Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back to Work

Brrr. Kamloops is cold. Keith and I headed out skiing the day after I got back from Cuba. The wind was soo cold it hurt my face., but skiing was good. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy the slight tan I got as the change from hot to cold made my face break out in a rash. Lovely.

I thought that I’d be super motivated to train when I got back, but after the ocean the trainer or frigid temperature exercising weren’t super appealing. But as it’s already December it’s time to suck it up Princess and get to work.

After a weekend with Keith skiing in SilverStar and Sovereign lake; skiing beautifully groomed trails around and over the mountain I’ve regained my love of winter.

We got to check out some of the Nordic Olympic hopefuls in action Saturday and Sunday at Sovereign. We also rode the chairlift with our xc skis. I fell on my but getting off, but stayed upright for the sweet descent from 1900m to 1600m.

Keith’s highlight of the weekend was me dragging him to see Twilight: New Moon. I’m sure he’ll agree.

Temperatures climbed to above zero and the next weekend we were off to visit Keith's parents in Revelstoke and drop of presents and the 3 Kitties with them before we head to NB. Thank you! Visiting Sues and Grainger always means great meals and company, and at christmas an endless supply of delicous baking.

To contain our blood glucose levels we got in lots of skiing and snowshoeing between Revelstoke and Salmon arm and got home pleasantly tired in time to celebrate Christmas early with Matt and Catherine before we all head off to our separate family adventures.

Thanks Sandra for the exciting present unwrap countdown! I wish I had pictures, but was too caught up in the frenzy.

Keith and I are now on our way to NB

Snow to Sun

I’ve been intending a blog update for ages, but with being home and actually able to keep in regular contact with friends and family I guess I just get a little lazy!

November 14th marked the beginning of ski season here in Kamloops and Matt, Catherine and I took advantage of opening day at Sun Peaks to play in the snow and soak up some sunshine. Poor Keith stayed home with the flu.

Catherine and I happy for some snow

Just as I was getting my ski legs though I was off to Cuba for a trip with my parents. In 2001 I lived in Cuba, in a small town called Pina, or Ciro Redondo for 3.5 months. I lived with an amazing family and cuban counterpart, all of whom became good friends. So my trip to Cuba was both a chance to visit with them, visit my parents who live on the other side of the country and take a training get away.

The cheapest, although definitely least authentic, way to visit cuba is with an all inclusive package (particularly in the low season). My parents and I arrived in Cayo Coco before lunch time and as they headed down to the beach I thought I’d get in a little run.

I had forgotten just how horrible it feels to exercise when you have zero heat acclimation….not to mention getting up at 3am (midnight in BC) to catch your flight. After pushing myself through the first 15 minutes I came across some guys fishing and took advantage of the opportunity to stop and meet some locals and practice my spanish.

They were resort workers on some off time. Although Cayo coco is a beautiful little island populated by hotels, there are no accommodations for staff so each morning and night they are bussed in from nearby towns. This adds a minimum of 2.5hrs to everyones’ day and for some is more like 5. Private cars are uncommon in cuba . If you do own a car it is expected that you pick up hitchhikers who are usually just trying to get home from work or visiting family.

Thankful for the chat break I headed back to the hotel and the beach. There’s nothing quite like a beach and no bicycle for a clean break from “training” and I relaxed into being on holiday.

The next morning we had rented a car (not cheap in Cuba) and were headed inland to visit my friends. I had my first driving experience in Cuba. First along the almost hour long causeway off the island and then through farm fields and finally winding through streets full of bicycles, pedestrians, bike taxis, tractors, stray animals and 1950’s vehicles (many of the vehicles in Cuba entered the country before the Cuban revolution was won in 59).

Everyone was there awaiting our arrival and the rest of the day was spent catching up and visiting the neighbours and extended family. My parents headed back to the beach the next day, but I had way to much catching up to do …and it was Rosa’s (my host mother) birthday. Rosa knows everyone in town and we spent the morning visiting, I’m pretty certain, half of the town.

Anna, rosa. mom and Ahmel with our rental

Rosa and mom

While Ernesto (my host father) and Ahmel (host brother) got the outdoor oven going for the pork roast; a neighbour came over and painted our nails. There are lots of home businesses like this where you pay in cuban pesos something equivalent to less than a dollar. Right now cuba has two currencies. 100 CAD gives you 80 convertible pesos, but about 2000 cuban pesos. Tourists are expected to pay in convertible pesos whereas Cubans can buy a lot of things in Cuban pesos. There are many items they do have to pay convertible pesos for (soap, shampoo, electronics, appliances etc) so when you earn about 20-25 conv pesos a month these items can be hard to come by. Raul Castro plans to remove the ration card system as well as the double currency system this year which we’ll have to wait and see whether it will be positive or not for the Cuban people.

