Monday, December 11, 2006

When in Rome


So I might have complained a little bit when there was snow everywhere - but it gave us (the new Giant women's team) a good excuse to head up to Seymour and bond on snowshoes. It was a gorgeous day and awesomely fun. I was stoked on Sunday to get back outside on my bike, but I suppose we're Canadian, so a rumble in the snow from time to time won't hurt anyone. Check out that view!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...




Yeah everyone in Calgary is going to laugh at me - but it's COLD here! :P Actually it's absolutely gorgeous and I get to sit back and laugh at how Vancouverites deal with the inclement weather. So far all the post-secondary institutions and a great number of the public school have been closed. We are on "arctic blast" alert - it's currently -3 out. I went showshoeing yesterday up on Mt. Seymour - total blast - but kinda scary when we started hearing the trees start to crack under the weight of the heavy snow. I'm lucky enought to have the day off, so I can sit inside and wonder at how lovely it is...on my trainer. I love the snow, but it's supposed to be in Calgary when I go home for Christmas so that I can ride my bicycle.
MAN I MISS AUSTRALIA! That thought runs through my head at least once a day - more when it snows!
Also, I thought that I would let everyone know the bad news. Despite the fact that we live less than 200km away from the epicentre of the explosion of the "Starbucks" world - we still don't have enough stores to keep the population happy - despite the kiddie korner stores on Robson street. Last week I was walking around Pacific Centre at lunch with my egg nog latte and she essentially accosted me to figure out where I had found the Starbucks. She was might disappointed that she would have to walk at least 500m outside to find it. I found it amusing...and my latte delicious!
Alrighty, now on with the day!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Water, Water, Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink



So, bottom line, I've been a little lazy in my updates...which has lead me to the epic struggle over the last, oooh 5 minutes, trying to decide which newsflash will provide more entertainment for my readership (thanks Mom ;)) The battle was between "no drinkable running water" and "9th at Cyclocross Nationals." By the size of the pictures - you can probably guess which won out in the end.
However, to start off, I would like to point out that our toilet usually does run clear. Chris and I clean the washroom regularly and we also have a good practice of flushing the toilet - therefore the discolouration in the water...not our doing. It's the water running in the taps. We woke up to some worse looking stuff on Thursday morning - I didn't have to wait for the water advisory to decide that it probably wasn't good to drink. The Vancouver area experienced a fairly epic storm last Wednesday. We recieved close to 150mm of rain (if that were snow it would be 1.5 meters!) and winds gusting to 100km/h. Wednesdays are track days, so I hopped into the car about 4:00pm and started what promised to be a delightfully long car trek out to Burnaby. Luckily Becca brought me the new JT album from Calgary a few weeks ago, so I got to rock out in my own private discotheque all the way there. One head-on collision, a blown over building under construction and 2 hours later, I came within sight of Burnaby mountain - no wait I didn't! There was nothing to see as all the power for a number of different areas had been knocked out. Apparently today, 6 days later, some residents of Lions' Bay still don't have power. And I still don't have water. Isn't one of the tenants of today's civilized society power and clean, running water? Good times, good times. The net result is that I have been constantly thirsty over the last bit - I guess it might be more productive to head out and buy some more bottled water this eve.
As for the teeny, tiny pic of me all muddy - that's from Nanaimo about a week ago where I was very pleased with a 9th place finish at Cyclocross Nats. It was a fight to the bitter end, as Sarah Stewart and I road the majority of the race together, only for her to crash with about a km to go and in the end I only beat Leah (my new teammate) by 2 seconds! Those are the best cross races though - the ones where everyone's going for it and battling it out - it was an awesome, fun course and I'm kinda sad to see the cross season come to a close. Having said that, I've been enjoying the "regular routine" of training and work - and a good amount of sleep.
Well I best be off - lots to do in the next month before I head home to Calgary for Christmas...I can't believe it's so close!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lame-O Winter


So I'm not sure if I'm the lame-o or if it's winter that's lame-o....but titles are an art right? ;)
We're in the middle of having our first real winter storm here in Vancouver and pretty much everyday I dream about being back on the Gold Coast. At no point was this a more vivid desire than last Thursday when I had my inaugral colder than hell ride over on the North Shore. Now anyone who's lived here longer than say a month (for which I should qualify - but apparently don't!) they will point out that heading to Horseshoe Bay when it's nasty out is a decidedly bad idea - I thought that it would be fun. Now, I'm thinking if you define fun as almost having frostbite on your fingers and tosies, then yes, I hit the nail on the head...luckily I think the ride knocked a bit of the stupid out of me and now all my winter riding stuff is being put to good use.

On the upside of being in the northern hemisphere in the fall - I've been loving the cyclocross season. I'm heading up to Nanaimo for nationals on the weekend which should be a good time. What's not to love? You're riding a road bike around the woods and every so often you hop off to avoid an obstacle...makes me feel like I'm 8 years old - I totally love it!

My sister and her friend Tory were here on the weekend - tons of fun - lots of money spent. But with Becca's influence, I'm not really all that surprised. I'm in the middle of trying to convince myself that I need it all - but hey, I'm working now....uhhhh

Well that's the random (somewhat mindless) update on how my life is going. Working definately makes the days fly by. I'm kinda freaked that it's already November....yikes!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pumpkin Pie


I must say, I've never really thought about it before, but Thanksgiving ranks right up there with the best holidays...mostly because of the Pumpkin Pie. During the last few days I've been stocking up on the PP in multiple forms (one of which I can throughly thank Chris' parents for as they brought Thanksgiving and all its culinary glory to us)- the best of which was offered by Dairy Queen. I'm not entirely sure who had the brilliance to come up with the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard - but it's wonderful! So that was the highlight of my holiday Monday (and yes, as of last week I'm employed at KPMG, so it's actually a holiday!), along with a lovely ride out to Horseshoe Bay with Chris.

Speaking of wonderful things - Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Each time I cross the Burrard Street bridge (when the sun is shining) it takes my breath away to see the skyline with the mountains and the ocean...I'm just hoping the good weather stays all year (fat chance!) hee hee

I've also gotten back on the bike in the last few weeks. After three months off I decided to hit the races again, but this time on the cross bike. My new pretty Giant bike is great and after spending the first week getting my bum kicked down in Seattle, Saturday I was able to take second in the Bayside Cyclocross Classic...and now I have about a zillion bruises to show for it....apparently I still bruise REALLY easily. Guess I won't be wearing skirts at work for awhile!

Also on the exciting vein of events (for me, you will most likely find it mind-numbingly boring), we now have a wireless router, so I can play on the internet from the comfort of the couch...man, technology is great!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fall is upon us


Well the wedding season is over - and so for 2006, that means that my summer has also drawn to a close. Congratulations to Lisa and Alistair, Sarah and Todd, and last but not least Bekki and Anthony for declaring their love for one another and putting on great celebrations! :P

I on the other hand, am enjoying my last week of holidays in the gorgeous Vancouver sunshine (I need to enjoy it while I can!) before heading back to work! Yes, that does deserve an exclamation mark as I'm pretty stoked to be working back with KPMG - but this time in Vancouver. The last 18 months or so have been awesome, but I feel it's time for me to get this here idle brain of mine going again and I'm looking forward to it.

Another sign that fall has come is that I got possession of my new cross bike yesterday! Also rather stoked about this - it's such a pretty Giant! :) Get to test it out in true form this weekend with a pair of races - the first in Seattle at Star Crossed (super cool - the course actually goes through a beer garden) and then closer to home (and a personal favourite) on the Surrey course. Not sure how the "intensity" thing is going to treat me, but it'll be nice to get out there all the same.

I think that covers the "what's new" category. Oh yeah - come out and visit us - my lastest Bday present (from Daddy and Di) was a blow up bed for visitors - so now we can be good hosts! ;)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Beer, Pizza, Wedding Chapel

Yesterday Chris, Sandra and I went to ride Mount Baker. I don't think we really knew what we were in for - but the epic ride called our names. We headed out to Abbotsford for 9am (it only takes an hour to get out there that early in the morning!) and crossed the border and commenced the 150km ride. From what I had read, I believed that we would be doing 40km to Glacier (the base of Mt. Baker), 40km up, 40km down and 40km home - the is some math missing somewhere in there...but that was all we needed to start our adventure ride.

Now what would an epic ride be without a good detour. Apparently I should have looked at the map (or the roadside signs) more closely, as we ended up taking about a 15km detour. But much to our luck with came upon a building advertising Beer, Pizza and a Wedding Chapel. Definately picture worthy - unfortunately for both you and me - I forgot my camera (not that I would have had room for all the extra clothing I had jammed in my pockets!) We got turned around soon enough and headed towards Baker. The ride itself was quite pleasant - it wasn't until we hit the 4 hour make that we had any inclement weather. Unfortunately, at 4 hours, we were still going up...making for a LONG day! The rain wasn't hard, and we knew we were near the top - so we pushed on. Good thing that we did too cause we were within a few kms and we would have been kicking ourselves if we had turned around.

Once at the top, we were greeted by hail. Yes, the mountain weather prevailed and we were in the middle of quite a bit of precipitation - not really what you're looking to have around when you have to descent for 40km! We had to stop twice on the trip down to try to regain feeling in our fingers as to be able to change gears and, more importantly break...man I MISS AUSTRALIA! We even ended up riding uphill a little - I resorted to singing out loud to take my mind off the pain...it is only September! Winter is going to be a LONG battle. Anyways, we made it out of the rain and continued down to the town of Glacier. I had lost the ability to shift into my big chain ring because of my frozen left hand and we were all expressing knee discomfort after riding for 2 hours at 50RPM before turning around and subjecting our joints to freezing temperatures!

At the end of the day it was a 6.5 hour ride - and the whole thing was amazing! The road is beautiful, the pavement smooth and the scenery picturesque. Definately a ride I would recommend to anyone just watch out for the mountain weather :P!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

YIKES! I'm a quarter of a century...


