Sunday, 30 September 2012

study hard, bike harder!

Well, the first three weeks of school have flown by. It's super weird that the semester is already 1/4 over... not that I'm complaining! Classes have been pretty cool so far - lots of really (and I mean REALLY hands on stuff) - but I'm still excited to get away from it all come Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Probably the best part about school is the fall "U Cup" race series. I missed the first two races (because of Crank the Shield and then selling my bike) so I was amped to race today! The Queen's team is pretty sick and the races are always fun (and there's free food) so now that I have a bike in my possession, racing was a no-brainer. The race was at Hardwood, so I met up with C Brooks yesterday for some fun trails (even though we got poured on) before the race today. The 3 lap race only took ~55min (man, I felt like a Junior again!!) and had tons of great single track. I managed to take the W, with Swagler a close second. After some post-race slacklining, we devoured some burgers from the BBQ (which was my first bite of meat in a full week... I'll tell you that story in a minute) and then headed back home for some hot tub action. Solid day.

Now about the meat situation... As a second year Kinesiology student at Queen's, I am lucky enough to have the (mandatory) opportunity to work with cadavers as part of my Anatomy class. In case you didn't know, a cadaver is a human body that has been donated to science. I was more than a little apprehensive about this. I'm not squeamish, exactly, but the idea of touching a dead person really creeps me out. Anyways, I'd been fine up until this week because I hadn't had to actually touch the specimen. This week, there was no choice but to touch the cadaver in order to learn what we had to learn. I won't go into detail, but let's just say that human flesh feels exactly like steak. Making beef that night was definitely a mistake... Queue the gag reflex. It'll be a long time before I can appreciate a good steak again.

On another note, I've been loving fall riding in Uxbridge! Durham forest is absolutely perfect right now. I'm thinking there are going to be a few long rides there next weekend (Thanksgiving = 5 day weekend... score!). I've been up to a bunch of other stuff at school... socializing, studying, cooking... but I'll just give you a nice picture recap instead of boring you with more words!

Love the Farmer's Market at school! Raspberries are definitely my favourite
Can't risk bringing my wallet to campus... it would be the end of my biking career haha

Nice little crisp morning road ride by the lake

I've NEVER seen the lake this calm... basically a miracle

Saw this guy on a road ride, let me get super close before bolting!

Had a little bit of a hair issue ('twas a touch windy today)

I promise, the guy on the right is actually a girl...

Tricolour is the best colour!

Great group of ladies and gents. Top notch. 

October is going to be a bit of a #$@%^ with 7 midterms, but I'll get through it with the help of some good music, lots of biking, and a bit of a social life on the side. As much as people complain about being a student, it really is the life. Especially when you're a student-cyclist! You just have to remember to play as hard as you study :)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Crank the Shield 2012

This past weekend I was up in Haliburton, Ontario for Crank the Shield (the infamous Chico event). The last time I did Crank was in 2010, and let me tell you it was an interesting experience. Back in 2010, I had never done a ride longer than 2.5 hrs and I had literally no technical skills. It goes without saying that the three days of 4+ hours of racing had me completely cracked. It's a wonder I survived the experience haha.

Legs after CTS 2010... there were some worried glances at school the following week haha

This time around, CTS was absolutely epic. I tag teamed the three day stage race with my teammate Andrew Watson, who was an awesome riding partner. Day 1 was pretty (ha) wet, and the 3hr49 min were a bit of a slog. Watson still managed to make the ride fun, though, and we were all smiles when we crossed the line in 1st for our category and ~11th overall.

Watson and I on the podium after stage 1

Day 2 was SUNNY (believe it or not) and it turned out to be one of the most fun rides I've ever done. There was a ton of single track with awesome flow, and the road sections were all really scenic. Watson and I rode with Cayley, with Cayley and I doing the majority of the pulls and just letting Watson sit on the back (yeah... right haha). Watson and I crossed the line in a sprint (same as the first day), and ended up winning the 2nd stage as well, coming in about 13th overall.