Ahmel gets things started

Ernesto preps the feast

Rosa gets her nails and toes painted

Back to the birthday though. The guys prepared a great pork roast with congrise (rice and beans) and Yuca, Cuba Libres and Bucaneros. We also had two cakes, one made with sugar cane juice (typical) and another with Guava. Everything was delicious and the company great.

mom and Rosa both celebrate their birthdays

A week is way too little time to visit. After two nights I felt like I was just starting to get into being back in Pina and we were off to Trinidad with Marisol and Rosa. Trinidad is a cool old city on the ocean and near the mountains. Apparently it’s where a lot of the cyclists train, although with the ratio of potholes to smooth pavement I think they might need mtn bikes.


After an amazing pizza that could have been in Italy my dad maneuvered us over the rough roads and the topa de collantes. We stopped midway for a driving break and to pick some Guavas before Marisol took us to an amazing hidden waterfall. Having lived in this area, where she was a teacher she new a local family. We parked on the road and walked through their cow pasture to their home. The family invited us to pass through their home. From there we went through their small banana plantation, more animal pasture and then, in front of us, surrounded by lush grass and trees was a lovely waterfall draining into a small pool.

It didn’t take long before I was down to my skinnies and in the water. The cubans of course thought I was crazy swimming in such cold water, but it held nothing on the North atlantic.

We dropped Marisol off at her home in Santa Clara. A modest 2 room apartment which she has worked hard to furnish with a fridge, tv and vcr.

Marisol looks like a photo in a magazine posing in front of her home in Santa Clara

We got back to Pina late and Ernesto convinced us not to head back to Cayo until the morning. A good thing too as, remember those horrid roads I mentioned; well when we woke up the car had a flat tire. In Cuba, mornings begin with a super sweet espresso. Espresso is poured into a thermos with a ton of sugar and divvied up amongst whoever is there. Workers walk the streets yelling Pandero and from them you get your fresh bread. So with a lot of sugar and a little coffee Dad and Ernesto put on the spare tire and then Ahmel took Dad to get the other tire repaired.

We said our farewells with promises to visit again, and next time Keith is mandatory! I’d love to cross the country by bike, so maybe this and going on his vacation time (hot time) is the key.

The next 3 days were to be spent at the resort. After working fulltime while writing a book my mom was in serious need of some real down time. I was a little worried at the prospect of being sedentary so long,

but the time past way too quickly with a snorkelling trip, kayaking, tennis (if you can call it that when you don’t actually make contact with the ball that often) and for my mom’s 60th birthday paraglyding.

dad Glyding over us

Everything was amazing and it was so nice to hang out with my family when I didn’t have a race or tough training days to log.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Kamloops from a hike up Mt. Paul

horses wandering free on mt Paul

And of course one of Kamloops' many mtn. sheep

Matt and Catherine hoping and sliding down the face of the mountain. Those ski poles weren't for help on the way up!
Keith and I in Whistler. Going there in the "off season" is the best. Lots of fun trails, hot tubbing, hiking and good eating.
Catherine put some surprises into Matt's tires for our weekend in Revy. Got to slow him down some how.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Off-Season

So what does this look like? Well after about 4 weekends at home between March and October I relish the opportunity to stay put at home. My nesting instincts kick in and I become a cooking machine pickling the cucumbers and beets from our garden, making pear/apple sauce from our fruit trees, and salsa from the abundant cherry tomatoes that seem to keep growing even though I deprive them of water much of the time.

For me the off season is about living life like I hope to when I retire from racing professionally. This means keeping active and enjoying the great weather, but broadening my activities to hiking, running, swimming…frisbee, whatever. It means if it’s rainy and cold I can sit on the couch or bake muffins instead of riding. It’s also the time where I can do some learning, like take a french course, put in some volunteer hours with local community groups and catch up with friends and family.

I don’t like to let my fitness drop too much however. Aside from the fact I would go crazy if I didn’t keep fairly active and the fall is the best time for exploration mtb rides, getting back into shape after getting out of shape just hurts way too much. I found this out when I did the ClifBar Epiphany ride October 3 in Napa Valley (See Epiphany post). It seems that tapering for about a month and a half isn’t conducive to great endurance when it comes to 240km bike rides!


For those that haven’t heard of it. This is the day Clif and Luna folk get together to ride our bikes for 30-150miles to have fun and remind ourselves why it’s so important to have good quality tasty biking food! Terra, Katerina and I joined about 35 others at 6am to start the 150 mile ride (That’s 240km for us Northerners). It was dark and cold for the first 45 minutes with ¼ riders having lights, but the camaraderie and sense of adventure were great.

