Monday, December 31, 2007

Tourist time

Just another sunny day in Belgium


Natasha enjoying her yummy waffles

We finally had a few days down time after 5 races in 8 days.  Barb was gimped out with her torn achilles in a cast, Natasha was favouring her swollen, black wrist (not yet X-rayed to confirm it was broken), Derrick was oozing out his nose with a sinus infection (now addicted to nasal spray) and I was pretty tired so I declared Sunday a day off. I figured since I was the last one standing I shouldn't flaunt it and push my luck. Otherwise bad karma might shove me down our ridiculously steep marble stairs (made for midgets) and crack my head open. Besides, with Nathan, Lesley and Kevin headed home, Derrick and Natasha on their way out Monday, we needed to socialize while we still had the opportunity. Barb and I hadn't run out of mindless chatter yet but it was possible, just like GM is convinced there is and end to the internet highway. To top it off, it was actually sunny and pretty warm - the Begians weren't sure what the hell had happened but everyone was outside enjoying the weather, squinting into the big yellow orb. So we headed into Brugge to play tourist. 

Derrick and Natasha were looking for presents to bring back home and I had told them about my favourite Belgian chocolates - Leonitas. Well, Bernard overheard me and told me that the BEST Belgian chocolate was Neuhaus. I called a chocolate tasting "choc-off" to make sure that Natasha and Derrick were bringing back only the best for their supporters. Am I not a good friend?? 

Apparently everyone in the area was headed to Brugge for the day so we had to park a bit out from the centrum. Barb had prepared her foot for the outing with a knee warmer toe cover and a ziplock. But she hadn't planned on using her gimp sticks over long distances so she started to sweat. After a few rest stops and a waffle stop we made it to the centrum. It was packed! They had a skating rink in the middle of the market square and as Nathan had mentioned, the Belgians might laugh at us in cyclocross but we don't have much to worry about them in the skating disciplines. Brugge (aka the Venice of the north) was beautiful with cobble roads and brick houses lining every street. Canals snaked through the town with brick bridges everywhere.  

But back to the important stuff - chocolate. We found Leonitas and prepared to order some individual chocolates BUT the lady proceeded to cough into her hand so we changed our minds and got a mixed sample bag of truffles and chocolates. Luckily Barb is "germ aware" just like me. She even has a UV toothbrush travel container and talks about investing in the $200 portable UV scanner for public surfaces. After catching the "plague" (an unknown mono-like virus that took her out for a year) in Belgium 2 years ago, she is pretty germ aware. Off we went to find Neuhaus. With the help of a chocolate assistant (wearing cloth gloves) I picked a few tasty treats to try and just about wet my pants. This Neuhaus chocolate made Leonitas taste like a Mars bar. WOW. It was amazing.....until we all had a MAJOR sugar crash at 4:43pm. 

We stumbled back to the Cycling Center in a sugar coma just in time to catch the Superprestige cyclocross race on TV. The entire race. No commercials. Sven Nys won. Then Barb made us  a yummy (even if it didn't have meat) coconut curry. A few  more chocolate to end on sweet. Trash North American magazines. Then off to bed. Life is good. 

Saturday, December 29, 2007


FRITUURS!



Timmy! fights J -j-j-jimmy! Who would win with Barb in the mix??? That is the question...

Ryan Trebon on the whoops at Azencross


The Belgian fans at the Hofstade world cup (note the big screen TV at the back!)

Me riding the sand (the poor man's mud) at the Hofstafe World Cup


Wendy and Barb helping Kevin Hazzard (Jet Fuel) get ready for the Hofstade world cup

Our Cycling Center pit crew: Noel, Ann, Bernard

Euro assault #2
Not your typical Christmas week. No turkey. No cookies. No carols. But we did manage to catch the Simpson's Xmas special on TV - in English, so we can't complain too much. Instead of the traditional family Christmas, ours was filled with a lot of  mud, sand, grit, fritturs with mayo, pain,  suffering, and unfortunately, a trip to the local hospital.

Hofstade World Cup
Christmas day we all slept in, did laundry and then went to Hofstade to pre-ride the World Cup course. We were all moving pretty slowly...a little tired from our 3 races in a row off the plane. The managers meeting was Christmas night. hmmm. I guess they value cyclocross more than family dinner here in Belgium. The course was one giant sand box. Really deep sand and then minimal recovery before the next sand section. I felt pretty good pre-riding but I would soon find out that although I consider myself a decent sand rider in North America, the euros put me to shame. 

It had poured all night so race day was a different story. The sand was heavy, the mud was slick and my legs were flat. I pre-rode the course and never got out of my granny ring. Bad sign. With all the big wigs on the line, I was third row. Not ideal but better than previous years. I had a decent start and made it through the bottlenecks in top 10. But once we got to the sand sections I just didnt have any power. My legs protested but I was stubborn. I should have gotten off and run the sand because it was faster than my riding. So stubborn. I should have taken a bike every lap because my bike weighed a ton. But I was so scribbled I wasn't thinking straight and it cost me a lot of spots. I lost 5 spots. Only 2 seconds but I had no fight in me and lost them all on the last lap to end up 18th. Maybe that third race on Sunday was a little too much before the world cup......

