Sunday, December 09, 2012

Ski Camp glutton

While most of my team mates are killing it on the Cyclocross scene, I’ve been home learning how to make cross country skiing a better training tool…. as well as hoping to try my hand at some racing.

I was invited to take part in two ski camps, the Glenn Bond ski camps and the Silver Star Super camps.  Both were fantastic! It felt so amazing to be back on skis.

I spent 5 days living at Silver Star, footsteps away from the trails and got 2 lessons in a day separated by lunch at the Bull Dog.  There is nothing quite like living on the mtn and skiing from your door.  Rather than worrying about “getting in a work out” I wanted to be fresh for my lessons and get the most out of them.  It snowed every night and the conditions became more and more like wonderland.
Leah Guloien and Sandra Walter join in for the weekend SuperCamp!

Words of Wisdom

After a week there, Keith and I had to test out the DH conditions at Sun Peaks and our local xc ski trails teaming up with the Glenn Bond Camps.  Wahoo snow close to home too! I enjoyed more great company, coaching and skiing at these camps and had 3 evenings set aside to share my Olympic experiences, training and athlete development ideas with both camps. 
                        Sun Peaks DH calling!

After all this skiing, I may as well sign up for a race right?  That was my pattern with mtn biking.  Find out about a race 2 weeks out, practice and go, except with skiing at least I’ve been doing it for several years…if not with great technique.

So got a license, got registered, went to Victoria to visit my brother, Sister-in-Law and niece while my parents were in town to visit, go for a bike ride with some fast guys, crash on slick rocks and then limp my way home with a sore back.  Several days later and some physio, and rolling over in bed without pain was still a challenge so I had to skip my Nor AM ski racing debut.  Boooo, but was able to do my first “training ride” today without discomfort.  I guess I have to settle for watching some killer xc ski race action at the Canmore World Cup next weekend and ramp up the ski miles until the next race presents it self!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

and now, skiing

Dabbling in Cross

This weekend Keith and I travelled down to the coast for Cyclocross nationals.  After a nice drive over the Mtns. Friday night we awoke to cool rain on Race day.  Hey it’s cross.

Keith raced first, settling into a top 10 ride only to flat a front wheel, change it and then have problems with his spare…settling for 18th in the end.  It was a bummer after going into the race feeling strong and having worked his way up from a back row call up.  Local boys and Interior cross racers Chris Mcneil and Martin Bojesen went on to claim 2nd and 3rd in Masters 1-2.  Wahhoo

By my afternoon start the rain had picked up and the temperatures dropped.  With no cross UCI points and last minute decision to register I got the experience of last row call up, but I like a challenge so I focused on a good start and by the 3rd corner I was in the top 10.  For 3 laps I felt technically awesome on my bike, nailing corners, descending fast and running...well not so fast but doing it.  I caught up to a group of 3 including Emily Batty, but there was more work to do.  I wanted to be up with the top 3 so I just kept pushing the pace and Emily was the only rider to go with me.  Soon enough we were catching Pepper Harleton who had dropped off the lead group of Mical and Wendy. 
A fast start on dry roads and then time to get Dirty! Thanks for the photo Tom;-)

I just kept passing hoping to split the group and contact the leaders, but got into “charge” mode and forgot to actually set up my corners and just started crawling through them.  Where I had opened gaps I lost them again.  Coming down a descent that had been a non-issue, suddenly I was taking a super man dive.  With one lap to go I was back in 5th and chasing Emily and Pepper rather than Mical and Wendy.  Bummer.  I raced hard but there wasn’t enough time left to make up for the spill. So I settled for 5th.

Mical Dyck claimed a well deserved win and first national title followed by former national champ and mother of 2 Wendy Simms, Emily Batty and Pepper Harleton.

Big thing for me was that I had fun and felt awesome and powerful.  I learned a ton about the importance of the small details in cross racing and how rad mud tires are!

I have never been so cold after a race and spent an hour shivering under blankets at anti-doping control.  I got to drink hot chocolate at “my own risk”  but it was totally worth it!

