Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Magpie Obsessions

Welcome and thank you very much to my latest sponsor, Magpie Obsessions. Magpie Obsessions makes handmade custom jewelry and has some really cool creations. Everything from bike jewelry to head badges to silversmithing to chainmaille to beading. It is some of the most creative and well done work you'll find. If you are looking for a unique one of a kind piece head badge for your bike, this is the lady to see. If you're looking for a delicate titanium bracelet, yup, look here. And yes, this is my momma and her fantastic art with my poppa taking care of the background work.

Magpie Obsessions is sponsoring me with cyclocross tires for the 2011 season to go on my brand new and super light
Zed Wheels which I am extraordinarily stoked to try out. The CrossRock AX is so light and stiff, and the hub sounds oh so good!!!

Thank you so much to my new and all my old sponsors for all of the support!!!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Xterra US Championships

Survived my second Xterra race in Ogden, Utah, and yes, I was actually a little scared that I really wouldn't survive. If I'm ever to do these again, I really need to learn to swim properly!! You know you're not doing good when another racer stops you and asks if you are okay...haha, yup that really happened.

As a pro, we got a 30 second head start over the age group categories in the swim, which I really liked as there was probably 3 times as many starters as the Whistler race.....it was nuts. I was on the look out for Lance Armstrong, but it was really hard to tell who was who in our wetsuits, swim caps and goggles. Off the start I felt good, steady but easy pace, not worried about trying to keep up with the rest of the pack.....I figured at altitude I really didn't want to go out too hard, especially in the water, I'd be in real trouble. Everything was going great, until the age groupers caught me, which really didn't take that long :( All of a sudden I was swarmed!!! And being yanked on, hit, and I panicked again. I actually did some full on back floating this time, no back stroke, but FLOAT....and I still had trouble catching my breath. I feel like I was hyperventilating for the entire 1.5 km (it was actually longer then the announced 1.5km because the leaders were way off pace too). Half way to the first buoy I was thinking "What the hell am I doing out here!!!!!", and I still have to do a second lap.

Alas, I kind of pulled myself together a little, not much of a rhythm to be found while hyperventilating, but I managed to get a couple stretches of good swimming in. Sighting while open water swimming is another thing that really needs some attention...I keep making things harder on myself then they really need to be. I had one stretch of my "good swimming", feeling good about how it was going right then, only to run smack into a marshal kayaker trying to get me back on course .... I had managed to get myself right in the middle of the triangle course......just what I needed, more distance. If you see any of the helicopter footage of the swim and see a little pink swim cap in the middle all by itself, it's more then likely me!!

But I did survive, and I didn't trip coming out of the water this time!!! Small victories are so important at this stage. I'm also proud to say that my bike wasn't the very last bike on the pro rack, there was one more right beside me. I guess the pro guy that racked right beside me beat me in the bet as to who would be last out of the water..hehe.

Transitions are another part of my game that needs a little focus, but this one was much smoother then my first one. Off on the bike, I hammer the road section and pass a number of people, gluing my front wheel to the back of some fast dude for as long as I can hold him. It takes me about 30 mins to finally catch my first Pro woman. FINALLY!! Although the bike is by far my strength, with a 1000m of double track climbing and only 550m of fast non-technical descending, this isn't a course that suites my riding style.....and at altitude non the less. I manage to motor through a number of people, passing a couple more of the pro women before I get stuck behind a small pro descending rather too slowly for my liking. I follow behind her for a ways, but when it opens up, open it up to pass. THUNK!!! One of the 5 rocks on course, and I nail it. I hold my breath.....but it seems to be okay...so I keep motoring.

5 minutes down the trail I realize my back wheel is starting to get really squishy :( I jump off and get to finally use the Genuine Innovations Big Air that I've been riding with all year. Yup, that's my first flat of the year, and as usual, the Big Air works awesome. I throw a bunch of air in the tire, it seems to be holding, so I jump back on not loosing any positions and cruise off. Just as I'm closing in on another pro woman, I realize I've gone flat again....so I get to test out my race flat change. I can't quickly find a hole so the Genuine Innovation tire plugs aren't going to work unfortunately, that would have been a much faster fix, so out comes the tire lever and the dirty ole tube that's been pasted on my seat tube all year. I should have timed myself because I'm pretty sure I did a really good job on this one, and my Big Air had just enough CO2 left to fill the tube. Back in the saddle, I realize I'm in last place again....haha....and I'm stuck behind a long string of people. Slowly I pick off as many people as I can, and only 2 pro woman...so at least I'm not last.

