Apidura bikepacking gear!!! I really can't tell you how excited I am to try this new gear out! I like good gear and this is some of the best there is. Designed and tested by some pretty rad and hardcore adventurers!!
Why do they have to be both on the same weekend!!!! Baaaaah, Nimby 50 and Bastion Crit, two events that I managed to snag the top spot in 2013 were both on this past weekend, and which should I do?? I think I have a problem, I really don't like to be left out…..so I signed up for both!!!
Super sunny saturday morning in Pemberton; snow tipped peaks with dry hot conditions. The organizers of the Nimby 50 do a fantastic job with this event and I am definitely a life timer for this race. 11 am sharp with mtb legend Brett Tippie yelling into the microphone, we took to the roads. Short neutral road section lead out by a firetruck soon turns to a steep loose gravel road hammer fest. With a prime at the top of the first climb before diving into the single track everyone is gunning for it. Chloe Cross nabbed the first prime, I just couldn't match her pace, but had to pull out of the race once she realized she had no back break….less than ideal for this course.
With Sonya Looney, Amanda Sin and Jean Ann Berkenpas right on my wheel we headed into the infamous Nimby 101 switchbacks. Yes, one hundred and one! And they get harder and harder as you go up. I felt strong and pushed the pace to stay with the group I was with, slowly opening up a gap to the other ladies. About three quarters of the way up, probably around switchback number 75, the heat and the effort really started to catch up to me. I was running low on water, had eaten a lot of sugar and was really starting to feel nauseous…but I couldn't see the girls behind me so I kept going.
Hit the Red Bull downtime at about 1:30 hours in, and this is when I really noticed that there was something not quite right with my fork :( Best place possible to realize you are getting only 2 inches of travel….ya, that was rough….how did I ever ride with a rigid fork!!! Survived the downtown, not very gracefully most moments, but kept it up right. By the time I hit the feed zone where my water bottle angel and hot dog were waiting for me, I was really starting to hurt. The bacon feed zone killed me, I really wanted to stop, but the smell at that point was not good for my guts…..very evil. Rolling up to Sphincter I was a little wobbly, but I had made this my goal this race to ride it, and the awesome cheering crowd pointed my to the perfect scary line to make my way down in one piece :)
The last third of the course if by far the most challenging, especially when you are more than I little tired and I was in full survival mode. Steep punchy climbs and technical steep rock descents. Managed to hold it together to defend the title, with Amanda closing in fast for second and Jean-Ann just nabbed Sonya for third. It was a Canada Cup podium of years past :)
Hung around for the awesome BBQ and podium (they are always late), after which I promptly ran to the car yelling "Start the Car! Start the Car!" Driving completely and 100% within the law the entire way, we just managed to catch the last ferry back to Victoria at 9 pm, and have a Pacific Lite Buffet post race/ pre race meal which consisted of salad and a lot of dessert.
Immensly thankful for the noon start to the Bastion Crit, I milked that sleep in for all it was worth….then slowly made my way down to the venue. I had it in my head that everyone would be just as tired as I was from doing the road race the day before…..but I truely think that the Nimby is far more taxing to the body.
I was a little slow off the start, and the first couple of attacks, it was all I could do to sit in or chase down. It was great having the Optum girls there keeping the pace high, they did a fantastic job of making the race exciting. The Red Truck girls added some excitement in the mix. I found myself sitting on the front a fair bit, working with Megan Rathwell to keep the race together. Half way through I started to come around and launched an attack or two of my own, snagging one prime.
Coming into the final lap, I found myself a little further back in the pack than I would have liked. I made a hard push coming into the last corner and moved up into an excellent position tight on the inside of the corner. My line was solid and I was feeling really good….until the racer beside me decided she needed to get a little closer then was necessary. It happened so fast, but I think it was a half chop half hit, but my heart was in my mouth while my back wheel was in the air. Everyone stayed upright and no skin was lost, but WOW, that got the adrenaline going! I hind sight, it probably would have been a much more advantageous idea to be further up before the final corner, but it's all learning :)
Hammering from an almost stand still in you hardest gear to the finish line is purty tough…haha, lost some time and momentum on that one and wasn't able to defend my title twice in the weekend, finishing 7th place.
Huge shout out to the organizers of the Nimby 50 and to Jon Watkins and other organizers of the Bastion Criterium, I had an amazing weekend and am more than a little tired today. While lugging around 50 pounds of water sampling gear today I had to keep telling myself that recovery days are for wimps right?? I wish I could be wimpy right now hahaha.
