Monday, October 25, 2010

Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships Seattle
A little bit of gold, a lot of beer but no bacon

Norm and I have wanted to hit the SSCXWC for a few years but it never fit into the "schedule" (read: serious racing). When we heard that Seattle was hosting the race for 2010 we knew it was the year to go and pretty much signed up when it opened. We dropped Tycho for a fun-filled weekend of grandparents and cousins and we crossed the border for a fun-filled weekend of mud and beer. Saturday was the qualifier event which was an alley cat circle tour of (lower?) Seattle with a few checkpoints. The top 4 of each heat would qualify. After watching the first few heats go off I saw 2 guys dressed in drag nearly get taken out by a car, an entire heat of racers blow through a red light without even looking and a couple dudes trying to outrun a train. I wondered how exactly they had gotten insurance for this little not to ask questions I guess.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not strong on the orienteering.... I was a little worried about getting lost so I quickly scouted my heat for Seattle-ites and made sure to keep a close eye on them. In the end it was no problem as there were enough arrows and racers scattered about town I could figure it out. I did however get snaked while standing in the finish chute by a girl who really wanted to say she had beaten Wendy Simms. I guess I should be flattered. I received my race number for Sunday and waited for Norm, the one in the family with a much better sense of direction. Unfortunately for Norm, he flatted and did not qualify so he was pretty bummed...

Sunday we decided to race the MFG series before the SSCXWC - why not? Norm's luck kept getting worse as he had a mechanical in the MFG single speed race (Nathan asked HOW he could possibly have a mechanical with only one gear...) and then had ANOTHER mechanical in the cat 1 master race. He had obviously spent more time on my flash new Ridley's than his own bikes....My race went much smoother as I got to play in the mud with legend Ann Knapp who was the same chipper girl from years past (her traditional war cry on the start line is "lets have FUN ladies!!") and Kristi Berg who I battled with way back during my first Seattle race when I was just getting into the sport.

The skaters at the start - all nice and pretty. Katie Rabien is the real skater on the left (check out her bedazzled outfit) and I am just a wannabe (no bedazzles). photo by Norm Thibault

The start. Note the water balloons being pelted at us from above. I am tucked in behind a skeleton. Or maybe it was strongbad. Either way I did not receive a direct hit. photo by Norm Thibault

Finally at 3:30 it was time for the big show. SSCXWC. As it got closer more people came out of the woodwork with costumes and the beer fumes got stronger. They lined us up at the base of a steep hill and we were off. I tucked in behind a skeleton and Strongbad as the Rad Racing boys started pelting us with water balloons. I scrambled up the hill in good position and starting enjoying the chaos.

For a brief moment I was even ahead of Golden Speedo winner and now 3X SSCX world Champion Drew Mackenzie. photo by Norm Thibault.

The first lap was pretty crazy with some people going out hard, others having costume malfunctions and some even going the wrong way on the course to get good video footage. The mud had gotten pretty thick over the course of the day so there were bodies down all around. We hit the big run-up to the beer ridge where there was a 6 pack of barriers complete with a wall of beer at each one. These eventually got smashed down and became "floating" barriers that moved every lap. Coolers full of beer were being splashed on everyone by drunk spectators so the entire ridge smelt like a brewery. Apparently I have to work on my beer hand-up as I missed a couple but eventually started completing the transaction. I kept looking for the bacon station but apparently the drunks were not able to work with fire at that point in the day. I passed chickens, wrestlers, santa, saquatches, speedos and pretty much everything in between. I rolled in first girl (although I am not sure how they could tell anyone apart) and earned myself the golden bikini (well more like an 80s style one piece), a SSCXWC heavyweight belt, a custom frame and a SSCXWC tatoo to make it legit. It should go nicely with the white trash panther I got when I was 17. Not too bad for the first race on my new Ridley singlespeed. Maybe Stybar should come challenge Drew next year.

