Sunday, July 30, 2006

Whistler To Washington

Canada Cup Finals: Mt. Washington, BC

Friday I took my first look at our race course. I think I have to credit Mt. Washington for putting together the best course on the circuit. It is also one of the most beautiful rides I’ve done lately. We skirted Alpine meadows with a small lake and when going easy could enjoy views of still snowy peaks in the distance.
The race course contained 3 climbs broken up by rooty descents and rocky mounds. The climbs varied from rooty single track to open roads - some with substantial steep sections. I opted to use the dually this weekend and am glad I did. It’s important in the middle of a racing block to keep riding as fun as possible and ripping down the descents on the dually did this for me. Due to showers Friday night and the fact we are at the end of a tough racing block the chief commissaire opted for a shorter race assigning 4 laps to the women and 5 to the men. From the Gun Alison Sydor took off and Kiara led the chase. Wendy, Mical and myself were close in tow. By the top of the first climb I had moved into 3rd. After last nights rain the roots were much more slick and my first descent was a bit sloppy. Later in the lap, Wendy who had been on my wheel passed me leading the second descent. I felt really strong on the final climb in training so made sure I got ahead for it. By the next climb I was able to put 20 seconds into Wendy and settled into more of a rhythm. I think Wendy ran into some chain suck problems this lap and I was able to open a meaningful gap. All the while Kiara and Alison have been battling up front with Kiara moving into the lead. I felt strong throughout the race and adapted to the slicker roots and was able to maintain my third position while Wendy and Mical battled it out behind me for 4th. With a strong field and every one on it was a good way to wrap up the Canada Cup Season. I was not able to unseat Mical Dyck for the Canada Cup overall leadership finishing 2nd, but the last three Canada cups attracted some of North America’s strongest women and I was able to prove myself a consistent presence near the top.
1. Kiara Bisaro (BC) Team R.A.C.E. 1:35:32 2. Alison Sydor (BC) Rocky Mountain-Business Objects 1:263. Catherine Pendrel (BC) Norco Factory Team 4:24 4. Wendy Simms(BC) Velo Bella 6:105. Mical Dyck (AB) Terrascape Racing/ Trek 6:256. Patricia Sinclair (BC) Scott USA/Kenda 9:367. Sandra Walter (BC) X.O-Felt 11:478. Meghan Kindree (BC) Rocky Mountain/Business Objects 17:599. Michelle Bellamy* (NZL) Jamis/BellamyGallery New Zealand 22:0310. Melissa Dekker* (BC) Dodge City Cycles 22:40

Thursday: Just got the official word…. I am headed to New Zealand for the World Championships! Keep your eyes posted to cycling sites August 27th for Results.

The Road Trip Begins:

Wednesday morning: It is already 25 degrees as we leave Kamloops for Vancouver. Matt has headed out on the bike to Merrit. Keith and I will pick him up after we do a short mtb ride on the cow trail classic course there. By 5:00 we arrive at our friend Sandra’s place. We enjoy the cooler air and a great supper before settling in to watch “Grizzly man”, a film about a guy crazy about Grizzlies who after living among them for 13 years ends up in the belly of one. The Team going to World Championships in New Zealand was supposed to be announced today, but for some reason was not. I am left to wait anxiously. We have packed enough belongings into our car for us to be away for 3 weeks on the road. I had to include a couple more items incase my trip is extended to 5 weeks including a New Zealand winter. This weekend holds the last Canada Cup of the Season and the determination of the series leader. I am currently in Second and have to pull out a great race with some riders separating Mical and I in order to win. After the race in Mt. Washington this Saturday, the three of us (me, Keith and Matt) will head to Utah where we hope to do a lot of trail exploration around racing the Norbas in Brian Head, Utah and then Aspen, Colorado.

A lot of riders have been anxiously anticipating the Whistler Canada Cup. It is always nice to have a race venue you can depend on to make you feel like a mountain bike racer not just a fit cyclist. Unfortunately, even though this weekend’s Canada Cup field had probably the highest caliber of racers it has ever seen, our race venue was put in a far corner of Whistler where there was little to no exposure and no signs pointing the way to our site.

