Friday, October 17, 2008

The "quick" update on what’s been going on.

Although the Olympics have passed, the season was and is still full of adventures. After Australia Keith and I joined up with our family to share in my cousin’s wedding celebrations in Calgary. I was able to steal my parents away for a couple days so they could visit our new house and spend some time with us in the loops. Only 4 short days later though I was back on a plane and headed to Austria for World cup finals.

I lacked a little lustre for the final, but held on to 8th behind team mate Katerina and clinched 2nd overall in the series behind fellow Canadian Marie Helene Premont. Georgia took 5th overall.

Lunch with the Orbea teamin Austria

1 week back at home and I was off to California for ClifBar’s Epiphany ride and Interbike. At the ride we did 30, 50, 90 or 150 miles…depending on motivation and bets placed. Every 1.5 hrs we had cliff product breaks to help us along the way. The ride recreates the day owner Gary Erickson decided he had to come up with a GOOD energy bar. 180 people did the ride which was capped off with a big dinner at the end, all in the lovely Napa Valley.

From there it was off to Vegas for the dirt Demo…where I got to ride with old Buddy Jay hoots from the Norco team and Fredericton shop owners Mike and Bryan. I was also on my new Orbea Occam (5 and 5) which was loads of fun. From there it was 3 full days in surreal Las Vegas interbike. You loose track of the time of day easily in Vegas, especially at the venetian hotel with its indoor canal and sky like ceiling with varying light. Here we caught up with sponsors, checked out product, signed autographs, and ate our fill of new cliff products like the protein rocks.



Sabrina, Geoff and Matt ready to sign autographs

I arrived home from vegas the same day as Catherine Vipond and Matt Hadley moved out to Kamloops and into our home. It’s been great having them in town and now I have coworkers! In two short weeks we’ve accomplished a lot. Matt and Catherine collected 120 lbs of apples from a neighbours neglected trees and the pear tree in the back yard has provided just as many pears. We’ve been drying fruit, making crumbles and sauces and, well, eating a tonne of fruit.
That's all apples!

Catherine and I have teamed up to be construction phenoms creating a bench, putting up walls in 2 of 3 rooms in the basement, and landscaping. The boys helped a bit with the walls to, but we seriously did lots. Matt has created a compost and shelving system and accommodated the hanging of 14 bicycles in one room. Geoff and his girlfriend Liz joined us for thanksgiving so the fun and creating continued. Geoff and Keith made some outdoor steps while Liz and I prepped the turkey and made pear compote…well she did all the work on that one. Geoff gave us spandex weenies a dirt jumping clinic at the bike ranch and we all got in a good ride to the top of Rio...my new favourite trail now that I have a bigger bike! It was a great weekend with friends and family.
Geoff and Keith hard at work
Who's that hottie with the power tools?

I’m loving the change fall brings. I’m still doing lots of riding, but nothing structured, hiking, running, trail building and doing tonnes of renos. The people at home depot & Rona recognize me now. Night riding is super cool right now with all the leaves on the ground and I love the freshness in the air.

I’m off to NB for a week and then training will begin. The fall is still a time for diversity though so I’m taking and anatomy and physiology course and still have tonnes of home projections planned….like whipping out my new sewing machine and making some sweet Halloween costumes!

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oakley Safe House

Oakley (Steve Blick and Greg Welch in particular) was amazing to me and my family. Blick hooked me up with some new enduring fog resistant glasses for race day and was in the feedzone in case we needed eyewear changes during the race.
When I went to visit the safehouse Greg got us all some amazing cappuchinos and glasses for everyone. Good coffee is hard to come by in China. I was doing okay in the village, but my family was reliant on KFC for the best coffee in town. Yikes!
Very styling guys!
After coffee we headed upstairs for the beach party and Lunch. I got my post race beer...decided having beer race night before I tried to give a live interview in French wasn't a good idea. Geoff & Seamus and their familes showed up and we got to spend a couple hours hanging out together enjoying being at the Olympics and having finished racing. That cool guy camoflouged into the back ground is Steve Blick.

The village


Team Canada's Building


The Gardens

Gardens were put in between the residences. The residences will become luxury apartments after the para Olympic end in September.


Even the Rocks played music!

Olympic venues


The water cube where many world and Olympic records were set. Unfortuantely I never got to go inside.


The bird's nest. site of the opening and closing ceremonies and athletics


Inside the Bird's nest during the men's marathon. The winner ran 42 km with an average of 21km/hr breaking the Olympic record and being 2 minutes from the world record.


Keith got to go up the commentator's tower with me for my radio Canada interview. The view was amazing.

The Olympic mtb course


The final descent into the finish


Switch back climbed near end of loop followed by the descent below which cracked more than a few bones. If you watched the race coverage you saw Rosara Joseph do a spectacular endo here. I did the same thing 5 days earlier. It was super steep with a bit of a drop midway where being a little to fast or far forward sent you flying superman style.

Friends and Family in China


Dusty (Georgia's husband) sporting his homemade "Go For Gould" T shirt and Luna Team manager and all round Good guy, Waldek


Mom, Dad and Keith inside the Bird's nest Stadium


Keith and I at the men's mtb race. That's the velodrome behind us. The BMX track was on the other side of small Laoshan mtn.