SSCX world champions for 2010 Drew Mackenzie and Wendy Simms (both from Vancouver Island much to the dismay of the Seattle singlespeed hardcores) photo by Norm Thibault

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yes its true...after 5 years of flying the orange flag I have a new sponsor - RIDLEY! I wasn't feeling a lot of love from the orange camp so I started looking at my options. There was no doubt in my mind that Ridley would be a perfect fit for me. The company is Belgian, I LOVE Belgian chocolate! The company is named after Ridley Scott (the director), we were going to name our KID Ridley! Ridley Scott has a kid named Noah. I have a nephew named NOAH! The World Champion Stybar rides a Ridley, I think Stybar is HOT! Sue Butler and the Subaru Hudz team ride Ridley X-fires, I want to show up Sue and ride Ridley X-nights! Ridley colours are red, white and black, I look GREAT in red, white and black! Kevin Bacon is white, I LOVE bacon, the gateway meat. 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon separation. It was meant to be.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I was a little nervous about how I would fare my first weekend back racing cross after a year on the sidelines. I was hoping to do a local race to get the kinks out before the UCI season started but it was not meant to be. Nothing like making Star Crossed your comeback race to put a little fear into your training. It is one of my favorite events because the racing is competitive, the course is fun and the fans are rowdy (if you trip up in the barriers the drunks in the beer garden show no mercy and spray beer all over you while they mock you). Better make sure I screw up in the darker portions of the course.

I knew I was fit (good for the last lap) and strong (good for the first lap) but wasn't sure how my body would react to the distinct pain of lap 2 when you have burned a bunch of your matches off the line but haven't quite settled into a rhythm. I didn't have any UCI points so I was definitely going to be burning some matches.

The weather was perfect, and when I say perfect I mean wet and muddy. On and off torrential downpours throughout the weekend.

My goal was a podium finish and I managed a pair of second place finishes against the powerhorse Katerina Nash (LUNA) so it was a solid starting point to the season. Norm met me at the finish line with a big grin and said "well, I guess that answers THAT question."

No race report can tell a story like the photos of Joe Sales ( so I will shut up now...

Rad Racing GP. Katerina Nash (LUNA) leads out the sand pit by the beer garden in the pouring rain. Photo by Joe Sales

Rad Racing GP. Me (5'10) trying to get a bit of draft off Katerina Nash (5'6?). Photo by Joe Sales

Star Crossed. Heading into the velodrome in the pouring rain. Photo by Joe Sales

Star Crossed. Always a few Canadian flags in the crowd. Don't screw up, don't screw up..... Photo by Joe Sales

Star Crossed. Pretty much the coolest picture. Photo by Joe Sales

Monday, September 6, 2010

T4 - Tim and Tycho's Tickleberry Triathlon

Ironman Canada weekend up in Penticton. NO, I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR 2011. Geez enough with the question. But yes Norm did (nutjob).

It was a heavy spectating weekend as always BUT we did a little event of our own. The first ever T4 (Tim and Tycho's Tickleberry Triathon).

Tim's brainchild:
LEG 1: ride the Chariot around Skaha lake
LEG 2: stop at Tickleberry's for some ice cream
LEG 3: tube down the channel (but this year had to be substituted for skinny dip in Skaha Lake since it was too cold to tube)

Uncle Tim and Tycho at Skaha Lake

Norm was in line signing up for 2011 so he had to miss the first 2 legs of the T4 but he met us for the glory lap.

Tycho skinny dipping in Skaha Lake to make sure he got the participant medal.

Norm and Tycho - professional Ironman spectators.

Assault on Mount Benson

We finally got a chance to hike up Mount Benson this summer! Benson is our local version of Vancouver's Grouse Grind but its less manicured, less traveled and there is no gondola to take you down so the legs are usually a little crippled after the return trip. The last time I hiked Benson I was 6 months pregnant so this summer it seemed like a breeze, although Norm couldn't say the same since he packed the 25lbs of dead weight up (Tycho). Marty even got to join us. At 14 years old he needed a few boosts up the steep stuff but he added the summit to his resume nonetheless.

Views of Nanaimo from top of Mount Benson.

