Monday, 2 February 2015

European Cyclocross Adventure

You ever regret a trip before you have even gotten on the plane?  I was regretting the decision to go to Europe for CX Worlds the whole month leading up to the project with dealing with the CCA….but that’s a separate story.  Once we got on the plane in Victoria, there was nothing else to do or worry about.  Take a sleeping pill that never works and watch 3 movies as you cross the pond.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to Europe, and this was my first trip for cyclocross.  After watching hundreds of European cyclocross races I was really excited to get the opportunity to be a part of the circus.

My first Cyclocross World Cup ever in Hooderheide, Nederland, an hour and a half north of our Canadian base in Tielt-Winge.  Pre-riding the course after a night of snow made me super thank full that it’s been a wet season with a lot of muddy races.  Also made me really happy that I am running Shimano Di2 with hydraulic brakes that actually work!!!

There wasn’t a lot of elevation on the course, but there was a lot of mud and deep European ruts!  What’s a European rut you ask?  It’s about ½ a foot deep and scary when you get stuck in it at speed.  Watch any of the races on the front and I can tell you first hand that it’s definitely a lot harder then they make it look!  Back row call up, my fate after struggling most of the season to get any UCI points.  After a 100m fast start straight there was a hard left and down into knee deep mud had everyone but Vos off and running.  I had a great start, and moved through more than half of the field within the first lap, actually working my way up to the top 20 when I found myself riding with Katie Compton for two laps.  The pure sustained horsepower required to keep the bike moving through the thick mud and around hairpin corners, and the long mud run up, quickly caught up with me.  Laps 4 and 5, I struggled to keep the pedals turning, loosing 3-4 spots a lap.  The last steep run up, steep downhill and little surgy climb to the finish straight had me battling with a small Italian girl.  I was in the lead as we hit the pavement and with another position only 20 m away I wasn’t going to sit up to play games.  At the end, she had more pop than me and I finished my first world cup with a 29th.   Always wanting to have gone faster, I was still really happy with the day.  My bike exchanges went really smoothly, and it was a great way to blow out the legs for Worlds after not having raced in almost 2 months.

After a week of recovery, scouting out old footage of the Tabor course and last minute prep and I was really excited to race World Championships.   The course was really well suited to my technical skills, a lot of really muddy and slippery corners, with some short hard straightaways.  The ruts here were ten times worse than anything I have ever seen, half a wheel deep in most places and frozen rock hard.  Race day was overcast, even snowing, and just around freezing.  Fourth last call up again, all my nerves kind of left as I was standing on that start line….can only go up from here.  The start was hairy, at the end of the long straightaway, the pavement started curving right and downhill, so everyone was cooking.  I’m really happy that I didn’t panic with not being able to take advantage of my good starts and just sat in through the first couple corners.  Not 20 m on to the first dirt/mud section was the first carnage.  Bodies and bikes laid out all over the mud, and I found myself getting run into the side barriers….but stayed upright.   The announcer put it best as being as slippery as butter on glass, with the thin lay of slick mud on top of froze ground, it was so unpredictable and racers were going down on corners, hills, straightaways, everywhere.  Somehow keeping calm and dialing the corners I kept the bike upright, smooth was fast here, up the stair run up, remount on a muddy uphill, down the off camber rutted corners, and found myself sitting in good company coming through the pits for the first half lap.  Out of the pits, up the slow, awkward uphill barriers, remount again on a slippery, muddy uphill to hammer the long straightaways with hairpin corners.  Recover slightly over the top, drop down the steep short shoot, up short technical and punchy climb  (which was mild madness on the first lap), survive the fast downhill straight away into icy off camber corner, one last rough, rutted corner past the pits and a hairpin corner onto the pavement and that’s a lap.  My tactic was to put a lot of energy into the uphill straightaways, and recover as much as possible on the technical corners.

Coming through the 3rd lap, sitting on Caroline Mani’s wheel (who I love racing against…..every time she passes me she says “Come On Mical Dyck! Stay with me Mical Dyck! …..makes me smile), I cautioned a glance at the leader board and saw I was sitting around 16th!!  WHAT!! I had some really good battles with a couple of girls, but I love the feeling of passing people….not getting passed!  Last lap I had Kaitliean Antonneau in my sites, with Mani just ahead of her.  I caught Kaitliean shortly after the uphill barriers and put in a big effort up and over the top.  Smooth through the last half of the course, I came by the pits for the last time to hear my awesome pit crew yelling at me, and a big smile on my face. 