Coach Extraordinaire, Cycling Olympic Team manager, Birthday boy and newly married Dan Proulx

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where am I now?

Just got into Canberra Australia yesterday. It's been quite an adventure! I spent 2hrs driving what should have been 20 minutes thanks to google maps trying to send me on a route that didn't exist! All this time I was driving a right hand drive standard Toyota Yaris with my bike box in the back. I made my way to Tracey and Jeremy Sheppard's place (of Victoria, BC fame) and slapped my bike together with 20 minutes od day light to spare. On my short spin through their neighbourhood I saw 2 kangaroos! a muma and baby. My ride was accompanied by tons of cacatua birds.

It's been fantastic to chill out with the Sheppards and their roomie Dale and play the what's so and so up to game. Also had my first mamoth sleep in ages which was delightful! Feeling like I'm in a bit of a time warp though flying from hot and hummid China too a crsip energizing spring in Australia. Today's high will be 15 degrees.

Okay, so that was pretty cool

I came to the Olympics with the belief that I was a medal contender, but respecting the level of competition in the women’s field, I was thinking a top 5 would be a great ride. To race all race in medal contention was awesome.

I didn’t have to convince myself that this was just another race to keep my head cool for race day. It’s weird but being here has not been overwhelming. It feels right. Like another World cup with more surrounding fanfare. The athletes around me look like me and my friends and everyone is so good at what they do, so the atmosphere stayed relaxed around the village.

The preparation.

Tuesday was my first training day in Beijing. I got out for 3 laps of the course with Marie. She kept asking me in various sections if this was the same as last year and the answer more often than not was no. The course was more rugged and even more steep climbs had been added. It was a super cool and interesting course, but very tough.

Every lap I was doing the steep chute faster and then final lap while trying to get in a tempo lap I took a big flyer landing with my back wrapped around a tree and struggling for breath. Dang! I hate ending training sessions like that. I got into a pretty introspective mood analyzing what caused me to crash and how I could make sure it didn’t happen again. The day before the Swedish rider broke her collar bone there and had to be sent home (replaced by a Slovakian rider) and apparently Gunn Rita cracked a rib.

The next day I headed out “to get back on the horse”. It was supposed to be an easy day, but I needed to get my confidence back. I was riding horribly till I cleaned the chute and gained that confidence. Another lap and I was feeling happy again.

Thursday – Pre race Day – I awake to pouring rain. Good thing umbrellas came in our care pack! Eating in the meal hall we are drowned out by the sound of constant downpour. This will definitely change the course, but probably not for the better even for me. It’ll become slick and thick and my confidence on the chute is still a little wavering. I want to know tire choice though and see what the course is like if this is race conditions so we keep to our schedule and head out in the rain.

It’ll be mud tires if this keeps up. The course is greasy and I walk the scary sections. It’s not worth a broken bone the day before the olympics to ride conditions that’ll most likely be better next day. 1 lap is enough so I just do some clearance and visit Waldek for a massage.

That evening, after Mary Mcconneloug and I spend 30 min longer than necessary to get back to the village (Taxi drivers here don’t really seem to know where the village is and often refuse to pick us up!) we get the call that the race has been postponed until Saturday at 10 am. I was actually relieved. I wasn’t feeling ready to go. Even though mud is usually my friend, my crash made me want to race in good conditions. Mud would have made it an awful slog. Now I had done my preparation and was being given a buffer to really get ready. As a bonus we now got to race in the morning. Good for both you at home and me who was wondering what I would do with myself all morning. I had the Bourne trilogy ready in my room for some diversion.

Friday – the real pre race day – The course has dried up a ton. We trained at 3 that afternoon. My legs feel decent and I do some intensity to clear them and zone in my frame of mind. I head out for one lap. Both male and female racers are lining the chute as it’s kinda greasy and sketchy. I take a deep breath and go for it. Clean it, give a huge sigh of relief and call it a day feeling ready to go. Marie later tells me both she and Irina and a couple others went down there, but are okay.

Race Day

Saturday – I have a wicked sleep and the alarm bolts me out of bed. I feel good, calm, prepared, confident. We hop the 7:30 bus to the venue. There’s definitely some nervous energy going on. Some riders have withdrawn into their ipods, others are hoping and dancing around. My warm up goes well, especially with the cooling vest to keep me comfortable. I see my family and Waldek before the race. Dan, my coach, has been with me all week as the team manager. Everyone is pumped. I get called up 3rd and “the most famous foreigner in China, a Canadian - get’s the crowd cheering a chant for Canada.

TV crews and team support withdraws and we’ve got 30 seconds to go. The gun goes off and I’m starting fast! Someone rubs my wheel and a Chinese rider goes down behind me. God the crowd is going to hate me! I then manage to fall back from 5th to 20th. Luckily this is pretty common and doesn’t get me flustered. I just start laying down the best power I can and passing whenever I can. By lap 2 I have caught the chase group. Sabine already has 35 seconds on us. Fullana, Maja, and Irina are right there. I close on them and hear the gap top Sabine. Too much, it’s time to boogey girls. I pass Fullana to grab Maja’s wheel. Down the next decent Irina takes the right line so I go left and get to the corner first. The previous lap I got past two girls doing this. Neither woman is willing to give up a medal position though, and Maja passes me on the next climb while Irina grabs my wheel. Over the following 4 laps Sabine and Maja stretch their lead on me while Irina sits in.