The weather was warming with the sunrise as we finished up the first 55miles and joined up with the 100 mile brisk ride group. About 23 miles later I was done. We had just finished up a fast revolving paceline in a cross wind and were heading into what I had remembered as a “nice” climb when my quads completely gave out and I had no power. Luckily at the top of the hill there was a feed station where along with some delicious Clif goodies a coke also helped to rejuvenate me. I convinced the group to just drop me and settled into a slower pace with some friends.

25 miles later, I had cracked again and was seriously asking myself why I had chosen this ride distance. Asking for mercy at the next food station did nothing to help me get home faster so we pedaled off again with Terra, Cathy and Alex keeping me distracted from my humbled suffering. Luckily the last 70ish km seemed to be primarily flat or downhill so we made it home in one piece 8hrs and 40 minutes of riding and over 4200m of climbing later. Phew.

Gary and Kit then threw us a wonderful feast and provided comfy beds which we were settled into before 9pm. This event is such a neat way to get to know the ClifBar company and staff and experience Napa Valley. Riding the 150 miles was a great accomplishment… and now I can say I’ve done it I might sign up for 100miles next year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

3 Continents: 1 Week (The Schedule)

In Cortina D'Ampezzo Italy we found an irresistable ride along an old railway track that took us through the mountains and tunnels

Now there's something you don't see every day. If you're going to Super Size something it may as well be Nutella. Eat in moderation of course ;)

Old rail tunnels through the Dolomite mtns. Yes Italy was a bit of a detour going from Switzerland to Austria, but worth it.

Champery. Host of World cup #7 and the 2011 World Championships.

Now to that continent jumping schedule

10:45 am Sunday September 6th left Worlds in Australia, flew 15.5 hrs to Vancouver. I got to fly first class with an upgrade certificate. Yes it is as good as it looks.
10:45 am Sunday September 6th Yes that’s right. Departed Vancouver for Kamloops (the time change worked in my favour). Enjoyed coffee and a hike with Keith
Sunday to Thursday am enjoyed being home in Kamloops. Freak out when Keith drives wrong way down the road, only to be thankful I wasn’t driving when I realize I’m still thinking Aussie rules.
Thursday September 10th Leave house at 6:30am. Fly all day to Europe. Arrive in Europe Friday am, put bike together at airport and go for ride as I wait for teammates to arrive. There are bike paths right from the airport. Europe is great this way
Friday September 11th 9pm Arrive in Champery, Switzerland
Saturday training on course 9-11am. Course is awesome. Half of the course is my strengths; steep climb and steep rough descent. The other half of the course I enjoy but am mediocre at; it is undulating terrain, lots of transitions and short power moves.
Sunday September 11th Up at 6:30 am for race breakfast. Race 10:45
I really like the town of Champery. Large, rocky mountains loom all around you while lush valleys surrounded by mist promise great riding and hiking.
The course is fun and challenging and one I thought I could do quite well on. I am in a 5 way battle for the world cup overall win and really need a win or at the least a podium to secure a top 3. I felt awesome at home riding with Keith. Being on home trails with worlds form left me feeling excited for this trip and the chance to earn some top results.
I felt like my body handled the time change and travel fairly admirably and that with a different approach (getting back to basics and racing by instinct more than planning and being super focused) I could have a great ride. Saturday afternoon the skies opened up and the rain came down in sheets soaking what was already a fairly slick course. Sunday morning Georgia and I switched to Ignitors to give us a bit more grip on the loose chutes and slick roots.
The start was fast with a 4+minute paved climb where I kept getting pushed off the pavement as I tried to maintain my position near the front. As we crested the climb the race was still very much together and I entered the singletrack in about 13th. People were flailing down the descent and it was difficult to remain patient. Girls were walking down sections I was trying to ride and not going to move. By the time I got to the bottom of the descent I had already lost 45 seconds to the lead rider. I had crested the climb in the bunch, but that’s the difference between a clean run down the descent and riding in traffic.
The race was very competitive. I would try to eek out an advantage on the climb only to be caught behind a slower rider on the descent. On the half of the course where I was weaker I would constantly be out sprinted for the singletrack and then, not being great at following or recovering quickly from mistakes I would loose positions or time and have to reclaim it on the other half of the course. It was a real yo yo race for me, but I felt strong and focused and like I really pushed myself.
Unfortunately this hard effort meant 10th on the day. With Irina and Marga both dropping out of the race however this result was enough to move me up to 3rd overall in the series with one more race to go. Mathematically 1st and 2nd are out of reach but with a good ride in Austria I can maintain 3rd.
I think my family was worried this finish would really rattle me, but in a sense I think it helped to ground me. I thought I was handling performance pressure well; people’s and my own beliefs and assertions that I could win Worlds, Bromont, this race. Maybe those results were possible, but not unless I rode to perfection and perfection takes time and rarely happens more than a few times a season. This being my 3rd year on the World cup circuit, I am still relatively new and have a lot to learn. When I’m on I’m on, when I’m not I lose time in frustratingly large chunks.
I am going to World cup finals in Schladming with the podium in my sights. I feel good and know that if I put it all together on the day I am a podium rider. So off to Austria we head with some days in the mountain on the way.

