Tuesday, 25 September 2012

USGPcx home of ice cream and cheese!

Wow, back at work after a week of living the life!! Bikes, food and sleep...haha, ah yes, the life of a racer. After a crazy fast couple days in Vegas we hopped on a plane and headed over to the dairy capital of America for the first USGPcx races of 2012....and of course some ice cream.

After weeks of only sun, the sudden appearance of rain in the Madison forecast just before we got there had me frowning a little. I know cross is supposed to be all nasty weather and such, but I’m really enjoying not having to “clean” my bike after riding. Although we had some really crazy storms during the night, the course was so dry that you really couldn’t even tell during the day that there had been any rain at all! No repeat of the previous year’s mud bath at this event....one more weekend of dust.

The course was fast and very rough, with lots of tight corners and some tough little climbs...in all a very fun challenging course. Lucky number 13 both days (no, I’m really not superstitious) gave me a 2nd row call up. Both days played out pretty similar, and I ended up with a pair of 8’s on the weekend. Great start, finding myself in the lead pack for the first lap or 2, but slowly loosing contact as the pace stays high. Definitely feeling Vegas in my legs...as was most everyone else, not just the racing, but the staying up till 2 in the morning eating Chinese food.

Day 1, I had a good battle with Mo Bruno Roy, trying to shake her off my wheel for 2 and a half laps. I finally managed to put some space in between us and gassed it to the finish. Day 2, I found myself working with fellow Canadian Pepper Harlton trying to chase down the group in front of us, but she proved to be stronger on the day and I couldn’t hold her wheel. Sunday’s battle was with Nicole Duke, once I caught her, she seemed to find some more in the tank and we rallied against eachother. It was going to be a really tight race to the finish, but she made a mistake in a corner, sliding out in the grass and I was able to put a little time in between us.

So, 4 hard races in 8 days, and lots of flying......and I’m pooped. Having not raced or trained much during the summer, I’m finding I’m not entering the cross season as strong as I did last year, which I’m hoping is a good strategy World Championships in February is a lloooooooong ways off. Got some work to do over the next couple weeks, get myself ready for USGPcx #2 in Fort Collins.

I have to gush again about how much I’m loving my new bike, the Ridley X-Fire with the Stan’s Iron Cross wheels. Now that I’m playing around with pressure on the tubeless set up, I’m actually convinced it’s a much better option then tubulars! The disc brakes are still something I’m getting used to, learning how to feather the brakes more is going to take a little more time than the 4 rides I’ve had on the bike, haha, but I’m really excited to try them out when the weather starts going south! It’s pretty neat being on a product at the fore-front of a big change, I think this is the way things are going to go in the next couple of years.

Thank you again to the Stan’s NoTubes team for all of the support this past week, I have a great team and I’m really excited about this entire season! Okay, back to work 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Cross Vegas version 2012

Alright ..... Here we go again!!! Cross season is in full swing. And I'm starting it off in style again. This past weekend was the first Cross on the Rocks race right in Victoria.... Record number of starters too at 208!! Figuring I needed the extra workout I opted to race with the men. Little more elbow rubbing then usual and I nearly ended up on the ground on the start, but had a great time and finished 16th.

One day of work, then packed up and headed south to Las Vegas and to meet my new team, Stan's NoTubes Cyclocross Team. Great group of people involved with the team and supporting the team, I'm really excited about this year.

Cross Vegas kicks off the season as a very fast paced road style cross race, with awesome fan turn out and big names from all over the world. Coming off an Olympic year it was exceptionally fast this year, frothing at the mouth kind of fast. I managed to hang with the lead group for the first 3 laps, getting dropped a little on the straight aways (gotta learn how to take advantage of these big legs!) and making up time on the run ups/barriers and technical sections. Halfway through the 4th lap Georgia Gould attacked and that was it for me, just out of contact for a little, but slowly the gap grew. I battled hard for the next lap and a half, lost a few spots but managed to finish where I started, 15th.....same as last year.

Very first ride on my new Ridley X-Fire and WOW!!! I've been on Trek for so long I was kind of scared to try something different, but I was amazed and really happy with how stiff and responsive these bikes are. I'm ruined!!! Can't go back now. Also getting to try out the new Stan's Iron Cross tubeless wheels with the Kenda Komando was fantastic. After running tubulars last year I was sad to switch back to clinchers, but I have to say that these are pretty darn awesome!! Designed specifically to cross tires, with a slightly wider and shallower rim you can run lower pressure without having the tires roll on you. And you don't have to glue tubulars!!!!!!