Beautiful sunrise on the morning of stage 2

So sunny I can't even keep my eyes open! It's going to be a good day

Just like always, the morning of the third stage was frigid. The sun came out, though, and the day got warm enough to race in shorts and jerseys. Stage 3 was pretty sick; it started with  a little bit of road before about 9km of single track at Sir Sam's and then continuing with a mix of back country, road, and more single track. Before we knew it, the stage (and the whole race) was over. We ended up first in the tag team mixed category, and 13th and 14th overall. Lespy finished up with a stage win over DZ and a 2nd place overall (sweet ride Lespy!)

So chilly this morning! The lake was steaming

Crank the Shield was AWESOME, and I can't thank Chico enough for running it. Havi and Norco deserve a huge thank you for fixing bikes and lookin' good (as always) all weekend long. I had a blast with the team, so thank you!

Watson and I took the overall. Thanks for a sweet weekend watson :)

I'm back at school now, and am just getting back into the swing of things. So far there's not too much work going on... mostly just a lot of sleeping haha. I'm sure it'll pick soon, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts! I've hopefully got some U-Cups on the agenda for the next month, and maybe even some cross (?!). I've never tried it before, and I'm thinking this may be the year. Why not, right?

Feeling a little under the weather tonight (not sick exactly, mostly just like I've been hit by a Mack truck haha) so I'm just hanging out with some tea and watching the CMAs. Man, I don't think I'll ever get enough of Luke Brian! And to answer a question I was asked earlier this year.... Yes, girls (meaning me) do pretend that the good ol' country boys are singing about them. Especially when the good ol' country boys are named Jason Aldean ;)

Aaaaaaaaaall for now!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Worlds 2012

 I love biking. I mean I really, REALLY love it. Nothing else in the world makes me as happy as I feel when I'm biking. Biking has given me so many opportunities and experiences that I would never have had if I wasn't obsessed with these two-wheeled machines. World travel, best friends, and sick riding are just some of the things I've been lucky enough to experience, and I'm so grateful for all of it.

As you may know, my race at World Championships this past week did not go as planned. A disappointing start led to a disappointing crash, which led to a (more than) disappointing finish. I think the fact that I love biking so much makes a "failure" such as this way harder to handle than, say, failing an exam. I've been kicking myself in the face since last Friday because of the stupid decision I made that effectively ended my race.

Immediately after the race, I felt like I had failed. But, within half an hour, I started to realize that it wasn't in fact a failure, but the most valuable learning experience I've ever had on a bike. As Lespy says, "It's all practice 'til it counts". While he was referring to something entirely different when he told me that, it applies pretty well here. Yeah, I screwed up. However, now I know exactly what NOT to do in order to win. I'm pretty happy that I've got that figured out already.

Aside from the race, this was the most fun Team Canada trip I've ever been on, hands down! The team was so sick, and I had so much fun with all the guys and gals from across the country. You guys rock. The staff was awesome to work with, too. As always, Scott was an endless source of entertainment. The mechanics, soigneurs (how do you spell that?), and coaches were uuuuuuh-mazing. Thank you for an unforgettable trip!

To put it plainly, leaving Austria sucked haha. It was such a fun trip, and heading back to school was not exactly an enticing prospect. Watching the elite races, the team relay (who kicked ass, by the way) and the eliminator got me SO pumped for next year; it's going to be a loooong off season. Hopefully I'll be heading to Europe with Cayley next spring for some more Euro racing action. I've definitely caught the bug... I just want to race and race and race!

I'm back at school for the time being, but only for three days haha. Up next is Crank the Shield, which is a 3 Day stage race in Northern Ontario. It was a blast the last time I did it in 2010, and it should be even better this year! I'm tag-teaming it with none other than Dr. Watson, and hopefully I'll get to ride a bit with my other Norco boys and Cayley. Pretty stoked on this, should be a blast.

The jet lag is hitting me hard, so I'm going to cut this update short (well, short for me haha). I've got a couple more days of rest and recovery (aka major maple syrup consumption) before pounding out the ~220km of trail this weekend.

Only 7.5 more hours of lectures this week before I'm free! Counting down the hours when you've only been in school for one day is a good sign, right?

Antoine had a little crash, took those stitches like a man ;)

ALN got a nice little stinger during the race. In case you can't tell, that's an Avid disc brake.

