Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Seasons They Are a Changing

The best unexpected gift: beautiful fall days. I once had a friend tell me that his favourite riding weather was when he could wear leg warmers, a long sleeved jersey and no gloves. At the time, I was living in Australia, loving the 35+ weather, and I quite frankly, thought he was nuts. I further attributed this strange attitude to the fact that he was from England and that IS summer weather, from my personal experience of summering at my Grandparent’s place on the North Sea. But as I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve started to understand his wisdom. Honestly, nothing beats a crisp sunny ride in the Gatineau Park at the end of the season.

Now, if I’m to be honest, I’m not really sure that it’s fair for me to call this the END of the season, given that my season never really was. But as we learn with time, the world keeps revolving even if we’re standing still, and not racing the bike season doesn’t stop the leaves from falling or the feeling that the winter months are beckoning. However, the imminent end to snow-free roads does help me to appreciate the dwindling days out on the bike.

Yesterday I got such a gift of riding a loop in the park with my friend Sarah Coney while she was back visiting from Vancouver. We had a gorgeous day and it didn’t even matter that we were creeping along in the hills as we are both recovering from injury-prone seasons. I came home somewhat shattered (it was the first time I’d seen a hill in a number of months) but incredibly contented. All the pressure and uncertainty that can plague the higher levels of the game was washed away by the pure joy of riding my bicycle.

I am incredibly sad to see my team from 2011 fall away going into next season. The girls, with the help of superior management surpassed any expectations placed upon them this year on both the domestic and international cycling scenes. It was super exciting to watch and really motivated me to get back on my game so I could get out there and join them, which unfortunately will never happen. I would like to thank everyone involved for all their love, sweat and tears (yes, from time to time there are tears in sport, despite learning at an early age from Tom Hanks that “there’s no crying in baseball”.) A special shout out needs to go to the man who kept the team running smoothly all year long, despite having a million other things to do (I swear I have no idea when the man sleeps): thank you Malcolm. You made many of our dreams a reality. And a pretty darn glitzy reality at that! I would also like to wish all my teammates the best in their future endeavours. You are all incredible people who deserve every opportunity that comes your way. I really hope that I get to work with you again in the future.

So, as I sit here gazing out at the cold rain falling, I look forward to tomorrow’s promise of sun and above-freezing temperatures to roll around on my kick ass (more or less unridden) Specialized, but I think today’s a day to throw on the running shoes. I’m still not up to 100% health, but I’m getting closer and closer means that I can exercise on a daily basis again – which makes my heart glow. This less than ideal season has reinforced to me that you really do have to take each day as it comes. As a goal driven individual, this can be difficult from time to time, but it really doesn’t hurt to slow things down and think “hey, what I’m doing: here. Now. This is pretty great”. And to really enjoy those red and gold leaves – because before you know it the pretty little snowflakes will be falling from the sky!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Jagged Battle of Recovery – Concussion Be Gone!


September has arrived with a vengeance. Where did my summer go?

I have mixed feelings about having the fall just around the corner (although you wouldn’t believe it given the heat and humidity outside right now!) Part of me is excited because that means that I’ve put in more healing time and maybe my body will be ready to get back to business soon, but part of me is sad that summer is nearly over! But regardless how I feel, it’s here.

The recovery is coming along - not nearly as quickly as I would like, but that would be the story of my season. It’s important for me to keep reminding myself that despite what I want to believe, recovery is not a linear process. At the end of June I made a large step in recovery, now I’m just waiting for another.

There are some days where I feel great and almost “normal” (like when I went shopping in London!) and then there are days where my head hurts, my ears ring constantly, and I’m happy to sleep most of the day away. The good news is that those days are becoming fewer and are farther apart. The bad news is that I’m not at a point where I can realistically resume training as I had been planning.

Each day is a bit of a game. I’m playing jump rope with the line of what I can handle. Sometimes I win. Other times I don’t! Through this tedious process, I have deduced that it is primarily my visual processors (yup, super technical term) that tire the easiest and consequently give me the most grief. This means daily activities such as driving, where you are constantly making visual calculations of speed are tiring, while fun endeavours such as video games are out. Too much of anything and I find myself sleeping over 12 hours a night and headaches are still a far too familiar frustration.