Monday, September 07, 2009

At the moment I’m just trying to keep my eyes open. I’m coming home from a good trip to Australia. I say good, as it was a good trip; I had fun with both my Canadian and Luna team, helped secure Canada a silver medal in the relay, went to Pancakes on the rocks at midnight, the zoo, learned all sorts of interesting facts about Australian animals, enjoyed amazing cappuccinos at Sfoglia almost daily, had my coach Dan and brother Geoff with me at the races, saw cherry and apple trees blossoming and experienced the brilliance of spring sunshine. And yes, yes the whole point of the trip, had a solid result at the World championships and finished 6th. For the 3rd year in a row.

This is where the twinge of disappointment lies however. Placing 6th in 2007 blew my socks off, overtaking Gunn Rita for 6th last year proved that I wasn’t a flash in the pan, placing 6th this year is a little frustrating. I rode as best I could on the day and felt like I had the form to ride to the podium, but I didn’t have the course figured out. There’s some terrain that’s easy to go consistently fast on, but I struggled with this course. It consisted of windy, false flat ascents, an uber technical punctuated climb, a fun bermed descent and dual slalom into a flatish maze of tight corners followed by a couple table tops into the finish.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a super fun course and I felt awesome at times flying over gap jumps or around berms and over rocks. It’s just the self driver, the analyzer in me sees the weaknesses to be improved upon and the preparation that went into what I had hoped would be a podium ride. What I did learn – again - is that the top girls are so close in ability that everything matters. You have to have good legs, a good clear head, sharp skills on the climbs, descents and corners. If you’re missing just one of those components you won’t win the race or claim the podium. Aside from Irina no one really stood out on the day as being heads and tails above. A Worlds podium is possible, it’s just a matter of time.

The race was close. I rode within 25 seconds of the podium for 3 of 5 laps but just couldn’t find what I needed to bridge the gap. It was an exciting race, even going into last lap there were 6 girls in medal contention but it would be Irina, followed by Lene and a fantastic ride by Willow that would claim this year’s podium.

The Canadian women rode very well, all riding top 26 with Mical unfortunately having a flukey crash last lap that sent her to the hospital with a broken wrist. After the race we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and packed but made it back to the venue to catch some impressive last lap riding by the leaders of the men’s racing including Geoff Kabush’s 5th place finish. Max Plaxton also had a stellar ride finishing 22nd while Derek and Seamus finished top 42.

To watch the races with commentary visit

The Luna chix and our stellar support crew are off Switzerland Thursday. Georgia and I have a world cup this Sunday and the following Saturday in Austria. These two races will wrap up the World cup series. From there is straight to Las Vegas where I’m going to see a cirque show (Yeah!) with luna mates terra, Dave and Phoebe and help Georgia, Katerian and Alsion kick off their cyclocross season.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Canada Silver at World Championships

L to R Evan Guthrie, Geoff Kabush, Raphael Gagne, Me
Photos by Rob Jones. Check out for complete race coverage

Another race down to the wire

World Championship racing kicked off Tuesday, Sept 2nd in Canberra Australia with the Team Relay event. For the relay each country selects a Senior man, U23 man, Jr man and a female rider. The countries decide for themselves in what order to send out their racers and each rider does one lap at maximal tagging off to the successive rider.

Canada chose to send our Under 23 rider Raphael Gagne first. Raph put in a strong start, but the riders were funnelled into a narrow tunnel less than 100m from the start and he got pushed out of the way entering in 12th position. On the technically challenging singletrack climb and descent passing is nearly impossible. Raph was able to hold onto 12th position and tagged off to our senior rider Geoff Kabush.

Geoff put out the fastest lap of the day while coming though traffic and moved Canada into the bronze medal position. Next off Evan Guthrie put out the 3rd fastest jr men’s time and brought in another position moving Canada into silver and less than 10seconds back of France.

Last to go, my job was to reel in France and hold off Italy for what we hoped would be a gold medal team effort. France’s Cecile Rode Ravenel was not going to give up the lead easily however. I hunted her down through the meandering rock littered climb, but a couple dabs cost our team precious seconds and I had to chase extremely hard on all the power sections to bring her in. On the last climb the Italian rider, an under 23 man, caught and passed me, but I was able to ignore the burn in my legs and lungs to grab his wheel and close the gap on France. Through the single track we were both of France’s wheel. While they fought for the front I tried to conserve and find the right spot to make my move.