Broken Barbarella
So my travel buddy Barb Howe (Velo Bella - Kona) had a much worse day than me. She was riding well, moving up with 2 laps to go when she jumped off her bike to run a steep hill and heard "pop" . She tried to take a step and collapsed. Turns out she tore her achilles. Ouch. I went to the ambulance after my race but she was taken away to spend 2+ hours in a waiting room by herself, muddy, in her bike shammy, where everyone speaks Flemish. When we were packed up and called the hospital she was about to go into surgery. We finally got to see her at 10pm that night. She was pretty drugged up and groggy, with a big heavy old school cast on her leg but pretty happy to see us. She had taken notes after the surgery: where am I? who won the race? can someone bring me chapstick? and beer. and stroopenwaffels (tasty mini waffles filled with caramel, a yummy Dutch treat. mmmmmmmm). They released her the next day with some walking sticks so when she trips on them we call her TIMMY!!! Seriously though she is staying pretty positive all things considered. I am impressed. I am sure I would be a cow to live with after that.

Azencross
I wasn't sure if I should even race after my pffflat Hofstade race and then spending hours in the car going back and forth to the hospital but it looked like a fun course with some BMX style whoop-de-doos, cobbles and mud. Unfortunately our CC buddy Natasha Elliott (Stevens) crashed in the warm up and her wrist was ballooning and darkening at an alarming rate so I was the last one standing for this event. I had a pretty slow start. The girls seemed excessively aggressive and I was losing spots fast in the opening corners. But we hit the sloppy thick mud that I had decided to run it (what I SHOULD have done at the world cup) so I went right when everyone else went left, and got back up with the lead group. Hell, I somehow found myself on Hanka Kupfernagels wheel at the end of the lap and I still don't know how that happened because I was suffering like a dog. She dropped me in the mud so I fell back to the big chase group. I was dangling off the back of the chase group in about 8th for a couple of laps wondering how long I could last. I was tired. But at some point we dropped Daphne van den Brand and the pace eased up a bit so I got a chance to pull myself together. Until the last lap when somehow I was leading the chase group. Saskia (Kona) tried to get us to attack and get away but she had more energy left than I did and got a small gap, without me. I fell back in behind Helen Wyman to let her lead me out for the 4th place sprint and managed to take it over her and the Belgian National champ who had the most cheers from the 20,000 Belgian fans, many of who were absolutely hammered throwing their beer cups at us on the course. 
Now I have a much deserved rest. 

 

Monday, December 24, 2007




The Cycling Center in Hertsberge

The Kona Queen Ann bikes MADE us stop at the bakery for a treat! Let me describe it to you: a pastry boat bottom, custard filling covered with chocolate. Ooooooh so tasty.

The SMOG. A mixture of fog and diesel pollution - everyone was afraid of it. Especially all the spiders that got killed off...

Returning the car we stumbled onto this crazy indoor "ski hill", a moving white carpet with a bar. Jen Tilley would say: Huh.




Down time. 

Today is rest day. I made a list of priorities: DONT GET SICK. Sleep. Water. Stretch. Laundry. Massage. Groceries. Bike wash and tune up. Inventory of the damage. 

The damage.
Three races in 3 days. One too many?? We shall see soon enough. If a cold takes hold then the answer will be yes. But I am drinking enough Vitamin C to kill a small donkey, sucking on cepacol's like they are candy canes, washing my hands raw, dik bleeking (bleaching) the hell out of the kitchen,  and wearing so many Helly Hansen thermal layers that I am starting to sweat. Barb spent 40euros on herbal remedies. Cross your fingers for us.

I almost had a heart attack when I saw a long skinny line on my Queen Ann (brand new frame after my simms2 frame was dented in transit on the way to Toronto). On closer inspection it looks like its just the paint that is cracked. Maybe because it was so frickin' cold  it froze?? 

Huijbergen CX
Day 2 of racing was outside of Antwerpen. After my slip on the ice at Schedecross yesterday my hip was pretty sore. We were in general, less giddy and  more sore and tired. But the course was super fun so you couldn't help but perk up after a preride. Lots of twisty trails through the woods, a sand run up, a steep run up (that some men could ride) and a couple uphills that most girls could ride. Oh yeah, and this horrible frozen cow pasture that you hit SO hard after a sand descent. I added 4psi more than normal to my tires so I wouldnt bottom out but you just had to hold on for dear life and pray not to crack a wheel for the 15sec you were crossing frozen divet, after divet, after divet. The Riverside girls had made it to europe so there were a few more familiar faces preriding.

I also met the new euro Kona CX rider, Saskia, just before the start and gave her a couple of Kona-yourkey.com skinsuits. I got called up to the start right beside her. She has been having a great season, closing in on Daphne. But I am pretty sure her friend was making fun of my long sox on the start line....

I had a great start and went into the dirt second, staring at the very same orange skinsuit I had just given Saskia...hmm. What do I do? I can't really chase down my new teammate, but we didn't talk about any strategy. I held back a little bit to see if she would try to go for it off the front. Eventually Daphne took second wheel, and the others swarmed so I ended up at the back of the lead group of 5. They race so aggresssively here you have to fight to hold your position, not just fight to move forward. I stayed with the group for the first half of the race but I was working hard catching up on the open sections. Daphne eventually went off the front and I popped out of my pedal on a frozen bumpy section and got dropped. I chased, just a few seconds off the group for the rest of the race but could not close the gap. 5th place.

