Tuesday, April 15, 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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Full Swing

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 :)

photos courtesy of Colin Wilson

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Quick and Dirty

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gateway Cup

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!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cross is on a Roll

Oh my goodness, do I have a couple of races to tell you about!  Now that we are a quarter of the way through the season, it's more then time to do some recaps.  Starting the season off in style with the classic Marymoor velodrome venue for Starcrossed.  Probably one of my favourite events; great venue, beer gardens and rad fans.  After loosing touch with leaders Gabby Day and Courtney McFadden in the third lap, I found myself in a head to head battle with Sue Butler and fast track racer Jessica Butler.  Half way through the final lap Sue and I managed to put a gap on Jessica, and coming through the last couple corners I out manouvered, then out sprinted Sue (closing in fast on Coutrney) to pick up third place and my first podium of the season :)

Back to work for two days, then down to Vegas...ugggh, I definitely have a love hate relationship with this event.  Love the event, don't like anything else involved with Vegas.  I could get two days off work, so I flew down Wednesday morning, napped all morning and afternoon, then headed to the venue for our 8 pm race.  Best way to break in a bike is race it hard haha.  Being a full on fitness course I new I was going to suffer but I always seem to forget just how much this course hurts.  I found myself moving backwards and forwards through out the race, and finished with a very forgettable 19th place.

They have managed to knock about a pound off off the Ridley X-Fire this year, while keeping it just as stiff and nimble......Love this bike!  Pair with the new SRAM hydraulic disk brakes, Kenda's ever faithful Komandos and Stan's lightweight Iron Cross wheels, this is an uber fast race bike this year.....rider needs some work to be worthy of this bike!

Home for a couple of weekends, first double header of the season, in the worst weather and conditions I have raced in in a while.  New Brighton Park on Saturday in Vancouver was raining so hard....it was beyond words!!!  Well not quite but it really put my bike and my Kenda Kwickers to the test, and they never disappoint in the mud, taking my first win.  Sunday in Cumberland for the typically hot dry race, was again cold and wet.  The rain let up a bit and the deep mud slowly turned into peanut butter....slow grind.  I decided to race with the men, get my hour of intensity in, and I suffered!  Third lap I decided to take the short route and go over the jump, saves about 5 seconds....if you land it smoothly.  I landed it no problem, but hit a little too hard and flatted....that was a loooong run to the pits.  Finished DFL...but still finished :)

Work unfortunately has been a big deciding factor for my race schedule this season and I've had to pass up a lot of events that I would really like to do.  I just finished almost 2 weeks of drilling on a barge in Kitimat, BC.....that's always really good for the training program....NO IT'S NOT!  But I do have to admit it's a cool experience.

This past weekend was the second Cross on the Rock race for 2013, right here in Victoria, and we had to largest turnout to a cyclocross race in Canada I believe, 278 people, plus 32 kids!!!!  And this is on a small island, cross has gone bonkers on the island!   After bonking 20 mins into my ride the previous day, feeling really jet lagged from a couple of 13 + hour days of work and really not sure how everything would react.....and the prize money put forth for the event, I decided to race in the women's category.  The legend Wendy Simms and super fast Dawn Anderson are always really good competition, and it's always a good battle between the three of us.  I was surprised how good I felt and I really enjoyed the course.  Thank you Pro City and Binab Reality for hosting such a great event!

The season is just flying by!
Huge thank you to all my sponsors, Stan's No Tubes, Ridley Bikes, Laser Helmets, Oakley Glasses, Kenda Tires, SRAM, GU Energy, Rumble and Pro City for all of the continued support!  St. Louis Gateway cup in 2 weeks, here I come!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Transrockies 2013

Wow, the end of the Transrockies Epic 7 day Stage Race....my 6th year racing, and it was absolutely amazing yet again.  I've raced the the coed 3 times, twice with the super fun Mr. Tubby Butt (aka Jeff Neilson), twice in the TR3 (3 day edition) and my final time in the solo 7 day....grabbing my 5th Transrockies win.  Really sad to see it come to an end, but really excited for the 2014 Singletrack 6 that is being spawned from the race.  New format, new venue and exciting new trails!  It's going to be so rad...I already can't wait!!