Italy got by at a split in the trail but I was not able to get ahead. Through the feedzone Italy extended its lead while I attacked the French rider to take over the silver medal position and put out the fastest woman’s time. Into the finish it was a tight race with me only able to eek out 2 seconds on the French rider. Italy won by 6 seconds….granted they did take the time to pick up and wave their flag before claiming goldJ

This secured Canada its first medal of the championships and we got to enjoy standing on the podium at a world Championships. Canada and Luna (Georgia, Chloe and myself) hope to secure more podiums before the week is out so wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

My greeting party

Now that's a Garden!

All I have wanted to do this past week is dive into home life. With new windows being installed, crazy cats demanding my attention, a garden bursting with veggies and Keith always ready to share a cup of coffee this wasn’t too hard.

As great as it was to be home (and thanks to Tanya our house sitter who has been fantastic!) it was hot, really hot. My “recovery ride” on Thursday was done in 39 degrees. Keith and I cut it short questioning the ability to recover while riding in an oven. I like temperatures below my core temp thanks. So after some good play time with the cats we headed off to visit Keith’s parents in the mountains. I haven’t seen Keith’s parents in forever and haven’t been to Revelstoke to ride yet this year. Riding in Revelstoke always helps me feel good on my bike. After feeling completely off in Kamloops dry and loose trail conditions the loamy & rooty forest trails of Revelstoke were a welcome relief. Riding in Revelstoke is like riding an unending pump track. Well ok you do a lot of pedalling too, but the reward for pumping your bike through the trails is high. The cycling club has put in some awesome new trails over the last 2 years so we got in some spectacular long rides. Brendan and Bart joined me for my Sunday intervals too, Thanks guys! It made my workout feel just like a fast fun group ride.
The Columbia River, Revelstoke

Keith on the trails in Revelstoke where he grew up

But I didn’t neglect our overburdened garden either. I brought a big tub of cucumbers with me and Sues and I set to work making Dill pickles and a sweet relish. All and all the weekend helped me recenter and refocus my energy so I would be ready to hit the road again on Wednesday for Australia and the World Championships.
Now tell me those don't look like delicious pickles

I’ll be racing the relay on Sept 2 and the xc on September 5th, (that’ll be sept 1st and 4th back home). From Australia where my brother will be joining the national team as the Volunteer National DH manager I head directly back to Canada for a couple days before hoping on a plane for Switzerland and another World cup just 7 days after worlds! Yikes. The Luna team will travel from Switzerland to Austria for World Cup finals and then head directly to interbike in Las Vegas. It’s going to prove to be a crazy month, with a lot of high intensity racing and travelling, but also high reward.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It’s a wrap!

Domestic racing has drawn to a close with the US cup finals this weekend in Windham, NY. I have to admit I am more than a little excited to be getting home after being away since June 26th! Yes, I had Keith with me for most of the time, but there is nothing quite like being home.

Chloe, Zeph and I passed a pretty quiet week in West Dover Vermont, getting together with the Fisher team a couple times to keep life interesting. The road riding in Vermont and upstate New York is beautiful and I fully enjoyed getting to do a few long rides. Bringing road bikes this trip was great. As much as I love Mtn. biking, it’s nice to get away from the mud and really feel like you’re covering some distance.

Racing went fairly well. I felt pretty good on Saturday for the xc, Willow was just climbing really strongly and descending equally well. Georgia too was never more than a few seconds back and got ahead of me in the final 200 meters as we chicaned through a paved loop to the finish. The Windham course was fun. It’s a bout 15minutes of climbing to 5 of descending…which definitely tallies up after 5 laps. There’s singletrack nicely mixed into the climb and the descent was a combination of rocky woods and open undulating, air catching slopes. The weather was sticky hot so I was thankful for our 11am start.

3rd on the day was good enough to secure me the series overall. My first Elite overall title after finishing 2nd overall on the World cup in 2008, Canada Cup (3 times 04-06) and BC cup (03)! It’s nice to finally be consistent.

Saturday night the Luna team was invited to a delicious pasta dinner at the home of our number 1 fan in Windham, Courtney. Thanks guys and look forward to seeing you next year!

Sunday was the short track and even hotter weather. It was the hardest short track I’ve done all year. Katerina was ranked 2nd overall, 30pts behind Heather so in order to help her win the overall she needed to win and we need Heather to finish outside the top 5. Our plan was to keep the pace as high as possible. Katerina had great legs on the day, but unfortunately I didn’t. I managed to make it to the front for 2 hard efforts which hopefully helped string it out, but I didn’t have enough to stay up there for the team. Georgia launched a decisive attack that Katerina was able to go with as Heather, Lea D and I tailed off. Unfortunately for us though Lea bridged back up and after sitting in for a couple laps outsprinted Katerina for the Line. It was a great ride by Lea, Katerina and Georgia. I came in for 4th and Heather 5th. Katerina narrowly missed the overall, but happily claimed 2nd, Georgia 3rd and me 4th overall. Chloe also finding her form claimed 11th in both the XC and ST and 10th overall.

