Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Quebec City

On Monday A bunch of us headed into Quebec city to check out the sights. It was a provoncial holiday so there were lots of people out wandering the cobbled streets and eating in the patios of restaurants.

Mical and I got Caricatures done!

Street performers

On Tuesday I again headed to Quebec city. This time with Ride Guide to film the intro for the MSA World Cup. Should be interesting to see how a day of filming condenses to a 2 minute intro!

Highlights of the day were the police intervention in our filming, chowing down at the "Crazy Pig" with Chris, Mike and Jerome and getting to use walkie talkies!

Film Buffs: The scene in "Catch me if you can" where he gets caught was actually filmed in Old Quebec city.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mont Saint Anne World Cup

So as I already excitedly mentioned I had a wicked race this weekend finishing 11th, just 8 seconds off 10th place. It was a bit of a dramatic lead up to the race as I noticed on Tuesday that my name was not on the Start List. I immediately contacted the CCA and they assured me I would be able to race.

Thursday I register, but learn that as a penalty for late registration I must start at the back of our 80 women field. This is after spending a lot of coin getting to Europe to get some experience and a good start position for this key World Cup in my Season. Let’s just say I was a little frustrated! I had registered on time, but due to an administrative error I was left off the list and penalized for another’s mistake. Turns out there were at least 5 other fast Euro women affected by this new “rule”. My Norco support Kevin was a wicked advocate for me and many teams not affected by this rule stood up at the manager’s meeting to show their support for the relegated riders and the unfairness of penalizing the riders when the teams and organizations would already be receiving a fine.

Long story short, I started with plate number 79 rather than 24 and last row rather than 3rd. My job was the same though and I was focused and ready to get it done. At 11:00 we were off, but only seconds later the pack in front of me was slowing and swelling to the sides as riders tried to dodge a crash. As I rode by I saw a very shocked Kiara on the ground trying to avoid the onslaught. I briefly tried to reassure her as I rode by, but what can you do in that situation? As soon as we were past the crash we were on the pedals again and hammering through the start loop. I made up 20 positions, before Trish Sinclair flew past me encouraging me to go with her. I dug deep into the first climb and passed as many women as I could so that I had a pretty open run at the descent. For the rest of the lap I was standing up and hammering wherever I could to gain a position or two.

I came through at the end of lap 1 in 21st position. I followed the same game plan for each of the four following laps, attacking the climbs hard and keeping off the brakes whenever the course turned downwards. By lap three I had worked my way to 11th position and spent the next two laps trying to reel in 10th. On the last lap I was successful. I moved into 10th mid lap but Lene Byberg was right on my wheel. On the last single track climb she took a line through the woods I hadn’t seen gaining the lead as well as a couple seconds. I could have used that line earlier in the race! So she pulled ahead and I wasn’t able to bring her back, but it was damn close!

So it was done. I love this course and it was good to me again. It was a wicked race and qualification to the Olympic pool. Of athletes in the pool those (2) with the most points; counting 2 world cups (2008) and World Championships (2008), will be selected for the 2008 Beijing Olympic team. Going into the Season I really thought 2008 was a LONG shot, but it seems more possible now. I just have to keep getting faster!

My Norco and family support was awesome and both lead to a great race weekend.

Sunday we watched Fionn race. After a smoking fast first half of her race she flatted and moved out of podium contention. Downhill is so frustrating that way!!! But she bounced back from this disappointment and finished 2nd in the 4 cross after a very aggressive race with many crashes.

Tomorrow I’m headed out riding with Ride Guide to do some filming on the local trails. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wickedest World cup to date

Wahoooo! Qualified for the Olympic pool today! Finished 11th, just 8 seconds off 10th at today's World Cup race in Mont Saint Anne Quebec. My parents were there decked out in Norco team shirts, Havy had my bike dialed in and took care of me in the feed zone and there were lots of friends out on the course giving their Support. Keith, back in BC celebrating his 30th bday was there lap by lap on the computer following the race and sending fast energy my way. Thanks for all your support guys!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The latest planned adventures

Headed to Quebec

I’m now hanging out in the Maple Leaf Lounge in Vancouver airport waiting for my flight east to Quebec city. Thanks for the lounge pass Dad. This place rocks: free internet, food, bevys and loads of comfy chairs and an espresso maker.

Saturday I’ll be racing the World Cup in Mont Saint Anne and really hoping for a top 12. Should be fun times!!!