The course was as to be expected, rocky and aggressive with bridges, little climbing and some twisty sections. It was a fun course, but with little opportunity to pass. Race day was a balmy 38 degrees. We lined up on the grass. I had Mary McConneloug on my left and Marie Helene and Alison Sydor on my right. Also in the field were Kiara Bisaro, Willow Koerber, Kelli Emmit, Wendy Simms and Canada Cup favourite Mical Dyck. I had a good start, keeping pace with the leaders, but didn’t take full advantage of it on the climb and slid into 10th position. By the end of the fire road I was in 9th and after the single track climb I was able to get ahead of Mical and Kelli and move into 7th. A little less traffic and I feel I could have been closer to the string of leaders, but once in 7th the run was clear until I started catching the tail end of the men’s elite field. I raced solid and strong, passing Sydor who was off fixing a flat mid first lap. I held 6th position until the last lap where Kelli closed on me. We rode together until I crashed coming out onto a fire road. I felt like I was riding well and could have finished with Kelli or possibly ahead. Instead those 20 seconds cost me 2 positions as Alison Sydor back from her early flat caught me with 200m to go. Although I had the ideal sprinting spot on her wheel my sprint would not challenge many recreational riders let alone Sydor. So it was 8th place for me. With the caliber of field I was okay with 8th. I had battled through the heat for over 2hrs and came out strong. Marie Helene took the win followed by Mary McConneloug and Kiara Bisaro.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Nationals Best

Saturday July 15th Keith, Matt H and I headed up the hill to Sun Peaks, site of this year’s cross country mountain Bike Nationals. The temperatures were pleasant, creeping into the low 20’s, but I was fighting off yawns after a less than restful sleep. The women’s race was scheduled to do five laps starting at 11:00, the men 6 at 2:00. Around ten I started my warm up. My legs were feeling good and easy handled my warm up intensity sessions. A good sign. After completing my warm up I headed down to the start finish area. The Junior races were still underway, taking longer than anticipated and it was decided that the women’s race would be shortened to 4 laps and the start would be pushed back to 11:30. Time to chill out for a bit. At 11:00 I hoped back on my bike to keep my legs warm. The waiting made them feel heavy.

Being the fifth ranked Canadian in UCI points I was fifth called to the line. A nice front row starting position. The course saw some mid week changes to it – all for the better – so we now had a long starting climb and descent before hitting the single track. The starting whistle blew and the racing began. I didn’t have my most spectacular start and soon found myself in 15th-20th. I was able to regain some spots by the top of the climb, but not as many as I would have liked. After two sections of single track we were back out on an open road and I could see the field in front of me and knew where I had to go. UP. I grabbed the closest wheel Trish and we rode up to Mical. Then we both hoped across to Melanie and Wendy. Trish was climbing really well and aggressively so I made sure to stick with her moves. By the top of the next climb there were only 3 riders ahead of us, Marie-Helene, Kiara and Alison. Trish hit the long descent ahead of me, but I was able to get ahead going into the next short climb. By the end of lap 1 I had bridged up and passed Alison on a long steep climb. I was able to lead the top of the climb and following descent before she stormed by me on the fire road leading to the Start/finish area. She kept on the throttle and opened a gap of a couple seconds on me.

The next time up the fire road climb Trish and I found ourselves climbing together again. She set a good hard tempo at the base and I led hard the top section and into the decent. I could hear people cheering Mel and Mical on behind me at the base and with Trish climbing well I knew I had to pick up my tempo a bit. After the descent Keith was waiting for me with time splits. Where I was losing time and where I was gaining and I was able to use this to help widen the gap between me and the girls behind me. Mostly I tried to go as fast as I could without frying my legs on the steep climbs. I felt good and was able to pick it up in the last two laps. I could see Alison and Kiara duking it out in front of me 3rd lap. This battle helped them open time on me and eventually put Alison in 2nd position. Although I had a strong 4th lap and was able to bring my gap to Kiara down about 15 seconds it wasn’t enough to set me in a podium spot. Still a great race and Nationals best performance. Marie-Helene finished the short race in1:33:34 with Alison at 1:36:31, Kiara 1:37:12 and myself at 1:38:26; my closest finish to all three women.

The next day I had a blast doing the Timbits challenge up at Sun Peaks. Our 7 year old neighbour participated in the race. She demonstrated some natural talent and bike handling confidence as she scooped the other kids on an inside corner and charged up the next hill eventually finishing 3. That night we all gathered around a projection screen outside over our BBQ’ed supper and looked through pictures from the weekend. It was a great way to cap off a full weekend.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Back in the Loops

Canada Day saw us up at Sun Peaks bright and early for a work out before Norco VPS Fest was set to begin. The Nationals course had yet to be marked but we hoped on a bit of the older course and surrounding fire roads. After the ride we hung out in the Norco tents meeting a lot of the staff, getting some photo shots and helping people get out on their Norco Demo bikes for a day of DHing. After a busy and successful day and tons of wicked draw prizes we retired to their Condo for a feast, refreshments and good times.

