Tuesday, 29 April 2008

How Swiss

Yippeeee.....yodaladewhooooooo (okay, that's not even close), but I saw the Swiss Alps today. I truely didn't believe Sandra when she said that you could see them from the house, it's been so overcast everday....but today we had sunshine and lots of blue clouds. We drove a little closer to get a better picture.

Ahhh, my Swiss love...hehe.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Race Day

Section of the course called "Dual Speed"

Got up nice and early, had a huge bowl of porridge, sat with the window open and enjoyed the really nice sunny German weather…and got ready for the race. Sunday was the second World Cup of the season in Offenburg, Germany, and I was totally expecting a mudfest after reports from last year and the forecast from the week. But we were all very pleasantly surprised by the 24ish degree heat and lots of sunshine come Sunday morning…I definitely couldn’t have been happier.

Warm-up felt good, my legs finally felt like they were coming back to life…maybe the flu/food poisoning from two weeks ago took a little more out of me then I would have liked to admit. My start position was 59 this week, one up from last week. Not great, but considering how painful last week was, I’m definitely not complaining. The start laps were fast and short, 2 laps of the 1.1 km loop with a really steep climb in the middle. I started off pretty good, but kept getting pinched out by other racers just clawing their way forward. Each time on the steep climb I was able to punch it and pass a number of girls.

The first three laps I found extremely painful, I just couldn’t settle into a rhythm and I found myself very quickly dropping farther and farther back in the pack. I was able to stick on Alison Sydor’s wheel for about a half lap (that’s a really cool feeling..I mean, she’s a living Canadian mountain bike legend), but soon lost contact. Soon afterwards, Emily Batty passed me easily, and I almost lost contact with her wheel, but that’s when my legs finally decided to come out and play.

By the end of the fourth lap, I was told I was in about 45th position, but with a number of positions just ahead. There isn’t a lot of climbing all at once in this course, so it’s deceiving I think, and a lot of people go out really hard and the bonk creeps up on you….there was aver 1100m of climbing over the entire race, so that isn’t shabby. I was feeling great, and picking riders off like a mad woman..hehe, it was awesome. It’s an absolutely amazing experience racing here, the organizers created a walking loop for the spectators that was really easy to navigate, they had various food vendors out on the course, and announcers at a couple of the difficult drops commentating and just raising the excitement of the crowd that much more. Having almost 20,000 people lining the course, watching and cheering definitely gives you the goose bumps, it’s a neat atmosphere.

By the end of the sixth and final lap, I had managed to move my way up to 29th position (I actually had to sprint for 29th…kind of feel like a dork sprinting for 29th, but I mean, that’s start positions and UCI points….come on). I’m really happy with how the race unfolded, going from almost in tears because everything was moving in slow motion to feeling and riding great….maybe next weekend in Madrid I’ll feel that way the whole race J

After the race while watching the men’s race, which is always really cool to watch, I wandered around trying to find some authentic German food to try from one of the vendors… I ended up opting out, everything smelt really, really good and greasy, but my post race belly just wasn’t interested in having any of it….so I totally flaked on the German beer and food. I wish I had enough room in my bags to bring home some beer, you can by a 750ml locally brewed beer for under a euro. Oh well, at least I got to enjoy a killer dessert!!!!

Well, I’m off for a ride and then playing tourist in Switzerland.

Thank you everyone for your support and good lucks.


Friday, 25 April 2008

"Open Castle"

After a week of recovery, eating lots and stretching, we arrived in Offenburg today, the Thursday before the second world cup. Offenburg is a very beautiful and touristy area of Germany with miles of vineyards covering the rolling hills surrounding the area. We even got a sample bottle of local white wine with our rental suite. Offenburgy means "Open Castle", and I've heard that there is a small castle somewhere..going to have to go exploring. It's kind of a mountain biking mecca here too, rumor has it that there is 6000km of marked mountain bike trails, and there are tons of rolling roads through the various vineyards..definitely would be a neat place to do some bike touring.