Massive bonk last night packing up bikes and the van, didn't leave the venue till 12:30 in true morning. And being Vegas we were easily able to find some nasty Chinese food....really, this place is amazing...no silly is a better word for it. Trying to recover now in the Denver airport as we head over to Wisconsin for the first USGP weekend. FULL ON NOW!!!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Camping and Crossing and Weddings Oh My

       A bit of an adventurous weekend!! First camping trip with the BOB trailer....and I’m really glad I wasn’t the one pulling the trailer. I’ve got all the camping gear, but some of it is older and some of it is really heavy, so we had that poor trailer loaded to the gills.....so full the bag wouldn’t even close! And I had to carry a bag with a few extras too. What did we pack???? Tent, 2 sleeping pads, 2 sleeping bags (one really large heavy one), 2 small camp pillows, 2 small puffy jackets, a few snacks and just enough clothes for a nice Salt Spring wedding. It would have been interesting to know the weight of that thing.

     When we came up with the idea, I had every intention of pulling the trailer. Strength workout!! Or even splitting it up and sharing the load. But chivalry stepped in and Regan insisted he pull the damn thing....the whole way! Nice and flat out to the ferry, under 90 mins of cruising speed on the flattest route possible. 30 min ferry ride in the sun. Then 45 mins of hills!! Having been over to Salt Spring only twice before (Regan’s first time), I had a little amnesia on just how many hills there are. I had planned to take the back route, avoiding the main road, but on the first climb out of the ferry terminal we looked at the hill and decided against that route.

    If you’ve never had the chance to pull a BOB trailer before, it’s actually really hard work. Add a 70 pound fat suit and try to climb an already hard hill!! And because of how the BOB mounts to the bike, on the rear axle, you can’t actually stand to climb either...the weight of the trailer just pulls the bike over and makes it very wobbly. I don’t think I’ve seen Regan suffering this much before...thank you chivalry!

    Quick set up of the tent, shower and thankfully a pick up from Sylvia......the B&B was a lot farther away then it looks on the map. Congratulations to Chyrs and Scotty on the beautiful wedding! And I killed the game of bocci!! After the supper and reception Regan chanced a look outside to see a pretty wild wind storm had come up and we hadn’t pegged down the tent!! Yikes. Nothing had blown away, but we spent a little bit of a restless night listening to branches falling down all around us.

     On the way home, we had planned to hit some of the trails on the island, but after a slow morning we headed straight for the 1:30 ferry over to Crofton. Thank you Dave Phaf for taking our trailer home for us  3 ½ hours over the Malahat on the cross bikes and back into town....we were both so knackered that we were in bed and passed out before 9pm.

     With just enough time to recover, Monday night I held my first women’s learn to cross clinic and it turned out awesome! 20 women, some having never tried cyclocross before, showed up and I went over the basics to get them through the first Cross on the Rocks this weekend in Victoria. Thank you Eboost and Stan’s NoTubes for the samples!

    Getting ready for Cross Vegas as its coming up way too fast!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Langley Cross

I say it every year....and I'm saying it again, I Can't Believe It's Cross Season Already!!!!  With just over 2 weeks until Cross Vegas I figured it'd be a good idea to get a couple races under the belt before I head down.  I honestly wasn't sure how things would feel this season.  I've switched my focus more to cross for the season, but I'm also working a full time office job and coaching myself.  I've done this racing thing long enough that I should have some kind of idea on how to prepare myself, but it really is difficult telling yourself that you're doing the right thing.  The last couple weekends have been a little bit of a training write off with a 2 part stagette!!! But surfing is really hard work I've found out and probably really great cross training.

I had planned on the first Cross on the Rocks race being the kick off to the cross season, but when Regan found this Langley BC Cup race we jumped at the opportunity for some early season pain.  With Regan's Master's Men category starting 3 mins ahead of us women, I was bound and determined not to let the guys catch me.

Off the gun I pulled my favourite move...hammer!!!  Long straight away, first corner smooth, long straight away.....waaaay too much speed into the second corner and off into the pumpkin patch....literally!  Sideways skid in deep powdery rubble....it took me half the length of the third straight away to get myself back on the track.

I'm getting pretty good at my dismounts/mounts...and somewhat good at my run ups (stair sprints may be a good thing), and I put a gap on the field going up the looooong run up.  Jean Ann who was right on my wheel tried to ride and dabbed dropping back to 4th.  Back on the bike, a little tight dusty single track and out on the double track.

After the first 2 laps I saw the 6 laps to go card and had second thoughts about how hard I'd gone out....good training!  I had Jean Ann breathing down my neck the whole race, just out of touch but close enough to make me keep the pressure on....though we both did take the time for the whiskey feed.  Highly NOT recommended!!!!  Most of it came back up, and I still had 2 more full laps to go.....is it good training when you're maxed out and your throat is burning, and not a good burn at all.

Photo by Doug Brons
Great start to the season and I'm really excited, though still a little nervous, for the season with my new team Stan's NoTubes.  Looks like my training partner is going to kick my butt repeatedly this season too as he finished 2nd place :-)

Photo by Steve Pukesh