Jealous, Dr. Watson?

One of the last sunsets in Saalfelden. Picture doesn't do it justice. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

What can I say? The Austrian life "ist gut"

I left Uxbridge last Wednesday with 120lbs of luggage (no, I’m not a Prima Donna… bike stuff just weighs a lot) and high hopes for the 2012 Mountain Bike World Championships in Saalfelden, Austria. Oddly enough, I was really pleased that I was on a red eye flight, as it meant I didn’t have to waste a day travelling. The flight was as uneventful as an 8hr plane ride can be (ie. less exciting than watching grass grow). I didn’t even have to use my creepy-man-diverter pillow – I ended up sitting next to none other than Mr. Antoine Caron, another of the XC racers on the Canadian mtb team.

The flight landed in Munich, where we met up and hung out with the rest of the team until our bus came to take us to Saalfelden. It seems like I’ve seen every kind of transportation there is since I’ve been racing internationally… planes, trains, vans, and buses. The only thing left is boats – and given my aversion to open water, I’m perfectly happy should it remain that way!

Some snow capped peaks we saw on the way in

 The 3hr bus ride went really quickly, and after some cool, winding mountain roads, we ended up in Saalfelden! The town is small, filling my first criteria for a relaxing place to be. The first thing I did was scout the town and surrounding hillsides for any castles (I have a small obsession with old/ancient architecture… castles, churches, you name it) and lo and behold, I found one! Unfortunately, you can’t visit the castle, because it’s privately owned and is currently occupied. Bummer.

Thirteenth century castle 

Just some mountain scenery

Our first couple days in Saalfelden left a little bit to be desired in the weather department. We did our first ride in ~8 degrees C and pouring rain… Never have I been so abruptly reminded about how much I HATE being cold! I can safely say that I am not looking forward to the winter. Fortunately, the weather turned nice, and even after what Scott Kelly described as “Biblical rains” (about 40mm over the course of a day and a half), the XC course was hardly muddy! Getting on the course was really exciting. It’s a super short loop, only about 4.5km, and it goes by REALLY fast. I’m predicting that the U23 women will be doing ~16minute laps. Good thing I brought 6 water bottles!
The course is unlike any course I’ve raced before. There is a lot of climbing (around 180m per lap), and the descents are wicked fast. There are a couple of features that will take some guts to commit to, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll get them down pat by Tuesday. I’ll try and get some pictures this week to show you guys what the course is like!

Cayley and I made a friend :)
Best reason to come to Europe - chocolate cereal
For the last couple of days, Cayley and I have just been hanging out around town and checking out the sights. As I said, it’s pretty relaxing here. The town is starting to get all set up for the events (Trials is taking place at various spots downtown… some right in front of restaurant patios!). I’m getting REALLY excited for the race – only 3 more days!!!

Most difficult thing I've had to do so far: figure out how to work the washing machine.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Waking up to the Sound of Music

The day has finally come! As of 8 pm this evening, I will have boarded an airplane to take me to Munich, Germany. After that will be a short (by comparison) bus ride to Saalfelden, Austria. With the combination of the 8 hour flight and the 6 hour time change, I'm desperately hoping to be able to fall asleep as soon as I sit down on the plane. Waking up upon landing would be absolutely ideal... fat chance of that happening. Good thing I've got my trusty neck pillow and creepy-man-diverter pillow courtesy of the Belisles ;)

When I first found out that I'd be travelling to Austria, I had to look up where exactly that was. I knew roughly where it is (attached to Germany... but that didn't help me much. My knowledge of European geography is somewhat lacking). The flight lands in Munich, and then we drive ~160km Southeast to get to the little ski village of Saalfelden, Austria. In case you guys are in the same position as me, here's a map:

I did NOT realize there were so many countries tucked into Eastern Europe.

As behind any athlete, there are a lot of people who helped get me here. I'd like to thank the following people for supporting me on my trip to Worlds - I honestly couldn't have done it with you:

Jim and Dave Smith from Gowanlea Farms
Grandpa and Grandma Smith
Grandma Turner
The Belisles (Cathy, Steph, Kayla, and Spencer)
The Snoddons (Suzanne, Brent, Cal, and Ashley)

Thank you guys SO much! Your support means a lot to me.