Finishing 12th! about 30 seconds out of the top 10, was a great way to end a long hard season.  I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone that helped to get me here, I definitely could not have even gotten to the start line without you!  I had so many financial and emotional supporters from such an amazing community, and it feels so good to have such a great race for everyone watching and cheering back home!

Also a huge thanks you to my many sponsors.  Stan’s NoTube Carbon Valor wheels and Iron Cross Alloy wheels, run with Kenda Tires Kwickers at 23 psi was amazing!!  I honestly think I had better traction then many people with uber expensive tubulars and sub 20 psi.  My Shimano Di2 and hydraulic disk brakes worked absolutely flawless the entire trip!  It’s really amazing in the mud and freezing conditions not having to worry about the cables getting gummed up, and not have to worry about my brakes failing…. interesting to note: I ran the same brake pads all year in a very, very muddy season, couldn’t do that the last 2 years J  Crankbrothers eggbeaters pedals were the ticket in the thick European mud with my Horst Engineering toe spikes.  Lazer Helmets Z1 helmets were so comfortable with my faithful and favorite Oakley Canada Radar glasses with photochromatic lenses.  Mad Alchemy hot balm keeping my legs toasty warm.  And of course, my Ridley X-Night frame and fork are easily the best bikes out there!

One final shout out to the awesome mechanical crew we had, Scotty Kelly, Adam Trotter, Derrick Chipping and my very own Regan Pringle for keeping my bikes feeling brand new every time I grabbed my bikes!!!


Now home to my puppy and back to work J

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Tis the season of small knobby tires again...

Cross season has started with a bang and some high speed drag racing in Vegas with the most amazing equipment on the circuit.  This year we are running the uber light and sexy Ridley X-Night , slightly more racier geometry then my beloved Ridley X-Fire, with Shimano Di2 (finally hydraulic disk brakes that actually work!!!!!  Now I need to learn how to use these properly) and of course my favourite Stan's NoTubes Wheels!!  That one is always a super fast late night adventure that always leaves me feeling sick….not sure if it's the early season effort, the heat or the late night.  No Island Cup races to prep me for this torture this season, first cross effort of the year was straight to the biggest race of the year. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel and off the gun I actually felt not too bad.  Almost 2 blistering laps I hung with the lead group, and then I popped…….and I mean really really popped.  Struggling with the finish, thank you to all the hundred of people out there cheering and heckling me to the finish, I managed my worst Cross Vegas finish to date…21st, haha, I'm pulling up my socks for the rest of the season for sure!  On a flip side, teammate Jake Wells absolutely rocked it with his best ever Cross Vegas finish, 13TH!!!!

Off to Boulder for the first double header of the season and the first snow of the season.  Here we got to meet up with new teammate Chloe Woodruff, I'm super stoked to have this really nice and very fast lady apart of the team, starting the season off with a 3rd place :)  Day 1 in Boulder was a flat rough course with some good sand pits, nothing super technical but rough enough that it was tough to get any flow. This was a good battle for me, up in the lead group, dropped back to 13th, battled up to finish in 10th.  Day 2 at the Valemont bike park was a steep hard course, lots of steep climbing, steep descending and off camber corners.  I had a wicked started and going through the first sand pit I was pushed into the tape.  By the time I was able to sort myself out, I was 20 seconds off the back :(  But I do like chasing :)  Worked my way back up to finish 16th, picking off girls slowly the whole way around.

Huge thank you to Rick Boethling from RAAM for whisking me off to the Denver airport after my race!  Grabbed an ice cream in the airport (I had a craving I just could ignore) and was eating it as I was boarding the plane….doesn't cut it much closer than that!

After almost 2 and a half years of a full time (often more than full time) job and multitasking, it's finally caught up to me….not enough training and definitely not enough recovery.  It was a tough gig while trying to maintain a life.  After some long hard discussions and a look at my life, I handed in my resignation to my job after returning from this trip…it was time for a lifestyle change (even if that means being broke again for a while….thank you so much for the support Regan!).

After finishing my last day at work this past thursday, I hopped on the red eye flight to Boston, first time heading to Gloucester for the GP.  I have never had the opportunity to do these far east coast cross races and I was really excited to experience the east coast cross love!  It was absolutely amazing!!!  Course, fans, racers.  65 women registered in the pro field, only a handful less than the men!!!  Though it was substantially dryer and hotter then I was expecting !!!  Kenny Wehn , despite still trying to figure out which button shifts which way, had a strong 5TH podium place finish on day 1.