I still don’t feel like I’ve fully recovered, the massage did wonders, but my legs are still a little tender. That race in Houffalize definitely took a lot out me. After a day off yesterday I was super excited to head out for a ride today, and did a lap of the course. It’s a really fun course, technical, not a lot of climbing and a couple of really steep and very sketching descents….it’s awesome. I’m slowly getting my singletrack confidence back.. it’s amazing how long it’s taking to feel comfortable in that stuff, I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that I love. I hoping to get out on the course tomorrow and Saturday to do a couple more laps and get everything dialed.

The weather is really wonderful right now. After a cold and very wet couple of days in Switzerland, the sunny humid weather of Offenburg is extremely welcome. The forecast for the weekend looks good, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays dry… I’m getting soft and really loving the hot dry weather.

Tried some German cheese last night, I was really disappointed after the "Swiss" cheese experience. Off to find some coffee...mmmmmm.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Okay, so this face pretty much sums up my entire 2 and 1/2 hours of racing in Houffalize..hehe I stole this pic from Rob Jones on Canadian Cyclist

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

World Cup #1

OUCH - pretty much sums up the entire first World Cup race for me, and from what I hear, for a lot of other people as well...at least I'm not the only one who was suffering. It stopped raining and the sun was shining bright for the start of the race. It actually got warm enough to ditch the arm and leg warmers and start drying the course out a little.

I totally wasn't prepared for the pace at the start of the race, oh my goodness, and I've typically got a good start. The pace off the gun was astounding (and watching the men's start, the lead quads almost didn't make the first corner due to the pace). I managed to hold my own up the climb, spinning and conserving energy, I think I actually moved up a couple positions because people were blowing up left, right and center. But when I think about it, I probably would have been better off going a little harder up the climb and moving into a better position for the first singletrack. The only person that I recognized during the climb was Willow Koerber, but rumor has it Sandra Walter was blazing the Canadian trail up in 5th place going into the forest..great job.

By the time I hit the first mucky singletrack, everyone was running and climbing over eachother just to gain a position. I actually saw a small Russian racer come up and intentionally push another girl off her bike and down a steep slope.....pure madness. Due to the fact that you were completely limited by the pace of the pack at this point, I actually felt really good when things opened up a little and found myself very quickly picking off spots on the climbs, just by easily spinning past people. Finishing up the start lap and first lap, I felt pretty good, and heard at one point that I had moved into top 40..wow, this was easy.

The second lap was uneventful and stayed relatively in the same position, and still feeling like I could push it when I needed, and there was lots of energy left in the tank. But by the time the third lap came around, my body just started shutting down....my legs collectively decided that they weren't really into doing work anymore and each pedal stroke became a battle. By the time I pulled into the start finish area, I was sure that I was going to get pulled, there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to finish a final lap. But I rolled through the expo and started up the climb again. My final lap was definitely my slowest and I lost about 5 minutes off my pace in that lap alone, but I'm actually really proud of myself for finishing at that point.

The race ended up being 2 hours and 36 minutes for me....crazy, I though World Cups were supposed to be shorter. All I could think about at the end was the crazy large crepes with nutella that I had seen the in the expo earlier...I mean, when you burn 2700 calories in 2 and 1/2 hours, what else should you be thinking about.

We're back in rainy Switzerland now, and I actually just finished a trainer ride....I'm serious, it's really not nice out right now. Going to rest up, stretch up, eat up and reflect on this past weekends events...it can only get better from there. I have a massage booked for tomorrow, and on thursday we're headed up to Offenberg, Germany to get ready for the second World Cup. I hear it's supposed to be another mucky one.