Lap 5 and 6 I know I have to shake Irina, but we’re just too evenly matched on the day. I try to stretch it on the climbs with everyone screaming for me. She keeps clawing me back, but doesn’t have enough to attack me. It’ll come down to whoever makes a mistake. After the chute final lap we have two climbs to go and two descents. On the last climb, an incredibly steep one, I consider whether to middle or granny it. I have to be able to respond to an attack. I decide too late, shifting under a lot of torque. The gears crunch and I have to dab. Irina yells and also has to dismount, but I can’t get off till she’s clear. We run up the hill with her in the lead and hop back on. Into the descent I’m unclipped and have to be a little cautious. I chase her down, but there’s not enough time. I round the corner to the finish as she crosses the line. I’m momentarily bummed, but decide I can’t be too disappointed with a ride like that. Being defeated in the final stretch by last year’s world champion, but getting 4th at my first Olympics, the Olympics I didn’t think I’d honestly be at 2 years ago is pretty freakin cool! I’m glad I was able to give you guys at home a show;-) Thank you sooooo much for all the emails and comments here. It was great to have so many positive comments to come home to when the media is so medal focused - they think 4th is a huge disappointment. I’ve never been 4th at an international competition when all the best women were there. Yes that medal would have been nice and I got a little choked up watching it being presented to Irina, but 4th is a huge accomplishment. My family, friends and the CCA staff were all amazing. Stoked for what I accomplished, not what I didn’t. Thank you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Whew, I m here!

It’s Thursday and I have just been told that our race will be pushed back a day due to deteriorated course conditions. Whoever heard of a mtn bike race being postponed because it got muddy! Honestly though I feel good about it. We now get to race Saturday at 10 am. So the typical morning race, not afternoon. The men will go after us at 3.

I’m feeling good. Got onto the sleep schedule easily. Legs get another day to recover from travel, get another day to know the substantial course changes since last year and it’ll be a better calibre race without the mud.

So what are the Olympics like? Pretty rad. Keith and I took the 12 hour flight over on Monday and then I went off to the village as he met up with my parents and cousin Adrian at the airport. Our bus went through security screening to enter the village and then I went through security to get past bus drop off. A COC staffer was there to take me to Canada’s digs and point out the cafeteria, the international zone and some other stuff.

I had shipped a bike a couple weeks ago so got to go out for a 30 min spin before it was dark. I almost mowed down a couple people weaving through the village. After that it was supper, a massage and bed. I didn’t even unpack or check out any of my new gear. Oh and I saw Shawn Johnson the 16 year gymnast at dinner and she’s even smaller in person! Crazt to see the athlete’s live. I have to remember I don’t actually know them I’ve just been watching them on tv!

Woke up at 5am and then headed for breakfast at 6:30. The village was already alive with people out training and heading for breakfast. Some of the athletes that were done their events were just on their way to bed.

The cafeteria is open 24hrs/day. We can always get cereal, salad, Asian, Halal, Mediterranean and international cuisine. Oh yeah and Mcdonalds! It’s actually pretty popular…particularly when people have finished.

All the female cyclists are sharing an apartment. We each got our own room to help us sleep with the jetlag and focus for the upcoming race. My coach Dan is here in the village which has been fantastic and my Luna manager is set up for massage in walking distance from the venue. There’s a trek bike store that Oakley has set up as their cycling home. So I get to go there and grab unlimited drinks and food from their stash, get a massage and lounge about in a comfy air conditioned loft.

The village is definitely amazing. In Canada’s building we have an athlete’s lounge where we can get on the internet, make snacks, watch movies or Olympic coverage and just hang out. Across the hall we have a wellness centre where there are tons of yoga mats, a quiet reading room and a power nap room! The medical centre is staffed with chiros, physios, massage therapists and tubs for contrast bathing.

The village is huge and beautifully done. There are little gardens between the apartments with water moats, sculptures and lots of plants. In the international zone we can get our hair and nails done and go shopping, the cafeteria is big enough to feed thousands of athletes without any line ups. There’s a fitness centre for training and relaxing by the pool. There’s pretty much everything.

The atmosphere is great. Good, calm energy, the Chinese volunteers are very helpful and the air quality is supposed to be excellent with the rain. Although it looks really hazy it hasn’t affected me at all on the bike.

Bell has been an amazing sponsor. They supplied each athlete and staffer with a smartphone with unlimited text and email while in china, as well as 300 minutes of international calling. And we get to keep the phone! It’s been great for touching base with my family here. Unfortunately I actually feel cut off from what’s been happening in the non cycling parts of the Olympics. CBC online which was amazing for live coverage is unavailable here.

I actually feel totally calm here, like I belong and know what I’m doing. I don’t feel overwhelmed by it and the calibre of athletes here. We’re all good at what we do and this is our chance to show it. I’m looking forward to the race. Hopefully it’ll go smoothly for Marie, my Luna team mate Georgia and myself.

So Saturday 10 am in China…so 7pm Friday for BC folk and 11pm in NB. Oh and I have the number 4 plate. Last Olympic Champ Gunn Rita has the #1 plate, my team mate Marie #2, Germany’s Sabine Spitz #3.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm on route! After two great weeks of training in the Kamloops heat, keith and I were up bright and early to catch our first flight. I was just as nervous heading to the airport as I am for any big race...and it's still 5 days away. I just can't wait to be there.