Tycho taking the easy way up. His first summit "ex" - utero

Marty with his first summit as a fourteen year old puppy.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Trans Rockies

Some time in February, 2 or 3 months after Tycho was born, I decided that I needed a race goal to get back in shape. For me, this means signing up for a race that scares the crap out of me so I have to get my butt off the couch and train even when its dark and farty outside. I didn't want to set my goals TOO high for MTB season since I had no idea how my body would respond post-baby. But I definetely wanted my fitness back for cross season. The best way I know how to get in shape for cross is to cram buttloads of hours into August, follow it with speed work and running, then fine tune everything as I race into shape. With that recipe, the perfect race goal was Trans Rockies - 7 days of racing through the Rockies in August. Lucky for us they honoured our free entry from our 2008 win, Rollin said he was in for support, my parents said they were in for baby duty and suddenly we had more than enough reason to squeeze in a few more rides each week. I thought the training would be the hardest part but I was wrong....

Day 0
We drove for 2 days to get to Fernie, registered, met my parents (who had flown in from Ottawa a few days before) and set up our camp in the high school lot. Everyone was a bit cranky and tired. Tycho had a cold, I was getting his cold and my dad had a different cold. Germ Awares like myself and Norm knew we were doomed. Stage racing is gard enough healthy. We went for a spin to flush out the cobwebs and got back just in time for an absolute downpour to flood our campsite. As we were trying to sort out cooking and sleeping arrangements in our van/borrowed pop up trailer (thanks Wally!) I wondered what the hell possessed me to do the Trans Rockies with a baby? Was I an absolute IDIOT? I didn't share these thoughts with the crew...

Day 1 Fernie to Fernie TTT - 31km
We thought we were pretty lucky to get an early start time for the team time trial. We were wrong. It rained all night and we had a mudfest course to deal with. To top it off we were the rabbits for our competition. I had some chain suck issues almost immediately and I probably could have climbed faster on my CCM Scamp when I was a portly 10 year old nicknamed Seacow. Mical and Jeff started 30sec back and caught us within 1-2km and Gretchen and Cannon started a minute back and caught us within 2-3km. You do the math on a ~500km race. Ouch. That stings. But I sorted it all out by the downhill when I realized I had to drop the competetive side of my brain if I was going to get through the week and have some fun. Sweet Fernie singletrack was a good place to start. When we finished we were so covered in mud that people in the street looked at us in horror. 3rd place finish but two pretty shattered egos.

Day 2 Fernie to Sparwood/Elkford - 71km
The circuitry in my brain is hard to rewire as I had a fast start and followed the right wheels to get in with the lead group for the opening fire road. But I was pinning it and it was only the first 5km of a loooong 71km stage. oops. Time to slip back to a more manageable group for my training. A steady climb before we hit the long steep fun descent. But Norm yelled out that his brakes weren't working. I could smell something burning and then some hot mangled piece of metal popped off his bike in the shape of a swan. It was his rear brake rotor. Uh oh. Poor Norm had to run/coast most of the 7km descent. 3rd place finish but 4+hours of bike repairs and definitely 2 bruised egos as the other 2 Open Mixed Teams seemed out of reach already. But we had a great camp site by the river and it was sunny (mostly).

Day 3 Elkford to Etherington Creek - 65km
More rain overnight and a recently graded fireroad meant that this opening ride with the group was a mess. Slick mud, high speeds and a big group of mountain bikers is never a good thing. But we managed to stay out of trouble and felt reasonably good and so we were rewarded with a giant hike a bike that opened up to unbelievable views. A fun descent and we saw the Tokyo Joe's team and even managed to make up a few minutes on them. 2nd place finish, higher spirits and another great campsite.

Day 4 Etherington Creek to Anchor D Ranch - 60km
We thought there might be a more mellow start today with the TR3 crew heading home but chatter around camp was that there was only 2km of road before the opening singletrack so Norm warned me I had to "BE AGGRESSIVE". I started fast and went into the singletrack top 10. Sweet! Mical and Jeff were towing the train but I still had them in my sights. Norm is a great starter so I always assume he is on my heels. But I hit the road and no Norm. I had to let the lead group go. Bye-bye. Sniff. I let the chase group go. No Norm. No Norm. I circled around and around and around until he finally showed up and let out a huge groan. "NOOOOOOO I thought you were BEHIND me!" apparently my white Frontrunners kit isn't as distinctive as the orange Kona and he was soft pedalling waiting for me to catch him. We chased through the mud and cow poop all day but Mical and Jeff were long gone. 2nd place but riding stronger.

