Monday, May 26, 2014

Coming Back

I realized the other day that the last two articles I wrote for Pedal Magazine were “Overcoming Fear” and “Overcoming Injury”.  I joked that it would be nice to title my next article “What to do when everything goes exactly according to Plan!” but when does that ever really happen?

After a fun week and Canada Cup with my Luna teammate Maghalie and her family near Montreal, Quebec we were off to Europe for our first World Cups of the season.  I was excited and ready to be back at it, but also aware that I was coming down with a cold.  Really?  Can’t I just have a regular old problem free comeback?

The best thing about a cold that knocks you out though is for the first time EVER I think I slept 7hrs on an international flight and then had 4 naps between Munich and actually arriving in Nove Mesto!  All I seemed to want to do was sleep.  My body has a pretty killer immune system though so by Thursday I was feeling pretty good.

The course in Czech is awesome.  The climbs are wide enough to enable lots of passing but strewn with roots; the descents all lead to flowy undulating singletrack where you can open some space on rivals if you’re riding well.  It’s the kind of course that is hard not to have fun on, especially on a full suspension like I was riding.

The weather was also phenomenal, low to mid twenties, but enough recent rain that everything was gorgeous and green or brilliant yellow.  We settled into our home at the Four Cats for the 3rd year in a row.

My prep was up and down, some days feeling sharp other days off.  The twinges of self-doubt when you haven’t raced at that level in a while were trying to creep in, especially after the Friday thunderstorm and slick Saturday conditions that resulted in me hitting a tree off of the vertical drop.  I had to do some serious regrouping Saturday.  Reminding myself of all the work I had done to know that I was ready for this race, reminding myself that I ride my best when I’m having fun, enjoying each moment rather than focusing on what could be or what was. 

I went for a walk in the fields behind our house to clear my head, listening to Daft Punk “Get Lucky”.  It was such an awesome song I couldn’t help but dance; and why not?  I was alone in a field right?  So I’m really givin’er dancing down the lane oblivious to the two mtn bikers about to pass me… trying to pretend they didn’t just see that.  It was an awesome moment and got me back in the right headspace.  Have fun with Life!
 Pre-rock out session in the fields

So a couple people decided to show up in the Czech countryside to watch the race

The race was awesome.  I felt strong and smooth.  I gained a few positions on the start loop so that I entered the singletrack in 15th.  By the time we had made it to the start finish however, the accordion effect of riding single file through tricky terrain meant I was already 50 seconds off the leaders.  I felt calm though and tried to leap frog my way from group to group.  It took me several laps of riding through roaring crowds, but I made it to the front, or so I thought.  When I caught Gunn-rita and Annika I thought they were the leaders.  Pauline was already so far off the front that I wasn’t even getting time-splits to her, so far that my win that day would be finishing second.  I’m not typically one to settle in, but for my first race back I was pretty happy to ride it in clean and consistent for 2nd on the day.  That being said I am pretty excited to tow the line with Pauline and the other top women again next weekend in Germany and do my best to ensure a tight battle for the win! 
Thank you to all the wonderful people that really made this weekend shine Waldek, Dusty, Mike, Keith, Julien, Alex and my luna teammates.

BBQ time with friends from Orbea and Oakley

Monday, May 19, 2014

Urban legends and revisiting the past

So I'm washing my bike and a young girl says to me.  "Wow, it really is true!  I thought it was just an urban legend that you are still on 26in wheels!"

The amazing singletrack in Mont Tremblant turned to soup for race day after 24hrs of rain and several hundred racers riding the track.  It was definitely a good challenge and chance to hone in my mud skills!

A successful finish to the day.  Great to share the podium with such amazing athletes and people.

Luna Team Support.  Thanks Dave!

Maghalie rode to a strong 7th place finish in her 2nd season on mtb racing!

Thanks to Eric Barnabe who snapped all these photos!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Return to Racing

I couldn’t be happier to be sitting on a plane.  I am going racing!  It has been a long time since I raced at Mont Tremblant (2007?), so I am looking forward to meeting up with my teammate Maghalie near her hometown and friends for an awesome weekend of racing.  Not even the forecasted 35-45mm of rain will dampen my spirits!

It has been 7 weeks since I was sidelined with a broken collar bone, but I have been able to train well and progressively return to what I hope is top form.  Rather than getting 8 days at home between two, month-long trips I got to spend 1.5 months at home to recover, recharge and build on my form.  Hopefully this will pay off later in the seasonJ

Again rehab was 2 weeks on the trainer, 2 weeks on the road bike, lots of athletic therapy and 2 weeks of mtn biking to get my back, shoulder and neck muscles to the strength they need for racing and my sharpness back on the bike. 

Watching the World cups from home was a little tough, but also exciting and inspiring.  It was great to see the women make all of the features and climbs in South Africa and Australia look fun and effortless! …and I wasn’t at all envious of them snorkling in Cairns… but we made parties out of it, had friends over and got in some motivated training.

The thing about being injured is that often what you would do with more home time…for me playing in the yard or deciding to start a home reno before realizing it is significantly more complicated than anticipated is that you can’t! Riding, at least on the trainer and then road bike was the easiest thing to do so I did lots of it as soon as I could building up my duration and intensity and for brain candy I worked on getting 2 more speeches checked off at Toastmasters…one on living the Dream (#6 Vocal Variety) and one onBone healing (#7 Research a topic).  Go figure.

Keith and I took advantage of my added time at home to do lots of  “camping”, visiting family and friends and enjoying the riding in BC. With the sprinter camping will always be in quotation marks now.
Post ride Picnic on Shuswap lake.  Beautiful day!
After the outdoor riding began we headed to Penticton for an Easter Road riding camp, and Squamish and Revelstoke to get my wet trail mojo back.  So I feel rested and ready and eager for the season to get underway!
A little recovery vino in Penticton

and the wild horses the roam the neighbourhood

Soaking up some Squamish camping at Alice lake.  

Pre-ride Pancakes

Visiting my little niece  (mom and brother) in Victoria after arm strength returned!

The ever-growing Wilson family on Sue's Birthday
Blind Bay, BC
Kamloops doesn't get any greener than this.  Was nice to be home for all the trees in bloom and out before the lawn needs mowing....again

Racing Tremblant Saturday and then Flying to Prague on Monday.  March 25th will be my first World cup of 2014.