We're now enjoying the perks of the maple leaf lounge as we await our flight to beijing. From there I'll head off to the village and Keith will rendez vous with my mom, dad and cousin.

I'll try to put up a little blurb every day to share my experience!

Waahhoo

Friday, August 08, 2008

Kamloops, You Rock!


Some pics!


The luna crew enjoying some cappuchinos


Sandra and my cousin Adrian at our pancake breakfast in Italy


Atop the Fluela pass


Our new kitten has taken to breast feeding off of our large male cat Isaa! He doesn't seem to mind though


The BBQ I just assembled all by my self!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The sweetest sight



There are some moments in a race to savour. One of the best has to be looking behind you on the trail in the final minutes of a race and not seeing another rider. With about 4 minutes to go at the MTB World cup Sunday I got to look back at the forest trail I had just covered, seeing hundreds of bike tracks through the mud, but no other riders. With 200m to go I could hear my name being called and knew I was about to win my first World Cup. The eyes started to well and a smile formed which wouldn’t leave for several hours. The venue of my first elite Canada Cup race in 2004 was now the host of my first World Cup win!

I woke that morning at about 4am to the sound of pouring rain… and I fell back to sleep smiling. The rain would continue until the final moments of our race. A quick peak at the course prompted me to throw on Maxxis Medussa mud tires. It was a good call with the mud bogs and slick descents. The course, which had been altered recently on account of the large amounts of rain, took us immediately into a climb up a buff DH track before sending us back down mucky ski slopes and into woods which descended and traversed a lot of rocky and rooty terrain before spitting us back out at the start finish. Marie had her usual strong start, but we were together by the top of the first climb. I made a couple failed attempts to pass before heading into the first single track descent. After that I knew I felt comfortable pushing for more speed on the descent and made sure I got ahead before the next woods. Marie held my wheel into lap 2, but the gap increased on the climb and then more on the descent. Each lap I was able to pull further ahead as I got more comfortable in the mud. I couldn’t believe that having fun in the mud was my job! I crossed the line to big hugs from my mom, Dad, brother and husband.

It was a great weekend for my team too with Katerina Nash putting in a great ride for 3rd and Georgia Gould claiming her 3rd World Cup 5th place of the Season.

The weekend before at the Mont Sainte Anne World cup I got to stand beside Marie Helene on the podium as the Canadian anthem played for her victory. With Beijing quickly approaching it was pretty emotional for me. In Bromont positions were reversed, but I once again got to share the 1-2 positions with my Beijing team mate.

During the week I cracked my podium champagne with family and friends in Bromont over a sushi dinner. Liz, a physiologist with Pacific Sport and my brother’s girlfriend had just returned from Olympic Staging in Japan with Canada’s men’s rowing team. My brother Geoff got into character for Sushi making with his new Japanese garb. There’s nothing like being on the road and getting to share a great home cooked meal & laughs with friends!

So now it’s prepping for Beijing. I’m back in Kamloops where afternoons are 32 to 37 degrees and I’m able to get in some good heat acclimation while enjoying the benefits of being at home. I head to Beijing with my husband on the 17th and yeah I’m more than a little excited;-) This year has been amazing. Everyone has been so supportive and I definitely consider every email and confidence in me a huge part of the success I’ve found this season. Thanks and look forward to sharing my time at the Olympics with you. I’ll try to keep my blog updated!

Catharine
cpendrel.blogspot.com

Friday, August 01, 2008

Yeehaa!


Thanks again to canadiancyclist.com for the photo

You’d think that to ride to 2nd at a World cup you had this phenomenal day where everything fell into place. So it was weird to be racing in 2nd, but feeling kinda flat, like I was still mentally and physically a little sleepy. It had to be the slowest World cup start I’ve ever done…and the reason I was able to lead the first start loop!

I lined up with Gunn Rita Dahle on one side and Marie Helene Premont on the other - no pressure! Gunn Rita set the pace off the start with Marie and I moving up to rematch after last weekends’ close race. I ended up leading the start loop side by side with Marie. This start loop in years past usually saw me drop into the 40’s. Going into the climb I was third wheel. Marie was opening on Gunn Rita and I. Near the crest I knew I should try to lead the woods, but my legs didn’t want to attack for the hole shot. The gap to Marie grew. After the first woods section I made a surge to pass GR and try to hunt down Marie. For 3 laps I chased her down with her opening on the last half of the course and me closing on the first half. The gap stayed under a minute until 4th lap. Behind me, my team mate Georgia Gould was moving up from a bad start and mixing it up with Lene Byberg and Gunn Rita. Katerina was also riding top 8. Go Girls!

On 4th lap fatigue was starting to be a factor on the demanding course. 2 weeks on daily thunder showers meant the woods were slow going in mud and slick roots and rocks. I was pretty happy to have tricky conditions, but the mud drained my legs as much as everyone elses and I started to slow as Marie plunged on.