I hit the run feeling pretty good. I guess the good thing about altitude is that you actually can't push your body too hard, it's physically impossible because you just can't breath good enough to go really hard. I pass a whole wack of people up the first nasty run. Ya, I can't believe that I was actually passing people running up hill.....small fast steps really work. It's an almost 10 km trail run on way more technical, rolling terrain then the bike and I find that although I crack at the 3 mile marker, I'm really enjoying myself. Around the time I crack, I'm going a little cross eyed, and I see a big black fuzzy butt in the woods......another black bear!!! Nope, MOOOOOOO......just a fuzzy black cow. The run finishes with a mile downhill singletrack running....I've been grilling everyone about how to run downhill...and although I know I'm still not great, and I probably looked anything but graceful but I was able to successfully run downhill better then my last attempt.

The killer was the last 50m steep uphill stretch just before the final small descent into the finish....this is where everyone was watching...I really hope I wasn't drooling too much at this point. Almost 30 mins behind defending super fast champion Mel McQuaid, I finished 15th in the Pro Women category.

What now???? Hmmm, I think I'm going to stick with cross for the rest of the season...hehe. Thoughts of Fort Collins are dancing in my head at the moment....maybe :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

3 Cross Races in 5 Days!

Yes!! Survived 3 hard cross races and one full day of Vegas in 5 days…… now I'm sitting in the Seattle airport enroute to Salt Lake City sipping my second double americano for the day and trying not to fall asleep. Im actually feeling a lot better all things considered then I thought I would. I couldn't escape from Vegas fast enough, it's definitely not my kind of place. I would do Cross Vegas again, but I think it would even be more of an in and out kind of trip then I did this year … but you gotta do it at least once.

StarCrossed on Saturday was as usual, great!! Unfortunately due to booking conflicts at the velodrome the race was moved to Lake Sammamish park instead. It was still and awesome event, but the course at the velodrome is really cool. Being at a park too, it wasn't quite the night cross it was last year, but the beer garden fans at the barriers were still amazing!!!

I really wasn't sure how I would feel. Walking around Interbike (the big dumb bike show) all Thursday really kicked my butt, and my warm up was very sub par. I lined up thinking, okay, just have fun with this. Two Alberta girls, I won't name names, lol, missed call up so I was able to squeak up into a first row start position…SCORE!!!! I couldn't remember if this was one of the races that had the holeshot prime, so off the start I took full advantage of my great starts (and no, no holeshot prime here) and gassed it. As a mountain biker I like to be able to ride an open course and not have to fight around the corners, so I charged to string out he field. Katherine Nash (Luna), Sue Butler and Caroline Mani (French Nat Champ) stuck to my wheel like glue, and it was pretty neat hammering out a lap and a half with those fast women. Half way through the second lap, Katerina passed me through the sand run (ya, I dont know why I'm so slow on the run, I'm tall I should be fast!!!!) and I was able to stick on her wheel for a couple corners, but she just had more gas coming out of the sand then I did. We would hold pretty even through out the lap, then she'd put time on me through the sand and out the other end.

She stretched out her lead and I stretched out my gap over Sue and Caroline who were working together and charging, through out the race. With 2 laps to go I come down the fly over ramp and getting a little lazy, end up landing on my saddle causing the seat to rotate nose up…NO!! Figuring I can ride it out to the sand pit, then hammer the saddle back into place on the run, I continue pushing my pace not wanting to give up any time. Then in a moment of lapsed focus I take the corner into the pits a little too hot and go down hard! My bike skids into the pits and I power slide right along with it. Jumping up faster then I hit the ground I'm back on my bike and trying to pedal. My chain had fallen off and while trying to get it back up on the front chain ring it sucks back up into the frame and jams.… flash back to Cross Vegas, though not nearly as bad. Sue and Caroline fly by me, I get my chain sorted out, and decide to hit my saddle back into place (everyone was yelling at me here to relax and chill out… haha, I guess it probably looked bad, but I really didn't wan to ride with the saddle tilted up) and got back in the race. Lap and a half to go, I hammer as hard as I can to chase back up, and not loose more time to the girls behind me, but in the end I finish just off the podium in 4th place.

Sunday I wanted redemption!!! It rained pretty hard all night, so although it was the same course, it ended up being very different. Second row call up (no squeaking into a front row today), I settle into a group of the same 4 of us from the previous day. Going through the start finish after a lap I look behind me and see the chase group closing, so I launched and attack… yup, mountain biker brain again. Katerina and I charge off and the race ends up looking almost the same as StarCrossed. No crashes and no mechanical today!!!!! I end up on my first big cross podium in second place between the Czech and the French national champ.

I am super stoked with all my races, but really excited I was able to keep it all together for the last race. Regan had 2 amazing races too, with a really solid 3rd and 2nd respectively!! He's back!!!!!! And a super solid presence from the rest of the Pro City Team and numerous other Victoria racers! Junior racer Amanda Wakeling kicked butt in the women's cat 4 and cat 3 races!!