Auf Wiedersehen
(Good Bye)

Saturday, 19 April 2008


Hallo or Bonjour

Houffalize is a quaint little village nestled snuggly in a valley in the rolling hills of Belgium, and the whole town is alive with the World Cup. I’ve been told that the entire town seems to just close down for this weekend, and I can see that it pretty much has to, because the course moves right up the heart of the town every lap. Can you imagine completely closing down all of say Banff or Bowness for a race, and having the many coffee shops that line the course packed with people watching, and having the kids from the local elementary school out on the field cheering…and it’s just the pre-ride, two days before the actual race. Never have I seen such openness and love for the sport of cycling, it’s absolutely awesome and refreshing.

Sandra and I are located about 12 very winding km away from Houffalize in the small village of Nadrin. Thursday we headed out for an easy “recovery/endurance” ride and somehow managed to get very lost in the sparse Belgium forest. Now when you think of a forest, don’t think of the typical Canadian forest, think of a completely manicured forest void of any underbrush. It seems that Europeans like the “clean” forest, not at all natural looking, kind of errie and very weird.

Friday we headed into town to ride the course. We actually had to park just outside of town and ride in because the road into town has been transformed into the maze of the expo. You can drive through, but it’s much, much faster to walk or ride. The course is very challenging, right off the bat on the first lap you’re sent straight up the main road through Houffalize on a 14% to 16% km long road…good way to split up the group fast. The downhills are for the most part steep and somewhat challenging, with some really good ruts, sharp sharp corners and some off camber roots. The climbs are steep as well, but nothing technical at all, very straight forward. There actually isn’t much in terms of flat terrain to rest, so it’s going to be an “on the ball all the time” type of race. I really hope that it doesn’t rain too much, could make some of the downhills very treacherous..good to be a Canadian (though this being my first real singetrack of the season, I’m a little rusty right now).

Now I’m off to try and figure out what to do with my Euro travelers cheques that no one will accept….I guess people don’t use travelers cheques anymore…but that’s all the money I have.

Enjoying a bagette and cheese in France
Lost in a Belgium forest.
The race machine.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


Well, I managed to survive the 12 hours hours of flying from Calgary all the way over to Switzerland. Everything went really smoothly, watched "I am Legend" and "American Gangster", plus a couple of sitcoms. Didn't manage to sleep very much, which was my plan...sleep the whole way from Toronto to Zurich, then when I get to Zurich it'd be 8 in the morning and it'd be just like I woke up from a good nights sleep. Didn't work that way, I think I managed about 2 hours of really bad sleep..oh well.
Sandra picked me up at the airport nice and early. When I booked my ticket, I didn't even take into consideration the time she'd have to get up to drive the hour and a half to come pick me up.....I owe her big time.
After stopping to get a couple of groceries from the local market, in which I struggled because I'm a complete moron when it comes of any language, including english, I built up my bike and we went for a ride. Sandra's aunt and uncle live just outside of the capital city, Bern, on a farm, and there's nothing but miles and miles of twisty farm road. Most of these roads appear to be single lane with no shoulder, but they are indeed two way highways. There are soooo many turns that I'm surely going to get completely lost when I head out by myself this afternoon, which will definitely be entertaining. But it was a really cool ride, saw lots of neat country side, and if you've never been to Switzerland before, absolutely everywhere looks like a postcard...it's really pretty.
Managed, for the most part to stay awake yesterday until about 9:30pm and crashed hard, the time is about 8 hours ahead of Calgary time. Slept for almost 12 hours, and I feel like I could sleep for another two days. In fact, I'd probably still be in bed if the rooster hadn't woken me up at 10 :) Oh yeah, the weather here isn't very nice right now, we had to completely bundle up in winter gear to head out for our ride this morning..and my fingers were still cold. I'm waiting for it to warm up some before I attempt to go out for my second ride. Right now I'm enjoying I think a double or triple americano to warm up and try to stay awake today.
Tomorrow we're up early to make the 6 hour drive up to Houffalize, Belgium, where the first world cup is. Checked the start list online and I'm in 60th position..yuck, but there are 130 girls entered...it's definitely my biggest start. The weather forecast doesn't look much better then here, so I'm definitely packing mud tires. What a shock after the 31 degree heat of Phoenix..kind of miss it now :0
I'm off to try to learn some German, wish me luck.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Now that's what I call a breakfast, big plate of porridge (all the bowls were dirty) with strawberries, yogurt and granola...outside in the sun. Man, I love burning so many calories in the day.