The race ended up being almost 30 min longer than Nationals with the course additions and muckier conditions. I was happy again to be on my Maxxis Ignitors. Last lap was one of those rides to survive. I wanted to be able to finish without being caught. I felt pretty good on the major climbs and technical woods, but struggled with the grassy climbs and felt myself giving in to the desire to rest. Lucky The Quebec fans were amazing. Loud cheers spurred me on, as loud or louder than any worlds in Europe. Keith, Heather and Kiara (who is sitting out the world cups due to continuing back pain) as well as my parents and the Hadley family were great, going hoarse from cheering.

Riding the last minute into the finish was amazing and I have to admit a little emotional. It didn’t really sink in till then that this was 2nd at a world cup, not a national event. My first World cup medal and a show of promise for our Olympic team headed to Beijing in about 3 weeks!

Luna also had a fantastic day with Georgia overtaking Gunn Rita for 4th and coming closing to Lene Byberg’s third place finish. Katerina finished 7th, a little disappointed on the day, but with fire to move up this coming weekend in Bromont.

Big congrats to Amanda Sin who claimed 10th with a great ride and Wendy Simms who over came 2 flats to finish in the top 15. Jean Ann also rode a great race to finish 20th.
On the Men’s side Geoff Kabush showed why he’s national champ and bested last year’s 3rd to finish 2nd to Olympic Champion Julien Absalon. Derek Zandstra continued his impressive season finishing top 15 after dropp

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nationals..5.5 seconds from the Jersey!

I think that was the most exciting race I've ever done. Although off to an uncertain start, it turned into a ferocious side by side battle.

From The gun I grabbed 3rd wheel. Marie was off incredibly fast and I was struggling on Jean ann's wheel wondering why other girls like wendy, Mical and Sandra weren't over taking me. Every one was starting smart and I guess figured my slower start good work to their benefit! By the climb I found my groove and focused on closing the gap to Marie. By the second climb I had reeled in some good distance and closed it on the switch back climb. After the next woods section I attacked and passed her into the descent. From there till mid 4th lap I lead the race. I knew Marie was having some sort of trouble as I gained 20secs on her after the tech zone where I presumed she stopped. Many thoughts were going through my head. Am i super peaked...my gap was now up to 1 min, is she trying to give me the jersey, is she pacing to come back with a killer last 2 laps?

I had been able to ride really comfortably and put time into her and Wendy who was riding an amazing race. But 3rd lap Marie was putting time into me and I knew I had to step it up. Mid 4th lap Marie caught me, but I was able to stick close to her. She put about 12 seconds into me going inot last lap. I still was feeling good though and focused on closing the gap on the climb. I climbed well and heading into the descent I heard people yelling for Marie to get back on her bike as I was coming. AS she was remounting I slipped by on the right. We then headed to the neck climb with her on my wheel. As the climbed opened up we went side by side and had to veer out to overtake a lapped rider (that must have been weird for her to have us charging by on eother side!) I made it into the switchbacks first and climbed steadily not wanting to make a mistake. Marie surged by at the top and got first wheel into the woods. She made a series of dabs, but it was too tight to get by. we ended up running up the technical terrain side by side trying not to run into trees. she got on her bike first and I followed her down the next descent. On the next climb Keith was hoarsely yelling at me to attack. I did and got in 6 seconds on MHP. We were headed to the final section of the course...and the section I knew she was riding much better. I was able to hold her off for most of it, holding off one attack, but she got by me with a couple minutes to go and held on for a win of 5.5 seconds!

Had you told me the night before that it would be that close a race I would have been surprised and stoked. Coming that close to the win and loosing it though was tough. It was a mixture of great satisfaction and strong dissappointment that Icrossed the line second. I'm hoping to use the feeling of unfinished business at the world cup this weekend where I get called up second!

Back to canada

Keith and I left New York monday morning and headed for Montreal. It was a good drive through lots of great rolling hills. We stopped for a bit of a bushwacking ride in the adarondacs before heading on to montreal...where I think they are rebuilding every road overpass.

In Montreal we spent the night with my friend Heather and her roomies near mount royal. We checked out some fresh bagels being made and got some for tuesday breakfast and then headed out for Mexican food and 400 centenial beer.

Before heading on to MSA we had our Bagel breakfast and did a ride on Mount Royal wher we passed moms doing uphill aerobics with their baby carriages. Yeah that's right

I think I like short tracks now

Like Criteriums, short track races used to inspire intense feelings of dread and anguish. I just hurt the whole time to suck at the race. 3 years later they are starting to be a lo9t of fun. Although ST mornings I usually wake up wondering how I will ever manage to go that hard in a couple hours an early morning spin and then a good warm up has me ready to go at race time.

The short track race in Windham was the best one yet for the men and women. It was a good course for short track. 2 short popper climbs, a descent and some flat stretches so places to attack, recover, attack. Georgia and Katerina got away early...and I had my best race start ever! I was in a chace group made of largely of Canadains (Wendy, Mical, Emily and Heather Irmiger and Sue Buttler). The race was interesting for me. I had 2 team mates up the road so I either had to sit in or get a clean attack away from the group with out dragging other girls up. Georgia was looking vulnerable ahead so brining the chase group up could have been bad. This meant I got to try to launch repeated attacks to split the group up hoping one would eventually work. Our chase group always came back together though with other girls attacking or bidging. with 2 laps to go Wendy got away and looked like she would take third, until Mical showed her cards bridging up to Wendy and outriding her for the final podium spot. Good job girls.