I'd also like to mention the rest of my family... my parents and siblings especially. They put up with a lot of stuff in order to support me; my weirdly busy-but-not-busy schedule, last minute planning, stress of waiting for selections, and many other things that get tossed their way. Thank you guys for putting up with me :) Love you guys!

There are many other people who deserve thanks... my coach, the OCA, the CCA, Norco and Havi... I'm slowly learning that so many people play a part in even just one athlete's life. I'd really like to thank Kevin and Norco for getting me and my bike ready to go. Because of them, I'm probably going to be the most prepared racer Mr Scott Kelly has ever seen. You da bomb, Havi.

T-minus 12 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 20 August 2012

my trek to wisconsin

After Buckwallow on Sunday, I rushed back to the 'Bridge to pack and give my bike some TLC before heading to Wisconsin. Team Trek Canada was kind enough to take me on for the week, so we left bright and early on Tuesday morning; Mitch and Cayley in their Trek hats and me with my guard firmly in place against any Trek-ness that may rub off on me (just kidding... but not really). Props to Mitch for driving the whole day to get us to Wisconsin in good time.

I think loving to ride and loving to race are two separate things that don't always go together. Some race courses are so "to the point" (go up this hill and then down it five times) that it wouldn't be very fun to simply ride them - the enjoyment you get from racing them is derived from a weird desire to blow your brains out. More rarely, you have the chance to race a course that is a blast to ride as well as race. Wisconsin was the latter type of race course; tons of swoopy single track, drops, as well as some killer switchback climbs. I was SO stoked to race the Subaru Cup course in Wisconsin.

I was a bit of an anomaly in Wisconsin for the whole weekend. I was the only person riding a Norco, and as such people knew I was Canadian even before talking to me! I was the recipient of tons of cheering on Saturday and Sunday purely for the novelty of being Canadian and riding a Canadian bike.

I had some bad luck on Saturday morning (about an hour before the race) when I realized that my derailleur hanger was bent/cracked and my shifting was really off. Flashback to less than an hour after leaving Barrie on Tuesday morning: "CRAP. I forgot my spare hanger. Oh well, chances are it won't break. It's too late to go back for it anyway". Oh, the irony. Anyways, the guys at Shimano were really nice and got my shifting working, but there was still a huge risk of my hanger snapping if I were to ding it off anything. I was more than a little wary, but I knew there was no sense in letting it throw me off, so I just tried to forget about it.

The XC race was alright (thankfully, my derailleur stayed attached to my bike). I ended up 14th overall, 3rd U23. I felt like I raced passably well - I tried my hardest, but my hardest on Saturday was flat and unimpressive.

The Short Track on Sunday was lightyears better. For those of you who don't know, a short track race is a short loop (1-2km) that we race on for about 18 minutes, plus 3 laps. It can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, and it is the most painful thing I have ever endured. The short track in wisconsin was full of sketchy, loose corners and had a couple punchy climbs.

My legs felt like garbage in warm up (to be expected after almost 2 hours of racing the day before), so I was pretty apprehensive about how the ST was going to feel. Everything changed on the start line, though, and I was ready to crush it. I lost count of how many laps we did - something like 8 or 9 - I just waited for the bell lap to tell me when the race would be over. Once I heard the bell, I made my attack to overtake 6th place and gave everything I had to hold it for the next three minutes. I crossed the line in 6th overall, first U23 and I couldn't have been happier.

Right after the ST, we packed up our stuff and started the drive back to Ontario. All I can say is Mitch is a champ (he drove through the night to make it back to the homeland). Big thanks to Trek for letting me tag along for the week!

Only 2 weeks left till World Championships!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

looks like i gotta work on my garter snakes...

First things first: I can't believe the Olympics are over for another 4 years! I don't know where the last two weeks went. The Olympics are my favourite time of the year (after Christmas, my birthday, thanksgiving, and summer vacay) and it's sad to have to put them away until 2016. I'm really proud of all the Canadians that competed at the Olympics, especially Emily and Catharine. You guys are quite the inspiration!

