Saturday, 31 May 2008

Night before Hardwood Hills

Getting ready to race Hardwood Hills tomorrow...always a fun course.

Congrats to all the Canadians over in Andorra..great job (especailly Catharine...wowwie)!!!! Wish I was there.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Whirl Wind Activity

Things are finally settling back down after a week of craziness. Monday morning I got up at 2:30 am to drive the 2 and a half hours into LA from Buellton, CA, return my rental car and catch my 7 am flight (spend over an hour going through security at that time of day). Got home early Monday morning and spent the afternoon cramming for the Engineering Geology final exam...yuck. Just so everyone knows, my textbooks made the world tour and barely even got opened...lots of cramming was needed. Tuesday morning I got up nice and early and headed outside for a 3 hour road ride with my dad before I headed up to the Uni to write my first final. After that I headed home and crammed for my Contaminant Hydrogeology final. Wednesday morning I got up early again to do the same, only to be faced with nasty cold and rainy conditions, so my 3 hour ride was unfortunately spent on the trainer in the basement.

Wednesday evening was pleasent, Dallas and I went out for a wicked sushi dinner and finished off with tea and chocolate cheesecake..yummy.

Got to sleep in a little on thursday and spent the day packing and organizing my post school, packing away textbooks. And thursday evening I flew out east to do the Canada Cup races in Mt Tremblant and Hardwood Hills. Stefan Widmer was either nice enough or dumb enough to pick me up at the airport at midnight and we finally made it to the palace in Mt Tremblant just after 2 am. Since I was the last to arrive, and maybe because I was the only girl in the house, I was given the pull out couch in the living problem, except there was no sheets or pillows to be found at 2 in the morning....oh well, I didn't feel like sleeping too much anyways :)

Friday morning I met up with my coach Steve Neal, who I haven't seen in almost a year, and did a couple of laps of the course. I was surprised, I actually felt really good, and it's always a fun course there...even when really muddy (which is 95 % of the time)

Saturday was the race, I didn't feel 100%, but it was definitley fun racing with Emily Batty, Amanda Sin and Jean-ann McKirdy. The race was really close with the 4 of us for the entire 2 hours. I think each of us lead at some point in the race. My turn was the third lap when I made it first into the singletrack. Being my strong point I put some time on the other girls and coming out for my fourth and last lap I thought why not go for it. I was super happy to see the feed zone (couldn't quiet hold on to my bottle on the third lap and it shot off out of my hand..that was a sad moment..oh well). Amanda, climbing like an animal with Emily quickly closed my gap and put the boots to me up the last steep climb. Emily took the sprint, 5 seconds over Amanda, I trailed in just over a minute behind and Jean-ann finished in fourth behind me.

Saturaday evening was the traditional le Petite Caribou party, to which I called it a night pretty early..I wasn't just a part pooper, I was really, really tired.

Currently I'm hanging out in Brooklin, Ontario at the Batty farm, they've been nice enough to take in some bikers for the week, and I did an awesome ride with Emily today. Oh yeah, last night was the best sleep I've had since my crazy drive to LA...definitely needed to sleep in till almost 10 :)

Tomorrow I've been told is pancake day..can't wait.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

104 degrees (what's that in C???)

I'm going to take a little break from my last minute cram fest for my last final exams ever....yeah, that's right...ever...and do a little update of the scoarcher down south. Santa Ynez valley this past weekend was the third stop on the NMBS series tour. It's a neat little hot and dry wine growing region about an hour inland from the lush Santa Barbara coast. The race is on some private land out literally in the middle of a field, and for the weekend it's total tent city. The cross country course was very similar to last year, lots of climbing, nothing really technical, fast corners...but this year was super stellar hot and really, really rough.
Off the start I got in a great position, fifth behind the three luna girls and Trek/VW girl Lea Davidson. Georgia was at the front pushing the pace hard and I held on for as long as I though was smart and decided due to the fact that I do so well in heat (not really), I decided it would be in my best interested, not only for racing but for self preservation, that I back it off a couple gears. It was probably a really smart decision, although I lost a bunch of spots in the first lap, I managed to finish very strong and move my way back up to 5th place on the last lap....first NMBS podium ever!!!!
I think this was more a race of attrition and staying a cool and hydrated as possible, then you know, actually hammering out as hard as you could. Not even 20 minutes into the race I started getting the chills, and no word of a lie, I though my brain was melting and my eye balls were burning. The ice down the bra, in the helmet, down pants and anywhere else it would stay was key for the start. And there was a greek god on course (I think I was hullicinating though..because now that I think about it, he wasn't greek) with enough cold water bottles to splash every rider going by on one of the big exposed climbs, I'm sure he got more than just my marriage proposal that day. A couple girls stopped to take their insoles out because their feet were burning up, many gloves were shed, myself included was riding superman style with jersey completely open, and North America's top racer got carted off in an ambulance after passing out on course (she's recovering very well) was crazy.
After an amazingly uncomfortable but incredible ice bath, lots of stretching and rehydrating, and a great nights sleep, I got up early Sunday morning and joined Catharine and the rest of the luna crew for a cool morning ride and a great coffee. There are some really neat roads in the region and I'd love to be able to spend some more time riding around and exploring...may have to do a training camp here sometime.
Sunday was the short track, which ran on the start and finish of the xc course. Due to the heat the organizers were very gracious and cut the race to 15 minutes plus 3 laps. I had a great start again today and spent the entire race in the top 5. With 4 laps to go, Katerina made a jump up the only little hill, and somehow I totally saw it coming and reacted, managing to grab her wheel and sit for a lap behind her. I guess for a brief moment there was a couple bike length gap between myself and the chase of Catharine, Kelli Emmit and Heather Irmiger, but they closed that gap and we all sat on her wheel until she attacked again on the same climb. This time I managed to hold her wheel up the climb again, but couldn't stay with her as she powered away on the flat..crazy. She stayed just out of our reach for the rest of the race, and it came down to a four person sprint for second. Coming out of the last corner, I was sitting at the back of the train in 5th and little gap had opened up between 3rd and 4th. I managed to outsprint Catharine for 4th, but couldn't close the gap on Kelli and Heather...happy with two podiums in a weekend.
I have a big thanks to Zack and the Trek team for letting me crash them this weekend, to Steve Blick for hooking me up with some really nice new shades (one of which I'm sporting in the action shot), and Shimano's Greg Hammond for the wheel help.
Now back to cramming...then Thursday I fly to Montreal for the next two Canada Cups.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Down South Again.