Windham

Thursday I flew into Albany from Kamloops as Keith was driving up from New Brunswick. Eastern US and Canada is beautiful with tons of lush green deciduous trees and rolling hills. The course here is fun. It has a long climb that winds in and out of the woods over lots of slate rock and then descends down a fast twisty trail. The women only had to race 3 laps which was actually kinda nice as it meant a sub 1hr30 race.

From the gun Georgia took the lead and I was able to grab 3rd wheel behind Lea Davison. By the top of the climb I had closed on Georgia and grabbed the lead. It was short lived however as she passed me back on the descent when I went wide on a corner. Georgia opened on me and I opened on Katerina. From there on out the race for the podium stayed the same. We were all riding similar to each other, one of us gaining 5 seconds in one section only to loose 5 seconds to that person in another section.

We’ve got short track tomorrow, then Monday we are driving to Quebec. Amanda, Kaesy, Mical, Keith and I are all planning a stop for some good trail riding on the way and then Keith and I will stay in Montreal to visit our friend Heather and do some sightseeing.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Meet Olly



So I return home from Europe late on the 23. As I set my bags down just inside the front door I notice a picture of a kitten.

Me: Keith, why do we have a picture of a kitten?

K: Because we’re getting one Friday

M: Haha. No we’re not

K: Ummm, yeah we are. My coworker had kittens

M: Your going to become a crazy cat man (he’s already adopted 2 from the school)

K: But I need them. You’re away too much

So what can I say to that? Olly is now part of the family, attacking legs and any other moving object and quickly establishing himself in the household with the other cats. He was the runt of his litter but was attacking our huge cat Isaa by day one.

Congrats to Keith and his athletes


Matt, Daniel, Jean ann and Craig


Keith and his athletes have just completed a very successful Canada Cup campaign.
Jean Ann Mckirdy claimed the win in the women’s series, while Matt Hadley, Craig Ritchey and Daniel Sessford all claimed top 10’s in 4th, 7th and 9th respectively.

Look out for these riders to put out strong performances at Canadian Nationals July 19th in Mont Saint Anne, Quebec.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yeah for hilly short tracks at Altitude!

Wow, was I worked over. Heat, altitude, time changes and tons of travel all caught up to me Saturday night. Not to mention a whole lot of lung butter from the race! There’s a reason teams travel with a massage therapist. With our crazy schedules we’d all be riding like poo otherwise.

In the morning we did a coffee spin into park city and Java cow where we bumped into Dallas and Mical for Cappuccinos. We then headed out for team breakfast where we filled up on pancakes and omelettes. Yummy. Man life is rough!

The short track was at 1:15 and I was having a little trouble convincing myself I wanted to do it. I was thinking about those people you see yelling to get themselves pumped up and was thinking that I might need to do that today. After a couple warm up efforts though, the legs were feeling better. Today, if I didn’t win the start I owed Waldek a pound of coffee beans. I got wine if I won…but didn’t. True to tradition I fell back to about 10th. I could see Georgia and Katerina way up at the front and thought the podium was out of reach. Also true to tradition I just kept hammering and luckily there were some good climbs on this course. Within a couple laps I was with Georgia and Katerina at the front. Finally at the front of a short track! I sat in for a lap and a bit, but know that I loose races if I have to respond to other people’s efforts, so as much as I like my team mates I had to use my strengths and set sail on the next climb. Katerina was not to be shed and we rode the rest of the race together until 3 laps to go. I was pulling happily- that way I dictate the pace. I waved her through with 3 laps to go and got dropped pretty much immediately. Doht! Katerina took the win and I held on to 2nd, my best short track ever. Georgia was third, followed by Heather Irmiger and Kathy Sherwin. Our team mate Chloe had her best race weekend yet finishing 8th in both the xc and short track. Right on!

Park city Utah

Well after only 56 hours at home I was back at the airport. This time headed for Park city Utah and stop 4 on the NMBS circuit. Immigration issues meant a missed flight and 8hrs at the Vancouver airport before I could get a flight to Utah. Chris was there to pick me up and dropped me and my bike off 8 miles from the venue to get a little spin in before bed.

The course in Deer Valley is wicked. It starts with a good climb and then sends you into fast sweeping singletrack. There were tons of sharp corners where I had to learn to perfect my rear wheel slide or give up gobs of time. There were 3 major climbs, 2 of which were switchbacking singletrack and 2 long descents.

The venue is at 8000ft and the altitude was noticeable with the amount of time my heart rate was hanging out above 170. Waldek set the goal for me of winning the start – to prep for world cups where I have been sucking off the line. I had a decent start, but didn’t win it so decided I’d make up for it on the first climb and did it as a tt. About 2 minutes into the descent I had that irony taste in my mouth. Ahh altitude. Georgia and Katerina bridged up to me and we came in lap 1 together which was fun. On the climb Katerina and I peeled away from Georgia. Finishing lap 2 we were all close together, but not right on each others wheels. Katerina passed me when I shot off a hairpin corner and opened a gap. Going into last lap we were all in site of each other. I managed to hold on to 2nd until mid lap when Georgia came storming by me on a climb. I tried to go with her, but my legs just felt gross and it became my mission not to loose time or positions. After such a strong first half of the race I was a bit disappointed with 3rd, but my teammates were just descending and climbing better than me. My goal will be to become as good of racers as them. Fitness is only part of the game.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Beijing is a go!!!!