Hey Regan, want to race this weekend? Sure! ……What I didn't tell him was that it was a 6 hour race :)
First 6 Hours of Maple in Duncan was probably one of the harder races I've done in a long time, steep fire road climb followed by fast, technical, rough and steep descending. You know it's a great trail when the downhill section takes twice as long as the uphill section!….though it's easy to forget just how much climbing there is on the downhill. A 9 km lap with approximately 400m of climbing each lap, you are either going uphill or downhill.
Regan with Laila on course
Couldn't have asked for nicer weather for an event like this either. Lots of sun and a little sprinkle to keep things cool. 6 laps done (one with my puppy and half with Regan) and I couldn't hold on to my handlebars any longer. A day later and everything hurts and so stiff haha, but so worth it :)
This last month a bit, since Sea Otter, has been extremely busy…gaaaah, too much work and 60 plus hours of OT :( Definitely putting a crimp in my lifestyle! Last week I was in Burnaby for a work course and made the best of it bringing my road and track bikes :)
Tuesday Night Crit photo Matt Hornland
Monday night track night at the Burnaby track, scary!!! 30 km/hr minimum rolling speed just to stay on the track is a little disconcerting…but it was super fun and a great workout. Tuesday night crits in Burnaby kicked my butt….raced the women's (finished 2nd to a fast sprinter) and hopped in the men's cat 3….nothing like 70 km in under two hours :) And topped the week off with a fantastic 3 and half hour tour around the greater Vancouver area with Isabelle Deguise on Thursday night….and she even fed me :) Not bad for a work week!
Recovering and getting ready for Cumby 50 next weekend….thinking my Trigger 29er may be fun for that course!
Yes, this was definitely one of my harder Sea Otters…..but I suppose it was mostly my own doing…mostly. Lets start at the beginning of the experience with just getting to Monterey. If you don't want a good laugh, skip ahead 2 paragraphs.All flights were going smoothly, scheduled to arrive in Monterey for 11:30 pm. 11:45 rolls around and the pilot comes on to tell us that we are unable to land in Monterey due to fog and the runway lights are out….back to San Francisco…better than those that had to go back to LA. So, back to SFO we go, and the entire plane is loaded into three passenger vans and we are shipped down to Monterey….nothing like a 2 hour drive stuffed into a van with a bunch of strangers in the middle of the night. 3 am and the Monterey airport is closed, there is not a cab in sight and the shuttle drivers basically toss all of us out on the sidewalk. We manage to bribe the drivers (or they extort us of money) to drive us to our respective accommodations. 5 dolla you, 10 dolla you……oh 25 dolla for you (ya, that's me). Half an hour later I'm tossed out of the van with my two bike boxes again in front of a dark house; I have an address but I've never been there and everyone has their phones turned off…. lets face it, it's 3:30 in the morning at this time. What I thought was the team van turns out to be a car port……haha, yes, it was dark! A moment of complete panic…do I have the right house, what do I do, 5 % left on my phone battery and all I want to do is sleep! I drag my bikes up the driveway…yes a rental van! This looks promising, and it's open!!! Back seats are down, must have been bikes in the back! I go up to the house, using a cell phone flashlight I peak in the front door but don't' see any shoes or bags or anything that I recognize. What to do!!?? Back to the van I crawl in and prepare myself to sleep in the van. Looking at the house I say "Screw it!", and find the front door open. I think "alright, I'm doing this" and drag my bikes into the house. Quick look around, I find a couch and a blanket, fully clothed I lay down and pass out with the hope that I am in the right house……and that I don't get shot!
5:30 and I completely startle Susan (the owner of the house that I've never met before) as she's getting ready to volunteer at Sea Otter…but yes, I have the right house. That could have been awkward. 2 hours later I wake up to a big tongue on my eyeball…..how did the dogs sleeping in the room next to me not get up and bark at me as I broke into the house? I'm so happy they are mellow dogs!
On to the racing, something possessed me to enter for four events this weekend; I do kind of miss the old Sea Otter days of the four day stage race. So I signed up for the short track and enduro for friday, and the cross country and cyclocross on saturday.
Short track was hard like it always is…nothing like 20 some minutes of full gas to blow your legs and lungs out. I was actually really surprised with how I felt and fought hard for 6th place.