Woke up this morning to nice and warm California the sun. Had a long travel day yesterday, I know, I know, you're probably thinking "ahhh boo hoo, your in California"..hehe, I know. Got lost by the LA airport when I picked my car up, then got stuck in LA rush hour...yuck, but finally made it out to Lompoc (which is a small town only 30 mins from the course), got a hotel, built my bike and went for a stellar evening sidewalk ride. It was absolutely beautiful out, and actaully a really, really nice time to ride.

I have just finished having a big breakfast and heading to the course to go for a spin and meet up with the Trek team (they're putting me up for the weekend..sweet).


Monday, 12 May 2008

Madrid recap

Okay, I think I’m finally recovered from jet-lag.. That’s been my excuse for the really late Madrid race report. So here’s the quick and dirty recap.

Madrid is a huge sprawling city of about 4 million people (yikes) and a very confusing net-work of roads, thus the theme of week, as you’ll undoubtedly hear from any other North American, was getting lost….but that’s a whole other topic. The race course this weekend was set at Casa de Campo, a huge park almost right smack in the middle of this great city. Although this is really neat racing right in Madrid, the park comes stock with all night people and is supposedly not very friendly after hours….as well, you had to guard your bike and valuables a little more closely than usual.

The course is extremely fast hard packed and there is nothing technical, except for the fast loose corners. And although there are no long extended climbs, each lap seems to have a fair bit of climbing. The start was very fast and the course was not very conducive for passing, however there was a lot of jostling which resulted in a couple of good crashes. Alison Sydor however was absolutely amazing to watch seemingly dance through the crowd, every time I tried to follow her wheel, the gap would close up….it was pretty amazing. I had a call up of 49th position and managed somehow to move into a really good position for the first climb, but due to the shear volume of people, I was forced to get off my bike and run. In the process I got tangled up with another girl and had to fight to get her pedal out of my front wheel. That momentary blip in my plan caused me to loose valuable time and at least 20 spots.

Due to the nature of the course, riding in packs and drafting was a very important tactic, very similar to a road race. I was feeling great, moving up from one pack to another, making my move over the top of the climbs, until I finally ended with a pack that was moving at a good constant clip.. quickly picking off lone riders. I think again this is a very deceptive course with respect to the amount of climbing, the many small steep climbs tend to creep up on you, and near the end of the race people were slowing down and blowing up like crazy. Slowly the group I was racing with started splitting up and in the last lap I found myself jockeying with a Spanish racer. I ended up taking one of the corners a lot faster than she did and just about took her out….not a very good idea in front of a Spanish crowd….ooops. I finished up in 27th position, not as high up as I was hoping for, but there was only 7 minutes separating myself and in leader, yup, it was a really tight race.

After the race we had a great “team Canada” super at a restaurant in the park. I don’t know if ox is a Spanish dish, but Ricky, Catharine, Sandra and myself shared some delicious ox loin…mmmmm, it was great supper and really cool to hang out with a bunch of Canadian racers.

Monday night I found myself sleeping on the Madrid airport floor next to a large guy with an amazing capacity to reverberate his snore around the entire terminal…needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. After 13 hours of flying, plus more the 18 hours in airports Dallas picked me up on the Calgary end of things, only to have me sleep the next 14 hour. But man, did I ever need that.

Fast forward to the present.... had a blast this past weekend in Edmonton at the Perogy XC race. United Cycle and the organizers did an amazing job of putting together a great event. Got to hang out with my boyfriend, family and lots of people I haven't seen all was well as enjoyed some stellar race time perogies. Currently I'm cramming my butt off to get ready to write my last final exams next week....oh yeah, but first, I'm off to California on Wednesday for the next NMBS race....I'll keep you posted.