I think everyone is happy to have wrapped up the series and are now focused on preparing for the Worlds in Australia Sept 5th. I’m on my way home!!!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mt Snow Vermont: Relaxing, Crashing, Cross Country & Short Track

Photos courtesy of Dave Kraus dbkraus at

Looks like Chloe and I could be doing a lot of this next week!

The week leading into this race was mellow. We went to see Harry Potter at the small local theatre, hit up the local dinners and Keith and I got out for some superb road rides. Oh yeah and we went to Kingdom trails on our way down from Bromont. The trails were amazing and are the hub of the little town of East Burke.

It’s been 3 years since I’ve been able to race in Mt. Snow. The last two years it has held US Nationals. It was here in 2005 that I kinda had my break through ride. I raced up to 2nd position behind Shinny Vanlandingham with about 20 minutes of racing to go when I blew spectacularly and finished 9th.

This year went much better for me… well at least the xc. I decided to race my Orbea Oiz, our carbon full suspension bike, to give me a bit of a mental break from the intense racing I had done over the last month. It did the trick as I had a lot of fun out there and climbed as well as I would have on my hard tail. Katerina and I got away early and she quickly showed me the day would be won not by who had the most suspension, but by whoever was willing to descend more aggressively. We climbed together and flew down the descent. Just after the first tech zone she hoped off her bike and was checking her tires. As she had passed the tech zone already she wasn’t allowed to back track and would have to ride to the next one or fix the tire herself.

After that I was by myself and got to settle in. I felt good and the sun was shinning. A gap was growing between me and the chasing duo of Willow and Heather until I crashed 3rd lap going down on a slick root in a puddle. Last lap I tried to ride consistently, which may have proved fatal in a longer race as Heather and Willow were racing each other behind me and bringing down the gap. It would have been great to have Katerina up at the front to race with, but will have to save that for Windham next week! Congrats to Chloe for her first xc top 10 of the season.

Short track

A post race team dinner at the local Italian restaurant Ravello had us fuelled for the short track the next day. Mt Snow, which was also hosting a bike festival that weekend with lots of kids activities and entertainment, put together a great short track loop. There was a solid climb, a winding descent, some flats and sharp corners. All the ingredients for a but- kicking 20 minutes of exertion.

Luna wanted to get back to the good old days of team racing so planned to keep the pace high. Georgia, Katerina and I got into the lead group with Heather, Willow, Mary and Lea. After a couple laps it was down to a Luna/Subaru GF battle with Katerina and I taking turns at the front. 15 minutes in I decided to make an attempt to get away. Things were going great until I flew into a right hand corner and came out flying off…but not on my bike I did a full summersault and flatted in the process. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but the same corner claimed 3 people that day.

Katerina Launched a flyer next lap and held off the fast charging Duo of Heather and Willow to take the win. Georgia rode in for her 2nd 4th of the weekend and Chloe took another top 10. Aside from a couple more scratches and some tight muscles I made it out of the crash ok.

Keith's on his way back to NB & BC and half the team has gone off to visit family so it's a quiet week for me, Chloe and Zeph in West Dover, Vermont.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Bromont World cup: How Expectations Change

I’ve come off a couple of fantastic weekends of racing. Races where i just seem to be able to get to the front when I need to and stay there. Yesterday’s World cup in Bromont Canada was a little different. I got off to a good start and was at the front of the race by the top of the climb. I knew I wanted to be ahead of fullana into the woods but didn’t pull it off and was stuck behind her hearing all the girls we had just climbed away from riding back onto our wheels.

The day started off dry, but the woods were still slick. It seemed that every time I earned myself a little advantage I would loose it by slipping off a slick root, rock or climb. It went like this for 2 laps and seemed to be a battle for the lead between Irina and myself until on the climb 3rd lap Lene Byberg of Norway bridged up and moved to the front.

Having made my moves to gain the lead in the first 2 laps I was having trouble staying with the girls in the 3rd lap. I lost my head a bit and started riding internally…not a good thing. I went into the race confident that I would be fighting for the win and now it seemed I would be left behind. I didn’t feel smooth in the woods and lost focus.

My brother being course side cheering reminded me of a lesson I learned years back fighting for the canada Cup overall title. It was about expectations and how they change. Where riding in3rd should have been a thrill I was dissappointed. I needed to get my head out of my ***. With that memory triggered I made the decision to ride for my best result on the day. Waldek gave me splits and the advice to keep my head up (not in my ***). I started riding better again and held off the two women quickly charging up behind me to maintain the last podium position.