Wish I could have pre-ridden the enduro course, but sometimes things don't always work out the best. Suited my Scalpel and Stan's carbon Valors up with some Kenda Honey Badgers and hit the downhill course. Stage 1 was the DH course, nothing super scary but definitely slow riding the course blind :) Stage 2 and 3 were parts of previous cross country courses and very pedally…..which was perfect for the XC bike! I actually cracked on stage 3 from the climbing, but snagged the 3rd place podium by a narrow margin.
Cross country has changed almost every year at Sea Otter, so this year was two laps of an 18 mile lap……with most of the descending on pavement or gravel roads. Not my favourite courses, but it was super fun riding with teammate and complete animal Nina Baum for almost the entire race! She cheered and sang and pushed me hard around the course….then dropped me on the final climb out back into Laguna Seca :)
2.5 hour XC race, 3 hour nap, then chamois up for the cyclocross race. I definitely had more than a few moments of "What am I doing!". I was actually very surprised once we got going that my legs didn't feel as horrible as they should have. Had a good battle for the entire race for 4th place…I think I was going as hard as I could just to be finished faster at this point :)
And alas, the whirl wind weekend of bike fun with my awesome team was over just like that. It always goes by way too fast and I have to head back to reality….I do miss being able to do this every weekend! 90 min flight delay in SFO again, this time due to fire extinguisher paperwork….yes, paperwork, and I missed my connector in Portland….turning my 8 hour travel day into 14 hours…..par for the course with my flying experience for sure! And back to work…..is it still a recovery week if your working 12 hour days in the field again???
Huge thank you to all the team sponsors that make all this racing fun happen!! We definitely have the best sponsors!!! #shredpink
Is it still a recovery week when you are working 12 hour days in the field?????
Mountain bike season is in full swing with three top spots, and I'm getting excited to meet up with my Stan's No Tubes teams next weekend in Sea Otter and pick up my new Trigger!!! 2014 is the year of making things happen…I've just decided that.
The past three weekends have been a whirl wind of local Island Cup Mountain Biking goodness…some of the best courses and trails around, I absolutely love this series and the people with it. Starting the season off with the Hartland XC in my own backyard. It was good to see Dan Proulx bring his U23 national team riders out for the races and good motivation to ride hard. Always chaos off the start with all expert riders, men and women, taking off at the gun, but that's the best part, getting to ride with everyone. Had my first win of the year taking the coveted first place cookie (it's a monster….and soooooo good!), with Andreane Lantheir Nadeau in second and Katie Button in third……. it does feel good to be able to still stay ahead of some national team racers :)
Then we moved to Englishman River Falls just outside of Parksville for round 2. This was definitely more of a fitness course with a long steady climb followed by easily the sweetest section of continuous flowy downhill that I've experienced in a while. Off the gun, Haley Smith took off and found a good position a couple of spots ahead of me going into the first single track. Once we hit the single track it was a slow steady march with little chance to pass. A couple people dabbed and I soon found myself right on Haley's wheel. Spinning out on a log I managed to squeak by her. From there I pushed back and fourth with a couple of the men. The climb was just painful enough, kicking up a little at the top, but that downhill was definitely worth the effort.
Third weekend, last weekend, was Cobble Hill….lots of steep climbing and steep fast downhills. Nothing like 1100 m of climbing in 2 hours to get some climbing miles in. Good battle with Carey Mark and Luna's Danelle Kabush, but I was motivated for the first place handmade pottery mug :)
Now I'm trying hard to get a little recovery in before I head south. Something possessed me to register for the short track, enduro, cross country and cyclocross race….all in two days!!! Yup, this is going to hurt a little. Kicking the season off in style :)
The quick and dirty update….requested from Regan, nagged by Regan, pestered by Regan…that I update from the weekend. Haha, okay, not that bad :)
All this overtime is taking it's toll on my system and it's taking a lot longer then I would like to recover from every workout. Managed to take thursday and friday off, and a four day weekend was exactly what I needed. Actually a 10 day weekend would have been perfect, but you take what you can get. We loaded up the car and headed over to Vancouver for the V_CX_C race in Abbotsford. First big effort since getting back on the bike, and when I saw Catherine Pendral and Sandra Walter at the start line the suffer score just went up, like 40 fold!
photo from Regan Pringle
Had my typical great start, always have to lead out, and quickly found myself in a lead group with Catherine and Sandra. The long straight course with big climbs didn't suit me to begin with, but throw in a World Champion training full time and I was in a world of hurt. Going into the fourth of seven laps Catherine really pushed the pace and I was dropped off the back of the group, suffering and finishing in third place….race to fitness this weekend!!