GP Montferland, Zeddam
Zeddam was the site of the 2005 World Championships so it felt like we were going somewhere familiar when we left for our 3 hour drive at 7:30am. We were all pretty tired and sore after 2 days of racing. But I vowed to have a good warm up and race hard to make it 3 for 3. The course was pretty open and fast with a big stair run-up. I jumped on course after the junior race and happened to be riding behind wee Daphne van den Brand. She told me the run-up was 100steps, then turned to look at me and saw how tall I was and said "for you, 50 steps." FINALLY a course that requires some running. I have done more running this year and have been feeling pretty strong on foot but I haven't had much chance to pull it out of my bag of tricks.

I had another good start and went into the dirt 2nd. But I was swarmed right away and went through the pits with the lead group of 6-8. Reza H-R ( also known as "raging hormones" by some) went off the front right away and her teammate Daphne kept us at bay. We got to the steps and our chase group pulled away from the masses. Barb said there was an actual FIGHT on the steps behind us as 3 girls stopped dead and started going at it.  That maaaaay have contributed to us getting away.  

Brit Helen Wyman led the chase group for most of the race with Daphne second wheel. I got around Saskia after the steps and I battled with a tall skinny agro girl. She would chop me at a corner then I would snake in for third wheel after the figure 8 up and over monstrosity. Daphne attacked a few times and eventually got away and I was left with Helen pulling me around. Perfect. i was planning my sprint finale with 1/4 lap to go when I found myself in front after she screwed up a corner. Uh-oh. Change of plans. I couldnt lead out the long sprint so I decided to try to drop her on the twisty section. It was going well until I slipped out on a thawing corner and Helen passed me and then Saskia passed me. Dammit! I could have been on a european podium but lost my chance....instead, another 5th place and a dirty skinsuit.

Sidenotes:
-3 races and NO barriers. Interesting.....
-I got my picture taken with world champion Erwin Vervecken! Barb knew him from the New York race and was chatting with him before I punched her in the back and said innocently "who is your friend??"
-Poor Nathan broke a bone in his hand after some dude crashed right in front of him and he went down
-Jeremy Powers was LEADING the mens race at one point!
-Ryan Trebon's is still be having back problems after his spectacular Nationals crash....
-The North Americans chiquitas are taking euro cross by storm, 5 girls in the top 15 at Zeddam
-The local TV station interviewed me after the race! Barb, Natasha and I were running around ringing our cowbells so we were pretty obvious....
-A few Xmas tunes on the radio yesterday but we have not been BOMBARDED with Xmas like we usually are at home


Friday, December 21, 2007

Euro assault#1


Just returned from our first race of 3 in 3 days .....

Travel
The trip over here was pretty smooth - especially when I got bumped to FIRST CLASS on the Vancouver-London route. They kissed my butt with red wine and cheese platters, salmon frittatas and artichoke pesto pasta. Not too shabby!! Call me 5-star. I didnt really sleep but my elevated legs sure felt a hell of a lot better than if i had been crammed back in peon class. Great start to the trip. My bikes made it there (minus one broken spoke on my FSA wheels...guess i shouldnt have been so smug about Norm fitting an extra set of wheels into my bike case). Rented a small car but it got upgraded to a premium Passat wagon! Nice. I got all my luggage and made my way to the Cycling Center in Hertsberge near Brugge. I was feeling pretty good about it all. I have come a long way. I would have been terrified to do this solo journey a few years ago but I am starting to feel pretty comfortable here in Belgie.  Bernard and Ann from the Cycling Center were surprised to see me as they hadn't heard from me at all. I guess they are used to dealing with junior boys who end up in Paris by mistake.....true story

Cycling Center
This place kicks ass. It is a huge house set up for road teams to rent so it has every thing you could possibly need as a cyclist. Huge vans for hire along with mechanics and massage therapists. Trainers, steam room, sauna, HEATED garage to work on your bikes, a million laundry machines, internet, projector screen for movies, 3 kitchens, dinner after races if you so desire, a bakery around the corner etc etc. This place is awesome! I rented a room with Barb Howe (Velo Bella-Kona) but there are a few other North Americans here and we already feel pretty knit: Nathan Chown (Handlebars CC) and his wife Leslie, Natasha Elliott (Stevens), Derek St john (Cyclery) and Kevin Hazzard (JetFuel) who has been in a homestay in Holland for a month and I think was in desperate need of some North American culture. More on this place later.....

adventures on day 2 (fake ski hills, gratis knuffles (free hugs), and more) refer to Barb Howe's diary on cyclingnews.com

Scheldecross
I hadn't switched my internal clock very smoothly this trip (maybe my first class flight made me soft??) so I wasn't sure how I would feel for this race. plus it was really really cold. -4C and foggy and wet. Although they call it "SMOG" here. warnings everywhere. Their SMOG seems pretty harmless compared to brown Toronto smog but they make everyone drive slower in smog. We rented a van from Bernard and hired him and Noel as mechanics for 6 of us. 20mins later he had a printed schedule of the day. The time HE was going to pack the van (sweet!), time to leave, travel time, race times, departure times, cost. Holy crap, I think this dude had done this once or twice (and with junior boys so it had to be very detailed). He even planned that his wife Ann cook for us so we could have dinner ready when we returned. 

