.