So I'm kinda conflicted about this Bday! Last year I was soaking up rays on a beach in Fiji - today I'm in Vancouver wearing a nice big, electric blue Lulu sweatshirt (courtesy of Christopher) and still not entirely warm. I'm in the middle of a bit of a quarter of a century crisis...I mean by 25 aren't you supposed to know where you want to go with your life? I know I want to be a cyclist...outside of that I just don't know - accounting, finance, or something completely unrelated??? I thought that I would have at least been in an industry for a few years before I start questioning my direction. I've spent the week at job interviews and applying for every position I come across that I qualify for - it's definately hard to convince full-time positions that they want to employ me - only give me 30ish hours a week and unlimited (unpaid) holidays. I am too demanding aren't I?

Okay, enough of the deep thoughts - I started my day with a run and a cinnamon bun and a pumpkin latte - what could be better???? I'm hoping to go for a ride later today and then a nice dinner (and cake of course!) Bithdays are GREAT! I'm still educating Chris that one's birthday is the MOST important day of the year - it's the only day that you get all to yourself (although I knowingly share it with Jenny Sweeney, Tricia Milner and Adam from elementary school) - but I'm loving it. I can't find any appropriate Bday pics, so I'm going to settle for Chris and I on our Heart Mountain hike - it killed me, but running has been easy ever since!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Have a Home!




So after being somewhat transient for the last 16 months, I'm happy to say that last weekend Chris and I settled into our place in Vancouver. We're living on the border of Kits and West Pointe Grey - apparently that's a froofy location for those of you who are curious...it's super close to the Eatery which is a funky Japanese restaurant - oddly enough it was one of the first places I knew in Vancouver and now I live about a block away - and we've eaten there twice since our arrival.
This week has been pretty chill - Chris started school and I've been trying to sort out the last bits of our house like getting internet (which we don't have yet, I'm currently at a wireless cafe), and waiting for our couch to be delivered...not to mention job hunting - but it's been really nice. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and we've been enjoying morning runs down to Jericho park - definately no complaints! Anyhoo, nothing too interesting - cross races are going to start up soon, but for now, I just wanted to include a few pics of my new abode. (You'll note that I strategically left out a pic of the living room as it's a great open void at the moment - but I just got a call to inform me that we're having the couch delivered on Monday!!!)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kicking Around Vancouver


Man, when I'm not racing, I'm really bad at the updates now aren't I? Well to tell the truth, that is in part because I have been pretty unexciting as of late. When I got back from Mexico I thought that I was all prepped to start training again as to kick some bum at track nats....alas, that appeared not to be the case after a week back at it, I was super tired again. I was pretty bummed out (luckily I had the ENTIRE second season of Grey's Anatomy to keep me entertained - which is an exceptional show by the way...only problem being that it actually makes me wish I went to med school....wierd!) So instead of stewing on what I couldn't do, I headed out to Vancouver for Lisa and Alistair's wedding.
It was gorgeous - I'm not really sure what else to say about it - maybe after the next two weddings I will be attending, I will be able to be more of a critic, but Lisa looked beautiful as did her bridesmaids and the whole thing was super great. I especially enjoyed that each place setting had a bag of JellyBellys...probably over-consumed on those.
My trip to Van ended up being a bit of a multitasking event. I figured that we could find a place in a couple of days and then head back home to AB before jumping back to Edmonton to race track provs - then assess my form before deciding on Nationals. Unfortunately, the charming people at the rental agency (once we finally found a place that we were interested in - we found an old grow op for just under $900/month in a super sketch part of town...lovely by all accounts - but it did motivate me to pay a little more for a place!) were dragging their feet and we weren't able to sign the lease until Friday. So no track provs...so no track nats....on to CROSS time!
So now the hunt is on for a cross bike...oh yeah, and a job! Thanks to the luxurious rent costs in Vancouver, I need to find me a job and a good one at that! But before I think too much about it, Chris and I are going to head out to the mountains for a mtb bike ride. We were going to go yesterday, but once we got there I realized that I forgot my shoes on the table...I was NOT impressed...but thems the breaks. We went out riding in the river valley instead and believe me, my skills leave quite a bit to be desired...Why is it that mountain biking always makes me feel ridiculously out of shape???
Anyways, so it's here in Calgary for another couple of weeks full of Sarah's wedding and my Grandma's 90th b-day before driving back out to Vancouver - to live! Exciting and yet a little scary all at the same time. Get to start up the training again and have some fun ripping around on a road bike with nobby tires - I can't wait!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The 3 Rs: Rest, Relaxation and Ralfing



Classy, I know. Luckily the stomach discomfort didn't hit me until I was on the plane last night coming home from Mexico...at least I think it's lucky. Truth be told, if you think that you need to blow cookies, there is no where more encouraging than an airplane bathroom...but enough about the gross, yucky stuff.

So last week my sister, mom and I headed down to Cancun - the Palladium Colonial on the Riviera Maya to be precise - to help me recoup from a long season to date. The hope is that it's allowed me to recharge enough to start a campaign towards Track Nationals in September - I'm still holding my breath to see how things work out! As it was kind of a last minute thought (the most constructive of my "I'm quitting cycling forever" line of thinking during the roadrace at Nationals) we simply chose a last minute deal and crossed our fingers. As it was - we were incredibly lucky. The resort was gorgeous. The food was good for a buffet (if I discount whatever made me unbelievably unhappy last night) and the buildings were phenomenal. It was a dream.

Can't really say that I did all that much while we were down there. Lots of beach time (although a Mexican dude made fun of Becca and I yesterday for being so white after a full week in Mexico - but dude, I am SO tanned for me at the moment...I can't help my northern-European background!) and a good amount of reading and general relaxing. We had a few tropical storms, but nothing we couldn't handle! During the down time, we dug through the first season of Grey's Anatomy - to which I am now hooked and am currently trying to download the second season to watch as I recover from my vacation today. The first season of Degrassi Junior High was watched - including the episode when Spike gets pregnant - Canadian television history I tell ya!

So I'm back at home in Calgary - hopefully ready to get back on my bike - I'll have to learn to amuse myself as the Tour is over (we saw a praying mantus and I wished that I had had my camera so that I could have taken a congratulations picture for Floyd). So it's home time for a week, then Gran and Grandad arrive from England on Sunday before I likely head off to Vancouver on Monday - I really don't like to stay in one place now do I???

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Inevitable Crack



So it happened. I knew it would, but it hasn't really been a ton of fun. After a week of lying in bed trying to get rid of a rather persistant virus, I headed up to Quebec city to get my bum kicked. Apparently getting sick, while it does prevent you from doing anything, it does not help you recover...all things that I know, but I'm learning all over again first hand. It was a rough weekend - the courses were great (the organization less so) and under normal circumstances I think I would have raced really well. As it was, my body decided that it no longer wanted to race and I was left going as hard as a possibly could - and getting NOWHERE!

So it's time for a little time off. I think I'm going to have to x-nay Altoona which is too bad, but there's always next year right? Time to take a little time away from the bike (I wanted to throw it in the St. Lawrence after quitting cycling about 6 times during Friday's roadrace, but it did make the trip back home with me) and I'm hoping to get away somewhere hot to lounge on the beach before ramping it back up for track nats.

But on to more interesting things like dreamy Boonen is in YELLOW! What a great Tour! First Georgie, now Boonen - as long as I forget that my Jan didn't get to start and neither did Basso and Valverde just crashed out today....Check out http://www.tomboonen.com/nl/fotos/ for HOT pictures of Boonen...might just put one up on the blog along with the picture of the shoes that I REALLY want...but I can't imagine paying $500 for. Aren't they cool though?

Okay, well enjoy the shoes and dreamy Boonen - now only Zabruskie needs to get yellow and it'll be the greatest tour ever (except for '97 when Little Jan won).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lah Lah Lounge


Now, this couldn't get any better if I had made it up - and I swear I didn't. This evening I went for dinner with the remaining half of Chris' family as Chris and his Dad took off on a road trip down to Ohio...he's doing a bike race there - best of luck! :) That left his Mom, brother Andrew and myself here in Guelph. Well, that's not entirely accurate as the female contingent of the aforementioned trio was supposed to be enroute to Road Nats in Quebec City - however my charming illness has us delayed by a few days. Apparently when we left Minnesota I decided to bring a charming cough with me - and things have progressed since then...and I'm about ready to be healthy again - my window of tolerance in which I must be healthy is down to only 2 days now...but I'm sure that the immune system will cooperate! (you hear that immune system???)

So yeah, I'm a little irritated of the timing of the sickness, but you can't choose these things now can you - but regardless, tonight's entertainment help spur on my spirits. So to start at the beginning, I had spent all afternoon sleeping and soon enough it was dinner time and no one had really given any thought to dinner. Chris' mom suggested we go to this great pizza place and so we were off (in the brand new red convertable beatle...I must get a picture of that!) As we walked into the restaurant we were informed that it would be $3.00 cover to watch the "show". Said show was a podcast (still trying to understand what exactly is a podcast - best description came from Andrew as a audio blog) and so we were in for some great live entertainment....and some that is good to talk about on my blog. As a sidebar - dinner at Manhattan's was INCREDIBLE - it was the first time that I've had vegetarian pasta in a long time that didn't leave me wanting meat - mmm...a delectable combination of sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, artichoke hearts and olive oil - it was AWESOME! Also on the awesome list was the second act up for the evening. This girl constructed a song entirely with her voice - not sure if it wasn't pre-recorded, but regardless, she had slowly built up with her accompniment and then sang - and it was gorgeous - I thouroughly enjoyed her act. The larger woman belly dancing (no wait, it was a flamenco/belly dance cross) was less enjoyable - partially because I'm not sure she wasn't wearing langerie...classy my friend classy.

The rest of the evening was enjoyable and helped me to understand that my musical talent is pretty much non-existant. The fact that people can sit down and write songs, with music and lyrics just blows my mind. I am also disappointed that we missed seeing Dee Something-Or-Other who was a top 20 Canadian Idol...unfortunately my sleep is also important to me.