The following thursday a bunch of us will head to Saint Felicien for the next world cup. This will be a new venue for Canadians and Euros alike so should be interesting.

the Test of Metal

The 2007 Test of Metal lived up to its name. As Keith and I left my brother's place in North Van Saturday morning the skies were overcast and the car's thermometer was reading 12 degrees. Brrr.

By 11:00 it had been raining for a couple hours. Nearly 850 riders showed up, registration having filled within 45 minutes of opening Januray 1st. People love this race! Having gotten home from Switzerland the previous monday night this was to be a training race for me. Wednesday and thursday were pretty tough workouts and friday, wasn't overly light so my legs were definitely a little fatigued, but it was the Test and it was going to be fun. Originally my aspirations were to kick as many guys' asses as I could, but with the cold rain, heavy legs and bit of breathing room I scaled down my plan a bit. I started front row (keith started somewhere around 400!) and after the national anthem was sung, got off to a good start reaching the prime on the first climb as top women and top 30 overall. From there on out it was a solid ride with no big mishaps. I gave up more positions on the climb and big ring rip then I should have, but rode well and had fun chatting with the other riders as we descended the plunge and navigated the twisty single track in Crumpit woods.

Keith's race was more eventful. First time through the feedzone he had to stop and fix his Hayes brakes. They have this annoying tendency to loose breaking power as a bolt unwinds releasing the levers. He then went on to have a solid climb up the three sections of 9mile climb, reeling in people. By the end of the plunge he had chewed completely through his brake pads and was down to Metal. Perhaps this is the real Test of Metal. But his story doesn't end here. Going into Crumpet woods he snaps his shifter...cables having gotten so gummy in the muck. For the rest of the race...about 30 minutes of single track Keith had three options; Big and 3rd, middle and 3rd and granny and 3rd. That he finished in a time of 3:28 was super impressive.

After a long time in the shower I had finally scraped enough mud off me to be presentable for the awards. Having won all the primes that day it was a good payday. I earned enough to cover 3 months of student loan payments. Convenient as I have to give up at least 3 months of working to maintain the race schedule I do! Neal Kindree won the men’s race with a smoking 2hr 40 min (67km)

Keith and I headed back to Kamloops that night pretty depleted, but stoked on a good day of trail riding.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trip to the Matterhorn!!!

After the race Sandra and I packed up our stuff and headed west towards the Matterhorn. We overnighted in a really neat town called Leuks in athe castle below.

In the morning we awoke to the sound of a marching band. We rushed to the window in time to see the band just come into view. Almost as soon as we spotted them though they stopped playing, a bus drove up and they all loaded in. It was the most bizarre thing ever.

After Breakfast we headed to Tachs and I got to do my first real Euro driving. The speed limits on twisty roads there would never be approved here. In Tachs we took a Train to Zermatt at the baseof the Matterhorn and then the Gornergrat up to 3200m.

Back in Zermatt we had a disappointing spicy cheese fondue recommended by the lonely planet before heading back to Tachs.

From there we had to take a car train through a tunnel into the Bernese Oberland. As we drove onto the car train I said “Wouldn’t it suck if the car in front of you stalled when you had to get off”. The train ride was much like an amusement park ride. There were no lights and you kept expecting a sudden lurch. At the end car started up and sure enough the car directly in front of us stalls. I hope out and start pushing the guy in his Audi off of the train. It was pretty hilarious and I couldn’t help giggling when he looked in his rearview mirror.

We made it back to Sandra’s Family in time for Rosti. At 4:30 the next morning I was off to Zurich.

World Cup wrap up: 13th at World Cup #3!!!!

Yes, I’m pretty excited about this! The announcer even told the crowd they were seeing the ride of the day when I came through moving from 58th to 13th. Pretty sweet.

Saturday July 9th I raced my 2nd World cup of the Season, this time in Champery, Switzerland. Champery is situated in the South East corner of Switzerland in the Alps. Sandra, myself, kris and Wendy headed there from Central Switzerland on Wednesday. We checked out the course that day and Sandra and I felt just horrible on it, getting tossed around the rough rooty descents. Some tire and fork pressure adjustments made a huge difference for next lap.