That evening was a nice chance to catch up with friends over some tasty Italian food and rehash everyone’s war stories from the day.  In cross, there are many!

Day 2: GP of Cyclocross

This day was not quite as cold, but man was it windy.  A good warm up was needed to rid the junk from my legs after zero warm down the day before from being too freaking cold!

The course was shorter and faster today.  Initially it seemed much more boring, but the high speed course was a lot of fun to race and the uber headwinds on all the open climbs made for a good challenge.

Another back row call up, but another solid start and this time I made contact with the lead group within a couple laps.  Although they dropped me hard over the barriers I was riding well and finding good lines.  Unfortunately through a muddy section one of the other girls got thrown off her line and towards me, putting me in the tape and on the ground.  The sudden direction change while sprinting made my back yell at me for a while, but I was able to get moving and going and once I realized it wasn’t seriously hurt I started chasing again, now from 8th position. 

Dressed much warmer for day 2: 3 layers on the core and never overheated!

I was able to move up quickly and was so close to the ladies, but then I saw them sprinting for the line.  Race over in 37 minutes.  Bummer I was having fun!  Cross racing is definitely engaging and I could see getting more into it, but not this season.  It’s now time to ski!

Congrats again to Mical Dyck for the Win, Wendy Simms in Second and Pepper Harleton in 3rrd.  Also thanks to Daryl Evans, Cycling BC and all the local cross organizers that helped put on stellar events in BC and bring equal prize money to our uci events and nationals.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Favs of 2012

Ok so it’s the fall and you try to take some time off the bike and do other stuff like Hot Yoga, Zumba, trail hikes and running, but my sponsors keep sending me awesome stuff to try!  Luckily ec3d compression wear has also sent me some goodies to test!!!

So what are some of my favourite new toys of 2012-2013?

Well let’s go Obvious:  The Orbea Oiz is a thing of beauty and has made the “off season” a lot of fun.
 The Oiz rides as smooth as it looks

I have been testing a lot of different bikes and wheel sizes lately and it seems to be coming down to what bike do you enjoy the most, because when you push them equally hard each bike gives you a fast ride!

Fox dropper seat post: Unreal for those mountain adventures that have you climbing up for 2hrs to get 30+km of singletrack descending!

App: Also new from Fox Racing for 2013 is a phone app to set up your suspension.  No more messing around, just enter your 2013 fork code and use your phone as a scanner to check sag and get recommended air pressure and rebound.  Easy and it works!

Ec3d compression: definitely the nicest and best working compression wear that I’ve tried with tights, socks, calves and more, it has something for everything, travel, riding and recovery and my gluts are looking amazing!  ;-)

What special favourites are fuelling all this biking fun? My top 5

Kit’s Organics Cashew bar:  Simple ingredients and soo delicious
Luna Protein peanut butter chocolate chip
ClifBar Mojo chocolate almond coconut
Luna Chocolate dipped coconut!
Luna fiber strawberry Peanut butter.  The name may not do it for you, but the taste and texture will!

and home made cookie medals for Interior Cross!

and finally Oakley Active wear.  What a treat to have so much great clothes for lounging and working out!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Roc D’azur

A trip to France was the perfect way to end the mtn bike season.  Flying into Nice, I enjoyed the beautiful Cote D’Azur and hospitality of Orbea bicycles as we launched their latest beauty, the Oiz.
2013 Oiz
Last year at Worlds, Orbea’s engineers came to visit the Luna team to ask for our feedback in creating a great xc race dual suspension.  They were surprised by some of the things we were looking for, one being that I saw the biggest advantage of a dual suspension as maintaining power over flat rough terrain (seeing more rough grass sections on our WC courses) and for singletrack climbing rather than on the descents.  Races can be lost on descents, but only occasionally won. 

After our meeting I kept in touch over email with the engineers and in June the first prototype was ready and delivered to me just days before the MSA World Cup.  I was able to win that race in large part due to the efficiency of the bike.  I just made fewer mistakes than the other girls on the tough technical climbs.

