Saturday, May 31, 2008

First WC Podium!


Getting a top 5 has been a goal of mine since Worlds last year. Today it happened. After 2 days of great sunshine in the Pyrenees ending one of their rainiest springs, the skies again opened up this morning. Even though I just arrived Wednesday (and had to buy a new plane ticket in Paris after learning that I was supposed to fly to Toulouse from another airport) I have been feeling great. The time change and travel didn’t seem to be wearing me down, I loved the course and I was in a new and beautiful country with sunshine and snow.

This morning, after a less than stellar sleep (I know I got at least 3hrs), I was still feeling good and pumped for the race. During warm up I knew it could be a good day. The course was getting greasy and rutted, but I liked it. Off the start I moved from front row to about 30th with a colossal pedal miss. Loosing a couple seconds when everyone else is sprinting is pretty significant. From there it was time to regain positions. In the woods I was able to pass a lot of people by taking the less favoured rooty lines. I actually had a girl grab my arm to stop me from passing her. No names will be mentioned though;-0

I got up to Katerina and we worked together to bring in and pass a bunch of girls in the woods. Soon enough I could see Marie Helene and Ying. Ying was descending well, dropping Marie who had frozen hands, but we eventually overtook her and moved on to catch Eva Lechner. I remained in contact for a bit, but once the gap formed all I could do was maintain it, but not catch them. Fullana went off the front lap 1 and was not to be seen by us for the rest of the race. I am stoked to have posted the fastest lap of the day on lap 2. I had so much fun on that course. Well on everything but the shale/grass off camber switch-backing ski hill climb. Sucked pretty bad on that!
So it was 4th for me and my first World cup Podium and 6th for Katerina – both personal bests. Georgia had a bad day and finished 17th and we were able to grab the #1 Team position again. Kiara rode in 13th, Sandra 29th and Wendy 33. That’s it for the canuck contingent, but Geoff Kabush raced a wicked race and finished 3rd!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kamloops crew rips it up

Congrats to all you secret racers in Kamloops! Last weekend at the Cow trail BC cup in Merrit Kim and Martin B both won their categories, Martin D was 2nd in his and Pete 6th. Jamie I saw that top 5 girl! Yehaa. Aaron showed he's still a ripper finishing 8th in Elite men and my athlete Joele finished 4th Elite women after recovering from a crash off the start. A guy blocked traffic for her so she could get up and I was picturing it being someone from Kamloops!

Watch out for Ellen and Nick at test of Metal!

Also on the Canada Cup scene Keith's athlete's are showing their cards. JeanAnn has claimed a 3rd and 4th, Matt H got 3rd last weekend (yes sir!) and Daniel and craig are riding consistently top 12-15 for their best canada cups to date. Keep it up guys!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The view from my Office



Now that you’re all cursing me I’ll dig deeper! This place is gorgeous. We’re staying in the Pyrenees. We arrived last night climbing the twisty mountain roads, passing one village after another until arriving at Hotel Magic (how can you go wrong with a name like that) 3hrs after leaving Toulouse. We headed out on the bikes before dark and climbed for an hour before descending back down only 20minutes to the hotel.

The snowflakes put the agic in Magic!

The next morning was bright and sunny. We took the Gondola from our hotel to the top of the mountain (Vallnord) where the race site is located. Things just kept getting better. Not only was it a beautiful venue surrounded with white capped mountains shining in the sun, but the course was super fun, lots of roots and rocks and time in the woods. The 1800m elevation had me breathing harder than normal and the legs aren’t quite ready to race, but that could just as easily have been the travel.
From the Gondola

Friday, May 23, 2008

Next up, Andorra

Andorra is a small country in the Pyrenees nestled between Spain and France. Andorrans speak Catalan so it looks like I’m going to have to pick up a couple new phrases.

Interesting Factoid: The people of Andorra are currently listed as having the highest human life expectancies on Earth, at an average of 83.5 years at birth (2007 est). According to Wikipedia

The race venue sits at 1800m. Should be fun, almost as fun as last weekend’s 40 degrees, but if these are my hardest work days I’d still say it’s pretty sweet! I'll try to post some pics soon

Oakley Enduring


This weekend was perfect for trying out the new Oakley Enduring glasses with vented lenses. (Picture little air vents on these puppies). Santa Ynez was hot, really hot, 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The race course wound its way up and over many rolling hills, unfortunately skirting the large beautiful Oak trees which could have offered us a couple seconds relief from the glaring sun. I was super impressed with the new lenses. I had no trouble fogging up even though I was panting like crazy. Can’t wait to have these babies when it gets really muggy! Check out Oakley.com

Wahoo!!!


4 years after graduating and I am now student loan debt free!!!!!!