All in all in was a good day for Luna with my 3rd, Georgia’s 8th, Katerina’s 9th and Chloe scoring her best ever World cup result with an a 24th overall and 5th under 23. This put luna securely into the top team position. I’m now ranked 5th overall in the World cup with only a few points separating the top 6. The last two world cups should be interesting as whoever rides well there will earn a top 5 overall.

Up next are the two US cups in Vermont and New York.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mont Sainte Anne World Cup


Sue, Rod and Luna (their dog) came up from Fredericton New Brunswick to watch the Luna team race

Keith was there for the finish as well as my mom, Dad, Luna Team and some great people from NB. (Thanks for the nice picture Dave. Check out coverage on

I’ve been racing in MSA, Quebec since I started racing elite nationally in 2004. It was always one of my favourite venues and a course I could do well on with its steep demanding climbs and fast rugged descents. Sunday topped all my other race days in Sainte Anne with my first World cup win of the Season and sharing the podium with teammate Katerina Nash.

For those that like the nitty gritty race details here you go. This year the organizers made some substantial changes to the course lay out. The hallmark descent was removed and replaced with a rough rocky one, the course looped back on itself even more than usual and 2 short but challenging climbs were added.

The women were scheduled for 4 laps and it promised to be slick if not actually raining. The start was going to be critical. After a relatively short climb up a mix of dirt road and grass we were fed into singletrack where passing would be impossible unless someone dabbed and let you by. Based on world cup points I was called up in 5th position. From the gun, things were a little dicey with a rider veering over into me, but everyone stayed upright. I let myself get forced off to the side on the grass climb and a surge of riders swarmed me. I entered the woods in 9th, but not in the top 3 which I thought would be critical to winning.

A gap of about 20-30 seconds opened between me and race leader Marie Helene by the first feed zone (<8minutes>

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today is pretty overcast in Mont Sainte Anne and it has been raining on and off making the course its slickest yet. This morning in preride I felt I was all over the place, but it sounds like everyone was. The organizers have removed the main descent of old and have replaced it with a new scary rocky one. It rode really well earlier in the week, but today was pretty tricky. I had to remind myself that I felt horrible tecnically the day before I won the world cup in bromont last year so am still feeling really good for tomorrow rain or shine.

The funny story of the week is from Keith taking Waldek to Tim Hortons the other day. Waldek is a huge coffee drinker, but only believes in quality coffee. When Keith order a double double Waldek thought he was going for a really strong espresso. Never being one to back down for a challenge he also order this "4 shot" coffee. After sipping his coffee though he had to go immediately to the sink to pour out the sugar & cream beverage he had been given. the Timmy's staff looked at him in confusion and Waldek vows to never touch a double double again!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

mom and Dad, my super fans
After Nationals Keith and I headed to New Brunswick to visit my parents and friends. I'm always blown away by how much forest there is in NB. Without the huge mountains the rolling forested hills seem to go on forever. There are also so many lakes and rivers that it's a great place to get away for some family fun. Dad and I got out for a Kayak on Harvey Lake and Keith and I did a couple rides along the Saint John River.

Mom at her book launch for Don Messer: The Man Behind the Music
Although she workd full time my mom also has a passion for writing and has just published her 4th book. We got to go to her first launch which was a huge success and a nice chance for me to see a lot of familiar faces from the past.

Keith and I also enjoyed a visit to Jonnie's Java for freshly roasted americanos in Fredericton. I also learned from a friend that I too could roast my own coffee as they do! Green beans stay fresh for a long time and you can just roast a pound at a time! You also get to enjoy the delicious aroma. The Grean beanery in Toronto is a not for profit coffee retailer that can hook you up!

Fredericton also has the best Farmer's market ever so Saturday I dragged Keith in with me to smell the fresh and delicous samosas, souvlaki & Sausages while we walked by organic pastries, yogurts and cheeses, jams and locally made art & crafts. I think I got a bigger Kick out of it than him, but he enjoyed the fresh jam (from my town of Harvey) just as much.

New Brunswick

Judy's cottage. I loved going here as a kid. It was built in the 1930's by her dad and is on a tiny island. There are about 5 cottages on the island and a large rocks all around it. Great for jumping. I of course made Keith do a lap with me.

Judy, mom and Dad on our way out to Judy's cottage.

Keith at Magadavic lake

Keith and I

Picture update

So this one took me a while to Post. Kamloops crew at Test of Metal. Kim and Martin B had already snuck off to put Logan to bed. Nick, Ellen, Keith, Me, Mike W, Martin D and Pete. Pete I ran into an old buddy of yours at nationals.
A gorgeours sunset in my backyard in Kamloops

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nationals Win!

Keith and Waldek, my awesome support crew

Champagne anyone?