The race was chaos at the start. It was quite possibly the worst false start I have ever seen because and it was slow motion and lasted about 30seconds. First off, the girls swarmed second line after I was called up (in my new thermal National Champ skinsuit - thanks Verge!) so we were about 14 people across (normally 8). The starter was yapping away in Flemish. No clue what he was saying but my excellent body language interpretation gave me the heads up when the gun should go soon. But the girls started to inch forward and forward and suddenly they did a feeble start (I guess the gun clicked - misfire). A few sprinted full boar, a few rolled forward a few stayed still and everything in between. It was stretched out and then, the gun went off. I had started winding up my start (after I realized I would be screwed if I didnt move) when the gun went, which I thought was calling us back so I braked but by then the race had started. Half the girls were at the first corner and the other half were stretched out back to the start line. Hmm. So I started racing. When you start near the back of the pack its easy to pick off girls. in the corners, in the sand traps. I was feeling pretty good then I found myself on Hanka Kupfernagel's wheel (previous world champion!). I saw Barb close behind and secretly wish she could see me on Hanka's  wheel! I thought I was about top ten but on a switchback I started counting and I was 4th! Hanka eventually time trialled away and I raced in 4th on my own getting colder and colder. My hands were useless and my running was wobbly but I held onto 4th. I crashed in the last corner and just about lost 4th but pulled it together just in time. Now I am icing my butt (left side - always..) hoping I will sleep soundly tonight. Gottah get my bikes organized and repeat tomorrow. 

maybe some photos tomorrow. 







Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Portland US Gran Prix of cyclocross mudfest




The Portland scene
Portland is a pretty funky town. I really like it, although everytime I go to Portland its absolutely pissing down rain. But that doesn't seem to stop the locals. People still commute by bike in their tight little hipster jeans, with their recycled plastic courier bags on their old skool ten speeds. We stayed in the Ace Hotel right downtown so we got to do some solid post-race people watching. With a Stumptown coffee in the front lounge, a little library on floor 1.5, arsty minimalist rooms and styley people scattered everywhere it was a nice change from the carbon copy hotels where we normally stay (replace coffee lounge with smoking room, library with casino, artsy room with stuffy room, and styley people with fat people and thats pretty much the contrast). But as Norm and I were sitting in the lobby having a snack (we are so unhip we don't drink coffee), wearing gore-tex (soooo ten years ago), and sporting toques (instead of fedoras) he whispered to me "I don't think we are cool enough to stay at this hotel...." Hell, they probably don't even say cool anymore.



photo by Joe Sales

The Portland fans
Of course the best part about Portland for a cyclocross racer is the rabid fans. Even with severe storm warnings, 50mph winds, torrential downpours, snow, hail, floods and lots and lots of mud, the cross fans were out in full force. Now, I know you are probably picturing a bunch of people standing around cheering "nice work, way to go" and ringing their cow bells but its much more than that. They bring out a FULL ON 10+ piece marching band to their races (although the conditions were so bad they had to "march" under a big tent. Then the tent almost blew away so they had to disband). Imagine how fired up you get racing when you hear the drums and trumpets start wailing away. They also have the "Gentle Lovers" team that sets up a wood fire hot tub to the side of the course. They sit in teeny, weeny pink bikinis and speedos until one of their racers comes by, then their little bums run as fast as they can to yell and scream at their buddy, then they run back to the hot tub to warm up. They are the North American uberfans.


the gentle lovers uberfans

The Kona crew
Another great thing about Portland races is that its close enough to Kona headquarters in Bellingham that we have a bigger crew at the races. Our manager Mark Peterson and our mechanic Mark Matson played in the mud both mornings, then helped us all afternoon. Dale Plant (previously known as "slow Dale" but we have renamed him "cracker jack Dale" because he keeps us laughing) raced Masters and even Tonkin raced less than a week after his first newborn popped out. That, with the normal race crew, the west coast Kona fans, family and friends - the Kona-yourkey.com tent was hoppin'

Mark Peterson away from his desk. Please leave a message


Mark Matson at home in the Portland mud

Playing in the mud
I like to think of myself as a bit of a mudder so I was really hoping to have a podium performance and finish the USGP season strong. Saturday and Sunday were both wet and muddy but completely different races. Saturday it was cold and snowy and the mud was like peanut butter. Thick with lots of ruts so it was hard to ride. Sunday it was windy and wetter so there were lots of puddles and the mud was soupy, but you could ride through most of it......i am such a cross geek! Either way I was happy to have some crazy conditions to race in, it just makes the races more interesting. Unfortunately my favoured conditions didn't pan out into a podium which is what I was ultimately hoping for. Sat I had a great start and then crashed on some rutted out whoops the first lap so I lost the chase group and ended up 6th. Not horrible but not a podium. Sunday I had a great start but my legs were so cold from the rain and wind that I just couldn't punch it. I had one steady speed but couldn't respond when someone passed me so I slipped from 3rd place in the early laps to a 5th place finish. Again not horrible but not a podium for my team. So, teammate Ryan Trebon had to pick up my slack and take the win and the series for the elite men.