….…just have to work on Keith’s now

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Santa Ynez Short Track

Early Sunday morning before the heat built, Mical met up with the Luna crew and we all headed out to the Bulldog cafĂ© with Blick from Oakley. With caffeine coursing through our veins we were ready for a ride and headed out along part of the tour of California route. My legs felt surprisingly decent so I wasn’t dreading the afternoon’s short track too much. After the ride we had a team breakfast at Paula’s Pancake house. Yum fruit filled pancakes! Georgia’s doing way better today. She’s decided to sit out the short track, but will be there to cheer us on.
Delicious Breakfast!

It’s crazy hot again, but only 100 degrees today! After a good warm up we were set to go. I had my best ever short track start claiming 2nd wheel right off the start. Kelli struggled in the first tight corner and I got past her for the lead. I tried to ramp up the tempo and split the field. Looking back there were about 8 girls with me. Through the start finish Mical went to the front. The leader switched with every lap and there were soon only 5 women in the lead group. Mical and Katerina tried to get away, but were reeled back in, but Katerina went again and this time the attack stuck. With Katerina off the front it was Heather, Kelli, Mical and I fighting for the remaining podium positions. With 3 laps to go I was sitting 4th wheel, but knew I’d have to get closer to the front. Next lap I was able to overtake Mical and knew where I had to make my next move. Last lap Kelli had the same idea, she got around Heather and my slight hesitation lost me 2nd wheel. Once Kelli got to the front she set a tempo I couldn’t attack from. It came down to a 4 up sprint with Kelli leading, Heather 2nd wheel and me 3rd, but being overtaken on the final stretch. Even though I lost the sprint my sprint is actually getting better and it was a fun fight. Mical and I both earned our 2nd podium finishes of the weekend.

That night we headed out for Italian and ran into the Trek crew. They were going out big after putting 3 girls on the podium Saturday and 1 today (Mical). So after Dinner the Trek Team, Luna, and Kabush who came to dinner with us headed to the bar next door. We took over the place –whose ceiling was covered in $1 bills – and more importantly the Juke box. We danced it up to some questionable music selections and also some classics. It was the perfect way to cap off the weekend of tough racing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What a day!

It was 104 degrees Fahrenheit for the women’s race in Santa Ynez California, 110 for the men’s. The area, known for its’ wine and Michael Jackson’s ranch offered riders rolling hills dotted with beautiful Oak trees. The sparse trees did not provide more than 10 seconds of shade relief along the 50min loop. We raced 2 laps. The race was off to a great Start for my team with Georgia leading, Katerina in 2nd and me third. We were quickly separating ourselves from the trek girls and Heather Irmiger. I got around Katerina after the first climb and was on Georgia’s wheel, but she kept ramping up the pace and I wasn’t able to hold her wheel for long. I watched her ride off into the distance berating myself for not being able to push harder. I haven’t suffered that much since…well Houffalize. Time trialling out there in 2nd position I had little to focus on, but how hot and crappy I felt. My mind was doing way too much thinking. I tried to think about pedalling smoothly, but ended up thinking about everything but.

Luckily Kelli Emmet caught me at the start of lap 2. Yes I was thankful to be caught. Now I could focus on something other that how crappy I felt, how much I’d like to puke or go enjoy some air conditioning. With Kelli ahead of me I regained energy and focus and took control back over how I felt. Throwing water on my back each feedzone and focusing on draining my bottles. Kelli and I rode the rest of the race together. I attacked on the 2nd last climb and was slowly gaining the advantage by the last long switchbacking climb when I saw Georgia bent over on the side of the trail puking. I checked in with her and she said “hey good job”. She has no recollection of this, passing out with heat stroke and having to be taken to the hospital for an IV. As a precautionary measure they also ran a cat scan on her. Passing out from heat and dehydration can be pretty serious. She’s now stiff and tired, but recuperating back at the hotel.

Back to the race. So I slowly gained the advantage only to loose it on the last open descent. The course ended with a couple minutes of flat rough singletrack. Kelli was on my wheel and I was busy debating whether I should bury myself to make an attack harder or go easy to be able to go with the inevitable attack when it came. I chose the later, perhaps wrongly as I was not able to cover the attack when it did come. Kelli opened 10 seconds on me for her first ever NMBS win. 2nd was my best NMBS result too so not a bad day…and I won the coffee mug Waldek promised me as added incentive for a podium finish. Mical Dyck also claimed her first podium finish with a 5th amking it 3 trek gals on the podium (3rd Lea Davison, 4th Jen Smith). Blowing up seemed to be the theme of the day as only 20 women finishing the race. Katerina, after removing the insoles from her shoes because her feet were too hot finished 7th and Chloe who started hard, blew and then moved up again finished 16th. As you probably guessed Georgia was trucked out of the event. At first really disoriented and thinking she had a bad crash she slowly remembered more of the day and weaving back and forth on the climb before having to dismount, not even able to push her bike