Still I keep up the hope that the next big health step will come. I dream about riding my bike in the near future and savouring every minute of it: the wind on my skin, the spin of my legs and the plain freedom that it brings. In the meantime I try to remember to take care of myself. That as one friend put it, I’m not doing “nothing”; I am “recovering”. How do you keep your stress levels down when doing nothing is a stressor? Hopefully I will take away new general relaxation and recovery techniques with me into the years to come of my cycling career and life that lie ahead.

As for the impending arrival of fall? I really do love September – and not just because it’s the month that harbours my birthday! It’s traditionally the start of new and exciting life things, Starbucks rolls out the Pumpkin Spice latte and it brings a bite to the Ontario air that reminds me of home in Calgary. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will also bring the start of training for my 2012 season – but I know my body will tell me when it’s ready!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I'm back in Ottawa...well at least for a few days!

I just had the most wonderful trip to Calgary for Becca's wedding. She looked stunning!

As a picture is worth a thousand words - there you go. Unbelievable dress eh? I can't wait to see all her pictures :)

It was so much fun to be there and experience her special day. It was full of awe at how gorgeous she and Tim were, excitement for them to experience how special marriage is and reminiscing as it reminded me of my wedding. Just an incredible day all around. I love weddings. The family time is awesome and the celebration itself is just great.

Now I'm at home trying to recoup the sleep that I opted out of over the last week before jetting off to England with Susan. I'm excited for the trip as it will be great to spend some more time in England (this time for a more positive reason!)

My recovery is going well. I'm thinking that I should be good to start some activity in the next few weeks. My last headaches were at the end of June and my fatigue seems to be the one latent symptom - but as long as I pay attention and manage it well, I should be on my way to normalicy.

Also - as this week has been full of emotion and ups and downs, I would like to have a memory shout out to Grammy Skeet, who passed away early yesterday after a struggle with dimentia. She will be missed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Little Victories

So last week while the rest of the team was ripping it up in Europe at the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen I managed to keep myself busy on this side of the Atlantic. My days consisted of being a Tour superfan in the morning and acting as a landscaping foreman for my husband and his friends in the afternoon as we put a patio into our backyard. But first, let me back up for a minute to explain why I’m at home here in Canada instead of battling it out in the small streets of Europe.

Quite simply put: This has not be the season that dreams are made of (unless your dreams are drastically different from my own). Let’s rewind about 4 months ago to the middle of March when 2011 held infinite possibilities for my cycling career. I was coming off a fantastic winter training base of the trainer and Nordic skiing (a new combo for my new home in Gatineau, Quebec). My fitness was great and I was looking forward to an extraordinary team camp in San Diego with a great group of people who I am lucky enough to call my team! Unfortunately it was not written in the stars (despite my love of Tinie Tempah) for me, as after only 1 hour of great team riding at camp, I took a header off my bicycle at 50km/h that resulted in a separated shoulder, copious amounts of roadrash and a fairly serious concussion. I didn’t understand the repercussions at the time, but today, I’m still recovering from that violent meeting with the ground and my season was over before it really started.

Over the last few months, I have found myself identifying greatly with Sidney Crosby (if you’re Canadian or a hockey fan) as well as more recently with Jani Brajkovi, Tom Boonen and Chris Horner (if you’re more of a Tour junkie, like yours truly). Luckily of late, I seem to have turned a corner. Little as it may be, I have stopped having headaches in the last month and I’m starting to live more like a “normal” person. I’m not back on my bike yet and I still have a number of contraindications – but I’m hoping to be there in the next month or so as to mount my cyclocross assault. Each day is a test of my ability to balance the activity I think I should be able to handle with the rest I know I need and the consequences are rather unpleasant if I misjudge what I am capable of accomplishing. I’m learning to be easier on myself and accept that I need more rest than I think I do- a valuable lesson for an elite athlete!