So after that entertaining interlude in my life, I'm off to Quebec City to speak French and ride my bike with the top racers in Canada. I'm looking forward to seeing girls I haven't caught up with for awhile and getting back to Quebec City - haven't been there for awhile and it will always remind me of Marie-Claude and my grade 6 exchange. I DID the town back in 1993...I think it was then anyways...just hoping that the evil sore throat demons leave me in the near future.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nature Valley Complete...



So the camera’s fixed, but apparently I no longer remember how to take cool pictures for my blog…We did however accidently detour through Detroit on the way down there – oops! On the upside we were able to take a picture of “8 mile” – yes that is my claim to fame…and that was only a few hours into our 16 hour trek. (After writing I was going through my pics and I decided that in actual fact, everyone NEEDED to see the picture of the hugging bears on the highway - that' just for your enjoyment...no other good reason)...That’s right, Julia, Chris and myself decided that the most fun activity we could come up with last week was to drive to Minneapolis, Minnesota. And while I do grant you that they have an equivalent mall to West Ed (which I did not get to visit much to my dismay!), driving there requires that you chug through Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and then Minnesota…That’s right – my US geography is going to be KILLER by the end of the year! Over the 16 hour drive (remember that’s 16 hours each way!) I learned that I still love Wisconsin. A land of cheap cheese lies near and dear to my heart – on the way out we stopped at a “Cheese” place – apparently Julia doesn’t get how my camera works, cause that picture doesn’t exist somehow…but I got FIRE CHEESE – and believe me, they ain’t kidding about the FIRE – jalapeno to be precise. Not quite as odd as the cheese fudge (that’s right, cheese that tastes like fudge, I had to sample it just to be sure!), but the fire cheese was far more versatile. Unfortunately, to contrast the wonderous cheese state (that also had waterslides EVERYWHERE – I wanna go to a waterpark!) I had to pass through Illinois. A State of irritating toll booths (we missed two of them on the way there and had to send the state $1.60 in the mail…definitely a class A system) and road construction. I think I lost at least 3 years off my life driving through there – oh yeah and the drivers are CRAP! If only I could find a way to drive through Lake Michigan and bypass Chicago – I’ll work on it for Superweek….So we got ourselves to good old Minneapolis – Eden Prairie to be precise – we were hanging out at our host house Connie – she was awesome! And let the racing begin! I can’t say that it was the most positive weekend of my life. I was all stoked about it until I didn’t sleep at ALL the night before the TT – Chris helped me out by going to pick up my race packet though and I trooped through and put down a solid ride (to tell you the truth, I was a little surprised as I felt quite sick to my tummy prior to the race). The next day was a complete gong show. Anyone who was there knows exactly what I mean. I don’t think I hear anyone say anything positive about it – there were echoes of “that was the hardest race I’ve ever done” all over the place. Here we learned that just because a race is flat, doesn’t mean that it is easy…I still prefer the flat.
Friday was the dark day in my racing year. After a killer storm – and I mean NUTSO, blowing hard rain, flooded streets, hailstones and a temperature drop of about 15 degrees – we took to the streets. I don’t think I was actually racing – I’m not proud of this fact. In fact, if I could erase one single race this year it was that one…luckily it seemed to serve as a kick in the bum. Plus, had we not had the crazy storm, we would not have been lucky enough to sit at a super sketch gas station for most of half an hour waiting for a taxi to pick up Robin. Like honestly, this place was a piece of work – I would have taken a picture, but I may have been shot in the process. We took Robin’s stuff out of the car and we were sitting at one of the pumps waiting and the dude inside came on the intercom and informed that we might want to come closer to the building as it was “more safer” over there. Upon approaching the building we found that the gas attendants were protected by about 2 inch thick plexiglass – but we had the crazy man with the lazy eye “protecting” us. A large fork of lightening scared me so bad that under the circumstances of the night I almost started crying…but now it makes for an EXCELLENT story…but as usual I’m just not doing it justice! :P
My legs carried me through the next two days and I tried to stay tough. Apparently racing 7 stage races and 37 days of racing in the first 6 months of the year is starting to take its toll on me. I am happy to say that I did finish the race – and in a fashion that was much stronger than the way I started out, which was nice. I’m resting up for this week, waiting to head up to Quebec City next week. I’m enjoying the action provided to me by the World Cup – specifically my boys from England who have advanced to the round of 16 and will be playing Ecuador on Sunday. This afternoon I’m dealing with the difficult question of do I fly to Quebec or take the train. The real question boils down to – is 8 hours of my life worth $200? I just don’t know…I appreciate any input.
Alrighty, it’s back to being a bum – maybe this week I’ll have the energy to work on my website…it’s about time!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hot in Herre


Apparently years of living in an igloo cannot prepare you for the weather in the southern States – who’d a thunk? I did try to reverse the effect of my natural tendency towards cold weather (it’s not my fault, my father is from Saskatchewan!) by heading over to Australia for the winter. The net effect is that I’m BETTER in the heat – still not good, and I would wager that I’m now a super wimp in the cold…hmm – was that a good idea? So, this lead in is going somewhere – I promise, here it is: Sunday’s weather was horrendous. It was 80 degrees at 6:30 in the morning and I swear the humidity was 100% - meaning thick enough to breath! ;) By the time we started racing it was already almost unbearable sitting out in the sun (must have been close to 35 degrees – like that switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius?), making for one of the least pleasant 33-mile rides of my life.

The terrain was unrelenting with constant rollers, which under normal conditions I would have loved. However, with such a small pack and my PowerTap in tow (and the associated 23 tooth cog), my legs felt rather horrible. I limped through the entire race having to sit out of the paceline for good chunks of it. We worked the two intermediate sprints to help me keep the green jersey, which wasn’t super challenging, as no one else seemed at all interested in what was going on. The sprints were fun though as it was a downhill go at it, so we hit some pretty good speeds. The girls on Kenda helped me through and I don’t know what I would have done without a feed, which is really quite sad in such a short race!

As we approached the finish and all the girls were settling in for a field sprint, Robin and Caroline attacked about 2km out. The motivation in the pack was minimal and so I just marked the rider who chose to chase. This conveniently gave me a great leadout coming into the finish and I just ducked around the girl chasing with 200m to go and took the field sprint, 12 seconds behind my teammates. Caroline took the win, which was much deserved after yesterday’s suffering, moving her into 3rd on the GC.

I was a little frazzled about just how horrible I felt during the race and needed to figure out how I was going to improve how my legs felt before the roadrace (although a soft rear wheel may have made the day more challenging than I had hoped). We went for lunch at J. Alexander’s again (they had been giving $30 gift certificates to the winners, so I went there 3 times this weekend!) and I ordered the “not your ordinary” Mac and Cheese – it was decadent. The cheese and pasta and bacon was so good, I honestly think I would order it for desert – keep this in mind if ever you find yourself in the south!

Monday (yesterday), was my last obstacle before a 2 week rest period and I was rather eager to get it over with. The stage ended in a 3.5-mile climb that again, I was unbelievably STOKED about. The fun started early as Robin lead me out for the hot spot sprint and we annihilated the field and easily took the win. There is something really fun about hitting top speed – unfortunately this time I didn’t have a wattage on it as I decided that my 27 was going to be a good friend of mine near the end of the day. About midway through the race things got interesting as I discovered that yet again, my rear wheel was soft. We were headed down a lengthy descent, but we were stuck behind a tractor and so we were moving really slow and I knew that was my chance. After a little miscommunication with the commissaire (I put up my right hand and went back to the car where he told me that there was nothing he could do about the tractor and I reiterated that I had a flat – isn’t that supposed to be universal bike language???) but I did managed to get the wheel truck to pull over. I will point out at this time that I then experienced the WORST wheel change in history. I had to get off my bike, pull out my back wheel and take the wheel from the wheel truck (the commissaire and the wheel guy were having a conversation). I then placed my wheel in, but after a few pedal strokes discovered that my brakes were rubbing, so I had to stop again. When I finally got going, I threw down going down the hill and came to a fairly close encounter with an oncoming car. Within minutes I was back on the back (no useful help with motorpacing or anything like that!) and we decided it was time to get things moving. The girls and I then took turns attacking the front, which was fun for us, and fairly miserable for the rest of the pack.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was right after Robin and I had been up the road together (for some reason they didn’t want the two of us to ride away from them…) then Chamblee attacked. The peloton actually just watched her ride away and while we have no idea what her gap actually reached, I would wager that it got upward of 2 minutes. We then road around painfully slowly in the pack for the next 25-30km and waited for the final hill. I had lost my computer with the wheel change and so I had NO IDEA how long we had to go – all I knew was that I felt better than yesterday, but still like my legs felt like they had gone through a meat tenderizer. We knew that we had reached the climb when we hit the 5km to go sign and Robin went to the front to set tempo. I was shed off just before the 3km to go mark and road it in to finish 1:23 behind Robin, the eventual winner (she caught Chamblee with 500m to go – kinda heartbreaking!) The climb wasn’t so bad, and if I had not been so fatigued from weeks of racing, I’m sure I could have done much better as it was only a 5-6% grade. As it was, I was happy to reach the top and hey, I figure, I was wearing the green jersey – I’m allowed to limp to the top of the hill right? I also managed to keep a grip on 2nd place in the GC – so really I figure I did my job…and there was a nice team payout as a result.

All in all, the race was great. It was the first time I really got to work in a team environment and I won’t lie, it was nice to be the ones doing the bullying instead of holding on for dear life just to stay with the group. I’m heading back up to Canada tonight and I’m excited to see Christopher and take a little time to chill out. I’m hoping to hit a shopping center today with my new buddy Sandy, but maybe we’ll do some sunbathing cause summer’s here baby! Last, but not least, best of luck to the girls at Montreal – I’m thinking about ya and your battle with Rigaud.