Never ones to stick around for long though; Sunday Keith and I were off to Revelstoke to visit his family and my soon to be in-laws and of course to do some riding. The trails in Revelstoke are so fun that we decided to shift my rest day to Tuesday to get in some more trails. So Fun! After Monday night at home, enough time to give our cats a little TLC, we were back on the road Tuesday. This time to Penticton to visit the Bike Barn and catch up with that crew. After a delicious meal and good company at the Prowse’s we were again back on the road headed home. This time to stay for a couple days!

Training resumed again on Wednesday. Saturday lent itself to course flagging and a ride at Sun Peaks. Monday Matt arrived from NB and since then we have all fallen into our pre race routines. The Nationals course will be very challenging. The women are currently scheduled for 5 laps which will amount to a sub 2 hr race (hopefully) with approx 1500m of climbing. Many of the climbs are on the steeper side. There are also several grass sections and rooty descents. Once the course is fully constructed it should have very nice flow and provide a good challenge to all those seeking the National Champion title or personal best performances.

World Cups, Engagements and Girls on Big Bikes

Almost three weeks have passed with scant thought put into this blog. It has actually been a pretty busy time however. Following the Norba at Mt. Snow. Matt and I headed back to Karen and Matt’s for a couple days before heading to the World Cup in Mont. St. Anne, Qu. The weather in New Hampshire definitely made a turn for the better and we enjoyed sunshine before driving the 5hr drive to Quebec almost directly north of us.

The WC race was Sunday so we still had a lot of time to prepare and ride the slightly altered course. Containing most of the course’s trademark sections I was quickly feeling at home. After last weekend’s blow up, this weekend I was going to try to pace better. The race got off to a good start. I had a decent call up and remained in the top 40 through the start lap, loosing a couple spots before the climb, only to regain them when it steepened. The first lap went well, but I didn’t feel the fire I had the previous week. Lap two I had a crash and then lost several spots as I skidded into a fence, my brake lever having adjusted so they were hitting the bar. I got them dialed tight again and was off to regain spots keeping pacing in mind. The pacing worked as far as feeling great at the end, but at that point I also realized I had left too much in the bag. On my fifth and final lap I brought my consistent lap times down 45secs from the previous lap and found myself wishing for another lap so I could reel in the women I had seen in front of me on the last switch back climb. Overall I felt it was a good consistent performance finishing in 24th, but not demonstrative of my true form. My friend Karen the Super mom raced really well finishing 20th with Canadian Marie Helene Premont soundly beating the almost unbeatable Gunn Rita Dahle Flesja.

Mom and Dad had come up to spend the World Cup weekend with me and as always provided great support on the course and helped me to the airport the next morning (where all 6 Co2s were removed from my bike box before they jammed the rest of my too many belongings back into my cardboard box.) 14hrs of travel later I was stepping off a plane in Jeans into the sweltering 40 degree dry heat of Kamloops BC. Keith was there to meet me after 1.5 months apart. Despite the intense heat it was sure good to be home. We immediately headed for an air-conditioned restaurant. Later we set up a mattress on the back deck trying to avoid the heat even a ground floor house collects. Keith asked me to marry him that night and I gladly accepted. So it’s official, we’re engaged!

Although back at home my life was not to slow down. The next day we drove to Vancouver for Norco night with John Henry’s Pedal and Pints Women’s night ride. It was a very impressive event. With over 250 members the majority of which are female these rides provide the biggest group mtb – let alone women’s group ride I’ve ever seen. Around 60 women showed up ready to ride. Norco was there with a fleet of Demo Fluids to try out. We broke into a couple ability and ride style groups, each with 1-3 ride leaders. I chose one of the groups riding up the mountain and then down Ned’s where as others shuttled up Seymour to do some of the longer runs. They were fun and well organized rides which I recommend to any woman looking to meet other women riders and get to know the North shore trails. Hey you even have immediate beer buddies. Unfortunately Keith had to work the next day, so at 8:30 pm we were headed back to Kamloops pulling in just before 1:00 am.

I got back to Training while Keith finished up his last days of work at the School until his summer holidays officially began.