I’m lucky to have had an incredible group of people to support me through the last few months including my husband, cat, family and my team. It’s coming back bit by bit :) and in the meantime, the boys in France have kept my passion for the sport fuelled. I have been a complete SUPERfan of the Tour this year. From watching the scary footage of Chris Horner’s crash to the captivating sprints and fellow Specialized team HTC’s killer leadout for Mark Cavendish to the incredible down to the wire GC fight, this year’s Tour has been the most entertaining Tour I can remember!

But if I’m going to be honest, it’s the sprints that get my blood pumping – quite literally. I have so much respect for the whole HTC leadout team with special props to Mark Renshaw – and I just LOVE watching Cavendish sprint. My heartrate must get up to around 140bpm as they rush towards the line. It’s the best replacement I can think of to being able to do it myself. In the meantime, I’m making great plans for our team for 2012 where I’m dreaming of Juvederm-Specialized replicating the train to deposit Joanie or myself to the line – it’s going to be awesome!

However, for now, I’m concentrating on the small victories. The days when I wake up and I’m ready to tackle the world (or in my case housecleaning) are becoming more common and I look forward to getting back on my bike to train for victory in 2012. I’m not a big fan of the “everything happens for a reason” cliché, but more of the, as my friend Alena puts it “you will learn something from your tribulations” life lesson. I have yet to find an eloquent wording for these past months, but I’m sure in retrospect it will make me a stronger, more tenacious person and athlete. I will take the wisdom gleaned from this year forward – so watch out, 2012 is going to be my year!

You can also check out this post on - it's pretty cool company to keep!

Turning a corner

Hiya blog! Long time no see. Sorry about that. If I'm to be 100% honest, it's been hard to post over the last few months as my general attitude has not been as positive as I would have liked and I don't like to put my negativity out there. Reading about someone moping is not fun - so I omitted it.

That having been said, I have had some great experiences over the last little bit. About a month ago I ended up going to England at the last minute - not for the happiest of reasons - my Gran had a stroke, but it was great to go over and see the family and she's doing fab now. I had a fabulous time with my Mum, Gran and Grandad (as well as various other England-based family members) for 10 days. I always love going over to Ruston Parva - it feels like home. Plus it got me away from Ottawa where I contstantly think about getting on my bicycle! :P We went on walks in the countryside, admiring the beautiful poppies, roses and baby livestock. Gorgeous! My Mum also woke up the latent knitter in me by suggesting that we knit a jumper for my cousin Howard's upcoming baby's arrival.

Knitting has proven to be a great passtime for my concussed self. It allows me to be obsessive about something that doesn't require any physical activity or any tremendous amount of mental work. I'm loving it! Which is a bonus as I had a good deal of airline time going from Ruston Parva all the way to Vegas for Becca (my sister)'s stagette in Las Vegas! Yeah baby! It was incredible. Three nights, eight girls and NKOTBSB in Vegas. That's right - you heard me NKOTBSB. Musical obsessions from all three decades of my life. I heart them all.

It all came to an end far too soon, and unfortunately my concussion kept me in bed far too much to be able to do Vegas justice and I was unable to boy band hunt after the show. Sad face.

Luckily there was much television to keep me busy once I got home with the Women's World Cup AND the Tour. There were a number of days where I would wake up, go to the television (via the coffee maker) and watch the Tour from 8am until 11:30, have lunch and watch soccer from noon until four. In fact, I was lucky that I was concussed or else I would have felt incredibly guilty for dedicating so much of my life to the television - but as it was, it was a fantastic recovery! HA! At least that's what I'm sticking to.

Going forward, I have more travels in my future including some more time back in Calgary to get ready for Becca's wedding on August 6th (eeek!!! Exciting!) and then off again to England with Susan (my lovely mother-in-law) to help with some research for her new book and to check out London and visit Ruston Parva again :). All in all some great ways to keep my ming off the bike until the beginning of September when I'm hoping my birthday present will be to get back on the bike! WAHOO! Fingers crossed!!!