So tomorrow is an early spin to clear the legs, Team Breakfast at Paula’s pancake house and then short track racing at 1:15

Friday, May 16, 2008

Penticton

So yes, Tuesday saw me heading to Penticton through rain showers to join up with Dan’s Ironman Camp. Dan’s camp has been running every May for about 10 years now and draws a crew of 40 or more serious and/or fun loving people aspiring to race Ironman Canada. There is always a crew that brings their mountain bikes and I was going to take them out for a rip on the local trails. Penticton has probably the best combo of road and mountain bike riding in BC so the hardest part was deciding where to ride. We decided on “the Mice” and headed out along the bike paths through vineyards to the trailhead.

2.5 hours later we returned cold and wet, but with big grins on our faces. Thanks guys!

I was then to do an interval workout with Dan, but opted for a warm lunch and shower first. Tom skinner was helping out as a ride guide and joined us for the mtb ride and my intervals. Thanks Tom!

I was able to stop by the Bike Barn for a too quick visit and to see many of my favourite Pentictonites. I could definitely have stayed longer. Penticton is a great town, fairly small (about 35 000) with 2 huge lakes, and lots of vineyards and orchards. The downtown has lots of little shops selling local wines, jams and other goodies. Keith and I lived there is 2004-2005 and I could definitely see a return to it at some point down the road.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Keith has been training! Saturday and Sunday we got in some wicked mtb rides. One in Kamloops where I swear we climbed for almost two hours predominantly on single track with some fun fast descending filling the other hour. That night we headed to Revelstoke for Sue's Bday and mum's day, to meet Keiran (Brendan and Amanda's new baby) and of course get in some more rides.

Grainger made a superb cake and we had a relaxed night at home. Sunday morning was pretty wet, but by noon it was sunny and gorgeous. The trails were pretty slick, but a fun challenge and we got to practice some cyclocross work on the blow downs. We made our way slowly home on Monday and had friends over to work in the garden that night. So great to hang out on the back deck till 9pm and be warm! Thanks to our neighbours for entrusting me with the Rotor tiller!

Tuesday I'm off to Penticton to go mtb riding with a group of fun guys at my coach's Ironman training camp. Today was a rest day for me and they rode the Ironman loop so I might get to put the hurt on them;-)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fruit trees and Breaking the Law in Kamloops

I'm a rebel
My first day home was warm and Sunny. I figured I'd be environmentally friendly and hang my clothes to dry. WRONG! In Kamloops it's against the law! Have you heard of anything more ridiculous? I think a letter to the editor or mayor is in order



Our yard smells so good. And look green grass!


Our pear tree is looking awesome. The Cherry and apple tree both appear to be half dead unfortunately, but maybe I'll learn how to nurture them back to productivity!

By the time I made in back to Canada I was throughly confused over what languages to use. French in Belgium, German in, well, Germany, Spanish in Spain and English in between. I was saying Danke to English folk, Merci to German and feeling really in need of some practice with both french and spanish....but they didn't have raspberries in cuba. It's amazing how one's vocabulary is shaped to the culture where they learned it. Que Rico!

Dinner and travel


From the venue. Madrid

After Sunday's race the canadians got together at a restaurant by the venue for some good food and chatting. Ricky, Mical, Sandra and myself shared ox loin that we BBQ'd our self on the table. We all sampled the queso manchego (cured cheese), Iberico ham, roasted peppers and some horrid liquor the restaurant staff gifted us. As always when you're hanging out with this crew it was a great time and a perfect way to finish up our European adventure.


Kiara, Mical, sandra, Me, Emily, Derek and Amanada. Wendy, Alison and ricky also joined us. Thanks Pedalmag.com Be sure to read Sandra's write up on pur adventures!



A local poses with some Iberico ham. Very common to see a Pig leg on display to wet the appetite in Spain



Afterwards I hit up dinner 2 with Luna where I sampled Madrid's famed hot coco..like pudding and recommended by Kiara. We went to La Plaza Mayor in downtown Madrid so I finally got to see a bit of the city. Beautiful...just as all European cities seem to be. In the distance we could hear flamenco music and dancing.



Parking in europe is a lways a tight fit, but this was ridiculous. Some jerk parked right against our bumper and we only had an inch in front of us. Waldek had to do some tricky maneuvering and Zeph some good pushing to get us out with only minor rub marks. it was either that or sleep in the van and miss our flights.