The first 3 days were in the beautiful Fernie, BC, easily my favourite place to mountain bike in the world!  TR3 racers started with us, and this was a stacked field, keeping the pace for the first 3 days really high for all us 7 day'ers too.  Day 1, I had a tough battle with Jean Ann Berkenpas to the finish line, attacking on the last long climb and running scared for the 20 mins of downhill back into the finish, opening up a 28 second gap.  Day 2, Pork Blue, is never a great day for me....the hour 45 climbing kicks my rear end every year!!  I can hold on for about an hour, then I start to crack.  Petra Tlamkova, the European climbing machine living in Whistler crushed the day, beating most of the men to the top!  I limited my losses to around 4 minutes, making up some time on the steep downhill, and Jean Ann took the leaders plate.  Day 3 started an finished up at the ski hill and encorporated some classic singletrack.........love, love, love. Super steep climbing and very fast right singletrack descents.  I had a great start, slotting in between some men into the first singletrack downhill and rocked it!  I really enjoyed this day and was riding strong.  My Cannondale Scalpel was climbing like the billy goat it is, and I was holding on for dear life on the descents...using the full power of the Magura brakes!  The last looooooong, and I mean never ending climb, I looked over my shoulder to see Jean Ann working hard to close the gap.  She caught and passed me as we laboured up the climbs....my legs burning, praying for the end of the climb.  Hitting the Mega-Sore-Ass with 2 guys between myself and Jean Ann, I watched the first guy crash hard on the wet wooden bridge right at the start of the trail....great way to start a technical downhill.  Cyclocrossing around him as he yelled is was okay, I hammered the downhill...wahoooooooooooooo, so fun, and crossed the line 2 seconds behind Jean Ann :)

Due to the major Kananaskis flooding, the route was drastically altered and we ended up staying 2 days in Blairmore...camped out beside the busy railway track.  It's been a number of years since I've ridden the Crowsnest and I was really excited to see what Crowsnest Coffee master, Troy Misseghers had in store for us.  Day 4 was a short fast day, I had a great start, managing to stick with the guys on the long road start, which made for a world of difference through the single track.  Once we hit the super long steep hike-a-bike to the back side of Pass Powderkeg, the local ski hill, all that was left was to enjoy the fun new switchbacks into town.  I had a great day on the bike, putting in 3 mins on Jean Ann and taking back the leaders plate.  Day 5 brought back some memories of the more classic Transrockies days....longer with lots of climbing, epic views, and wide open descents.......55 km our longest day of the week, which is about half of the typical long TR day...crazy!! (can't believe I did those 100 plus km days back to back).  I had another solid day, just staying out of reach of Jean Ann, just over the next hill and just around the next corner, surviving the gnarly loose sharp and moving babyhead rock field....thank you Stan's NoTubes and Kenda tires for not flatting!!

Day 5 - Gibson Pictures
Day 6 was a long day, long transfer in the morning to Kananaskis, and big climb backwards on some classic big mountain trails.  Honestly, I've never even considered riding up Cox hill downhill...it's such a fantastic downhill......and it ended up being a lot of hiking and slow steep climbing.  I got dropped pretty quickly on the road into Cox hill, left my legs in the Crowsnest Pass, Petra was gone, but I managed to keep Jean Ann in sight.  We ended up climbing a long time together, but I managed to slowly put a little gap between us.  1 hour to the top, with some refreshing cold mountain rain, I was really hurting at this point.  Once you hit the top, there are still a couple really good hard climbs....which I never realized having always ridden in the opposite direction.  Once I hit the downhill I was in no mans land the rest of the day, a sorry place to be when I hit the road.  Again, due to flooding, there was a major reroute and we ended up having to finish on 8 km of road.....and it just so happened to be sleeting and hailing and raining and windy and miserable....and I suffered the whole way in.  Petra put some good time on my, but I held onto the leading position for the night.

The final Day 7, from Deadman's Flats to Canmore was TT style, with 20 second gaps.  Starting with some tight slow singeltrack, it was a grind to get the legs moving on day 7.  Really big climb to the highest point on the nordic centre followed by some Canada Cup/Nationals fast technical single track......sooooooo fun!  Long rolling hills out to the last check point and the slow log back into town.  I took the win on the day, securing my first 7 day solo victory!!

It's funny, racer brain kicks in pretty quickly, just about when we are sitting around the table at the banquet watching the footage from the week....can't wait for Singletrack 6!!

