Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bakeries everywhere!!!

Offenburg is one of my favorite courses and favorite venues (that I've attended) on the World Cup circuit. Nothing beats a super fun course, with vineyards as far as the eye can see as a back drop, and rowdy fans with German beer and sausage!! I say it every year, but it's pretty wild how much cycling is part of the European culture compared to North America...I love it.

We stayed in the most idyllic though not ideal house at the top of a mountain overlooking the Durbach valley. It really was like a vacation with amazing weather and a big hard bike race at the end of the week. Each morning I'd get up, make a big Bodum of coffee and sit out on the front porch eating my oats and berries, reading and checking out the vineyards. I mean, how much better does it get....maybe internet would have been nice, but you can't have it all. If I stood out on the porch and held my phone out as far as I could, I could send and receive the odd text with Regan (did I mention I love my iPhone!!!!!)

Friday, being 2 days out of race day was a rest day and we spent the day poaching internet outside a nail salon in downtown Offenburg....the only unsecure network we could find, Germany is totally locked down with it comes to wifi. And it poured, and hailed, and poured most of the day...like...it was really nasty. Turned the hardpack dusty trails into super slick rooty and slimmy trails, and the Saturday pre-ride was funnnnn. Picking up a little too much speed through a couple of sections I thought I was going to die, once you get going, there's no stopping....no slowing down for that matter.

The focus of this week was rest and recovery, trying to get the most out of my legs for the race as possible. That being said, after the short early ride on Sat, we were house bound on the top of out mountain for the rest of the day with no internet and only one english channel (and about 78 channels of various other languages...and if you know me, I'm useless when it comes to language). It was funny, by the end of the day, everytime we heard a tractor or vehicle driving up our mountain we'd all run to the window like eager dogs just to see who was coming.....maybe someone was coming to visit!!!! Haha.

The course dried up amazingly for Sunday, back to the hard dusty conditions, there actually wasn't even a stitch of mud. At plate number 55 I was I think the 3rd or 4th row from the back, but off the start I had my typical great start and moved up to 35th....ish. I really have to figure out how to keep that pace up...then I'd be unstoppable...seriously! With the great start I was able to avoid all the bottle necks, except the Wolf's Drop which is, in my opinion, the scariest drop on course. It's pretty straight forward, but super rough and rooty and nearly a straight down drop for 12 feet. Here someone in the group stopped, so people were off their bikes running (no matter how gnarly this is on a bike, I don't think you can actually walk this drop, you'd have to take a jump and pray not to land on a root and roll and ankle). I managed to stay on my bike and pass a few people trying to decided what to do...really wish someone would have gotten a pic of that mess.

From there I was able to settle into my own pace, which unfortunately meant loosing about 10 spots back in that second lap, but I found myself moving through the race with some of the same people back and forth. Third lap in I was really starting to feel the effort in my legs, and was super happy with my Coke feed. It's the first time I've tried Coke and I actually really enjoyed it. Fourth lap I found my pace again, using a continuous mantra of "Easy Power" to help me find my gear.

On the last km of the 5th and final lap, I noticed USA's Chloe Foresman gaining on me, and I threw the last of my gas into the final long steep double track climb, going cross-eyed near the top, to stay in front of her and finish 48th. I'm actually really happy with how my race went, as per cliche, I left it all out on the course....though not super happy with my placing. It's funny, I know I'm getting faster, but sometimes it really feels like I'm just going backwards. I think the whole women's field is just progressing with leaps and bounds as everyone is striving for Olympic spots.....the question is "What can I do to be there too??"

Friday, 27 May 2011

Dally Forest

Dalby Forest World Cup

Ya, I'm a little slow with this post, I've had to take a couple of days to think about and reflect on race for the weekend. In short, things didn't go as planned, and I'm not super excited about how I performed. It was a pretty neat course, a couple tough technical drops and some fast singletrack, but a lot of fast double track sections. Oh ya, the wind was so gnarly!!!! So the race ended up being very much a road style race, with drafting being extremely important.

Off to a relatively good start I found myself in top 30ish and feeling good. Jockeying for position through the tight sections and along the road sections a felt pretty in control of my race. The longest climb on the course was a double track section just under 4 mins long with a steady grade. I powered up the first quarter of the climb and then settled into a nice healthy rhythm for me. I lost a couple positions but was confident that it was a sustainable pace. Down through the bmx course I railed the jumps with a little air and cross up... Haha not quite....
Well yes to the air!!

I held my own and was happy with how things were going up until the third lap and then I started to suffer. Not sure what the trigger was but I really started to fade and loose touch with people I was riding with.

Being mentally tough and staying positive is something that I have been working on and something I really need to continue working on. This day was particularly hard for some reason. But to take a positive out this situation, you really learn a lot about yourself. I finished 51st on the day so hopefully I learnt a lot!! Haha.

Monday after the race we had the opportunity to ride the London Olympic course in Hadleigh. Hadleigh Essex not Hadleigh Suffolk where our gps took us, but that's another story which includes speeding along Englands highways at 150 km\h in order to make the venue before it closed. It was really neat to get the opportunity to ride the Olympic course, kind of gives me chills to think about it.

Tuesday we headed across the water on one of the roughest flights ever. And now we are chilling in the most beautiful area I've been to in Europe....Durbach just outside of Offenberg in Germany. We tucked up in the top fold of a valley and all you can see are rolling vineyards.