At last year's test event in Beijing

So it is now official. I'm going to the Olympics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you to everyone that has helped me get here. Keith, you deserve a lot of the credit. My coach Dan who has helped me get faster every year since we started working together in 2003. My mom, Dad, Bro and friends who were always supportive. Sues, Grainger and Geoff who were not only great fans, but kept Keith company through my many travels. The amazing Luna team, the girls on the CC crcuit that pushed me to get faster and the awesome communities of Kamloops, Fredericton and Harvey.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Worlds

After over a week in Val di Sole I was ready to get on with the racing. You can only taper so long before you're gong nutzo...especially when you're surrounded with crazzy mountain passes you shouldn't be riding...even in your granny gear;-)

I had kinda weird energy Worlds morning. Nervous definitely, but unsure of my legs and fire. The whistle went off and I was off from my second row call up into the fast flat start loop. Pretty immediately I started loosing gobs on positions and found myself back in the 30's and 40's. Even when the race started heading up I was being passed and was let's say a little concerned about the outcome of the race. The climbs started to kick steeper and I found my groove. By mid lap 1 I was top 15 and 8th going into lap 2 with a group. It was a tough hot race. I was worried I went out too hard, but was able to dial it back a little thrid lap so I could pin it the last two. The best part of the race was chasing down Gunn rita last lap for 6th place, reeling her in and dropping her!

Now it's back to kamloops for a couple days.

Team Relay


Raphael, Derek, me and Evan after the relay

On Tuesday I raced the Team Relay for Canada. We started with Raphael Gagne our U23 man followed by me, Derek Zandstra was our senior man and Evan Guthrie our junior. It’s funny, but I think I was more nervous for this race than for most races I’ve done in my life. Racing as a team is different, different pressure and different excitement. There were 20 teams registered and all of our team except Raphael were new to the relay. It poured on and off all morning, but Chris had Medussas ready on my wheels. They were perfect for the sloppy conditions. Raph got us off to a good start finish lap 1 in 11th position and tagged off to me. I was out of the gate with an Ukranian guy and was doing a good job of sticking with him. About 3minutes in I caught and passed New Zealand rider Rosara Joseph and was passed by an Australian guy. I dug deep on the climbs and was making very few mistakes on the tricky descents so was feeling pretty good about my ride. About mid lap I caught the Swedish rider and had closed on a guy from the Czech Republic by the last descent. Unfortunately my attempts to get by him led to me having to dab and he pulled away into the start finish. I handed off to Derek in 10th position and he was able to move us up to 6th. Evan took over for the last lap and did a great job maintaining our 6th position and even duking it out in a sprint for 5th with the Czech Republic. It was definitely a respectable ride for our team. I even managed to post the fastest women’s time, by a full minute.

My teammates Katerina and Georgia were also in the relay. Georgia started it for the USA and had a good ride with their team finishing 8th. Katerina posted the 2nd fastest women’s time for Czech and their team claimed 5th in the same second as us. Too bad I didn’t get by the Czech guy in the woods!

I really liked getting out on course for a hot lap and am hoping it’ll help me dig last lap on Sunday. I’m feeling good about the race rain or shine and am ready to stop sitting around and get it on!

Then it’s back to Canada just in time to celebrate Keith’s birthday!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Drive to Italy

We just drove the craziest roads I’ve ever been on. After a relaxed morning walking around Bern shopping including the necessary annual visit to the Merkur (chocolatrie) Sandra and I packed up our rental Ford Fiesta and headed towards Italy. We drove through familiar territory in the Grabunden, where we spent a weekend riding last year and then headed from Davos up the Fluejla pass and into the snow and glaciers. The Fluejela was the first of many mountain passes on that trip. We took the fiesta through more switchbacks than I can keep track of and coined the fiesta slide and Fiesta Exclamation. :-0 If you want to do an epic training camp base out of this area of Italy or Switzerland and you can be doing a new pass every day and hours of climbing.

We finally strolled into Dimaro Italy, just down the road from the Worlds site at 9pm, ate some dinner and crawled into bed.

Sandra Raced the Italian cup on Saturday and finished a close 4th in a very strong International field. Italy’s Anabella Stroparro won, followed by former World Champ Laurence Leboucher (Lapierre) of France and Blaza Klemencic (Giant) on Slovenia.

Mini golf and Soccer in Bern




After a very long travel day 6:30am till midnight Sandra and I were back with her aunt and uncle in Switzerland. Monday was relaxed with a great ride around the Bern countryside. Road riding in Switzerland is great. Tuesday we got in a good workout and then joined her family for 18 holes of minigolf and ice cream. I didn’t win…I tied for 2nd last.

It would have been hard not to notice that Switzerland is one of the host nations for the Euro championships of soccer. There are fans everywhere and all the bakeries had soccer ball shaped cookies and chocolates. Although no "Swiss" games were being played in Bern there were huge jumbo tvs set up downtown and almost every restaurant had the games playing. Sepp and Sonya gave Sandra and I each a Swiss shirt and we hopped the bus for down town. We strolled around checking out the craziness and settled on a pizza restaurant with a TV for dinner and people watching. Afterwards we headed to the Jumbo TV in time to see Switzerland score against Portugal.