As for now, I need to get my hinie off the computer so I can do a little gardening before the impending thunder shower hits. I'm desperatly hoping that this storm Don't Turn Out the Lights - and if you didn't get that NKOTBSB reference - take a listen to their new song - it's fantastic!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm Awesome.

I think those two words cover it ;)

A little background for you as to why I'm awesome? Alrighty - here she goes...

So it started off with my coach, DK, sending me a link to Kristina Groves' blog. It's a letter that she wrote on her blog to Sidney Crosby regarding concussions - and in my opinion, it sums up my situation quite nicely. I really appreciated her take on everything - so much so that I teared up while reading it. I have found the last few months to be incredibly frustrating and there was some solace in reading that I am not alone.

So just prior to DK sending me this link, I too, suffered a bit of a setback in my recovery. I guess I just pushed too hard and my body said "ah ah ah - you are not ready". Now I feel like I did back at the beginning - to sum it up in one word: FRUSTRATING. I was experiencing all sorts of emotions and felt that more than anything I needed a change of I booked a flight to Calgary to see my family (Becca, my sister, just bought a new house - so it was an excuse to go see it) and friends.

On my first day in Calgary, I went to the local Starbucks to meet up with a friend. No more than 10 minutes after we sat down, Kristina Groves walked into the same Starbucks! Now, this isn't as coincidental as you might think, given that my Mum lives a whopping 5km from the Olympic Oval where the National team speed skaters train - but I was surprised. In my head I had wanted to tell her how much her blog entry had touched me - and now, the very woman was standing in the same Starbucks. So I should go tell her, right?

Well in hindsight (with the help of the awkward conversation that ensued when I did talk to her), perhaps I could have approached the situation a little differently. But as it was such a disjointed conversation - it now (now that I am over the embarrassment) makes for a good story...

So yes, that is why I am awesome. Think before you act...or at least speak!

But the message stays the same - and for those of you who have read her blog - my brush with her is somewhat analogous to her brush with Sidney. Cute, right? Oh man, I sure hope so! It has helped me to see that other athletes are going through the difficulties and frustrating times that I am. My good friend MJ warned me when it first happened that I would "feel like I'm making things up, but you're not" and I have had to hold onto those words on a couple of occasions to help me keep my sanity!

So where do I go from here? What is next? The answer is a resounding "I DON'T KNOW". I have no idea on the timeline. I'm desperate to ride my bike and feel good, to push myself and feel fit, and of course to race. But I need to recruit all my patience because I'm dealing with my brain and I won't do myself any favours if I come back too soon.

Therefore, please excuse me if my entries are few and far between these days, as I don't have much to report on. But as soon as my body cooperates, I will be back out there soaking in the rays and making the legs burn. And hey, I've been in Ottawa long enough now that I should really give the cyclocross season a go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm Alive

Sorry about the lack of recent update. To be honest, there hasn't been much development of interest.

I am, however, alive and back at home recovering. I'm lucky to have two of the most awesome "nurses" ever - the first in my husband who has been awesome with me since I've been home for the last week. Despite being quite bummed that I'm not in Europe - it is nice to be home. The other cuddle-monster is my kitten. It's really hard not to be awesomely happy when you have a purring kitten in your lap (except for when said purring kitten decides to try to take a chunk out of your arm or foot with his fangs). All and all - things are coming around.

I have a great support crew here in Ottawa. Martin Zollinger has been helping me to realign my spin (apparently when you take a header into the ground at 50km/h things tighten up and shift!) and I'm really looking forward to my massage with Craig this afternoon!

The weather has shifted here in Ottawa and I feel it's pretty safe to say that spring has sprung! YIPPEE!