Day 7 - Gibson Pictures

My recovery week has been more then a little off this year, heading straight out to the field for work, lugging equipment around the forest taking water samples in 30 degree heat....yes, it's taking me a little longer then I was hoping to get my legs back.  Planning on starting some cross intervals this week, it's that time of year again!!!! So legs, hurry up!!!!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cameron Law Cycling Weekend

     I would just like to start by saying thank you To all the organizers and volunteers that made this such an awesome weekend of racing all over the South Island. Events like this fizzle and die without your continued efforts and support....So Thanks!

     Friday night was the kick off, The Rumble Dallas Rd. TT. Now this is not my forte, especially when trying to set up the ole' pink flame madone. "Regan, make it faster" was my plea the night before. So he slammed the front end low, I mean on the race of the bearing low, to get me as low as uncomfortably possible.  And I broke out the Stan's NoTbes cyclocross skin suit to make myself as aero as possible.  Just under 8 minutes and I managed to snag 3rd place!  Late friday night at the shop, Regan changed me back into road bike mode...best mechanic/boyfriend ever!

Rumble TT  - photo from Morgan Turner
Saturday morning, up bright and early, I rode the hour and a bit out to Metchosin for the start of the road race.  A little more of a warm up than was necessary, but I was definitely ready to rock.  Off the gun there was a suicide attack that stayed out for a full lap or our 8 lap race, but no one was really worried as the pack easliy brought her back in.  After 3 laps the pack had whittled down to only 6 women, the steep climbing taking it's toll early on lot of legs.  For 2 laps the 6th girl rallied to stay on and had to play catch up a couple time, but half way through the 5th lap she was just gone.

Trek Red Truck had 2 women in the pack, and with the 3 solo riders, it was pretty interesting to see how tactics where unfolding.  It was very clear that Megan was the strongest climber of the group, and the only race tactic (not my forte either) was to try and split that team up, which didn't work.  it came down to a 5 person sprint....which I'm not too bad at.  Rolling into the bottom of the last hill, myself, Nik and Megan were dead even.  Megan went first and I didn't have the jump on the uphill finish to close the gap, but grabbed second place in my first road race in.....................I think 6 years.

Westhills Road Race - Photo from Morgan Turner
Nothing like an hour ride home to cool down and blow the crud out of the legs.  But after well over 4 and a half hours on the saddle in the heat I was a little cooked.  Regardless of the long cool down, I still needed a 90 min easy warm up just to get my legs "open" for the Sunday crit.  45 laps of the historic Bastion Square makes for a very fast paced and very spectator friendly race.

After a very hard lesson last year, I quickly learnt that being the most aggressive rider just means that you really have no idea what your doing, haha.  That's definitely not to say I'm at all keen on sitting in the entire race, but I am willing to accept the fact that launching 47 attacks and riding away from the group is probably not the best race plan.  Maybe being tired from the day before gave me the right amount of smarts to race a really good crit finally.

Shortly into the race I went for the first prime, winning $50 in a very close sprint.  I settled into a good groove, making a handful of hard attacks and chasing down a number of hard attacks, but definitely not wasting a bunch of energy.  The pack stayed together a lot more this year, which made the whole race dynamic really interesting.....and a lot of yelling.... which seems to be typical of road racing.

With around 10 laps to go I went for my 2nd prime and the best prime ever, $50 to Choux Choux Charcuterie...our local bacon supplier.  After that last spring, my legs were ready for the finish.  Half way through the 2nd last lap, I attacked, stretching the pack out a bit.  Megan came around me and kept the pace high.

Coming out of crash corner for the final time, I attacked, but couldn't shake Megan from my wheel.  One last corner and we were both heads down sprinting neck and neck for the line.  If it was an inch I'd be surprised, but I nabbed the win!  Have to say I'm very honored to be added to the list of all the names that have won the Bastion Crit....and 2nd overall in the Omnium.
Bastion Crit - Photo from Morgan Turner
Top Step - Photo from Donna Marie

Followed that weekend up with a super fun 12 hours of Cumberland with Regan, finishing 2nd on some of the best trails around...though the 18th time down Space Nugget was really hard.  Thank you to all the amazing sponsors and volunteers at these amazing events on the island.

Just under one month till the Transrockies!