Oh and while I'm thinking of it - last night I wasted at least 2 hours of my life watching Laguna Beach. I love the OC, but even this is too trashy for me! And one last note - soon I will have my camera and I can stop only having babble...sorry about that. If I can get the picture of my kick ass outfit that I wore to dinner the other night from Caroline, that will go up though ;)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Podium? I Think I Remember the Front of the Group…

Man, it’s been a big day in the life of Jenny and it’s only quarter to four. After a week of sitting on my bum trying to recover and watching the fuzzy channel (you could make out people fine it was just that they each had three heads, but it was the only daytime television that I wanted to watch – the selection included: The Cosby Show, ER and 8 Simple Rules to Dating my Teenage Daughter) last night I took to the racing bicycle for yet another stage race. It was my first aerobar allowed, flat time trial of the year and to be honest I was fairly stoked to give it a shot. The course was fairly technical and rolling throughout – the fun was amplified by the lightning and rain that greeted us in the 30 degree weather with humidity so thick I swear I was breathing water. I was the fourth rider off with my minuteman up the road (they were at 30 second intervals, but the girl directly in front of me didn’t show). The event treated me well and I was able to catch two girls in front of me, which is always a good confidence boost. I finished the 11km course in just under 18:30 and due to my choice to use the PowerTap (very TT like wheel don’t you know???), I now know that it’s true – I am a spazz when I time trial! The data is interesting and I hope to have some good empirical records on where I am at with my power to improve my training efficiency for next year. I managed to pull out my first podium of the year, 32 seconds behind my kicking teammate (and roomie for the last bit) Robin Farina who smoked the field in her Kenda uniform. Luck was also on my side as I beat out third place Rachel Tatum (a local rider who is not terribly experienced, but used to be an Olympic rower) by only half a second – guess it was a good thing I sprinted out of the final turn! My other two teammates rounded out the top 5 with Chamblee in 4th and Caroline in 5th (although on the original results they had her as a DNF!)
Due to yesterday’s results, we knew going into the criterium today that we needed to put some time between myself and Rachel – not to mention that I had my heart set on the green sprinter’s jersey. With Robin clad in yellow, we were all called to the line and ready to take charge – and that we did. After a month of racing with the nation’s best riders, Kenda had a chance to use team tactics to our advantage – our goal was to take top 3 and we passed with flying colours! Right off the line Robin and I charged the front in order to get used to the sweeping corners on the course that were surprisingly technical. As we were settling in, Caroline took her first flyer of the morning (as our sacrificial lamb of the day she spent a great deal of the race off the front). We made the other girls work to bring her back before reeling her in on the lap before the hot spot sprint. Robin and I countered Caroline and got a good gap off the front for Robin to lead me out for the first sprint. With all our POWER (hee hee) there was no contest and we rolled around with a gap on the field for most of a lap. By the time we regrouped it was time for Caroline to go check out the air up front again and so she continued. With the team’s help I took the second hot spot sprint (my heart rate hit 201! I shouldn’t have been looking at that should I?), but the decisive move was to come with 4 laps to go. Only four girls were left in the front when Caroline attacked. As we were trying to get Rachel to chase her down and she wasn’t biting, we called her back and I countered. The girls let me go and I road it home to a whopping 4-second gap on the field. That right – I took the WIN! And really more importantly I took the green jersey, Robin kept the yellow and I put 30 seconds on Rachel through time bonuses – and Kenda swept the podium. All in all it was a successful day at the office. A whole heck of a lot more fun than riding hamster loops up Mount Royale if you ask me ;) – although I am rooting for all the troopers who are taking on the hardest World Cup on the circuit this afternoon.
Tomorrow we have a circuit race of 33 miles (which seems downright lovely as it’s only 1/3 of last week’s race distance!) although the course is said to be somewhat unrelenting. Kenda is planning on continuing the domination (and learning how to ride together as a team) throughout the rest of the weekend – although I know it’s going to be a challenge. Monday (it’s Memorial Day weekend down here in the U S of A) is our final roadrace boasting a lovely 3.5-mile climb up into the heavens for the finish. As you might imagine, I absolutely can’t wait – better continue to build up my lead through the sprints! But it’s naptime so I’m out – but actually being an integral part of the race requires more frequent race reports. Oooh! Ooooh! And I forgot to mention that I purchased a pair of gorgeous shoes (for my bike of course!) – white Sidi Genius 5.5 – they are the bomb! I can’t wait to get them out on the road. Big thanks to Cumberland Transit for helping me decide that I really wanted them :P

Monday, May 22, 2006

Attention: The Summer Button Has Been Hit

So for the second time this year I have been blindsided by the heat monster. Luckily, the living in Australia seems to have helped as I managed to actually finish the criterium this time, but it wasn’t a pretty sight. Which criterium you may ask – well this weekend saw me at yet another NRC stage race in Arkansas (how many can there be – well 2 and I’ve attended them both). This time the fun was in Russellville at an event entitled Tri Peaks Challenge. Every time I write that I think to myself – why did I put that one my schedule again? Tri Peaks it was with three major climbs in both roadraces that took place on Saturday and Sunday. Our teeny-tiny women’s pack of under 40 had the joy of completing the men’s distances of 92 miles (145km) on Saturday and 83 miles (138km) on Sunday – it was definitely joy on wheel. Not sure that I’ll make this event a fixture for my calendar.

As I mentioned, Friday evening was HOT – I’m thinking upward of 35 degrees in the sunshine. The first few laps of the crit were fairly tame, but that wasn’t an indicator of how things were going to go. I felt great (as one does at the beginning of a race) and I was probably a little too aggressive early on as yet again as I was resting near the back of the pack from an earlier effort when the decisive move with a few Victory girls (in a pack of 35 girls there were 10 of their team, so EVERYTHING had a Victory member), Alisha Lion of Webcor and my roomie for the week and Kate Bates in the Australian Champion styled Nurnberger kit. Everyone knew it was going away and I think the girls in the remaining pack were tired cause we just watched each other. But before long there was another flurry of attacks and I was keen to bring them back – but just blew myself and before long saw myself at the back of the pack as the second decisive move went up the road and I was stuck. The remainder of the group (about 8 of us with like 15 girls up the road) twiddled our thumbs for the remainder of the ride. Not to say that I could have ridden much faster – I was done…silly warm races. True to the spirit – the Aussie thrived in the conditions and Kate Bates outsprinted Rachel Heal in a two-man break that lapped our group on the last lap. As a general note of discontent, I’m sick of race organizers who are too lazy to get the actual results in correctly. They botched up the crit results yet again – this time in the time gaps – I mean how difficult is it really? Alas, all was not lost as I made the front page of the Russellville paper and you can see the kick ass picture on Cyclingnews.com here.

Getting to the line on Saturday was a little intimidating to say the least. The day held 145km of racing in store (with a pack of 35, that is a great deal of racing) and three mountains to ascend. I was climbing decently well, but the uphills were definitely taking it out of my legs. After the first and second climbs I was able to chase back on to the group as they would lollygag after boogying up the hills. The race was long and the apprehension of the distance was evident in the defensive nature of the race. The third climb saw my demise as Victory threw it going into the base of the hill and as we hit the steep pitch, I was out the back and was left to limp up the final climb. I was greeted at the top with a can of Coke which would have been even better if I hadn’t had to take two sips and then discard it as I had to scream down the hill to try to catch a buddy a few hundred meters up front. We road it in and was super stoked to be finished. That evening I made two goals for the following day: 1) to stay positive and 2) to climb with a group I normally wouldn’t be able to.

Was I successful? I think so. Staying positive was a challenge at times, but yes, all in all I did good. :P The girls were even less pressed to go fast in the second of two long days and we tempoed up both the first and second climb. Charm Breon of Cheerwine was not aware of the plan and she road hard up the first climb and got a gap that she saw through the rest of the race to take the stage win. I’m super impressed as this amazing woman stayed away for over 100km on her own on a fairly windy (and dull) course – good on her! After the first descent the group was a little jumpy and I decided to jump in with the aggression (which was kinda ironic as I had just finished telling myself that I was going to take it easy today so that I could climb the final monster well at the end of the day). However, it was well worth it as I got into a couple of spits – neither of which went anywhere. Girls were not willing to work though as they had team obligations making the experience a little disappointing. I did get a little glory though as I went to go contribute to the second split and the girls just let me ride off the front. My time in the sunshine wasn’t super long as I decided after probably 5 minutes that the effort was futile, but I think it was a good experience all the same and trying to actually race made it all worthwhile.

The next 50 odd kilometers were dull. Victory went to the front and cycled through to try to minimize Charm’s advantage. The pace wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t comfortable either (although with the wind, I know that it can’t have been fun for the worker bees at the front) and we sat for what seemed like forever in a single-ish paceline and the best word to describe it was dull. After the second hill a couple more girls went up the road and the pack took it’s time getting to the base of Mount Nebo. I arrived with the group, and unfortunately I was all out of care. I made my way up to the top, but it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty. My fatigue level was high and as usual, my motivation works to its inverse. I did make it up however and was pleased that I made it through the weekend relatively unscathed. This morning I feel much like a truck has smushed me into the pavement and I’m looking forward to a week of internet and watching movies. I even treated myself to a DQ Sunday yesterday evening (it was even day appropriate)! I would have preferred marshmallow, but strawberry did the trick and it helped the 6-hour drive more bearable. I’m happy that I came out to Tri Peaks – it was great to be able to see a team function in such a cohesive manner as Victory Brewing does and I would love to be able to be a part of a similar dynamic. Congrats to all the girls that were there this last weekend – I think finishing is a feat in itself!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Carnage Make Me Sad

So I'm not normally one to complain about the price of equipment because really, look at the sport I'm in. However, I have been faced with a bought of bitter disappointment over the last 24 hours. Just before my ride yesterday I looked at my bicycle and discovered that my beautiful, new Specialized saddle (the Jett 143 with pink and white) that I was ever so excited about purchasing in Australia has failed me. Apparently my crash on Sunday wasn't nearly as innocuous as I had believed. Just before I went down I pulled in my brakes to avoid the tumble and somehow ended up slamming the nose of the saddle into my upper thigh. Now on Monday I discovered the beautiful black and blue bruise (that I wouldn't show you with a pic due to its location, even if I had a camera - but I promise you, it's a good one!) and yesterday I realized that it's true - for every action there is a reaction. Unfortunately this reaction is my new saddle is totalled. :(

So now I'm on a mission to find a new saddle. The folks here in Little Rock at Competitive Cyclist (www.competitivecyclist.com check it out!) have been helping me out - but I am very sad that I am to move on past the pretty saddle...it's just that I can't afford a $150 saddle each 3 months. So I'm sad. I thought that you would like to know. But the Jett is unbelievably comfy girls - just don't crash...mind you, that's good advice any way you cut it!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Have I mentioned lately that I love hills?