Fort William


Some nice Scottish scenery


My dad at the swim hole near our place. The day before the race Waldek threw me in...but was nice enough to give me the choice of weather I wanted to take my jacket off first!


Mum took a wipe out on the course! Ouch


Chris, Georgia and Katka

The cool valley near our place. The parallel lines on the hills arefrom glaciers pushing a lake back over years.

After finishing 6th at the Worlds in Fort William Last year I was hoping this was going to be another podium weekend for me. We got to Scotland Tuesday afternoon and did a road ride up this amazingly beautiful valley that had perfectly even lines running along it from glaciers of old. We stayed in a house so were able to avoid too many overcooked vegetables and heavy Scottish dishes that just don’t leave the gut feeling that great. My parents arrived on Thursday and joined us for dinner at the house. The next day they walked the course and my mom managed a good face plant on the trail, bruising her forehead and needing stitches on her nose. She kept up great spirits though!

The course was pretty much the same as last year with the last section of climbing removed as well as the last descent and ride along a rock wall. It’s a fun course and I was feeling pretty good. I lined up with the number 5 plate and a front row call up. My start was okay, but I just couldn’t get really rolling on the climb and just cracked the top ten I think. Lap 2 I was worried as I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it was going to be a long race and I had no chance to settle in if I was going to finish well. I raced hard and consistent and was happily surprised with how my endurance was holding up for the intensity. Unfortunately on the day 11 other girls were just faster. Last lap I was riding with Georgia and Maroussia when Maroussia attacked on the flat with a couple minutes to go. Georgia tried to cover it, but I didn’t have the jump and they both beat me to the line. 12th isn’t a bad result, but after 4th last weekend I was disappointed. Hopefully I climb closer to the podium at worlds.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

First WC Podium!


Getting a top 5 has been a goal of mine since Worlds last year. Today it happened. After 2 days of great sunshine in the Pyrenees ending one of their rainiest springs, the skies again opened up this morning. Even though I just arrived Wednesday (and had to buy a new plane ticket in Paris after learning that I was supposed to fly to Toulouse from another airport) I have been feeling great. The time change and travel didn’t seem to be wearing me down, I loved the course and I was in a new and beautiful country with sunshine and snow.

This morning, after a less than stellar sleep (I know I got at least 3hrs), I was still feeling good and pumped for the race. During warm up I knew it could be a good day. The course was getting greasy and rutted, but I liked it. Off the start I moved from front row to about 30th with a colossal pedal miss. Loosing a couple seconds when everyone else is sprinting is pretty significant. From there it was time to regain positions. In the woods I was able to pass a lot of people by taking the less favoured rooty lines. I actually had a girl grab my arm to stop me from passing her. No names will be mentioned though;-0

I got up to Katerina and we worked together to bring in and pass a bunch of girls in the woods. Soon enough I could see Marie Helene and Ying. Ying was descending well, dropping Marie who had frozen hands, but we eventually overtook her and moved on to catch Eva Lechner. I remained in contact for a bit, but once the gap formed all I could do was maintain it, but not catch them. Fullana went off the front lap 1 and was not to be seen by us for the rest of the race. I am stoked to have posted the fastest lap of the day on lap 2. I had so much fun on that course. Well on everything but the shale/grass off camber switch-backing ski hill climb. Sucked pretty bad on that!
So it was 4th for me and my first World cup Podium and 6th for Katerina – both personal bests. Georgia had a bad day and finished 17th and we were able to grab the #1 Team position again. Kiara rode in 13th, Sandra 29th and Wendy 33. That’s it for the canuck contingent, but Geoff Kabush raced a wicked race and finished 3rd!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kamloops crew rips it up

Congrats to all you secret racers in Kamloops! Last weekend at the Cow trail BC cup in Merrit Kim and Martin B both won their categories, Martin D was 2nd in his and Pete 6th. Jamie I saw that top 5 girl! Yehaa. Aaron showed he's still a ripper finishing 8th in Elite men and my athlete Joele finished 4th Elite women after recovering from a crash off the start. A guy blocked traffic for her so she could get up and I was picturing it being someone from Kamloops!

Watch out for Ellen and Nick at test of Metal!

Also on the Canada Cup scene Keith's athlete's are showing their cards. JeanAnn has claimed a 3rd and 4th, Matt H got 3rd last weekend (yes sir!) and Daniel and craig are riding consistently top 12-15 for their best canada cups to date. Keep it up guys!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The view from my Office



Now that you’re all cursing me I’ll dig deeper! This place is gorgeous. We’re staying in the Pyrenees. We arrived last night climbing the twisty mountain roads, passing one village after another until arriving at Hotel Magic (how can you go wrong with a name like that) 3hrs after leaving Toulouse. We headed out on the bikes before dark and climbed for an hour before descending back down only 20minutes to the hotel.

The snowflakes put the agic in Magic!

The next morning was bright and sunny. We took the Gondola from our hotel to the top of the mountain (Vallnord) where the race site is located. Things just kept getting better. Not only was it a beautiful venue surrounded with white capped mountains shining in the sun, but the course was super fun, lots of roots and rocks and time in the woods. The 1800m elevation had me breathing harder than normal and the legs aren’t quite ready to race, but that could just as easily have been the travel.
From the Gondola