Both days played out pretty similar for me, sufferfest!!  I'm holding on a little longer each race, and not fading back as much….it's getting there.  Day 1 I found myself in a 4 person sprint finish for 10th place…an uphill drag race against the likes of Laura Van Gilder are always a hard battle and I finished 12th on the day.  Day 2, I found myself settling in an uncomfortable position early enough to not fall far back.  Sitting in 10th place about half way through the final lap, I was almost knocked off my bike and out of the course by a bad pass, and wasn't able to recover the time of position.  With a large gap behind me, I was able to save the day for 11th place.

Thank you to our most amazing hosts in New England for the hospitality and inviting us to stay the week.  I totally got schooled today by our hostess on the trails behind her house :)  Prepping for the Wednesday Night Weasel tomorrow night, have to partake in cross holy week fully, and Providence cross races next weekend…this is going to be awesome !!!!

Monday, 11 August 2014

My month and a half in review

Ok, July was jammed packed with a wide variety of different events.  Not all racing either.   Finished off June with 3 days of amazing racing at the Fernie 3.  It was a hard fought battle against some fast women on some of the most amazing and fun trails, but I managed to finish 2nd to World Cup racer Sandra Walters.

July started off with an amazing 7 day backcountry mountain bikepacking trip from Durango Colorado to Moab Utah, the San Juan Huts.  Approximately 250 miles of riding, with some amazing singletrack options like Little Molas Pass out of Durango lead by local Shannon Gibson, and the Whole Enchilada into Moab.  Hitting lightning and hail and rain at 12000 ft on day one, to 113 degrees and dry lightning at on day five, it was am amazing hut to hut trip.  The Cannondale Scalpel was a great workhorse, turning her super lightweight racing machine into a bikepacking machine with Apidura bike bags and Stan’s Crest wheels.  I do have to say, the Apidura bags were absolutely amazing on this trip.  They handled the single track like a rock star, standing up really well to most amazing abuse a bag could take!  I would highly recommend these…..designed and tested by a hardcore chick that has ridden many long adventures including the Continental Divide!

Hut life


Whole Enchilda
After a marathon drive back to Victoria, I decided to participate in a ramped up version of the Rapha Women’s 100, aka #badass200. With a small group of women riding 2 days at a hilly 110km each day with camping gear and spending the night at Fairy Lake Camp ground.  The camping vibes were complete with smores and bourbon.  I outfitted my Ridley X-fire nicely with the Apidura seat bag and frame bag. 


Photo Eiry Bartlett
Photo Eiry Bartlett
The following weekend Singletrack 6 (formerly the Transrockies) started and I was joined by her teammates Shannon Gibson and Nina Baum on this leg of my July adventures.  6 days of racing through the mountains with hundreds of other people that are super stoked to just be on their bikes!!  Doesn’t get any better than this.  The Cannondale Scalpel with Stan’s NoTubesValors was the obvious choice for this adventure. Day 1 in Bragg Creek was a shock to the system, so much climbing, but so much descending.  Day 2 in Nipika was the rooty technical fun and punishment that is always expected of that area.  Day 3 in Radium was a pure sufferfest for me, I started the day off slightly dehydrated, and spent most of the day in survival mode in the exposed heat.  Day 4 and 5 in Golden were amazing fun, getting to ride the old school Mount 7 Pychosis and the fast flowly Moonraker trails.  And Day 6 finished a very hot week on the awesome trails of Revelstoke.  After glorious 6 days of racing, I finished 2nd behind Kate Aardal in the overall, but scored a win on the timed downhill section for the week.

Definitely not fully recovered from that adventure I grabbed my Trigger 29er, I am totally in love with this bike! and headed over to Whistler for the Crankworx World Enduro Series race.  I consider myself a pretty good technical rider, able to hold my own on most trails, but this was a little easily the hardest course that I've ever tried to race.  I was literally shaking in my shorts on a couple of the technical sections……only to have Anne Caroline Chausson, 14 time multi discipline world champion, come by during practice and school all the dudes standing there…..yup, that's what I was up against.  Needless to say, I had a tough go this event and crashed hard on stage 2, dislocating my shoulder and ending my day.  I am sooooooo happy I was wearing my Lazer Phoenix full face (full face mandatory course) because it definitely saved my teeth!
Pre-ride Stage 4

3 weeks off the bike to let the shoulder heal….guess I really do need some recovery time…..and finally update my blog :(  And getting ready for CrossVegas on the trainer for now !









Saturday, 14 June 2014

Apidura

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!!

Bring on the new adventures!!!!!!

Thank you Tori!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Nimby 50 and Bastion Crit madness weekend

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.

On to the next adventure!!!!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Is it really the middle of May already!

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!

Thanks Isabelle!
Recovering and getting ready for Cumby 50 next weekend….thinking my Trigger 29er may be fun for that course!

One month till San Juan Huts!!




Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Harder Otter

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