The after shock
At the after party in Portland (it was a prom night theme - waiting on photos of Norm and I dressed up), the USGP race organizer asked me "what happened to you this year Wendy, I thought you were going to be huge". I felt like I had been slapped in the face (and on my prom night too!). All those 4th place finishes noone remembers coming back to haunt me. I guess when you win a National Championship title they expect you to be winning all the time after that? But there is still a lot of cyclocross racing left for me in europe as I get ready for World Championships in Italy at the end of January. The racing will be fast, the courses tough and the chocolate tasty - keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

East Coast Assault

Ups and downs. Racing is always a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Some races (Ok maybe only 1-2 a year) come together absolutely perfectly. Great fitness, superstar legs, no mechanicals, race strategy execution and most importantly, results. The problem with hitting one of these oh so sweet races is that the not-so-perfect races that follow, suddenly grate on you. You think you have finally figured out the secret recipe to success only to find out it was just a fluke. So many pieces to the puzzle. But I guess if we could just BUY the recipe it wouldnt be fun anymore....My Nationals race was my perfect race and I guess if I should ask for a perfect race I should hope that its a big one. But it can only mean that I was bound for some sub-standard races on the horizon.

Toronto Pro Am UCI races

After recovering from my belly bug, I headed back east to support the 2nd and 3rd Canadian UCI races in Toronto. It was the best way to figure out how much damage the sickness had done, pick up a few UCI points for my euro assault in Dec and get me race ready for the USGP in New Jersey the following weekend. The BONUS was that my brother and his family live outside Toronto and my parents were planning to come up from Ottawa to visit. (I think they have given up on me actually coming to Ottawa since there are no big MTB or CX races in the area).



I didnt put too much pressure on myself for the Toronto races as I wanted to see how I felt after my first hard effort in a week. But my brother was watching (with critical coaches eyes), and my niece and nephew were there too so I wanted to put on a bit of a show for them and the rest of the Simms fans. I was called up first but was given the crappy rhubarb spot on the far left - what the hell was that? Is that anyway to treat your #1?? I took off fast and lead the race from start to finish. I am not going to lie to you, my legs felt like poo but it was a good ego boost to win again and put on a show for the family. Day 2 was pretty similar except for my pre-race routine. I was at the local rink at 8am to watch the Oro Thunder 8 year olds (my nephew icluded) play hockey. There we were: me, my brother, my parents, (probably one of the only Canadian families not have spent their childhood in a hockey rink) cheering from the bench. A week visiting, training and going over plans/ideas for the rest of the cross season and the upcoming MTB season was a great come back week. It was no single speed cyclocross world championship golden speedo like Barry Wicks had added to his resume that weekend (!) but I was ready for the next USGP.

USGP New Jersey races
I headed down to New Jersey and met Norm on the plane. We flew into Philly (one of the ugliest cities I have ever seen) and met the Kona crew in NJ. I was pretty uninspired pre-riding the course, lots of grass and lots of straight aways but I was trying to stay positive. At least they had a big sand pit to spice things up. I had #2 for the weekend but first call up with Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) away racing in europe. I was racing well, in the hunt for the 3rd place battle with half a lap to go when my tubular rolled right off. I tried and tried to get it back on but after a minute started running, running, running. I was lucky we had such a big gap on the next group. Thats not to say they didn't pass me.... it just means I had some time to play with. I grabbed my Queen Ann pit bike and chased and evaded. I couldnt catch the girls that had passed me but I did manage to ward off a big group of girls gunning for me from behind. 9th in the end. Could have been worse but there goes my freebie drop race with 3 races still left in the series.


Day 2 was better...sort of. It had rained all night so the course was quite a bit greasier and they had made a few changes so the course was a bit twistier. No mechanicals but another 4th place - and you KNOW how I feel about 4th places! I had a great start and got away with the key players: Georgia Gould (Luna), Lyne Bessette (cyclocrossworld.com), Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain) and Rachel Lloyd (Proman/Paradigm). I even got away with Lyne when Georgia hit the dirt on a greasy corner. But Georgia charged back on and caught Lyne, dropping me in the process. That left me with Alison Sydor who, with her experience always manages to use me, chew me up and spit me out. In other words I tow her around the race course and then she jumps me in the last lap to take the last podium spot. I know she is bound to do this but I was so close to catching Lyne in second place (only 4 seconds ahead!!) I had to stop worrying about what was on my ass and focus on trying to close the gap to Lyne. But.... I ran out of race, Alison jumped me through the pits and I ended up fourth - AGAIN. $#%@!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ironman Penticton 2007

It takes a bit of sickness to get me off the bike and working on my would-like-to-do-if-I-have-time list. After being mega-superfans at my sister's first Ironman I had a whole whack of photos of her and Jamie I wanted to make into a slide show so everyone who didn't get to watch her race her guts out for 10 hours could check them out. This is my first attempt at making and uploading a "movie" so its a bit rough!

video

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pair of 4 ’s……… and a wildcard
Louisville Kentucky USGP of Cyclocross

I don’t want to sound like a suck, but I really hate fourth place finishes. And I seem to have a lot of them on my resume – maybe that is why I am so sensitive to the issue. Sure, you can’t really complain to the person that came 6th or the person that was 12th but talk to them when they come 4th and they will know exactly how you feel. It’s the difference between a good race and a great race. It’s one spot from a podium finish that acknowledges your training, your sponsors and your efforts to get there. It’s remembering the days when they used to have podium ceremonies to 5th place. It’s feeling like first loser because you had a good race but noone remembers because it doesn’t go down in photo or print history. Basically it’s thinking about every little mistake that you made during your race that COULD have got you on the podium if you hadn’t been so stupid.