The Course

The course would start into a steep 1km climb before turning into the woods and a rough steep descent. It then crisscrossed through some rooty single track with a couple of drops before heading down the WC 4 cross course, over some roads and out onto the other half of the course. The course was pretty interesting as the two halves were quite different. This side of the course was all slightly up and then slightly downhill and predominantly through singletrack using paved roads to connect sections. Roots were a major characteristic of this side as well with most riders having to cyclocross one large gnarl of roots. It was going to be an interesting race as fast laps were sub 20 minutes and the course held both my typical strengths (steep up and downs) and my weaknesses (flat to undulating power stuff).

Race Morning
Saturday morning was stunningly beautiful. At 8:30 it was comfortable outside in a tank top and we had a clear view of all the surrounding Mtns including the Dents de Midi (think toblerone bar). The women were to be racing 6.5 laps and after last weekends 27th place finish I moved up to a starting position of 58th. For the start we were herded up to the top of the 4x course and as each rider was called up we descended down into the start box.

At 11:00 the gun went off and 92 women jockeyed for position. It was incredibly frustrating when we hit the climb and I got completely boxed in. With 60 women in front of you on a narrow steep off road climb there’s very limited opportunity to move up. I was forced to go into my granny gear to keep upright at that pace even dabbing once or twice. When the climb switchbacked and opened up I was ready. I slammed it into a big gear, stood up and passed about 20+ girls before the first Singletrack.

The Start Climb. Phot by Rob Jones: Canadian cyclist

This is when I received my animal attack. Although most girls were running the descent due to traffic I tried to ride it. A girl went down beside me and brought her bike up and started running, but her chain ring was lodged behind my knee. After that things went pretty smoothly. I passed as many girls as I could when I could and by the end of 1.5 laps I was in the top 20. I rode smooth, but aggressively all race as was able to work my way up to 13th by the end of the race….only 17 seconds off 12th and a position in the Olympic pool!!! Gotta make that top 12 June 23 in MSA, Qu.

Fionn and Jill From Griffiths Racing (Norco) were there and my Super fans cheering their lungs off at at least 4 points on the course per lap. Fionn went on to get her first World Cup podium of the year that evening finishing 3rd in the 4cross.

My Norco Hardtail performed like a dream and Sram was there providing excellent support. Thanks Sylvain for the feed!

Animal Attack: Casualties of the sport

My run in with a dangerous beast

Species: Homo Sapiens
Genus: Bike racer
Sub Genus: #38
Order: Primate
Class: Mammalia
Kingdom: Animalia

Traits: Extremely aggressive. Should be treated as Dangerous particularly when they may feel their territory is being threatened.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

From Germany's Black Forest to Switzerland's Portes du Soleil

Tomorrow we pick up a rental car and make our way West to the french speaking region of Switzerland. We'll be racing the World cup on Saturday 11:00 am local time or for you in BC 2:00 am Friday night!

After a weekend in the mountains I've gotten in some really good rides and a lot of climbing. We took yesterday pretty easy and did some touristy stuff in Bern meeting up with Canucks Wendy and Kris at Sandra's in the evening for some scrumptious fajitas and lots of chatting in English!
Today Sandra and I put the hurt on each other doing some race starts and power intervals and are both psyched for the race this weekend. We're currently the 3rd and 4th ranked Canadians according to UCI points. The points accumulated by our top 3 ranked riders determine whether Canada earns it's maximum amount of Olympic spots (2) for 2008. Canada is currently the 5th ranked nation and must remain top 8.

After the race we are headed to the Matterhorn! There are also some thermal baths on the way that we will take full advantage of post race. From there it'll be back through the Bernese Oberland and flying home from Zurich Monday.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Riding in Grabünden Canton and a stopover in Luzern

Making friends in Switzerland's mountains.

A nice evening in Luzern.

The view from our weekend home in Saas im Prattigau, Grabünden. The barns staggerred up the hillsides are so that farmers can move their livestock further up as the snow line recedes.

High above Klosters and midway to Davos.

It's Sunny!!! Being totally unprepared for 20 degrees after freezing our buns coming down from the 1hr climb we did yesterday we were a little over dressed for this beautiful day. Saas is the small town we stayed which you can see behind us.

Me and Sandra hanging out in Luzern on the way back from our weekend in the mtns. The covered bridge behind us crosses the Rheus River and dates back to the early 1400s. Inside along the gabled roof there are tons of original (and reconstructed aftre a fire) painted roof panels depicting scenes from Swiss history and Mythology.