Well that might be an overstatement, but it appears that I’m going to have to start. Last week I chilled out in Nashville, Tennessee with my Kenda teammate Robin. In all honesty, I would love to tell you about how great the city was – that I saw the nightlife and it was a blast, but please remember who’s blog this is ;). So what I can tell you is that the place that Robin is housesitting at is quite lovely; there is a beautiful park loop of about 35km to ride and there is a kick ass coffee shop with free wireless (something that I am currently lacking at Starbucks). The truth of the matter is that traveling as a cyclist, most cities look similar – at least if they have television, internet and a coffee shop nearby.

Thursday morning rolled around and Robin and I were stoked to meet up with Allison (another teammate) for our fun, fun drive to Fayetteville, Arkansas. That is the home of the Joe Martin Stage Race – a pleasant place in the heart of the Ozarks – those are mountains by the way. I had a massive headache when we got in (somewhat reminiscent of the Dan driving shoulder…) but we made it to our host housing by 10:30 that evening. Our hosts were incredible and had a beautiful house that we called home for the weekend as the race organizers did their very best to kick the crap out of me.

The first day, being tailored to my exact skill set was a 100km roadrace with a 14.5km mountain pass at about kilometer 40. I can’t lie, I didn’t fair terribly well, but I did make it up and over in order to take Gatorade and Power Gels from the charming neutral feed at the top. I’ve been practicing thinking in miles to try and make the distances seem smaller, but somehow it doesn’t work all that well as a 9 mile climb is still quite long.! Once over the top I was able to work well with my small group of 5 to bring us home back to Fayetteville. On the up side, my time trailing seems to be in good shape as once we got off the uphill I actually felt quite good and aside from yelling quite angrily at one of the girls who wasn’t working with about 10kms to go (I was rather cracked at this point and I wanted to cry), everything went well. We only conceded 10:00 to the main group – almost twenty to the front girls, but whatcha gonna do? I just wanted to start the next day. Next year I’m going to make my life easier by making it up with a larger group – Cypress here I come!

Day two was killer. We were up nice and early for an 8:00 am start and 105km of fun (for those who were counting that’s over 200km in less than 18 hours). The course was a lollypop (translation – and out and back section with a loop on the end of it) and the attacking started just after the girls had a pee brake – oh about 30 minutes in (I didn’t need one so I just rolled ahead – gotta get the brakes where you can!) The pack seemed a little hesitant to make it crazy hard – I got the impression that people were tired. The hill was essentially two steep sections with a medium grade in the middle joining the two. Kelly Benjamin (who has been riding like a star) helped me out by telling me where we were on the course, which helped a ton! I made it through the first lap and prepared myself for difficulty on the second, but unlike the day before I held tough. I didn’t manage to stay in contact with the leaders, but I did get myself in a group of about 20 riders and we were able to regain contact with the leaders in about 10km. A few solo riders tried to get away in the closing kms, but I just sat in and prepared myself for the finish. Unfortunately the lead moto decided to cut me off and so I had to brake sharply to avoid hitting my second motorcycle exhaust pipe for the season and I rolled across the line last in my group – just making the top 50.
No more than 6 hours later we were back on the Blue machines warming up for yet another uphill time trial. Now, I can’t say that this form of testing my ability is my favorite, but at least it ended up better than Redlands. In warm up I wasn’t able to get my heart rate much over 170 (which is what I do many aerobic rides at), but I knew I had to give it. On the way up the 2.5 mile climb I kept telling myself that each pedal stroke counted – to which I was greeting each time by the equivalent of a screeching OWWW! The pain was over in just under 13:00 (whereas superstar Erinne Willock blased up it in 9:40) and I have now vowed to spend next winter time trialing up whatever hills I can find because I really must improve my ability – but this time I wasn’t time cut!

Which bring us to today. I knew that it was going to be a little crazy, not only because they put a freaking mountain in the crit course (elevation gain of 110 feet per 1.2 mile lap – that’s right, I’m going imperial), but because there was only 20 seconds separating the top 3 on GC. I don’t know if there is much to say except for it was fast. I went hard and about 25 minutes in I was sitting at the back of the lead bunch and one of the girls decided that she was going to kamikaze and make up a few spots on the inside, only to come crashing down in front of me. To her defense, I saw what she was doing, though “hey, that’s not a bad idea” and took her wheel – which saw me end up on the far curb with a sore finger. The free lap was actually quite nice and seeings as I only have a small (like quarter sized) amount of road rash on my knee and elbow, with my most severe injury being jammed fingers (didn’t know you could do that in cycling, but apparently it is possible!) the rest was welcomed. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes later I saw the end of my time in the front group. At that point I believe only about 30 girls remained (80 started the weekend) so I was proud of myself and determined to finish up – which I did. The major piss off being that the organizers got my placing wrong and instead of being in 30th about 4:00 down, they have me in 44th, 10:00 down. Now I know that the latter people don’t really matter, but it’s pretty irritating that I paid $135 to do their race and they can’t even get the top 30 correct!

So all in all the weekend was a success. Need to work on the longer hills, but it’s good to see that my power is good – luckily I get to work on my weakness next week at Tri Peaks. Again I ask why I thought that it would be a good idea to check out a race entitled Tri PEAKS, but it’s all about getting fitter right? Maybe this week will provide a little insight into what life is like in Little Rock, Arkansas – the hometown of a Mr. Bill Clinton – a man who could properly pronounce nuclear.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

North Carolina - Could Ride Here Forever!

This is my shout out to Boone, North Carolina - because it's downright amazing! The riding is phenomenal, the views are picturesque (sorry, don't have a camera yet to show you just how so!), and they have a kick ass grocery store (Earth Fare). Really, what else is there to desire? I've just spent the last 3 days up in Boone with Alisha riding up and down and up and down and then up again. It's been great for me - and boy are my legs ever feeling it! Each ride has seemed like an epic - especially today's when we finished off the last half hour of a four hour ride with crazy hard rain. Luckily it didn't get too cold, so it was more like being in a luke-warm shower...but all the same I was happy to be in the sizzling warm car, a hot chocolate in hand (just hoping that the PowerTap recovers!)

Sadly enough, it is actually the grocery store that prompted the blog entry. I'm a sucker for the peanut butter covered prezels - plus who could not mention a grocery store with a section entitled Nut Butters? So today's been to die for - and now I'm kinda watching Walk the Line while I play on the computer - I tell ya, I'm living the life!

As an aside, I also thought that you might appreciate the following bumper sticker: Frodo Failed, Bush has the Ring. Thanks to Chris for stealing it for his MSN name! :P

Another few days here in NC and then I'm off to Nashville before heading to Lafayette, Arkansas for the Joe Martin Stage Race - I tell ya - I get to travel to the best of 'em!

Monday, May 01, 2006

An NRC Crit Finish: 4 Years in the Making

Yay a picture! Thanks Paul, for taking this beauty of me racing at Roswell!
Okay, so maybe that's not being entirely fair to myself - I have only attempted one other NRC crit - and I was only 19 years old but needless to say, this weekend was FAR more successful. My racing started out on the streets of Athens, Georgia Saturday evening just before 8pm. Athens is a twilight crit - meaning that we started racing at dusk and it was full on dark by the end of the race and while I didn't get hit by a beer can as someone I talked to did last year - I did get to enjoy the lively atmosphere. Picture a town inhabited by students (this is more of a unique idea for those of us from Canada where Universities aren't the center of a small town but rather a bi-product of our larger cities) and all the students have just recently finished exams. There is a whole lot of drinking - and even more atmosphere. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I was really in a state of mind to enjoy it. I took to the line a little nervous, but quickly enough, nerves turned to pain as the girls at the front put the hammer down. We were sporting team radios and we received some great encouragement from the other end - however, I'm not really sure that the race ever really did slow down, as they promised it would! The course is a long rectangle with the long straight being the homestraight and the backstraight - the latter of which had a sizeable bump in it. The major obstacle of the race was jumping over that each lap - I must admit as I got tired I was getting lazy and just waiting for the corners to catch up to the back of the pack. It was honestly more pain than I have experienced for a long time - but I was super proud that I finished with the group - especially as there were times when I wasn't sure I was going to. My legs seemed to come around about 5 laps to go - which I was okay with - and that enabled me to move up in the pack a little. I cut the final corner on the inside and was able to limp across the line in 17th place (got pipped at the line by two girls - could have been 15th!) I was stoked - maybe not something for everyone to write home about - but it helped get the cobwebs out and ready me for Sunday.

Sunday was a crit in Roswell, Georgia (oh yeah and for the record, I'm sad that I didn't get to check out any of the Atlanta Olympic venues - so I guess I'll just have to go back. Although it did occur to me that the velodrome is now in Bromont). The course was a little longer and less intimidating (possibly as I'd broken the dry spell in my racing, so I knew that I was able to race again - after the unbelievable fatigue that I went through at home in Calgary I was a little worried about where my fitness stood - but the verdict is good :)) The race started out and I immediately got myself closer to the front than I was the previous evening. After the pain of sitting tail gunner (I was pleased that Chris wasn't there on Saturday night, I feel that he might have given me grief for where I was sitting in the pack - which mayb have been much needed and some form of karma!) I decided to sit more actively in the pack in Roswell. I was definately more aggressive and even got my picture on cyclingnews! Having said that - I'm just a "Team Kenda Tire rider" - need to work on my street cred to actually get my name in the caption! It was a good step in my development at this level though as I learned that I can indeed make an effort and still be good to stay in the pack. I had a good time - but I missed the break and then a couple of subsequent bridges up to the break, but I guess I'll learn this with time. It's all about the learning curve - but I had fun and that's the main idea!