Aside from being glued to TSN and CTV for the last two weeks, I've been working really hard to get ready for 2012 World Championships. The last two weeks have been pretty tough, but I feel like I'm read to go again! I read a quote a while back (don't know where I read it, or who said it, although I'm making it my mission to find out) that said "You think training's hard? Try losing.". That really hit home; it's once of the things that gets me through really tough workouts (in addition to the desire to improve!) and I can tell you I said it quite a lot in my head during the last stretch of training! Of course, training's not all hard - a bunch of my rides were up on the beautiful roads and trails of Muskoka (so fun!), which definitely makes things easier. Being able to jump in the lake after a ride doesn't hurt either.

Yesterday was the first real test since the Windham WC in July: O-Cup #6 in Buckwallow. Buckwallow and I have an interesting relationship... I haven't raced there since 2010, and that ended with a severely damaged rotator cuff and my first DNF (and only DNF) ever. I suppose you could say that it has been a love/hate relationship. It's really technically challenging, and I LOVE that, but it's also not so fun when you eat it on a rock and break yourself AND your bike.

So, after a disappointing race in Sudbury to say the least, and then having more than a month off racing, I was ready to kill it at Buck. I felt good, despite the hours in my legs, and was excited to ride my bike. I had an alright start, but got stuck behind some people in the single track (I've got to work on getting first wheel!). I rode with some other ladies for the first two laps, but by the 3rd lap we had stretched out and I was riding alone. I rode in for 5th, and was 2nd U23. Not my best performance position-wise, but I felt great, didn't crash (the love/hate relationship is slowly becoming one of just "love") and saw my HR right where it should be. On a side note, I wasn't expecting to have so much upper body fatigue, especially since my dad commented on how jacked my "pythons" were looking... I guess Tav was right when he said "pythons? Yeah right, more like garter snakes". My arms STILL feel like rubber (buckwallow is preeeeetty gnarly) - maybe I should work some dips and curls into my training plan haha. Congrats to everyone else that raced, and good luck at provincials! It's been fun racing with you girls. I also want to give an exceptionally big thank you to Havi and Norco for all the support this year. Can't wait until Crank the Shield to see you guys again!

As you probably know from my previous post, I've been selected to Team Canada for the 2012 World Championships in Austria! As the departure date moves closer (August 29th) I keep getting more and more excited. I'm stoked to have a sick race and experience some European culture. On the flip-side, I'm quickly realizing that the trip poses some potential problems. Heading into second year university at Queen's, I have a lot of expenses that some other racers don't have (tuition, rent, books, etc.) and also am unable to have a job because of classes. The trip to World's is going to cost ~$3000, and I'm struggling to scrape the cash together and still have enough left over to feed myself this semester. If you or anyone you know would be interested in donating or sponsoring me for this trip, let me know (by email <> or phone (647)-203-1315) and I'll get a sponsorship package to you. I would really appreciate any help you can offer!

On that note, I received a very nice surprise from Chico Racing yesterday, in the form of a donation to myself and the other Ontarian riders heading to World's. Chico started a collection, and doubled the amount of donations they received! I was really touched by this kindness, and I can't thank Chico and company (and all those who donated) enough. Chico is a huge supporter of cycling in Ontario, and it was awesome to see and be the recipient of such a level of support. Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you're in seeing the results of the race and/or checking out any of the running and riding events that Chico puts on you can get to their website here.

Sorry for the long-winded post! I'm heading off to Wisconsin tomorrow for the Subaru US Cup, so be sure to check back midweek for an update and some pictures!

Friday, 27 July 2012

a surprising bit of good news!

After a few days of feeling not so hot on the bike, it was awesome to get some good news in the form of an invite to World Championships in Austria this September! I've been hoping all season to be awarded this opportunity and couldn't be more excited that I'll be representing Canada overseas!!! This will be my second worlds in as many years, and will be my first appearance as a U23. As always, thank you so much to everyone who helped get me here: my family, my second family (havi and the team), Norco, my coach, the provincial team, and so many other people.

 I'll spend the next couple weeks getting super pumped to race by watching the Olympics and cheering on all my fellow Canadians! Congrats to everyone who will be traveling to Austria, and good luck to everyone in europe right now :)

 All for now,


Sunday, 1 July 2012

two world cups and the tan lines to prove it

I can't believe it's already July 1st. It's crazy that even though my summers are now twice as long (ahhhhh, the life of a university student), they can still pass five times as fast as they did when I was a kid! Sometimes I wish I could go back and relive those summers; eating far more popsicles than was good for me, and spending way too many hours on the trampoline. I guess since the race season is pretty much over I can do that now!

I've been on the road with Norco for the last couple of weeks, racing Nationals in Quebec and then two World Cups in Monte Sainte Anne, Quebec and Windham, New York. These were my first U23 World Cup appearances, and I am relatively pleased with how they went!

MSA was probably the most fun race I have ever been in. It is a notoriously technical course and one which scared the living daylights out of me in 2011. Somehow, I found the courage I've been lacking for the last couple years (or maybe just turned off the common sense/self preservation switch in my brain?) and rode everything, including the Beatrice, without so much as a hesitation! The course was bone dry right up until the start of the U23 women's race. During warm up there was an absolute downpour that left the roots slick, the single track muddy, and the descents terrifying. Still, it was SO much fun. I felt the best I've felt in a long time and ended up 10th. I was the 4th Canadian. This was definitely short of my goals for the race, but I was not overly disappointed.

Windham was a totally different story. I placed 3rd in the Junior Women's World Cup here last year, and I have a bit of a soft spot for the course. The long, gruelling climb up the mountain is followed by a  fast, dusty descent with minimal technical features to slow the racers down. This year, the start was in the centre of town and added about 1km of paved, double-track climbing to the lap. Watching my teammates Andrew L'Esperance and Andrew Watson off the start definitely pumped me up for my 4:30 pm race. Our start was fast but manageable, and I was able to stick with the top ten all the way up the mountain on the first lap. There were four Canadians racing in a tight pack for the first two laps (AP, Laura Bietola, Cayley Brooks and myself) before we were gradually separated. I felt like I was on fire for the first two laps, before the heat and bonking started to hit me on the third lap. I dropped from 8th to 9th (2nd Canadian to 3rd Canadian), but managed to hold that position for the remainder of the race. I'm proud to say that despite being sick and racing in 30 degree weather I held on 'til the finish! It was an awesome race, and I definitely tested my limits.

As has become a tradition, the team went out for pizza after the race. The only thing that could have made the day better would have been ice cream (it's my post-race addiction)... I guess I'll have to wait until I get home (Kawartha Diary ftw!).

It's back to Canada tomorrow, and the Norco team will separate to our various corners of the Centre of the Universe (and one of us to Newfoundland ;) ). It'll be a sad day tomorrow, saying a temporary goodbye to my teammates. I'm going to miss those guys! I hope everyone has a good Canada day - I can't wait to go home to that awesome country.

Monday, 18 June 2012

If you ain't first, you're fifth

This past weekend was the Canadian MTB Nationals at St. Felicien, Quebec. Having never been to St. Fe before, I was super excited to get on the course and experience what all the hype was about! The course definitely lived up to my expectations; it was fun, fast, and unforgiving. In other words everything that a Nationals course should be. After getting lost a few times on my first lap (getting lost on a fully taped course is one of my specialties) I was ready for a legit lap with my teammate, Mike GP (#greatguy). I've honestly never had as much fun on a pre-ride!

True to my style, I began to get nervous a good 4 days before the race. On the start line, those nerves proved useful and I had a wicked start! Unfortunately, the good start was a short-lived phenomenon, and I rapidly fell back within the field throughout the first lap. I could have used a pair of training wheels during that first lap! I knew I had to turn it around, and I managed to do that (at least partially) during the 2nd and 3rd laps. I made back a few spots, and was riding the technical way more cleanly. I'm sure everyone felt the same way, and by the time the fourth lap rolled around I was cooked. I managed to hang onto the position I was in, but all I could do was survive. It wasn't what I was hoping for, but I raced my heart out and didn't give up!