Also - the team has been rocking it up - so while I'm sidelined at least I can live vicariously through them! Since I got home from Redlands, Lex has won Battenkill out east and Denise came second at Harris Roubaix out west! I really wish that I could make it to Calabogie this weekend - but I think I'm going to have to sit out again. I'm recovering, slowly, but surely (did I mention slowly?) but I'm going to err on the side of caution. Need to get out a full length ride before I try to race - which is too bad because I can't WAIT to show off how HAWT the new kits are - and I am enjoying the Hincapie chamoix as well! :)

On that note - my heart goes out to teammie Joanie who was over in Europe and after a great 20th placing on the 2nd stage of a tour in Holland (I'm not even going to try to spell the name), she got caught up in a crash and broke her collarbone. Apparently we both need to learn to stay on our bikes (and the sad part is that we were joking about it before team camp even started!)

But onwards and upwards. As my dorky book of the moment said "life is like an escalator - you just keep going on and up." Well you have to take inspiration where you can right?!?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to the Trainer?!?

The good news: I made it down to team training camp in San Diego last Sunday evening. Got a few awesome rides in with Joanie, Rob and Keirnan Orange and got settled in nicely at our team house on the coast.

The bad news:
Day 1 -
Apparently hitting the pavement at 50km/h has some side effects...

Day 2 -
Damn I really hope this doesn't scar - I'm WAY too vain!

Day 4 -
Heading out for a ride - I scared the dude at the coffee shop I think...

My solution to not get sun on my scar... My teammates are a little embarassed by it...

Day 6 -
Healing up nicely...on a relative scale.

Unfortunately my shoulder isn't cooperating quite as much. The roadrash is healing quite nicely - but I also separated my shoulder so that's taking its time.
Through all this there is a little more good news though:

Crashing on a US military base has its advantages as I was well taken care of, and Specialized makes a damn good product:

Jokes aside - I'm doing really well and I'm just frustrated that the start of my season has been delayed by another week or two. No worries though - it just means that I'm going to be that much more eager to rip it up when it's time to strut my stuff!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

And so it begins!

First off, I'm going to apologize about the lack of picture - but the truth is - I'm sitting in Pearson Airport and the sightlines don't really provide for any real excitement. But tell you what I will do. I'll give you the mental image of Wicket via Chris' story from last night. Apparently he was sitting watching TV when he heard a splash, a yelp and then a soggy, wet kitten emerged at high speed from the washroom...or more accurately from the toilet...desperately looking for reassurance cuddles.

Chris informed me of two things: 1) post-toilet cuddles are wet; and 2) post-toilet Wicket is significantly smaller! :P

So back to my original thought: what begins you ask? Well my 2 month journey involving planes, buses and automobiles. I personally would have liked to substitute the bus in the equation for a train, however VIA rail does not let bicycles on the train route between Ottawa and Toronto (feel free to boycott their services on my behalf!) So Friday morning, Chris and I piled into the car and went on down to the bus station (after a lovely stop at the Morning Owl for a flat white...yummm!) and he dropped me off into another world. I was unaware that in order to board the Greyhound, you first needed to contract some kind of infectious disease. Knock on wood, but I don't seem to have caught any of the 48 different cold strains that were flying around the recycled bus air for 5 hours... I would also like to point out at this time that a bus is not either a babysitting service, nor a place to do your group project (although I wish the folks doing their case study on Ginny with AIDS the best of luck and if they need a stand in - I think I have memorized their little skit).

But I did make it to Toronto where I was saved at a random intersection by my coach DK (the bus blew its break line so we were abandonned about 2km from the bus stop - perfect end to a lovely journey! AWESOME!). We then went to the hotel where I was meeting up with my Dad and Dianne for Dean's end of year final show. It was awesome - super entertaining and great to see (at least part) of the fam.

From Toronto, I continued on the family visit and went to Guelph for the evening to see my newest parental addition before being driven back to Pearson Airport...and I haven't even left Canada yet!!! That brings us to the present where I am waiting in Terminal 3 (which is the lacklustre terminal - there isn't even a STARBUCKS!?!) getting ready to board a plane to San Diego - whoo hooo! Team camp awaits me on the other end and I really can't wait to give my new, lovely Amira its maiden voyage outside! YIPPPEEE! Plus I was getting super stir crazy on the trainer at home. I'm pretty much over winter for this year!