Friday
New to the USGP this year was the number presentation ceremony (or maybe I just wasn’t fast enough last year??). I was presented #2. Since we had Nationals so early this year (and there are so many points associated with Nationals), I was ranked 6th in the world! That will change soon enough but for now it meant that I had second call up next to Katie Compton (Spike Shooter), who had just returned from a world cup in Europe with a silver medal in her pocket. They held the party at the Churchill Downs museum which was sooooo cool. To get into the museum you went through a set of starting gates and they had a ton of displays about the jockey colours, the training, the history etc. I used to follow horse racing when I was a kid so I recognized a lot of the great names like Seattle Slew, Gallant Fox and War Admiral.

Saturday
With my crisp new National Champion jersey (Ok my skinsuit from three year’s ago that Kona made especially for me, that I raced in twice then promptly lost my title to Lyne Bessette), I knew that I had a bit more pressure this weekend. But I felt ready for it. I was feeling pretty strong and confident. As we waited for our start the bugler from the Kentucky Derby played the “call to the post” in his white jodhpurs and red jacket which was quite possibly the best part of the entire weekend. But I couldn’t enjoy it for very long because the gun went off. As I managed to pull out the holeshot, I thought maybe, just maybe Katie was a bit tired from her euro trip. But as she rocketed by me I realized that was not the case. All I could do was try to hold onto her wheel. Katie is crazy strong and a solid technical rider so I was having a hard time, yo-yoing after every corner and sand trap. When I took a look back, I realized that we must have been going pretty fast because noone else was with us. I held on for dear life for about half a lap and then she dropped me on the windy open stretch. I was riding solo for awhile trying to recover a bit of dignity when Lyne Bessette, towing Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain), caught up to me. We rode together (quite defensively) for a couple laps until Georgia Gould (Luna) caught us. I finished a pull at the front and moved into 4th place in line to rest up a bit when I got stuffed going into the sand section (basically the person in front of you brakes hard right before a technical section so you get screwed up and have to run it). I lost the group and spent the rest of the race chasing them down. After a lap and a half of chasing I managed to catch up to Lyne going into the finish stretch and outsprinted her to salvage 4th place.

Sunday
After racing so defensively Saturday, to finish 4th, I thought that maybe I should try something different. Were we all really racing for 2nd place next to Katie? I thought I should race a little more aggressively today and see what happened. It had dried up quite a bit so I no longer had an edge but I am a great day 2 racer and was still feeling pretty strong. Katie got the hole shot today with Lyne, myself, Alison Sydor and Rachel Llyod (Proman/Paradigm) tucked in behind her. We held onto Katie’s wheel for about half a lap when she took off. After pulling us around for most of the race Saturday, Lyne was fed up and pulled to the side, making it pretty obvious that she wouldn’t do it again. Katie was still so close so I charged hard after her hoping to a. catch Katie or at least b. shed the group off my tail, which now included Georgia Gould. For 2 laps I would attack after the technical sand traps, hoping to scrape them off . I would get a small gap but Alison would bridge back up every time. The efforts eventually shook Rachel off and I could tell Lyne was hurting but Alison kept coming back and Georgia didn't even look phased. But after 2 laps of this I was starting to feel the efforts myself. I was just starting to revise my strategy when Georgia jumped. Alison picked up her wheel and I followed but Lyne got dropped. I was having a hard time staying with them and started to yo-yo. I held on for a half lap then got dropped to solo in for another 4th.

I also managed to pick up a bug in my travels so this week I have been wiped out, totally useless thinking about how much I hate being 4th…. So I apologize if I sound bitter but I have had too much time to think about it!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007



Nationals weekend Kamloops, BC Oct 20,21

BC Provincial Champion and Canadian National Champion - yeah, I guess you could say it was a good weekend. Basically everything went perfectly. We headed up to Kamloops on Friday to check out the course we would be racing both days. I have to admit I was a little worried because the organizers had never put on a cyclocross race before, but it only took one lap pre-riding to see it was going to be a fun, challenging cross course. It had lots of twists and turns, a few transitions off the bike, fast open sections, and a couple of sand pits. It was actually quite a scenic venue in Riverside Park with the sunny weather and the fall leaves turned orange and yellow down by the Thompson River. There was no sign of the snow they had originally forecasted, so it was going to be a fast course that required you to be smooth in your transitions and corners. A perfect course for me and my Queen Ann!