Day 5 Anchor D Ranch to Little Elbow -54km
More rain (and hail) on the ranchland meant more liquid cow poop. Norm and I are mudders so we just put our heads down and ploughed through. We had originally thought "only 54km, should be an easy day" but again we were wrong. I got delerious at one point and made up a story about how I was vacationing in Hawaii and getting the mud treatment at the spa that day. This was after I had stopped drinking my water because there was so much cow feces on my bottle that I would take dehydration over bacterial infection of my bowels. 2nd place and riding strong but cold rain soon followed and rumour was there was fresh snow on the peaks.

Day 6 Little Elbow to Rafter 6 Ranch - 72kmThe TR website described day 6 as: the “Queen Stage” will be one of the funnest days you will have on a mountain bike. However it ended up as the hardest, most hellish day I have ever had on a bike. We knew this was going to be a super tough day even before the elements turned on us. Longest stage with the most climbing is never easy but listening to the rain all night we knew it would be a whole new level of survival - there would be people cracking today for sure. Lucky for us we seem to excel in crappy conditions but sometimes I wish I was a sunny warm day race specialist as opposed to a shit weather specialist. Dressing for the day was hard enough - I ended up with thermal knees, 2 x undershirts, arms, jersey, winter gloves, rain jacket with an emergency tuque and extra vest packed but everything was soaked within minutes. We were cold and wet but it was all manageable until we hit the exposed area at the top of the mountain which had 50km/hr winds and sub 5C temps. Descending would have been fun on a nice warm day but my hands weren't functioning and I was having a hard time focussing so we had to stop in the trees to put everything we had on. I gave up on eating with my club hands at about 35kms and barely drank. Checkpoint 2 had a warming tent but i knew if I went in I would never come out so we kept moving and ended up winning the stage for Open Mixed and 6th overall but it had taken its toll on our bikes. Norm spent about 4 hours working on my bike - new brake pads, rebuilt pedals, new cables, new bushings for my rear shock, new casette, and the fork was seized but he couldnt do much about that. He thought about changing the chain but figured it would be fine as it was only 6 days old...... He gave up on his own bike and decided to just race his back up bike for day 7.

Day 7 Rafter 6 Ranch to Canmore - 46km
Well we should have changed the chain as I busted it 3 X and had to baby it in to the finish so what could have been a solid finish for us ended up as just a fun ride through Canmore to end off a tough week of racing. And as always the best way to end a tough ride is with a plate of poutine.

Thanks to Rollin, Lizzie and Geo - our awesome support crew - we couldn't have done it without you guys and thanks to and Tycho for being such a trooper! Oh the stories we will tell....

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Chariot bike ride!!

We have been soooo good. But we couldn't wait any longer! I know "they" recommend you wait a year until you tow your wee one behind a bike (probably because they are no helmets that fit) but we just had to take Tycho out for his first spin when summer showed up. It wouldn't be very fun to wait until December when the weather is crap. So we put the bike conversion kit on my Kona PhD (aka the preggermobile) and went out for our first family bike ride with the Chariot!! wahoo!!

The PhD will be towing the Chariot on a daily basis when I go back to work

Tycho didnt stay awake very long. He is pretty used to the Chariot by now - he has been in the carrier for skiing and running since he was only a few weeks old.

Norm had to take a turn

Thursday, July 8, 2010


People keep asking me how Norm and I could race BC Bike Race with a 7 month old baby. No, we didn't put Tycho in a baby kennel for the week. No, Marty didn't babysit him. No, we didn't leave him in the van with the windows cracked while we raced. Norms neice Hope traveled with us for the week and took care of Tycho while we raced. She was awesome! The oldest of more than a dozen cousins, Hope has more baby experience than I do and is amazing with kids. We were sad to say bye to her at the end of the week and poor Tycho is in Hope withdrawl. Thanks Hope!