If you've ever wondering about moving a cactus, I didn't know they did such things.

The view from our condo in Phoenix.

Ahhh, packing.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Bad luck for Canadian Women

Sob, snifffff, sob.....yeah, I'm a little sad. After racing a well planned and well executed race, and sitting in a very good and comfortable spot just 10 minutes from the finish...I have my first race flat in what...ever. I think I deserve to be a little sad.

50 m from the start, the xc course moves to unpassable single track for about 5 minutes, so the start is extremely crucial in this race. Katerina Nash goes down hard, not sure if she buzzed someones wheel, or just slipped out on the pea gravel, but it doesn't look pretty. I manage a safe, good start and find myself in top 8, sitting right behind fellow Canadian Emily Batty. There is a small group with Gerogia, Willow, Heather and Lea just ahead. On the first open climb, I punch it a little to bridge up to the leaders, and when I make contact, they've lost Gerogia's wheel...which is the last time anyone sees her for the rest of the race.

Now, I'm sitting in a train of about 7 girls, and all you can do is be patient with killer cactus's lining both sides of the course. Rounding a sweeping corner, I feel both of my wheels let loose and my bike washes out from under me..uggh. I think that I managed to bounce up at the same speed I feel down and somehow catch back onto the end of the train. Just a little skinned shin from that one, not bad, but missing skin burns a little.

Coming out of the single track to finish the first long lap (almost 40 minutes) and I feel the pace just slow right down. Katerina, who had gone down in the first 50 m, had powered back witih an incredible ride and was now out ahead of the train by about 30 m, with no one looking to close. On my left, I see someones wheel trying to push through, and so I figure, might as well and I start pushing hard too. I'm able to bridge the gap back to her wheel and drag two other girls by the time we hit the feed zone.

Now in a group of about 4 girls, we're hammering through the field, and we slowly pick off riders left right and center. Some join onto the group, others shoot off the back. With ten minutes left in the race, I find myself in the 2nd to 5th place group, with about a minute gap on the next group of Kelly Emmit and Willow Kroeber (who later flatted once she passed me in the ditch), with Katerina, Catherine Pendrel, Dellys Star (Australian National Champ) and myself, and I'm feeling really good. Cresting the last long climb (long for the course), I'm sitting behind Dellys who is slowing down fast, so I move to go around her on branch of the path moving into fourth. Then....................flat. It happened so fast, and of course I swore a little. I hope off my bike and shoot my CO2 in the tire, it seals up, but as soon as I sit on the bike again, it blows. Checking quickly, I've got about a 1cm ugly gash right in the top of my tire. Putting in my tube, I'm passed by about 10-15 girls, with everyone saying..."Oh, I'm sorry". When I get the tube in, there's not much CO2 left in the cartridge so I can't even pump my tire up enough to ride in, so I start running, and slowly more girls start passing me. 50 m up the trial in a realy rough section I find the ground littered with CO2 and manage to squeeze enough out to limp my way back in. Rounding the corner I see that Catherine has suffered the same fate as me, with the same CO2 problems. We go from 2 in the top 5 to 1 in the top 10. I think I heard that about 5 or 6 of the Canadian women suffered flats this race....who's sabatoging us!!!

Finish in 24th position in the xc and 11th overall in the GC for the weekend. The day before was the short track, which was extremely painful with lots of false flats and a steep, loose run up. I managed a 9th places there.

Oh well....it's part of the game. Hopefully I've gotten all of my crashes and flats out of the way before I go to Europe. But hey, I felt awesome during the race, so all in all, I'm super happy with the two weeks of racing down south. Plus I got a little bit of a tan (SPF 45 keeps you a little white, but I'm okay with that).