Recon.
Saturday a lot of people chose not to race BC provincials so it looked pretty weak with only 8 girls on the start line. But Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com) was there so we took the opportunity to check out the course at speed, test equipment (my FSA Kforce wheels rocked!), and see how each other fared on the different features of the course. We stayed together the entire race, with a few attacks to see how each other could respond in different sections. The finish stretch was quite short and came up on you immediately after a tricky 180 degree asphalt corner so I attacked one corner earlier and kept my lead to take the BC Provincial Champion title. I don’t know when I consciously decided to attack but I had left it really, really, really late and I had no other option. Not known for my tactics (I have often been laughed at for my stupid, stubborn decisions in races), I was pretty proud of myself. But, most importantly I got a big shot of confidence. Although the score over the past few years was now something like Wendy: 2, Lyne: 184, I started to really believe I could take Nationals. A little wee part of me thought “but won’t Mark Peterson be pissed if you win Nationals because you just got your new Kona – Yourkey kit and he will have to make up new ones?” But I stuffed wee Mark Peterson in pocket and figured we could deal with it when/if the time comes.



Nationals.
Saturday night, while digesting my chicken and pasta dinner (yes, ever so tasty, high glycemic index, white pasta!!). I walked myself through the course. After racing Lyne, I knew where I was stronger, but tomorrow Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain) would be racing. She was the mystery meat. Although she hasn’t raced a lot of cyclocross, she is a skilled technical rider (they don’t just hand out those mountain bike World Championship titles) so I couldn’t just plan to get away from her on the corners and sand (assuming I could shake Lyne). Alison is also a wiley cat with lots of road smarts and strength, so we couldn’t let her use us and then spit us out on the last lap to take the win with her powerful sprint. So I tucked a few options away and went to sleep. Sunday morning Norm won his race and kept the National Championship jersey for his third year. I wanted to match him. Three for three.

Off the line it was Lyne, myself and Alison away immediately. The first few laps Lyne and I could get a small gap on Alison through the sand run, but she came back ever so quickly. Quicker and quicker each time actually. She was processing and learning from us each lap - it was like she was a cyborg. Lyne was setting the pace and seemed content so we settled in. With two laps to go my stupid non tactical brain remembered an interview with Sven Nys who said he always attacks with 2 laps to go and always wins. I considered going for it but then a voice of reason (Nicola Mann actually) called out from the pits – “be patient Wendy!” – and I snapped back. It was like she knew what I was thinking! Probably another cyborg. So I stayed in my comfortable 2 spot and decided where I would attack on the last lap. Ideally I wanted to be in the lead into the sand run but Lyne countered me with serious aggression so I backed off. But ten seconds later I attacked again out of the sand run and got by her. I don’t think she or Alison expected it so I got a small gap into the twisty sections. I was running scared. I knew they were right behind me so I attacked into every straightaway where they could potentially pass me. I managed to hold a very, very small lead into the last few corners and pulled out my third (but sweetest) National Championship win! So the score is now Wendy 3: Lyne 184. Not too shabby.



PS sorry Mark! I guess I need some new kits made up……

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Canuck Cross

While most of the Kona crew headed back East to the big $ races in Southampton, I decided to stay close to home on the Thanksgiving weekend to support one of our three UCI races in Canada and to help out with the first race of our Vancouver Island cyclocross series – Turkey Cross in Victoria.

Jim Horner Cyclocross Gran Prix, Edmonton Alberta
I met the organizers of this race at Cyclocross Worlds two years ago in Zeddam. Their son Mike Bidniak was racing as a junior and they were in the beer gardens cheering on the Canadian team the entire weekend with their flag held high. They all belong to the Juventus club in Edmonton which made the effort and financial commitment to put on one of the few UCI cyclocross races in Canada so I thought I should go and show my support. Plus it was a Kona sponsored event and a great chance to pick up some points for my euro trip later in the season. I was not disappointed. My rental car was a sweet Magnum, the weather was sunny and warm, the course was super fun and I ran into some friends that I hadn’t seen for awhile. It was a small field on the start line compared to my last race at Cross Vegas but what was promising was the number of younger athletes racing. Very cool to see. I started fast but could not shake Pepper Harlton (Juventus) for the first lap. She told me afterwards that it was her goal to stay with me as long as she could but what was more impressive was that this was her first season of racing cyclocross. Watch out. Eventually she blew up and I extended my lead and settled into the twisty course. That is until I saw the lead junior that had started a minute behind us charging hard. The crowd screamed out that they would give $50 to the winner of the heat. Game on! I did not want him to catch me but he was gaining fast. He caught me in the tricky ravine section and I couldn’t hold his wheel. He was too fast - $50 was his. Unfortunately I had to pack up immediately after the race and get on a plane to Victoria but I made sure to let them know I would bring more next year – well worth the effort. And who knew Edmonton could be sunnier and warmer than home??