From San Diego the team (Juvederm-Specialized to be precise) heads to San Dimas then Redlands for the first showdowns on North American soil for the year. I love San Dimas - it's fantastic and fun - and then Redlands, which I have decided is the devil I know - so it'll be a blast too. More than anything else I'm really looking forward to working with these girls!

From there - the morning after Redlands (bright and early I might add), Joanie and I are jumping on a place that will ultimately take us to Brussels for a month of European racing. These are races that I have been dreaming about doing for the last 3-4 years - so I'm also super stoked about it! After we strut our stuff in the Canadian National team colours, Joanie and I will return to Arkansas to rejoin our team at the Joe Martin Stage Race...then I get to go home and see my husband and kitten. (At this point I will give a shout out to my unbelievably AWESOME husband who I already miss on day 3 on the road...)

So that's the plan for the next chunk. I can't wait for the awesome stories that will come out of it and the unreal racing that I will get to do. I promise to keep you posted and pictures will feature...but for now...really just imagine our poofy kitten all soppy wet. If you need some help, Youtube "Giving my cat a bath"'s painful, but priceless!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beautiful South Carolina

So I'm not sure if I technically have met my goal of blogging while I was away per se. I have made it to the Greenville airport on the second time around and I'm heading home :( - when I checked in it informed me that it was -11 in Ottawa...a bit of a rude reminder when it has been close (or above) 20 all this week! Dreamlike.

Yesterday I was in heaven sitting on a curb in the parking lot in Clemson drinking a Caramel Machiatto from Starbucks in the sun. Wonderful. It was a perfect respite after a week of lots of leg breaking (and one soul breaking! HA!) hills. The riding down here is amazing. I can't say enough. I wish that I could stay longer - but I am looking forward to heading home.

I mean - come on - how could you not miss those two?!?

The camp was fab - an incredible group of ladies - loved every minute of it and it's been a long time since I've laughed so hard. Some light was shed on the fact that I think I've become a little neurotic with needing order and cleanliness in my old age (I'm sure Chris can attest to this) and may have wigged a few people out with my relentless need to have the dishwasher loaded CORRECTLY. Meh - what can I say...I believe I come by it honestly!

I think I'm going to have people withdrawl after such an amazing week. Good thing that I'm heading to my team launch in Montreal on Friday. Can't wait to get the Amira S-Works - gorgeous. I'm going to show off a little with a picture...I just can't help it!

I guess it's getting close to so-long SC...for now. I didn't even get to exercise my hulu watching time...oh well - I guess I'll have to save that for a few weeks from now when I head down to San Diego for team camp! YIPPEE! But I would have to sign off saying that this trip has been a 100% travelling sans-bike (thank you Matt and Craig) and carry-on only (I'm sorry Cara) has been a dream. They didn't even try to take away my chamois cream at securtiy. What a great day! The perfect end to an unreal week. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Year's Blog resolution

That's right folks! It's time for me to let you all know that I'm going to start blogging again. Hmmm...I'm not sure I even believe it myself - it's sort of like the omnious New Year's resolution that I make EVERY year (much like it's going to be THIS year that I turn into a twiggy runway model) and yet sometime between, well from looking at history, April and July things go awry. Fingers crossed that this year is better - seeings as blog posts are at their highest when I'm riding well and the wins are coming in!

Speaking of which - I have a new, exciting cycling home for 2011 - with Team Juvederm-Specialized. The new digs are also responsible for the new look - I had a good time playing around with the Blog template - thank goodness they make it easy for those of us who are less computer saavy.

Years ago Chris and I discovered the "muffin cake" at a lovely internet cafe in Coolangatta, Australia. Last night, for Valentine's Day (one of only about 3 that we have spent together in the 9 years we have been together! Shout out to MJ who has been my Valentine's date for the last 3 years!) I decided to bring back the Muffin cafe in good form - isn't it awesome?

I would like to also give a shout out to the newest addition to our family (and cutest): Wicket Reid.

I'm going to miss him a whole lot when I'm off galavanting on my bicycle in South Carolina next week!

Goal for 2011 #1: Blog while down South! I'll keep you posted to see how it goes!