Heading home today, back to school for a week. Then I fly over to Switzerland on the 14th of April. Oh yeah, huge thanks to the Trek guys for upgrading my bike to XTR this past weekend, I forgot how nice that stuff is.

Happy trails :)

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Fountain Hills Super D

I know, I'm falling way behind on the picture posting and taking, I really do appologize, I've got all summer to practise up again though.

Yesterday evening was the first event of the Fountain Hills Stage Race....Super D, well actually it was more like a 20 min TT that was slightly downhill about 60% of the time. Lots of fast sweeping corners and a few short uphills, oh yeah, and a rattlesnack, made up the majority of the course.

As per NMBS usual, the start was pushed back almost 20 minutes, so my warm-up ended up being over an hour and a half, I was getting kind of hungry and tired by the start of the race. Off the start, I beelined it to the first cactus in sight, not even 5 m down trial and clipped it with my hand. Not a very smart move, my hand was stinging for the rest of the ride. There was 30 minute gaps between each of the racers off the start, so it felt like I was the only person out on course the whole time, it was only near the end that I saw the rider two positions ahead of me...good sign, making time. Due to the shear speed of the course, and the loose gravel on most of the course, I think I ended up over shooting three corners, not bad from what I hear. Towards the end of the run, my lungs were burning, my legs on fire and my eye watering (not from speed but from the sun).

But I managed to pull off a good run and finish in 5th place, behind Gerogia (so glad I didn't start in front of her), Katerina, Wendy and Dellys Star (not sure who that is, but awesome ride).

It was a super late night getting home, with an hour drive from the course. But we had a huge dinner of salmon, potatoes and salad, and a really great sleep, so although I'm tired, I'm feeling pretty good for today. Our short track race is late again tonight, almost 5pm, with the men racing after, so I've got all day to rest up.......well, do homework.


Thursday, 3 April 2008

American Style

Nothing like a jacked up F750 to help with the emissions problems.

Oh yeah, here's my new rig. Sporting XT this year, loving the Reba fork again.

Getting ready for the Super D tomorrow. There isn't much elevation change on the course, so i think it's going to be lots of pedeling, TT style.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Short Track

Made it to Arizona, safe and sound, after a long day of travel yesterday and some stress at the car rental...trying to soak us an extra $25 a day on insurance that we really didn't need. But all is good, even managed a star light ride last night when we got in..it was awesome. There's not a cloud in the sky down here, so every star was out. Matt Hadley lent me his head light, which was awesome, because the last couple of minutes I was riding completely blind.

Oh yeah, Sunday was the first Short Track race of the season and Fontana is definitely a neat course. Start out on the xc course, climb up part of the four cross course and finish up on the xc course. Started out with a second line call up, and picked a great line off the start, managing to avoid a huge bung up. First corner, not even 50 m down course, is almost a hairpin. For some reason everyone tries to cut the corner as sharp as possible, but I had Trek mechanic Dusty's voice in my ear telling me to go wide...great idea.

After the first corner, I found myself in about 10th place and feeling good. I attacked on the first climb up the four cross course and moved up into 6th place. Up a head I could see Wendy Simms pushing the pace, and I settled in and drafted for a lap. Again, on the climb up the four cross course, I pushed past again and moved up into fourth place and put a gap on the girls behind me. For the entire remainder of the race, I found myself in no man's land with three girls together just ahead of me and a large group just behind me. I thought to myself "should I sit up and wait for the next group, or just keep going?". Feeling good, I decided to see if I could either bridge the gap in front of me, or at least hold on. After 25 minutes of pain, I managed to hang on for my best NMBS finish ever, fourth place and first time on the podium..yippee.

Spending a week just outside of Phoenix, doing some warm weather training and getting ready for the next NMBS race this weekend.

Oh yeah, here's a couple cool pic's: