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!)