It's a tough pill to swallow when the success you've been hoping and working for proves elusive. Like most of the U23 female riders in Canada, I was hoping for a podium performance at Nationals. Unfortunately, this didn't happen. I ended up 5th place behind four very deserving young ladies. While I'm not 100% stoked on my ride this weekend, I AM stoked to prove myself these coming weekends at the North American World Cups. I think you can take a defeat one of two ways: you can become discouraged, or you can use the loss as motivation to become a winner in the future. 5th wasn't my goal, but I know that it was a good stepping stone towards placing 1st in future years. I've honestly never been more excited to improve!

My Norco teammates had some sweet races this weekend, with both the Andrews (L'Espy and Watson) placing 9th after tough races in the heat. Brett (aka Princess) had an excellent race for his first year U23. So proud of my boys ;)! The team relay was GTs, as expected. The week in St. Fe was pretty sick; how can it not be when you're living the trailer park life? It's bitter-sweet that Nationals is already over as we move on to the next races, but every weekend offers a new opportunity to crush it and race in different places! I'm loving the cyclist life right now.

Once again, big thanks to Norco, Havy, my coach, and (of course) my parents for getting me everywhere this year! 5 days till the next race - can't wait!!

 So fast I'm blurry (naaat)

 Princess :)

Post-crash Watty 

Lespy crushing the start

Monday, 4 June 2012

First blog post.. woooooooo! hooo.

What's this? Haley Smith has a blog? That's right. As if there isn't already enough junk to sift through on the internet, I've decided to add a little more :). Hopefully you'll find it interesting (or at least not deathly boring)!

My brother recently told me that the best blogs are those that read like diaries; dripping with secrets and an "I don't care what anyone thinks about me" attitude. I'll do my best to make this one of those kinds of blogs, but I'm afraid I'm somewhat lacking in the secret department. Instead, I'll tell you the stories behind my racing results and everything that goes on in between races. And maybe (if you're lucky) I'll come up with a fat, juicy secret from time to time.

This past weekend (yesterday) was the final stop on the XC mountain biking Canada Cup circuit of 2012 (WHAT? The season's OVER?). An unfailingly awesome venue, Hardwood Hills managed to provide a fun and relatively fast course despite the billion mm of rain that fell in the few days before the race. The riders from the earlier start times were coming in pretty clean and free of mud, so I was hoping for good things on the race course. But apparently I jinxed it a few days back, and the skies opened up on us just before the Elite start. The rain turned the course into a slip 'n slide (literally), which was a ton of fun, but made for a pretty long race.

Despite the 1km of false flat double track right off the start, the pack managed to stick together. This made for a frustrating bottleneck upon reaching the first piece of single track. I didn't get the position I was hoping for into that first section, which meant that I was playing catch up for the rest of the race. To be honest, I don't remember much of the specifics of the race. The five 6km laps seemed to meld together in my mind. I remember jockeying for position with Mandy Dreyer and Heather Grey for the majority of the 4th and 5 lap, falling (a lot), and trying but failing to clear the mud out of my eyes, but all in all the race was a bit of a blur. I got stuck behind a couple crashes in the slippery single track, and crashed a few times myself. On the plus side, I had a great start (felt super strong) and managed to gain a few positions from start to finish.

When all was said and done, I finished 3rd U23 and 9th overall. It wasn't the result I was hoping for, but I also can't complain! Cayley Brooks had another awesome race (that girl is on FIRE). Congrats also go out to my Norco teammates for killing it (as usual)! Big thanks to Norco and Uncle Havi for getting us set up for the race and lugging us across the eastern half of the country for the Canada Cup series!

Also this weekend, I attended my first event as a Fast and Female Ambassador! The day was awesome, as myself and the other ambassadors got to share our experiences, ride, and hang out with some awesome young female athletes. Definitely check out Fast and Female if you have a chance!

It seems crazy, but nationals are in less than two weeks now! Going to use the next week and a half for some much needed recovery and therapeutic rides on the trails here in Uxbridge. If you're interested in seeing results from the Canada Cup series check out Cycling Canada, and photos are at Canadian Cyclist.