Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Perfect Long Weekend

On Friday Keith, myself and the cats piled in the car and headed over to visit his parents in Revelstoke. No longer in training mode for a bit we didn't try to squish a ride in that friday, just enjoyed some BBQ'd burgers and Mt. Begbie beer. Saturday we drove out to Keystone standard basin - about 50 km North of Revelstoke towards the Mica damn- and then another 16km up gravel roads. The drive up the gravel road was slow so we decided to bike halfway. Immediately we felt the thinner air attacking our lungs and legs. It took us about 45 minutes just to reach the trailhead, then it turned into a tricky single track climb for about 15minutes before we were unleashed into the alpine fields. You could easily think you were in the Alps "Sound of Music like". You're surrounded by lush fields with alpine wild flowers, mountain peaks and valleys below. The trail is fun too. There are a couple hike a bikes, but mostly rideable. After about 1hr15 we reached the cabin which is nested on a small lake. The cabin is available for anyone who wishes to use it. You can over night and then do a hike up to one of the peaks, camp overnight and return the next day. That'll be for next trip. The ride back to the car is almost better than the one out. The sun was shinning and the mountains were so quiet. Definitely a must ride in BC - but choose your time of year carefully so you don't run into snow. I think it was some of the best weather all summer, but i left my camera at home!

Sunday- still feeling up for a mtb epic we headed out on the Mcpherson trails. Huge sections of wind blown trees on the quarry trail caused us to reroute, but still hit the best part of the trail. On Tthe same wind had uprooted trees leaving exposed slabs of rock at 80 degree angles...I was glad to be on my Norco dually! As always the trails did not dissapoint and Keith and I biked ourselves to exhaustion. There were two fires burning opn the mountain so we biked up to a lake to watch the helicopters picking up water in quick succession. Pretty neat.

Saturday- we decided to go for a hike so it was up the 25km paved road to the top of Mount Revelstoke...It was also a bit of a reconaisance mission as there is a mass start hill climb there Sept. 23 we were toying with entering. The climb is pretty gradual, but would not doubt be killer by the end. Being a national park Mt. Revelstoke is beautifully looked after. We decided to hike out to Miller Lake. Why is it hiking always makes you feel out of shape and breathing hard no matter how fit you are? It was a really nice hike that crested and then traversed the mountain side eventually depositing us on miller lake. The water was extremely quiet and clear and again it was so quiet we found ourselves whispering so as not to disturb the mood. I can't believe we hadn't hiked up here earlier, it was so amazing. So we now have another place we could do as an over night hiking trip. We left two lakes unexplored so will have to make it back next summer.
So yes a perfect weekend of fresh air, good trails, amazing scenery and great food a la Keith's mom.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Worlds Experience

The week was spent riding on the course (desc. below), checking out the national forest trails nearby, sharing cooking duties and resting up for the big day. The team relay was Tuesday and the course was very slick after a good rain deposit. Canada put out a strong race, but we were unable to hold off other countries for the podium. That night we went to the open air opening ceremonies. Dressed in many layers to keep warm we watched the Mauri people clad only in thongs – bare feet and all, perform a welcome challenge for us. Not holding true to our heritage of cold weather bearers we left after 45 mins to go get warmed up.

U23 and Jr women raced Wednesday, Jr men Thursday (the course was wickedly fast this day…if only the rain would hold off), Friday and U23 men’s day and it poured all through the night and mud tires were a necessity. Max Plaxton of BC, Canada went on to run and ride his way to a bronze medal. Saturday was DH day and my teammate Fion Griffiths claimed 6th place in the SR women’s field and Mical Gato of Canada claimed bronze in the Jr Women’s race. Yehaaw!
The weekend definitely brought out more people and the race area was buzzing. It rained heavily again Saturday night, but the elites were prepared with mud tires already on our bikes. The women’s race was at 10:00 and the men at 2:00. We were scheduled for 5 and 7 laps. I was number 38 in a field of 50. Being off the European continent teams were smaller, taking only there top riders with others pulling out before the race for various reasons. I had a decent start and quickly got into rhythm. The first time down the descent was a bit sketch. I had a woman go down in front of me and had no option but to keep sliding down and into her. There was a lot of slipping and sliding and sticking a leg out for a corner that first lap, but as it dried out and new lines were worked in it got faster and faster. By early lap 2 I was in 26th position and was able to stay here take or give a spot for the next three laps. I was climbing well and descending better each lap, but by lap 4 my legs were feeling the effort. I had really wanted to attack the course the last two laps and finish strong, but when I went to do so my legs cramped up and I went slower. I lost two positions on the climb last lap and then another three on the climb before the descent. Argh. I followed my teammate Wendy into the descent and we ripped it up, but not enough to catch the Kiwis that had gotten in front. So it was a good race, but a tough end. I finished in 32nd, my best Worlds finish, but not the result I would have liked. I guess I just have to get 10 minutes faster so it could be a 2hr 08 minute race rather than a 2hr 18 ;-) then I wouldn’t have to worry about fading in the last 10-15 mins. Marie Helene Premont earned another bronze medal for Canada with Alison Sydor finishing 9th and Kiara Bisaro14th. Wendy and I finished back to back 31 and 32.

After a quick lunch and shower we all headed back to watch the men’s race. It was a great race start to finish between Absalon and Sausser, Kessikof and Naf. The course was much more tacky making faster climbs and descents. Seamus was our top placing Canadian in the top 25 followed a couple positions back by Ricky Federau, Kabush and Toulouse.

That night the team and staff went out for dinner to celebrate a week and season of good rides and great staff support. Personally I’d like to send out a big thanks to Norco. My bike rides beautifully and support was great. I’d also like to thank Keith, Dan, my family and my soon to be in-laws. All of your support is greatly appreciated.

New Zealand

Flying to New Zealand was actually a pleasant trip. I got on plane at 7:30 in Vancouver, got to sleep a bit on the way to Honolulu and then spent some time in the open air airport there before getting on my next plane at 2:30 am ready to sleep. I didn’t even have to buy a blanket or food. There were about 6 of the team on the flight and more in Auckland when we arrived. Wendy and I caught I ride out to Rotorua with Rob Jones. It took about three hours of driving through lush green farmland to arrive at our destination.

Rotorua is built on a thermal area and we were able to enjoy the benefits of that natural phenomenon when frequenting the hotel mineral pools and spa baths. Even the heating and warm water for the rooms was from the underground water supply. New Zealand was a bit chilly, it being their winter so it did get down to -4 over night at times and we awoke to frosted roof tops and icy puddles.

I got onto the course Monday and was immediately relieved. Reading the course reports it sounded like there were going to be a lot of man made obstacles trying to create a technical course. I was worried the “ominous bone yard” and “Log drops” were just going to be flow and speed destroyers without adding a challenging technical element, but the course designers had done a great job. We started in a “paddock” and were then fed into an ~ 8 min step climb with a couple chutes added in. We emerged from the climb at the top of a gondola crossed under the DH course and were sent down an incredibly naturally undulating field. If you were going too fast or hit the wrong line there was definitely some good launch to crash potential. After this comes the hardest part of the course, a slight graded grass climb up to the top feed-zone. Then it’s into the DH. We started with a couple drops and then switch backed up and down the hill side using all the terrain to get in tight steep corners and power climbs. There were a couple chutes, a log wedge which led into a series of log drops and finally the bone yard which fed you onto a couple short climbs before reaching the Start finish area. It was fun and challenging.