I was honored that Orbea not only valued my opinion, female racer’s opinions, but actively worked to create the bike that could meet all of our demands and have it ready to test months later.  After the first prototypes the bike’s design was refined further to drop 155 grams and add additional lateral stiffness.
Lateral stiffness

Pitting out of the Orbea trailer at European World Cups I am familiar with the mechanics and staff of Orbea, but there is nothing like going solo to an event to really get to know the guys!  With a mix of French, Spanish and English we had a ton of good laughs hanging out with the 10+ bike testers/press that had come from all over Europe to learn about and ride the Oiz. It felt like the early privateer adventure days of mtn bike racing except also being totally spoiled!

The riding too was great.  Lots of rough rocky descents to test out the suspension, but you expect the bike to be a load of fun here.  It was how it climbed, stiff on hard packed surfaces, but absorbing the rough terrain that really makes this bike shine as a race machine.  No matter the surface you feel that all the energy you put into the pedals propels you forward.

Some nice vistas on course

The race

I was a little nervous for the race, or more how my body would feel.  I haven’t been “training” since worlds, but yes still keeping active, so I was not sure how my body was going to feel going race pace and for longer than normal duration.  But I wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on myself either; I’d do my best.  This was about having fun on the bike and enjoying racing.
147 women lined up to race.  Going low maintenance I was carrying a spare bottle in my pocket so I didn’t have to stop at any feedzones to fill up during the 44km single loop race.  The start was pretty mellow and I was happy to sit in and not waste any energy.  The first climb greets you about 12-15 minutes in and I thought to myself, well may as well see what you’ve got and went to the front.  Elizabeth (Lissi) Osl and Anna Szafreniak were feeling strong though and wanted to control the front.  The first major climb was the toughest.  I wanted to separate the field, but Elisabeth wanted to control the race.  She upped the tempo in response to my coming alongside, from there we settled into a teeth-grinding tempo with the front of the race whittling down to four women, Lissi, Anna, Irina and mself.  Osl was climbing very strong and there were moments it would have been really easy to decide it was too much and back off, but I wasn’t going to let myself and was rewarded on the descents being a bit smoother and saving energy, recovering.  We kept the pace high for the first hour and then the separation came.
 Spectators on one of the main climbs during the men's event

Lissi and Anna dismounted for a tough climbing section I tried to ride, but without a clear track I didn’t make it (should have prepared for that) and was off the bike, but now gapped off them and not the best of runners!  I think Irina was ok with this having yo yo’d off the back on the climbs, now we could settle into a pace together.

So it was now Irina and I chasing. For a long time we could always see them just ahead, but as we approached the tail end of the tandem race and started focusing on the safest places to pass tandems on rocky descents or technical climbs it was harder to maintain or reel in the gap.  In all we passed 107 of the 230 tandem racers! (Isn’t that many tandem mtn bike racers incredible…just another part of what makes this race cool. 17 000 racers do the various events). 

Anyhow, Eventually we caught Lissi who had flatted on a descent.  Tough as she was the strongest climber, if not descender and would have definitely finished the race on the podium.  I was able to open on Irina on a couple descents, but lost the advantage being unsure of a couple turns (one in which officials waved me off the course holding up the tape thinking I was someone just out riding during the tandem event!)  I loved the Oiz’s help on the tricky climbs definitely saving energy.

The final 15 km was pretty urban, riding over a beach, up stairs and along the old customs patrol route on the coast where border control watched out for smugglers in days past, back over a long beach section and then along a mostly paved stretch to the finish.  Irina and I traded up pulls and with two corners to go into the finish I surged through each corner trying to gap her before the sprint, it was not in the cards though and she nipped me at the line.
I finished 3rd having really enjoyed racing my bike and the new experience of Roc D’Azur.

Thanks Jokin, Julien, Ivan, Alex, Xabier, Joseba, Banate for bringing me over for the adventure and taking such great care of me and the bike!

More Bike testing!