This is the third time that I've raced here and this is the hottest and driest that I have ever experienced. But as I speak it's starting to rain....but I'm really not complaining, the course really needs the moisture!!!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Trainer Time

I can't believe that I pulled out the trainer yesterday!!! Yuck, middle of May and it feels like winter. I've had a month at home, wow time flies, and I'm packing my life up again to head over the pond to my first World Cup of the season in Dalby Forest, UK. Where's that you ask...haha, all I know is that it's about 5 hours north of London, and the forecast is looking warmer then here. Regan did an awesome race prep job on my bike yesterday, looks cleaner and shinier then it ever has and shifts oh so nicely. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

I've had a good solid last week of training leading into my travel, it's funny though, I find I'm always doing more then I'm supposed to. Is it a bad thing that I just love riding my bike?? Working in a little swimming in between riding on recovery days to mix things up and work different muscles. Last summer I re-learned how to swim (very painful process haha), and I've found it's been great for working on core and upper body muscles, and keeping me overall more balanced and injury free. I think I may have to invest in a new swim suit though, my 10 year old, wait, 12 year old, swim suit is starting to get a little saggy in places.

Did my last Tour de Victoria clinic ride on Saturday, the forecasted rain ended up being warm and sunny all day. It was a great ride, but I am horrible at keeping a group together as we rolled out of Trek Pro City at 830 am with probably 20 people, and finished at the Qoola frozen yogurt bar with only 5 people, including myself. I think I need to invent a tracking system that keeps people within a 50 m radius, if they escape, they get zapped...haha...jj.

Sunday I was super stoked to head out for a mountain bike ride, but woke to the sound of rain hammering down on the sky light...yikes. It rained hard all morning, and with an interval workout scheduled, I reluctantly pulled out my trainer, dusted it off and threw on James Bond's Die Another Day to get me through my workout. Yup, the rain kept me inside. It's really not that often that I'd admit to that, but it felt like winter in May....not motivating at all. Though I have seen pictures from the Tour de California.....haha....cancelled first stage due to SNOW!!!! Ya, I guess I could be skiing in Cali right now.

Tomorrow morning will be another early flight, 6:45 am outta Victoria. Trying out my new iPhone Air Canada app...electronic boarding pass....hope I did it right. It's going to be a long day, leave Victoria at 6:45am Tuesday, May 17 and arrive in London at 6:45 am, Wednesday, May 18...yuck, then we have a 5 hour drive north. Really wish I was first class!!!

Got my Robin Farrell Team Canada bell and I'm ready to go!!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Nothing like a 3 hour mountain bike ride in the rain to make me tough!!!!! I guess it can't be nice all the time here.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Great weekend of riding

Two days of great riding, what better way to spend the weekend!! And it didn't rain on me...yippee. Maybe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe..hehe.

Saturday was but of course, the Tour de Victoria clinic ride, and we had some good hills planned. Heading out to Metchosin to battle the first half of the 140 km course, which just happens to have probably half of the climbing on course. Nice sunny, but very windy day, lead to a great day of riding with a fun group of people.

Sunday, Regan was my chauffeur and photographer extraordinaire. With a late Sat night decision to go up to Port Alberni for the 6th Island Cup race of the season (I was watching the forecast all week.....it gets REALLY muddy there), we got up early Sunday morning and made the 2 and a half hour drive up and in island. Huge thanks to Lee and the guys of Ozzie's Cycles and ASS (ya ASS - Alberni Single Speeders)for the awesome course design. The trails in that area are so fun, so well made and maintained, it's really sad that that whole area is scheduled to be cut down this summer :( Last time riding those trails.

I've been looking forward all week to getting a chance to race Catherine Vipond again on some local island trails, but when we finally showed up to the race, I remembered that Catherine and Matt have just moved to Canmore.....so I was racing the guys! I had a great start, as per usual, sticking with Craig Richey and Drew MacKenzie for the first......ummmmmm 400 m, into the first climb. Haha, I had to rein in my effort from there because there is a lot of climbing and it's a long course..blowing on the far end of this course leads to a long painful ride back. The super tight, slow and twisty singletrack doesn't allow for any recovery either.

That grin was plastered on my face the whole race!

I ended up climbing the first lap with Simon Tremblay, back and forth through the corners and straight aways. It was good to have him there, as I definitely pushed myself to stay with him. Know that I needed to get into the singletrack before him, he bobbled near the top and I hammered into the singletrack. 20 mins of climbing to get to that point, then pretty much 30 mins of singletrack back to the lap point. The top half of the course was super fun fast descending (can't help having a super big s*$t eating grin), and the bottom half of the course is the slow, tight twisty singletrack (still with the grin). This kind of trail you end up better off dialing back a hair and just riding, seems the harder to push, the slower you go (bouncing off of everything, running off course), so by the time you circle back through to start climbing again, you've had a lot of fun trail to erase the pain of the climb.

How true

The rest of the race I was in no mans land (where I always seem to end up), with Drew getting farther and farther away from me, and Craig Gillette and late starters Martin Vail and Carter Houvey gaining fast on me from behind. Finished 3rd guy and first girl on the day. One of the funnest courses out there, well I actually haven't ridden an island course that I haven't liked.


After the race we packed up fast for a dinner date at Gina's, yumm, yummm, yummmmmm. Then drooled the whole way home...hehe. After running around taking pic's all day, Regan still had energy to do a write up for the race for Canadian Cyclist. All photos by reganpringleshoots.

One more week till I leave for my first World Cup of the 2011 in Dalby Forest, UK :)