Got to bed at 1:30 and up at 6am, no sleep on the airplane, by the time I got home I was marvbelling at how the body can function and how similar being extremely tired is to being tipsy. Good to be home though. Our yeard smells awesome with all the blossoming trees.
I'm now quite jetlagged.I'm now quite jetlagged.I'm now quite jetlagged.I'm now quite jetlagged.

Pictures!


Well we did synch the Team win again, but no Beer for us. I guess they figured the 19.5l we already accumulated over the past 2 weeks was enough. As it was I got killed by Iberia for extra luggage on the way home. $306 Euro!!!!!!


Wow didn't realize how good of elbows I've got for world cup racing!


Gunn Rita, Marga Fullan and Marie Helene Premont rode away from the field early establishing themselves as the women to beat.

Thanks for the great pictures Rob! canadiancyclist.com

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Madrid

Whew. today was fast and hard. No time for settling in. With irina missing today my 11th start position landed me on the front row next to Marie Helene. The race started on a long flat before sending us up a series of steep pitches. i initially lost a bunch of positions and har to work hard for 2 laps to get up to the 3rd chase group. i spent most of the race with Swiss Rider Petra henzi and NMathalie Schneider. We eventually brideged up to Ying Lui and my teammate Katerina. I could see Georgia for a lot of the race, but was never able to make contact.

I felt pretty good all race, but wasn´t able to get a gap on the climbs. Last lap was hard with the group of 4 i was riding with vying for position. Lene Byberg was coming up fast from behind and caught me with less than 10 minutes to go. Less than a minute separated 6th to 12th place showing how competitive and fast the race was. I happy with my race. all the lunas managed top 10 finishes with georgia in 5th, me 9th and Katerina a close 10th. this should earn us the team title again and probably more beer!

tonight the canaadians are going out for some spanish food. then it is bike packing and flying home tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you Keith!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Madrid

Wednesday Katerina, Georgia and I flew into Madrid. Zeph and Waldek arrive to the airport at exactly the same time, having started driving the previous day. Thanks Guys! Getting turned around appears to be the theme of our trip so far. Finding our hotel was a bit of a pain. It seems the entire city is under construction with big piles of rubble and broken pavement everywhere.

After getting settled in we all headed out on rides. Waldek and I set off to find the motorcross track we could see from the highway so I could get a couple efforts in to clear the travel from my legs. It was a pretty fun area to rip around. We got a little lost on the way home but made it eventually. I wil have mastered the art of getting directions in Spanish before I get home!

After riding we headed to the mall for dinner. Yes that’s right the mall. The hotel women had recommended it. It was a step up from your typical food court but we were a bit disappointed. We had a huge meal of tapas. In spain dinner usually starts at about 9 or 10pm. People go from one bar to the next having small tapas (little sandwiches, egg dishes, things on toast) and a drink until they are no longer hungry. Finding a restaurant that opens before 8pm is pretty tricky so maybe the mall was a good option.

Day 2 in Madrid we headed to the course. Zeph, who has had our bikes dialled perfectly all trip, put new forks with remote lockouts on our bikes. They are so nice. I did 4 laps of the course Thursday. It is super fast and hard-packed. There is a fair amount of flat riding where having a wheel will be key, but also several short steep climbs, some with scant traction. There’s not a ton of descending, but the course is fast nonetheless. After the ride Katerina and I tried riding back to the hotel. You’ll notice a theme here.

We headed out with a (now acknowledged) very inferior map and a rough idea of where our hotel was. 2hrs later, after having done a 2hr ride with efforts already we arrived with relief at our hotel. Yeah unplanned 4hr ride. It was actually a really nice loop we did through a beautiful forest. Had we known our way around better we could have shaved at least 30 minutes of the commute time…we biked right by the street for our hotel and headed out another 15 minutes before finally getting back on track. I got to use my Spanish 4 times though to get directions!

Thank you Waldek for the great post epic exploration massage! Today I decide to keep it chill and did a recovery ride. I retraced our route from yesterday, minus the diversions and our commute could have been done in 45 minutes. Ah well.

Frankfurt


Sycamores along the river in Frankfurt


The city


Bo, Georgia and Susan checking out the local produce

Tuesday Susan and Bo, Georgia’s wonderful family drove us to Frankfurt. We would all be flying out the next morning. We headed into downtown Frankfurt that evening. Parked near the downtown, we navigated our way to the river passing through street markets and the red light district. The city is an interesting mixture of new and old architecture, many of the older buildings being destroyed during the war. There are tons of sculptures and art throughout the city. Along the water is a botanical garden, paths lined with sycamores and many people out kayaking, rowing and walking. I think the evening is the best time to see a new city. There’s something about the lighting and transition from day to evening life that gives them a really neat atmosphere.