Now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Hickory, North Carolina as Alisha Lion and myself are internet-nerding it up. I'm spending the week with her and we're going to be all over the place which should be fun as it looks like a beautiful area and I'm stoked to see what's around. I'm keeping my fingers crossed about the Flames to finish off the series this evening - I got the T-shirt on and everything! I go home for a month and the Canadian roots shine right on through. So it's a couple of weeks of training before I head to Joe Martin (in Arkansas I think) so here's to riding the bike and I'll be signing off! (My camera should be back soon and then I'll be able to get some pictures out!)

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Age Old Question

That's right, I have been sent down to here to Athens, Georgia so that Air Canada could challenge me with the age old question: Why is it not okay for me to fly without my baggage, but a-okay for my baggage to fly without me? Now, I suppose in all reality, I should be pleased that I even made it down here to Athens yesterday. My plane was late leaving Calgary so I was forced to do the 2000m-dash-with-shuttle-ride-to-terminal-2 in the Toronto airport before smiling nicely at the customs guard while dragging my bag and bike box through immigration only to arrive at the departure gate and have the woman in charge of boarding tell me that I was to be on the next flight. Well, conviniently enough, the plane was still nicely at the gate - the problem was that she had been "paging me since 1:10 (for info I deplaned the previous flight at about 1:25) and so I had been taken off the flight". They had been paging me because of the gross incompetancy of the women who I paid for my bicycle - she forgot to take the expiry date of my credit card. Alas, I made it safe and sound to Atlanta yesterday afternoon slightly after 4pm local time - the same cannot be said for my luggage.

Bike and bag showed up 18 hours later. This is life I suppose - but why do the airlines HATE ME? They left my bike in Melbourne on the way to New Zealand, they left it in Vancouver on the way to San Diego - it must be some kind of karmic kick in the pants...maybe I should be nicer to people? So as I'm putting my beautiful bike together, I discover that the idiot Air Canada baggage handlers have decided to leave a lasting impression on my paint job. I keep telling myself that it is only a bicycle....it's only an inanimate object - I'll get over it - but it's only a week old!!! The bottom line is that I hate airlines. Point final. And Air Canada is the WORST of about 11 evils - and part of its evil is that it's unavoidable. Maybe I should start a letter writing campaign - what am I going to change? I don't know, but if I learned anything at the University of Victoria, it's that I should protest anything and everything, even if there is no good reason.

With that off my chest, I'm going to go enjoy a beautiful ride through the scenic areas of Athens, Georgia. It's lush and green and should give me a good chance to acclimatize to this here weather (it's only 23 out and it's supposed to be colder tomorrow). Out the door I go!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Walking in a Winter Wonderland...

So it's been awhile...the title of this post was supposed to be something about being back in Cowtown and enjoying the hoopla of the Red Mile and being right in the action of the Flames first playoff game. And while that is going to be a major topic here (I'm going back to my roots man) it is actually snowing here. Now, for those of you from Calgary, I know this isn't a huge surprise - and while I enjoy being home....the trainer just doesn't do it for me so much. To give those of you who aren't regular frequenters of this part of the world, the temperature here yesterday was 20C and tomorrow we are supposed to hit a high of 9C - but today there are flurries. No, not yummy McDonald's McFlurries but snow falling. But that subject has been exhausted - plus I'm heading out of the city next Thursday - maybe it's a blessing so that I can get all my errands done (you may notice that I am currently on the computer and not doing ANYTHING productive). Having said that, it might also be God reacting to the accountants at work who want me to come in today - still not thinking that's high on my list of things to do (but don't tell anyone!!!)

So the Flames won their first playoff game at the Dome last night! Carmen was kind enough to slave over the keyboard yesterday to procure the coveted tickets. We were in "the zone" which meant that we were in first come, first serve seating and ended up two rows from the very top of the stadium - but hey, we got to see the WHOLE ice rink. If you ask my honest opinion, the Flames were lucky to squeak out with the win. There were times where their playing was a little lack lustre. They need to shoot the puck more - too much pansy assing around in behind the oponent's blue line. Superb playing came out twice to kill 5 on 3s and if they had played with that intensity the whole time they would have dominanted, as it was they scored a pretty good goal in the second period only to be answered by the Mighty Ducks in the third. The ducks goal a pretty awesome experience - not only was the goal pretty lame (mind you, a goal's a goal!) but the entire stadium was silent - only the red goal light went on. Definately intense - I wouldn't have wanted to be a Duck's fan in there - in fact I don't think there was a single Duck fan! Calgary went on to score in the first overtime to finish off the game and send all the happy fans off to spend time with the Calgary police force down on 17th ave - definately a whole lot of alcohol was consumed (oh yeah, and did I mention that my opinion of the Flames not playing great wasn't a popular one amongst the crew I went to the game with?)

The truly interesting part about what was going through my mind as we were watching the game was that I was thinking about what those boys endure as professional athletes. I was thinking about the amount of travel, what it would be like to hit the ice, night after night and have to refocus with the crowd being so intense. Maybe it's cause I'm reading a sports psych book at the moment, but I was somewhat wrapped up in the behind the scenes footage!

And to address the fact that I haven't really updated this thing for about a month I'll give you a breif synopsis of what I've been up to: sleep, eat, work, train. Not terribly interesting - hence why I didn't feel that you needed to be bored with reading about how I was terribly exhausted from travelling, racing and now I was doing other people's taxes (which reminds me that I need to do my own today at some point). After two weeks of feeling like I might have mono again, I'm back at 'er and feeling pretty good - I'm on the new bike and pretty stoked to head down for the Athens Twilight crit. Should be good times! Oh yeah and check out what Becca bought me for Christmas - isn't it kick ass? All the cycling pins for the Beijing Olympics - definately cool! K, well I've wasted more than enough time, so I'm going to go jump on the trainer - for those cyclists out there - enjoy your ride and remember: Calgary is NOT a good place for a cyclist - stick to winter or indoor sports!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tough Day at the Office

Southern California has finally returned to the weather that the postcards and television shows promise (speaking of So Cal and TV - I'm finally caught up on my OC episodes). On Friday morning the pro peleton took to the street of Redlands for the Redlands Bicycle Classic - abbreviated. Not that I can really say that, as this is my first experience, but all the same it has been shortened to a 3 stage event (read, not a prologue and two stages, but rather a three stage event). Now many of you may think that I am crazy, however that slight difference cost me a weekend of sitting on the sidelines. While some people, like Amber Neben and my teammate Alisha Lion, experience success on the 5km hill climb, I did not. It was a painful experience that ended up taking me 15 seconds too long - the charming officials decided to enforce the time cut. Translation: the end of my weekend. I won't go into what a bastard move I feel that was, or how the officials said that they imposed is as we were "sandbagging it" which would imply that I wasn't going as hard as I could - which I was...however, I think I might be a little tired.

This here - I'm trying a new thing, just for Lisa - I'm going to try to seperate my paragraphs more...lemme know how it works out. So yeah, my weekend finished really before it started. It did mean, however that I got to ride the old Oak Glen course - and really, from what I've heard, you haven't really done Redlands unless you've gone on a group ride while the race is still going on. This isn't to say that I was happy, or proud, or not incredibly pissed off that I didn't get to start the beautiful crit in downtown Redlands (it was a super COOL course from what I could see). But I've realized that there is only so much racing that one girl can get through - and I've hit my limit. So it's time to head home and train, get my bearings under me and go get some RESULTS for the rest of the season. Besides, I hear what doesn't kill you makes you stronger... ;)