Well today went even better than I could have hoped. The clouds rolled in over night bringing temperatures down, yet the rain hadn’t yet begun to fall. Our nationals course was the same course used for the World Cup held in Saint Felicien, Quebec 2 years ago. It is a fun 6+km loop that takes you over a lot of rocky and rooty terrain. All the climbing is singletrack or switchbacks and there are tons of fast bermed corners.

After a good start I was 2nd wheel to Marie Helene the defending national champion with Amanda Sin and Mical Dyck close behind. I took over the lead a few minutes in and tried to open a gap in the singletrack. Everytime I opened a little in one section Marie would claw it back quickly thereafter. I thought I was going to be in for a tight battle all day, but before we finished the first lap I had opened 10 seconds which quickly changed to 25. I raced hard to open the gap and was able to extend it with each lap. Rain started falling and the course was getting more greasy, both on the climbs and descents. Going into the 4th and final lap I had over 3 minutes so descended cautiously to avoid mistakes. The effort paid off as I rolled in for the win 2min 50 ahead of Marie in Second place and my first National Championship win! Amanda Sin took the final podim position followed by U23 winner Emily Batty and Mical Dyck.

Big thanks to Waldek who flew in to help get my legs ready after BCBR and make sure I was set to battle for the Jersey. Thanks also to my coach Dan Proulx, my husband Keith and Gary Wolfe from Maxxis who looked after my bike and my parents and friends that were there to cheer! It meant a lot for me to have that win with you all there.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Surviving and thriving at the BCBR

Tent city at our roving base camp. Awesome volunteers set them up and took them down each day.

Georgia, Katerina and me in our leader's jerseys

Sarah our Chef Extraordinaire, Katerina and me

To sum up the week in a couple words would be tough, but after 7 days of hard riding I don’t have a lot of energy to do much more!

MTB stage racing is pretty cool. Imagine the biggest group ride you have ever done and times it by 30 or 40. Added to that is that everyone is racing. You move in a fast train slinking through the woods, up and over rocks and roots and down twisty, gnarly descents and then into cringingly hard pacelines along fireroads. Each day offered the 400+ riders seemingly endless singletrack through coastal rainforest and mountain and ocean vistas.

Each stage was about 50-70km and for us 2-4hrs. There were 2 aid stations at mid way points on each course with food and drink as even with our mandatory 3 bottles we couldn’t carry enough water for the stages. My favorite aid station treat would be grabbing a handful of m&m’s as the volunteers filled up our bottles with more fluids so we could get quickly back on our bikes. Cliff Blocks were the best race fuel being super easy and tasty to eat on the bike. Working with Katerina was great. We would alternate leading with almost every section of singletrack and along the fireroads helping us to keep the pace high and our focus on clearing trail obstacles. After finishing only 1 minute up of the second place team of Alison Sydor & Lea Davison after taking a pee break Day 3. After that we just tried to make it through to the finish each stage with less stops.

One day we returned to the RV and not only had Sarah prepared us a delicous lunch but there was also a fresh baked blueberry/peach cobbler awaiting us! Day 4 was the toughest for I think everyone. After a 4:30 am wake up, 2 ferry and 2 bus rides later we arrived in Earl’s cove on the Sunshine coast. This stage had the most climbing with what felt like 100 steep fireroad climbs between the abundant singletrack sections. Expecting the projected 3hr ish race we weren’t prepared for an additional hour of racing with an additional 8km finding its way into the course. Having Waldek there to massage the junk out of our legs and soothe our killing backs was indispensible. Yes I did feel bad for the others that didn’t have our great support staff.

Day 5 we were treated to a 30 minute descent after 2.5hr of fun trails, right into the Langdale ferry terminal where we hopped the boat to Squamish for Day 6. The Squamish trails were amazing. Combining the infamous test of metal course and Gear Jammer, racers were treated to atleast 4 long, sweet undulating descents. I get some energy back just thinking about them!

Finally Day 7 and whistler. It was actually a kind of dissapointing stage knowing the riding whistler has to offer. There was a lot of fireroad climbing to reach the fast singletrack and the weather was a hot 30 deg celcius, but we did get to see a Sasquatch out-running a park ranger with a case of Kokannee. After 6 days of superb singletrack our expectations were high. A flat tire made the race more exciting as Lea and Alison made contact with us before Katerina and I had to put the hammer down to catch the seventh consecutive stage win and the overall with a total riding time of over 21 hrs of racing.

So many kilometers, bridges, rocks, roots, gels, blocks, bars, recovery smoothies, needed massages, 2 flats and 1 big trail detour we have lived the ultimate singletrack experience and get to take a day off! Thanks Zeph Waldek, Katerina, Sarah, Georgia and Keith and all the fun friendly folks we raced with out on the trails and race volunteers for making it a great week!