Thursday, May 28, 2015

World Cup 1, Czech

It feels good to be back racing World Cups and everyone on the circuit was all smiles starting in Czech.  The season seemed to take forever to arrive. With the slow build up I was able build a strong foundation in my training, but for the top-end speed I need to win, I really need to race and there is no better place to start than in Czech.

What makes Czech special is both the crowds and the terrain.  Fans bus in from over Europe for their favourite racer, marathon athletes racing that weekend, fill the surrounding fields with their camper vans and locals arrive with costumes and creative noise makers (chainsaws).  

The trails are like coastal British Columbia, flowy and root strewn.  This is one of the few courses where you feel like you get to spend a substantial amount of time going downhill fast, and the climbs are technical, especially when the rocks and roots are wet, demanding attention as well as power.  You have to be on your A-game physically and technically to perform well.

I knew going in that I could be strong, but felt some of the other women racing all spring in Europe might have a step on me, which they did.

The course went from fast and dry Saturday to sluggish climbs and slick descents Sunday, but it was no less enjoyable.… ok maybe faster climbs would have been nice;-)    My body felt good, but not exceptional.  I rode consistently lap to lap, recovering from losing positions on the start loop by passing girls in the rocky descent and where ever else I could, but never quite tapping into that raw climbing power i have come to rely on.  Hopefully with more days on the time zone and a hard race in my legs I will find that this Sunday in Albstadt where it is all about climbing.


Railing the descents and striving to clean the expert climb each lap as well as winning the end of the race (cinched 2 positions last lap…a goal of mine to raise the back end of my racing) were the highlights.  So for the moment I am content with 4th, but have some work ahead to be riding at the front of the races.

Friday, May 08, 2015

It’s on

4 races down and still 2 weeks out from the first World Cup of the season! With early season high UCI point races and wearing the rainbow stripes, I knew there could be a danger of me coming out hot this season and fading towards the end.  So I have patiently (nervously;-) committed to a plan of a slower ramp into the season.  Although at the first events it was hard to come up a little short at the end of my races (2nd, 4th & 2nd at Us cups 1,2 &3), I felt good, had fun racing with my team and learned a lot about racing in groups, something my pin it from the start preferred strategy doesn’t offer:-). The importance of always having a race plan and commitment to a goal even if I’ve raced hundreds of times was also reconfirmed.  You do not show up and win without a fiery spirit and focused mind.

My persistence and learning was rewarded at US Cup 4 with my first ever Sea Otter Classic win, a race reputed for being a tactical game with large groups of racers typically sticking together for much of the race.  It was a punishing race that demanded putting it all out there in a final attack to edge away from Australia’s Rebecca Henderson. 

So race phase 1 is complete with some valuable lessons learned.  No onwards and upwards to the World Cups!

Luna 2015.  I'm loving the composition of our amazing team this year.  With 3 U23 women, Maghalie, Hannah-Rae and Andrea and 3 x 30-somethings;-) we are just the right blend of energy, enthusiasm and experience and continue to help each other raise the bar.
Look closely and you will see the suffer face needed to win Sea Otter!

Switching things up

For me, it’s important to keep switching things up in my racing and training.  The past two seasons I had change imposed on me by broken collarbones.  The recovery from these gave me the opportunity for some midseason reboot time and a refocus on being in the moment. It also made me grateful to be able to train hard and race.  Remembering how much of a privilege it is to do what I do and be physically able to, is a gift I never want to take for granted.  

In the past two years I’ve also taken time for a solo trip to Colorado’s mtns to see what living and training at 2800m feels like (ouch), relished 3 weeks training in France over famous mtn passes with my husband Keith before Worlds last year and most recently was able to share my “pro cyclist” lifestyle with him this past winter as he took a leave of absence from work to join me on the road to train.  We headed south in our sprinter van and logged some great miles on our road and mtn bikes.  The best part though was just getting to explore at a leisurely pace.  To go where ever our desires took us.  Places like Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Prescott, Moab and Sedona, which I had heard so much about gained a sense of familiarity and friendships were formed that will have us travelling back to these special places.

From a training perspective, I’m not sure yet what was better, logging more bike miles though the winter or my traditional focused routine of trainer rides and xc ski miles.  Time will tell. Both have their advantages.  The former being a large bike base and presumably higher efficiency that will carry me through the season, not to mention a fitter than ever training partner and the later the mental and seasonal variety of skiing with short and focused bike work.  My hope is that a very solid cycling foundation this season will have me strong throughout the World Cup season right up until the World Championships in Andorra.  There are always so many variables that go into having a successful season, but I think the soul candy and training variety this last season offered will be good for the big picture.

I’ve now gotten to enjoy a couple weeks back at home, got the garden in, taxes done, pear tree pruned as well as reconnected with friends.  As much as I loved the adventure of being on the road I am thriving being back home where home-life balances athlete-life and gives me energy, where I have my familiar routine, trails and climbs to get the most out of my efforts.  I was happy with the progress in my racing and form from US cup 1 to 4, but I feel even stronger now and look forward to one of my favourite courses on the circuit, Czech on May 24th, and another ride upon my freshly painted Orbea Oiz.
Love the spring flowers at my house!
                                    His and her work stations at a recovery week campground