Monday, March 20, 2006

The San Dimas Stage Race: COLD and WET

A picture of me leading the field at San Dimas http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos.php?id=photos/2006/mar06/sandimas06/sandimas063/JI6V2647
My North American season has officially begun! Friday afternoon saw my first race on this continent, and to be honest, right after I finished, I was quite aware that I would not remember it as a highlight of my 2006 cycling season. To my credit, the course wasn’t exactly hand built to my personal strengths – a 6.2km uphill TT. On the upside, I didn’t finish last – only 54th of 65 starters…so I did beat people. Just as I was starting up the mountain in the small suburb town of Glendora, California the rain started to pour. The temperature was decidedly un-Southern California and a small part of me thought that maybe I had a hope as the small climber girls might not have enough body fat to make it up the hill – alas they did…it was actually coming down that was the hardest part! Luckily I had my super-mom support and she was waiting for me about halfway down with a nice warm gortex jacket – perfect for the conditions. I then made my way to the van (I really must get a pic of it onto here) and warmed up with the help of some miso soup and the heater while I awaited Chris’ return.
We awoke Saturday morning to frigid temperatures, but the skies were clear. I tried to warm-up prior to the race, but even after 20 minutes of riding, my muscles still felt cold – really I felt right at home! I will interject at this point that these are by FAR the coldest temperatures I have encountered since leaving Calgary in August where it spend the better part of a month around 10 degrees and raining. So we rolled off to check out the loop, which we would complete 8 times for a total of approximately 92km. As was expected, we rolled along quite comfortably for the first chunk of the lap until we hit the major obstacle on the course – a climb of just over 1km. It was short enough that I could roll up the first bit without too much trouble, only starting to feel the burn a few hundred meters prior to the 200m to the top of the KOM. At that point, I would try to settle into a rhythm before powering over the last 100m with everything I had. The good news is that my climbing is coming along quite nicely (contrary to what Friday’s TT results would lead you to believe) as I was able to make it over the climb in the top half and usually in the second group of girls. The frustrating part was that I was routinely at the front of the second bunch over the top and would have to lead the charge down the hill to catch the front group. With KOM primes on laps 2,4,6 and hot spot sprints on laps 3,5,7 the action of the race was sure to serge. However, on the second of the KOM primes, the pace was high overtop of the hill and the field was split decisively with 7 girls going clear up the road. Next over the crest was a group of about 5 girls, followed by my group. With some excellent chasing spearheaded by the girls from America’s Dairyland we caught the smaller group in front of us, but the 7 girls up front we not to be seen again. The teams did not seem to be interested in chasing – mostly as the major teams of Lipton and T-Mobile were well represented with 3 and 2 girls in the break respectively. The hill continued to prove to be a challenge and we managed to whittle away the remainder of the field. The last time over the hill I pushed with all my might and managed to make it over with the front group. As we descended and hit the finishing straight, I saw the girls fighting for position, and I really should have made my way up there. Unfortunately, I was a little rusty with the finish line positioning, as I haven’t seen the front of a race for a while now! I made my move to get up there a little late and with 100m to go my legs were toast. I pushed to the finish line, but a few girls squirmed past me as I finished 19th. But the real surprise of the day was that the finish moved me up to 36th on GC – confirming just how bad my TT was the previous day.
With the hilly stages out of the way, I was stoked to hit the crit course on Sunday afternoon. The weather was once again chilly (and for those of you who have limited sympathy for me, please remember that while it may be colder up north, you are not necessarily trying to spend time outside in spandex in 5 degrees and raining) as we took to the line for a 50-minute race. Things started out quite nicely after what I had been exposed to in Australia and on the third lap I decided to have a go at stringing it out. I attacked through the start/finish taking 3 or 4 girls with me, however it was not to be and within a lap we were brought back. A lap or two later saw the first hot spot contest, as I had already had a good effort, I decided to let the other girls go for it. Unfortunately for me, right after the sprint, Anne Samplonius of Team Biovail decided to counter taking 4 others with her just as the rain (and hail) started to fall (including the on fire Lisa Sweeney!) As I was resting in the pack, I saw the move go, but was unable to follow and figured that the girls would respond anyway…but no such luck. I tried my best to get up there and I managed to help bring back a break off group of 3 girls, but the 5 were long gone. After that, things were decidedly frustrating in the pack. Lipton was represented in the break, along with Dairyland and CPT Colnago and for whatever reason T Mobile was uninterested in chasing. I tried my best to get the group fired up to chase, but anytime I put in an effort, I would find someone covering me (I would later find out that they were girls protecting the break mostly). The race itself was very different from anything I had experienced in Australia – mostly as I wasn’t killing myself just to stay on. It was decisively less aggressive and the net results was me feeling rather frustrated. On the final lap I tried to position myself going up the hill, but taking the wide line wasn’t the best call. As we raced down the hill I was smushed between a couple Lipton girls who, as I found out a little too late, weren’t all that interested in sprinting. I came out of the corner and tried to make up some space, but only managed to cross the line in 15th overall. Not too shabby, but not really what I had wanted either.All in all it was a solid weekend of racing. I think it was important in my development as a rider as I am now confident in my ability to play ball with the big girls. I am, however, looking forward to having a team to ride with next weekend at Redlands as I believe this is the first set of racing I’ve ever done where I can see the benefit of a team. I’m happy with my showing, especially in the roadrace, as I feel in prior years I would not have been able to stay with that front group. I’m off to a solid start and the fun is yet to come!

Friday, March 10, 2006

One More Sleep

I can't believe it. Almost 6.5 months have passed since Chris and I boarded a plane to come to the land down under and now it's only one more sleep until we return to North American soil. The last week has been gorgeous - I've been unbelievably boring, but the landscape has been incredible! Thursday morning we jumped on an 11 hour train that brought us from Wellington to Auckland, well a town just south of there to be more exact (I can't remember the name, but I can tell you that when pronounced by a New Zealander our stop and the one before sounded really similar and Chris and I tried to get out at the wrong one!) We're staying with the Williams' (Liz who we were staying with in Melbourne - her family) and they are incredible. We went for a ride yesterday and it was unbelievable! The terrain is all rolling - but hard rolling - the hills go up, up, up then down, down, down! The entire train trip was pretty - rolling grass carpet. I believe that trip may have actually cost me money though as I'm now convinced I would like to return here to ride sometime! :P I'm still shaking out the cobwebs from racing (I slept 12 hours last night) and we'll head out on the road after we get to a bike shop this morning as Chris snapped his shifter cable while riding yesterday. We have one obstacle left: how to get to the airport - I'm going to see what I need to bribe Andy, Liz's bro, into getting us there! And so I'm signing off from what will likely be my last post from the southern hemisphere - it's been great...I love it...but I'm stoked to get home and see everyone!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Time to Sleep


After two weeks of being a full on pramateur athlete (that is an amateur who must ride with the professionals), I’m ready for a good long nap. This afternoon Chris and I moved all our crap up 48 stairs into our new abode for the next couple of days, which is actually the house of one of the guys who Chris met in the feed zone over the last week. Five people live in this house (of which we have met only 3 to date) and they have been kind enough to let me be a vegetable on the couch for most of the next 48 hours. Yesterday I toed the line yet again with a collection of the world’s finest female cyclists, and someone up near the front decided to make the day miserable from the start. Right as the car pulled away and we headed into the first climb, 1km from the start, things started to go nuts. The course was a 6.2km loop through the CBD of Wellington (for my true blog fans, you will remember that CBD stands for Central Business District and is a fancy name for downtown). The first climb was a three-part climb of just over 500m gradually increasing from about 6% to almost 10% at the top (that felt even more difficult as the race went on). After the climb we whizzed down the other side for the better part of a minute before taking a sweeping left-hander up the feed zone hill. This hill wasn’t quite as steep and wound around for another 5-600m before shooting you onto a fast downhill and then back into the city for about 3km of crit-style speed. The start/finish was super classily placed on the steps of parliament (which proved to be a great viewing area for the final sprint!) and there were people lining the streets throughout the course. So yeah, right from the gun the heavy hitters decided to make today a selective race. The first three laps were completed around 10:00 which is an average of over 40km/h. The field strung out in a single file line throughout the flat sections and then blew up good going over the hills. I was positioned alright through the first lap and after the hills on the second lap was set up for a good position before a girl “gumbied” (nice word eh? Thanks Josie!) and crashed right in front of me. I managed to avoid hitting the ground, but I did get shuffled towards the rear at this point. Unfortunately, that positioning gerfuffle proved to be the beginning of the end as on the next lap a number of riders in front of me were gapped and while I made it over the first hill with the main pack, I had some difficulty regaining my composure on the downhill and struggled down on the flats. Early on in the next lap I was dropped and tried to fight back with about 7 other girls, but I didn’t manage to stay with the group (although they did make it on to another group shortly thereafter). That was more or less the end of my race. I kept the effort level hard as I wanted to get a good workout in with my last race of this block, but was lapped by Sarah Ulmer before too long. Now, while that does not sound terribly dignified that I was lapped, I will point out that Sarah did manage to chump the international field and lap all but 39 of the 111 starters on the day. I’d like to give some props out to my composite teammate and sweetheart Tina Pic for a 5th place finish on the day to place her in 4th overall for the race to be World Cup leader. Everyone in the field agreed that today was unbelievably difficult (it’s nice to hear that the big girls found it really challenging as well) and as I may have mentioned, I’m a little tired! Having said that, the last two weeks have been an incredible learning experience. I haven’t felt so young and new to the sport of cycling in a long time. I know that I have a great deal to learn, but it’s nice to see that I’m only a few steps away from “making it”. The girls at the top are most definitely faster than me, but it’s a level that I can understand and that I believe that I will be able to attain in the near future. I’ve met a load of super incredible people – friendly, encouraging – it’s been great. I’m motivated to hit the road (after my nap) and do a good block of work this summer to take one more step towards international success.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Windy, Windy Wellington