photo from Regan Pringle
Back to the island and up to Shawnigan Lake for Island Cup finals. Most amazing venue ever, and super fun course with some very rad singletrack :) All cross races should have single track! Opting to race with the men, Wendy Simms and I had an epic battle within a battle! It was so much fun switching back and forth, some sections I would ride faster, some she would ride faster. I was feeling surprisingly decent considering how trashed I was from the day before, and was looking forward to fighting it out to the finish. Three laps to go I hear the distinctive sound of a tire burping behind me and Wendy disappeared. Two laps to, the race running over an hour for me, my body started to shut down a little and I managed to just settle into a slightly uncomfortable pace to finish off the race…OUCH!!
photo from Regan Pringle
Trying my best to recover this week, getting ready for Nationals this weekend!! Really wish it would RAIN!!! PLEASE
I'm falling behind again, but now it's time to catch up a little. Two weekends ago was the St Louis Gateway cup, and my first race with the team in a couple weeks....this work thing is really getting in the way of my riding!! Finished up my friday workday, hopped on the 9 pm flight out of Victoria and somehow survived the red eye flight into Toronto.....the nice little first class upgrade definitely helped with that. Landed in St Louis at 10:30 am absolutely cooked, my only saving grace was the saturday race was a night race :) Passed out for a couple hours and really had to struggle to pull myself together to get myself ready to race.
UCI points from last year gave me a second spot call up, yippee! Off the gun, I hung with the leading group for the frist half of the race. The flat, untechnical course created a full on dirt crit style race, and lots of drafting. I was feeling better then I should have, and hung onto the back as the fifth in the breakaway. Half way through the 3th lap, things started falling apart a little. I couldn't match the accelerations and popped off the back of the group. Struggling in no mans land for a couple laps, I was really happy to see my teammate Amanda Carey gaining on my quickly. Three of us in the chase group worked really well together, this gave me just enough of a brake to catch my second wind. At one point, we managed to pull the lead group to within 30 second. Coming through the final couple corners, I put myself into a good spot and pinned it, putting a gap between myself and 6th place, finishing 5th in my first UCI race since Vegas....definitely happy with this.
Halfway through supper at Whole Foods I completely cracked, having slept maybe 3 or 4 hours total in 2 days really caught up to me hard! Thank goodness Sundays race was a later start as well, as I don't think I moved in 15 hours!
A nice slow start on Sunday was exactly what I needed, though I definitely was struggling with the fact that I had to race again...haha, amazing what a dramatic lack of sleep can do to the body. Again I had a good start, and found myself in the lead pack again. The pace felt a lot faster this day, and I popped off the back again... so I was really thankful when I noticed Nicole Duke coming up behind me. I was a little unsure of how things would play out, but we managed to work very well together and pulled the lead group to within 8 seconds! Going into the final lap I found myself out front pulling, and it was obvious Nicole had not intention of going around me, so I just kept the gas on. With only a couple corners to go, just accelerated past me, but I managed to hang on and grab her wheel. Coming out of the last corner onto the final straight away I pinned it, passing Nicole and taking 4th place by maybe half a wheel length....that hurt!
My Ridey X-Fire and Stan's Iron Cross wheels were as always to most amazing equipment to race, I am always so happy when I ride these bikes! Kenda has released a softer version of my favorite Kommando tire, which really feels like a tubular tire. It's amazing, you actually get that kind of squirrelly feeling in some corners that you get with tubulars. My Oakley Radars with clear lenses and Lazer Genesis are always my favorite choices for cross or mountain or road.
I had a special thank you to send to Absolute Black for their CX chainring!! This thing is super cool technology and I am totally sold! I have almost never used my large chainring in a cross race, except for starts, but the prospect of the single ring has kind of scared me.....I know, I have some werid fears. The narrow-wide design of the ring holds the chain really tight so there is no need for a chain guard or chain guide. I've tried it out with the SRAM X-9 mountain derailluer with the clutch and there was zero issue, but I also ran it in St Louis with my SRAM Red derailluer with not even a though about the chain or ring while racing. And to top that off....I dropped over a pound off my bike :)
Just finished a couple 80 hour work weeks in Kitimat, missed BC Provincials (not very stoked on that), but I have 3 weeks to get myself in top shape for Canadian Nationals....OH MY!