Huge thank you to all my sponsors, Trek Pro City for the super awesome Cronus, Lazer Helmet for of course the Helium Helmet, VellendTech for the super sexy and super confortable cross specific Sidi Spider and Honey Stinger for the best race chews, gels and protein bars for warm up, staging and recovery nutrition. After a week of practically no swimming, this Xterra in Ogden is going to hurt!! Maybe some TRX to get me back in shape.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cross Vegas!!!

First kick at the cat for Cross Vegas!! Pretty neat event for sure. The course is nothing special, wide open power course with wide sweeping turns, short run ups, long straight aways and lots of rowdy fans. After raining all morning I was a little scared with my tire selection of file treads (and that's all I traveled with … the forecast leading into my departure was hot and dry with 30 % chance of showers.… not the flood warnings we were getting. Only in Vegas can a 30% chance stack up against you. But the sandy grass drains remarkably well and my tires were perfect.

I had my typical awesome start and was feeling really good. Sitting in about 5th in a small group half around the first lap i rubbed the wheel of the girl in front of me and went down. No biggy, rubbin's racin, jumped back up and on my bike, no time lost.… but my chain had jumped off, and somehow managed to get jammed. After some frantic tugging and cursing and pulling I finally managed to get things straightened out and haha, I was DFL ain!!! The whole field had zipped past me :(

Well here we go!! I actually had an amazing race, I felt really strong and road everything clean and solid. The one thing about starting from the very back, its a nice feeling passing everyone!!! Managed to claw my way back up to 15th with top ten within my sights.

Checking out Interbike today and hopefully going to hunt down a chain guide!!!!!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cumberland Coal Cross

Phew.....first cross race of the season done and out of the way!!! Cross bike arrived Thursday afternoon and Regan spent Thursday night and Friday morning putting my sexy new Trek Cronus together for me...yippee..just in time!

Oh ya, it's purdy for sure :) With Cross Vegas fast approaching I needed to test out how file tread tubulars react to grass and gravel corners, so the boys from Trek Pro City let me use a classic 1980's set of sweet carbon Zipp wheels.....so stiff and fast and I'm really liking the tubulars. So very excited for my very own custom Zed WheelWorks CrossRock AX...I think I'm ruined for clinchers now....oh no, only expensive tires from now on!!

Early morning wake up and a 3 hour drive north up Vancouver Island to the cute little town of Cumberland...one of my favorite mountain towns. The Cross on the Rocks series has gotten completely out of control! It's amazing how many people are coming out to these races now. There were even enough women to break us up into 2 categories for the first time...keep coming out ladies and bring more friends!!

This race is a fast, flat, all out power hammer course, with wide sweeping corners, the largest whirly-whirl ever (I was getting dizzy in it) and a trip through the BMX track and the pump track every lap....and as always, it's soooo fun. With a large women's field, the first cross race of the season, and my first race against many of these ladies this season, I was nervous race. It's funny, no matter how many times I've raced, what I've raced, who I've raced and where I've raced, I still get the pre-race jitters....it's probably a good thing, means I care about my race :)

I had a great start, took the hole shot and with thoughts of Cross Vegas in 3 days, I hammered, boy I do love my starting kick. Dawn Berg Anderson as always was fast, and grabbed my wheel as soon as I went by. I managed a small gap through the first lap, and road hard and steady for the next 4 laps. My bike felt dialed and I felt great!! I think all this cross training is good for me.

Regan moved up from intermediate to expert, and raced some wicked fast men. I'm really proud of him, suffering through the 30+ degrees (I think the long sleeve skin suit was not the right choice...for me either) and finished 17th in his first expert race!! Coming off his broken collar bone he's of the mindset to just throw himself right into the heart of racing again and race himself back into fitness....if this is any indication, watch out guys!!!

Now I'm frantically packing my mountain bike and my cross bike to get ready for my action packed 11 days of holidays??? Haha, how about 4 races in less then 2 weeks....now what am I getting myself into??????? Here's how it's going to look: Tuesday fly to Vegas, Wednesday night race CrossVegas, Thursday partake in Interbike, Friday morning fly to Seattle, Saturday evening race StarCrossed, Sunday race Rapha Gran Prix, Monday fly to Salt Lake City.....take a couple days breather and get used to altitude, Saturday race Xterra USA Championships (haha, yup, I'm doing another one), Sunday fly home!!! Then I might need a real holiday...YIKES.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pic's of the awesome weekend

Getting ready to take the plunge along side another former mountain bike animal, Tanis Banks-Tomlin. I totally look like a swimmer, so we'll just leave it at that, no more swimming pictures!!

Oh ya, way more comfortable on bridges then in the water.