Once again, we have found ourselves a new home - this time in the Angus Inn Hotel in Lower Hutt just outside of Wellington. The scenery has been fantastic, with the weather a little colder than we are used to, but all in all New Zealand is living up to its hype. In just four days I've determined that I definately have to come back to do some further exploring at some other point. The hills look inviting for training and the mountains growing out of the ocean are picturesque.
Having said that, it hasn't been smooth sailing...I'm happy to report that the Aussie attitude towards customer care has indeed transferred over to the airline industry where, as per expectation, we encountered a great deal of hullaballoo in getting the bikes on board. However, a long walk to a different terminal by Chris and two new shiny bike boxes later (retail $16.00) later, we were on our way...unfortunately the bikes weren't. Despite our appearance at the airport 3 hours prior to departure, we arrived in Wellington to be greeted by only one of our bikes. Now, out of a possible four, would you guess which one arrived? That's right, none other than Chris' track bike...talk about useful! Luckily our road bikes showed up about 12 hours later (just in time for the downtown parade), but my track bike would be another 24 hours in arrears. You might not think that to be a problem, but my tools and all my cycling kit was in that box - hence an issue...but I made it through. Is does make me ponder the fact that they will let you stay seated on the runway for hours if you make it to the plane without your bags on board, but they can choose to delay your bags??? I will NEVER understand the airline industry!
Anyway, with all that behind me, on Wednesday night with took to the first stage of the New Zealand Trust House Tour being a criterium right here in downtown Lower Hutt. The course was awesome - nice and technical and exciting. The race itself was quite tame as a group of 8 got off the front with all the major teams represented, so people were minimally motivated to chase. As I was just trying to get my legs underneath me, I was okay with that! I was well positioned throughout the race until about 3 laps to go when I was pushed right into a massive pylon and forced to come to a complete standstill before heading wide off course. I didn't realize just how good my position had been up until that point as a good 60-70 riders must have passed me. In the end, it didn't make a difference as the commissaires made a mistake and pulled all the riders except for those lapped off course (which was completely contrary to what they had mentioned in the manager's meeting). Consequently, those of us in the bunch all tied for 9th position (good thing that they spent thousands of dollars putting state of the art computer chips on our fork blades!) Speaking of managers - Chris has been fantastic! He's been running around like a pro and helping us out a great deal - three cheers for Chris! Unfortunately, in all the bustle, he has not had time to find his camera and so we are yet again pictureless...sorry!
Anyways, so yesterday was the famous double day - starting with a 100km roadrace in the morning, followed by a 1 hour crit in the evening. With only a few hours between the two, we ended up racing almost 150km! Now, that's a big day! The roadrace went okay. We all rolled along the undulating terrain for about 50km before hitting 20km of real hills. They went up and up and culminated on what felt like a mountain pass. Early on I was shed off with a group of other girls, but we managed to make it over the obstacles and rolled in nicely, 15 minutes behind the frontrunners. Not stellar - but stronger than I would have done last year. I just need to learn to push myself that little bit harder on the hills - I think my lack of confidence and experience at being able to stay in the pack on climbs shined through!
Once in the town of Masterston we were fed finger foods as a turn around before the crit. The crit was a thing of beauty - unreal fast and fun technical corners. It was fast enough that I saw a few good names blow up - including Rochelle Gilmore who saw her demise directly in front of me. I spent most of the crit near the mid to rear (I was sure that Chris would heckle me for it), but funny enough, when it was strung out, that was the most consistent speed. I had a good time picking one or two girls off each corner and slowly yo-yoing through the bunch. The best compliment I received however, came from Tina Pic (who is not only 4 time US crit champion but one of the NICEST people in the world!) who said that I was riding well. She complimented me on my positioning in the roadrace...good to see that I've re-established my confidence in the pack - it's just so much fun moving up through it! With one lap to go, one of the Chinese riders let a gap go as she was being dropped. I gave it my all to close it, but apparently the average speed for the lap was 47km/h, and as you might have guessed, I didn't succeed. I did managed to hold steady though, so that was good. Which leads us to the final stage this morning - the time trial. I can only hope that it was more successful than my TT last weekend, and due to the number of no shows and others who decided that it wasn't worth blowing the energy before Sunday's World Cup event, I feel that I might be charging up the GC - maybe top 75??? We haven't got the results yet, so I'm just not sure. The wind was howling, but I gave it a go and hey, I got a finish for the Tour, which is more than I can say for a good deal of the 124 starters. A finish is always a strong thing to have under my belt and I'm stoked for Sunday which will bring us around a 6.2km circuit 20 times. Apparently there are 2 power climbs per lap, but I can only imagine that 40 power climbs will zap the legs! I'll let you know...until next time!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

FIRST WORLD CUP FINISH

So I might have crossed the line in 76th place (of 144 starters), just over 8 minutes back, but I finished! I had 3 goals going into the race:
1) Stay with the front group for 4 laps (half of the race for a total of 60km), and
2) If I did get dropped to ride in within the 5% time cut as to get a finish and to ride it in with a group.
I succeeded on both accounts! The first 4 laps of the race were relatively tame and the field stayed in tact. The course had one hill in it similar to the hill in the tour de Delta, but a little bit longer and a bit steeper (for those of you in the bike game), and another gradual hill used for the feed zone. All in all, it was apparent that a sprinter could win on the course (as Ina Teutenburg showed quite aptly), but with the right tactics, the hill is hard enough that it would be possible to drop the pure sprinters. So yeah, the first 4 times up the hill were more relaxed - not to say that it was easy - but I chugged overtop of the hill in the middle of the bunch. Watching Ina was a little like a clinic on sag-climbing (where you start the hill at the front and let yourself lose ground over the climb as it allows you to take the hill easier) and it was interesting to see that one of the other T-Mobile girls was always a little farther behind - presumably to be there to bring it back if there was a split that Ina didn't make. On the 5th lap, the heavy hitters in the race decided it was time to turn up the heat. The field was strung out through the feed zone. Of course this was the lap that I was convinced that I needed a feed - and in doing so, I hit the bottom of the climb farther back that I had on the previous attempts. Consequently, as I crested the hill, I was in a group that had been somewhat detached from the front 50 or so riders. This made the jaunt over the cresh and onto the next bit of false flats absolutely lovely and not at all unbearable...luckily, we caught up in not to long. But I did say that it was on, and the next lap over the hill I was gapped again, and this time it had nothing to do with my positioning! Having said that, when I got to the top, I saw I was in good company and felt pretty horrible trying to hold the wheel in front of me. I looked up and understood why that was when I saw that it was Tina Mayolo-Pic trying to bring us back. This time we weren't as lucky as the front group kept pushing and it took us most of the rest of the lap to catch back on (probably 6 or 7 km). We had made contact through the start/finish and I realized that I had made a fairly decisive split - as I was moving through with the top half of the field...unfortunately, the little legs died out not long after and I found myself all alone on the race course. Strong winds and the fact that I had already done 90km made it a bit of a slow go, but luckily I was caught by another group not long after. I road it in with this group (perhaps known as the groupetto as the girls were rather adament that we take the hill chilled out - which I was fine with). I kept rotating through the front of the group though, as I was determined to get a real finish! In the closing kms the speed picked up in the group and I know it's lame, but I figured that I might as well stay at the front, seeings as I had been up in the top 15-20 of the group since I joined it (I wasn't to find out just how many girls were actually in my group until I looked at the results!) A few girls actually sprinted to the line, I tried just to rev it up so not too many girls passed me, but at the same time, I knew that it was in bad form to actually sprint (this may sound a little silly to those who don't bike race, but really, we're not in the race anymore!) So I'm quite stoked with the result - first of many World Cup finishes I'm sure, but this is a step that I needed to take. I'm off to New Zealand this afternoon and hopefully there will be more learning and exciting racing to come!

Geelong Tour – the racing has begun!

Well here we are again – and so soon – racing time’s a here! I’ve been chilling with Chris and our flatmate (here in the caravan park that is) Trudy since Monday and well to be quite honest, the walls are starting to look a little boring! Trudy has also been riding on my composite team (Team Cheerwine/Bicisport) and we are right next door to two of our other teammates Kerry and Kelly – who are a total blast! The team is rounded out with Helen Kelly and Suzanne Ljungskog (two time world champion and a complete sweet heart). Really teamwork is a non-issue as the ability levels are the full range and the top teams (T-Mobile, Nurnberger, Nobili, Univega, Team NZ, and so on) are so in charge that we’re left to be – quite eloquently pack fodder…and that is the role that I have been taking quite seriously all week! ;)
The starting stage was an 8km TT along the banks of Portarlington. I road out there with the girls and got ready for my first Eddy Mercx style TT– meaning no aero equipment. My ride was there – nothing special, but I wasn’t 5 minutes behind the leader either – so first stage – check – on to the next. Without too much ado (we must have had at least 3 hours rest – and that was only because we were early in the start order) came stage 2 – a criterium around Portarlington. The course was 1km in length and was built on the side of a hill. At the time, I thought that it was somewhat massive, but after having ridden it again today, it wasn’t that bad – I might just have to blame it on the super fast girls! The major challenge came from the fact that the hill started after coming out of a greater than 90 degree turn, and with 140 girls on course, it’s kind of like a standing start going up a hill. I started the stage about 2/3rds of the way back and spent the first 8-10 laps trying to move up. Now, first the good news: I managed to make it into the group of girls who ultimately finished the crit; and the bad: in getting up to that group, I killed myself to get up there and ended up dropping off the back. It was okay though as I was joined by at least 40 of my closest friends and really the important part – there were plenty of girls who were dropped before me (note: the organizers have had their hands full getting the regular results set and so those of us from about 80 back aren’t actually placed properly…) So it was a solid start to the week and I was looking forward to the following day’s flat stage with a sprint finish!!!
But alas, my fun was somewhat spoiled during the stage 3 Barwon Heads Circuit race – and rather early on. With our second day in a row of overcast skies, we started off with the full tour roster as it was not possible to be time cut in either the TT or the crit on the previous day. The field was a little jumpy and I was eager to get up closer to the front, but was trying to move up the middle of the pack. As I was doing this, the police motorbikes were trying to make it to the front of the group. The first cop made it known what he was trying to do by honking his horn and sneaking up on the right of the pack. However, our second friend the police officer wasn’t quite as lucky – he started to follow the first chopper when all of a sudden a parked car jumped in his way…and you say – well Jen, was he not “parked” and I say “yes, yes he was” – but the police guy was taken a little by surprised and consequently tried to squeeze a little farther in on the road. As you may have figured out – this is where things went wrong – the motorcycle went down and ended up hitting a girl – consequently causing a crash. So here I was, only 5km into an 80km race and sitting on my bum beside a cornfield (well, it might not have been a cornfield as I’m in Australia – but it has the same effect!) In a bit of a daze-like-panic, I jumped to my feet and tried to get my bike running again – alas, it was being cranky and the chain’s crankypants attitude required about 10s of consoling prior to me jumping back on the machine. And so began the time trial back up to the group (mind you, I did have a television camera on me at the time, so maybe I’ll get some air time – that could be cool!) Unfortunately, despite a worthy fight with the caravan, I would be denied my prey. I was lucky enough about a lap later to find a buddy (a victim of a puncture) who ended up towing me around the course (I did my best, but she was definitely stronger than me). We worked well and kept at it, but ended up losing over 18:00 to the pack (which for 75km ain’t too bad I might add – seeing as there were 120 of them and only 2 of us), but it was more than the allotted 10% of the time and so we were not allowed to start the final stage. I was definitely disappointed with this news, but my teammates were really supportive, which was great, and I was able to take the time to sit back and recover in time for Sunday’s World Cup race – which is what I’m doing right now. Chris has been a phenomenal soigneur and our other support staff have been great as well. Can’t wait to give the course a go on Sunday – I’m aiming for a finish!