Saturday, 18 May 2013

Juste de l'eau pour moi, s'il vous plait

After almost a week in beautiful Germany, I can safely say that I love it here; everyone is so friendly, and the scenery is breathtaking! If I had to describe this region of Germany in one word I would say "cozy"... I ain't hatin' it.

We arrived in the little town of Jungingen, about 10km away from the race venue in Albstadt, on Tuesday evening. The team headed out for a quick spin down to the venue and back to check out what we were dealing with. All it served to do was whet my appetite for the following day's laps!

Wednesday was the day for course reconn: it appeared to be in mint condition, maybe a little slick but fast and fun. The climbing was steep, the descending was steep... you get the picture. A few technical features added some excitement and kept me from being too bitter about the climbs. The rain started on Thursday and quickly turned the course into a slip'n'slide (still a ton of fun) and continued on through Friday. Kenda Karmas were the perfect tire choice for the conditions... even when I had the bike completely sideways, they pulled me back upright.

Friday night saw the Canadian National team entering their first ever eliminator race! Qualifying rounds took place in the early evening, followed by some intense heats on the 800m course. ALN and Raph came out as the top Canadians, with Raph managing a 4th place and a podium spot. Well done guys!

Miraculously, the course dried up almost entirely for the start of the U23 women's race at 1:00pm on Saturday afternoon. The race was short - only 4 laps and no start loop (yes, it WAS bizarre) - and the start was fast. As predicted, it bottlenecked about 500m into the lap, and the majority of the field was off their bikes and running the steep single track hill. I was pretty aggressive off the start, but I was a little nervous when girls started kicking my wheels and stepping on my heels (points for rhyming?). Those girls can get INTENSE.

The first lap was mostly spent trying to get clear of traffic, and I was able to do that relatively well. Things opened up in front of me on the second lap and I was able to gain some time on the descents (which were the only sections of the course that remained muddy). The race went by really quickly, and I just focused on picking off one girl at a time. I went down twice and have some pretty mean bruises as evidence... but for the most part, I managed to keep it upright! I am really happy with how my race went, finishing 16th in U23 - my best race on European soil to date!

Cayley and ALN killed it as well, finishing 20th and 24th respectively. Proud to wear the same colours as those girls. Mitch, Leandre and Jeremy had solid days as well, finishing 36th, 45th, and 49th. Excellent day for Team Canada! Full results can be found at Canadian Cyclist. Big thanks to the staff with Cycling Canada for having our bikes and bodies so finely tuned for the race today. It really couldn't have been done without you guys! Also a huge thanks to Norco, Shimano, Kenda and Rockshox for having my bike pimped out for the race.

Next up on the agenda are the Elite races tomorrow, before we pack up and head on out to the Czech Republic for round 2! Here are some pictures of the journey to date:

Canadian headquarters for the week

Is it odd that I really want this tractor?

Cayley Brooks and I repping our homeland.

Happy morning... happy eggs? Courtesy of the hotel manager. Again, the people here are so friendly!

My bike after preriding on Friday afternoon. It was a little soupy, to say the least. Huge props to the mechanics for having us race ready within minutes for the eliminator!

Jeremy crushin it in the U23 men's race.
Leandre not even losing any time as he runs and fixes his chain at the same time. Definition of calm, cool, and collected.  
Mitch powering up one of the many uphills. Great work boys!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Spring time in the 'Bridge

Spring is one of my favourite times to be in Uxbridge. Everything is coming into bloom, the trails are in mint condition, and the excited air of impending summer vacation has not yet turned to boredom among the university students. While it's been short-lived, my spring in Uxbridge has been one of the best yet!

Right after Sea Otter, I came home to prep for the first OCup of the year, which was in my hometown of Uxbridge! The course is basically in my back yard (only takes ten minutes to ride to the start line... but let's face it, it only takes ten minutes to ride anywhere in Uxbridge), so it was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed on race weekend! On Saturday we raced the first ever Ontario Cup Eliminator, which was pretty fun. A lot of the Quebecers made the trip out for the weekend, so the competition was stiff and it made for some exciting racing. It was good to get some practice in racing an eliminator, seeing as I'll be doing a couple of those in the weeks to come at the world cups! The biggest lesson I learned = the start is KEY.

On Sunday we had the XC race. We couldn't have had better weather, and the course was in PERFECT condition. I felt alright throughout the race, but didn't feel spectacular. Man, the Ontario field is unrelenting! There is no room to have a bad day when you're racing these girls; one misstep and you are overtaken! It's pretty cool that we have such a strong and fast field of women in Ontario, it makes the racing so much more fun. Laura Bietola took the win for the weekend, with Cayley Brooks in 2nd and Sue Haviland in 3rd. I finished a close fourth, with some improvements to make and ground to gain. Big thanks to Havy and Norco for getting me set up for the race season and taking so much time to ensure we were ready to rock over the last two weekends!

The following weekend was the OCA U15 camp at Hardwood Hills. We had over 60 kids (!) come out for a day of riding, skills development and fun. It was so cool to see so many kids on mountain bikes, and especially to have so many girls out.

We bling-ed the girls (and Peter Glassford) out in ribbons for the day
Some interesting techniques were employed for bike limbo
I tried my hand at the bike limbo as well... turns out I can get pretty small for a 5'7" girl on a 29er!
The girls attentively listening to Simmer's advice on how to rip single track. 

This past Thursday night, I headed down to TO to attend the Morning Glory Cycling Club pub night. They are an incredible group who are so supportive of cycling, and I feel honoured to have their support for the 2013 season! It was nice to meet so many people from the club, and I hope they all enjoy the summer on their bikes!

Interspersed among the fun-filled weekends were my little sister's prom (the kid's all grown up!), her 18th birthday, a demo with Norco and Evolution Cycles, a lot of high-quality training, and even some laying on the deck and drowning-chipmunk-saving thrown in there. All in all, it's been an amazing spring so far, with lots of time on the bike and with my family. I feel so lucky to live here and am stoked that I got to have a few solid weeks at home. I'm off to Europe tomorrow for the first two world cups in Germany and Czech Republic and I couldn't be more excited to race my first Euro world cups as a U23!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Excuse the food picture (at least it's not on instagram), but these were DELICIOUS. Think peanut butter cheesecake wrapped in velvety smooth dark chocolate. 

I wish I looked half as good as my sister did at her prom!