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 freecaster.tv

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 Canadiancyclist.com 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!