Huge congrats and a big thanks to Mel McQuaid who waited at the finish line to make sure I finished in one piece. Yah!!! Reigning Canadian Champion on one of the toughest courses!!

A bunch of super fast ladies.
Of course me on the left, Brandi Heisterman (2nd - yah mountain bikers!!!), Mel in the middle, Danelle Kabush (3rd - another mountain biker), and Emma Garrand (4th).

These awesome pictures and many more from none other then Regan Pringle of reganpringleshoots

Monday, 5 September 2011

My First Big Cheque!!!

Swim, bike, run.… does that make me a tri geek now?? Hehe. I did my first ever Xterra race this weekend in Whistler, BC !!! Not sure if I already have racers amnesia or what, but I had a great time. Painful yes, but it was a lot of fun, and I only mildly embarrassed myself in the swim.

Okay, ya, the swim......this was basically my second swim in the wetsuit and probably my sixth swim since I decided this is what I was doing.… and my first mass start swim (yuck!!!). First 50m of the swim actually went really good and I was thinking "wow, maybe this won't be that bad". Then someone's foot knocked that idea out of me and replaced it with a throatful of lake water. So in the middle of the swim I come to a complete stop, sputtering and chocking. Didn't take me long to remember i was still in a race so I got moving again, but all that drowning I was doing took a lot out of me. All I could manage to do was a little breast stroke and yes, I did some backstroke in the race. Finally I got my rhythm back, only to realize the group I was swimming with had completely missed the first bouey!!! Doing extra distance was the last thing I needed, but I turned around and swam back…ugggg. I did notice not everyone was silly enough like me to backtrack back on course. Finishing the first 750m we had a short beach run, the most painful 30m ever, then back into the water for a second lap around the lake. My second lap went much smoothly and I was a little surprised when I made it to the bike to find mine the last lone bike of the pro rack, haha.

But I get a head of myself.… no one told me just how hard it would be to walk let alone run out of the lake. Pulling myself out of the water I was thinking "smooth, fast transition onto the bike, no problem"........pulling my arms out through the wetsuit I miss judged the set up from the beach to the grass, yup you guessed it, I tripped!!!! Arms stuck in the wetsuit I fell flat on my face and T-Rexed around on the grass for a couple seconds before I could get myself back up!!! Haha, I really hope someone got that on tape!!!! Transition wasn't so smooth either, buckles on bike shoes are not the easiest thing to do up while you're trying to go fast!!! And my honey stinger sponsor Clay was standing there cheering, and more then likely laughing his ass off at me the whole time…way to impress the sponsor!!!!

The bike was a hundred times better. Once I managed to get my gloves on, which was another difficulty, and get moving I felt pretty strong. And this course is a mountain bikers course without a doubt!! Tight and technical and lots of bridges....yippee!!! I started the bike the 13th woman (last pro) and finished the bike in 3rd place......unfortunately my great transition time is added to the bike time so it really doesn't look ad impressive as it felt.

Heading out on the run I really didn't know what to expect, but I knew Danelle Kabush was hot on my heels. This was a really tough run up and down a lot of great and very hard mountain bike trails. Danelle caught me really fast and passed me like I was crawling so I ran in fourth place for most of the run. Had a couple good tumbles on the run.…tripping and staggering all over the place. An finishing the damn run on a long downhill!!!! Super yuck!! There is an art to running downhill fast and I don't have that yet. With less then a km to go Emma Garrand caught me, please let me note she is a runner, and I lost fourth by 9 seconds!!

So all in all, I finished 5th in my first Xterra and had a blast. More then a little cooked right now, but excited about learning how to swim better. When you start more then 8 minutes down right off the bat it's a long day of catch up. Huge congrats to Mel McQuaid grabbing another Canadian Championship title very handedly! And to fellow mountain biker Brandy Heisterman who had an awesome day in second place. Mountain bikers 2 Xterra Pros 3. Not too bad

Now I'm getting myself in cross shape for Cross Vegas in 9 days, yikes!! But first I'm going to enjoy an ice bath back at Alta Lake in Whistler!

Huge thanks to all my sponsors for helping through the weekend. Pro City Cycle, Lazer Helmets (which are actually very easy to transition with, VellendTech for my Sidi shoes, Genuine Innovations, Oakley and Planet Foods with all the Honey Stinger products that helped me get through the day. Also a big shout out to my mechanic Regan, Pro City Sistas Jen for the awesome wetsuit (though I think I needed the model with the built in propeller ) and my mentor and superstar Mel (thanks for the gentle nudge to give it a try)!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Zed Wheels

I send out a huge thank you and big yippee to my newest sponsor, Victoria's very own custom wheel builder Brad Head of Zed Wheels.

I'm really excited to rock his new CrossRock AX tubular wheels at Cross Vegas!!! Look for them!!

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.