Turkey Cross Victoria
For a few years now, I have helped out with the Vancouver Island cyclocross series – Cross on the Rock. We love the sport of cyclocross so why not share the joy? Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I hear someone who has just finished their first cross race gushing “that was awesome!! I loved it!! I can’t believe how much fun that was, I am totally going to buy a cross bike for next race”. We don’t work for the bike companies – honest. Dan Proulx, Sarah Stewart, Norm Thibault and Oak Bay Bikes were the masterminds behind the Victoria event so I just had to show up, help out where needed and race. And since I had been racing in Edmonton the day before most of the work was already done – slacker. Victoria is a hot bed for elite cyclists in Canada so the Turkey cross was bound to get some big names out. Hmmm lets see we had multiple World Champion Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain/Haywood), U23 World Championships Bronze Medalist Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain/Haywood) just to name a couple. The course was probably the best yet – with a BMX track, mud, sand, a steep hill to run up (that was rideable if your legs weren’t full), a chicane, chip trail and a velodrome. Top that. I was excited to play with Alison on a cross course that had more features (she schooled me in Vegas) but she broke her bars into the first set of barriers so I was on my own for the rest of the race. Just me and a field of Master men that were actually pretty fun to play with too. The best race however was the kids race. They loved it so much they did it three times!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The cyclocross season rolls out! (a little wobbly)

Touch down from the mountain bike world cup finals in Slovenia on Monday, three days turn around time at home with Norm and Marty, and then I was off to Kona HQ in Ferndale to pick up my snazzy new cyclocross bikes. Mark Peterson flashed me the 16.3lb 2008 scandium Queen Ann with the custom orange “wool jersey” style paint job and I was getting giggly. Pan down past the FSA carbon bars, stem, seat post, cranks and K force wheels, Kore Kross brakes with Swiss stop pads, and Alpha Q CX20 fork and I may have peed my pants. I was excited to race cross again!

STAR CROSSED, Seattle Sept 22
Star crossed is always my first big cyclocross race of the season and unfortunately something usually goes wrong. I would like to think its just bad luck but mostly its because I don’t seem to have my shit together. New gear, more race prep, different bike handling, actual race tactics … it usually takes me a few races to pull it all together again. This year was no different. I had a great call up (first) but proceeded to destroy all credibility as a cyclocross racer when I slipped my pedal at the gun, continued to slip the entire sole of my modified shoes (tire glued to the carbon soles that morning for more grip) and slammed into the top tube with my crotch. The only thing positive about that start is that I did not hit the ground and somehow managed to ride the speed wobble out and recover. But it was not pretty. Ego bruised I kept going and spent the first lap catching up to the lead group. It was a good size lead group (~6-8) so I could sit in and recover before taking the lead. I was riding smoothly but couldn’t pull away from them, not enough technical sections for me and the level of women’s cross has definitely gone up the last few years. I pulled out some tactics from the recesses of my brain and jumped the group a few times to get a gap but the big group would always catch up on the long open windy stretches. I didn’t have that extended power just yet. So I pulled back into the group and decided to try for the sprint finish. I got too keen, went into the second last corner hot. Not only could I not get around Sarah Kerlin (Velo Bella-Kona), Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) blew by both of us to take the win.


RAD RACING GP, Tacoma Sept 23
I vowed to race smarter after my Star crossed fiasco. I pre-rode the course with both an offensive and defensive strategy in mind. The girls were stronger this year so I had to be smarter. PLUS I had shoe goo’d some random bumps onto the carbon soles of my shoes so I had some traction if I slipped my pedal again. This course had a HUGE run-up so I knew the group would blow up quickly today – not all cyclists can run. Rachel Lloyd (Proman/Paradigm) and I had agreed to work together so I had an ally. I still had first call up and this time I didn’t blow it. I went into the grass 4th wheel and was sitting comfortably. Rachel went straight to the front so I found her wheel. First run-up I knew I was stronger running than anyone else. I haven’t done much training but the legs were there so I ran past Rachel and took the lead. We had a big gap and traded off the lead for the next lap. I was feeling great. Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) was trying to bridge up but couldn’t and Rachel and I were both comfortable. All I had to do was hold it until the last lap then turn it on for the final run-up. Brilliant. That is, until my tubular tire rolled on the fast descent and I stuffed my face into the dirt. I was scraped but not hurt so I tried to get my front tire back on, it didn’t budge so I started running but it was a long way to the pits. A couple of guys yelled at me to force it back on so I tried it again with both feet on the wheel and it finally popped back on. I gingerly rode it into the pits. New bike, lots of adrenaline, and good legs so I charged back. I was making up time every lap but it wasn’t enough. Another third place finish.



VEGAS CROSS, Las Vegas Sept 26
Interbike. THE big bike industry trade show in North America and I had never been able to check it out. This year they added a cyclocross race on Wednesday night which promised to have thousands of spectators. How could you not when every bike company, shop owner, racer, frame builder, and fan, was in town for the show (and there was a beer garden to quench their thirst). I had never been to Vegas so it was pretty amazing to see the “excess”. Crazy. But I had to be good - I was racing. The venue was a soccer complex 6miles from the strip. I left the hotel 3 hours before the race because I knew traffic would be busy but we didn’t arrive at the venue until 6pm! How can it take 2 hours to get 6 miles when every road in Vegas has 6-8 lanes?? I rushed around and got ready with enough time for a few laps of the course. It was all grass with almost no features. Sounds easy but the grass was like shag carpet. Super deep and it had a mind of its own – no guarantee your bike would go where you told it too. But I felt pretty strong and I had my new Kona-Yourkey.com skinsuit on so I felt fast. I had a great start and followed Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) and Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com) out but they quickly showed the rest of us they were in a different league this early in the season. A large chase group formed and I sat comfortably in the group for a couple laps. Then I seemed to have trouble staying with the group as I started to cramp in my calves. I never cramp! I tried to stretch at the back of the group and started to yo-yo. Not good. I saw 3 laps to go and popped off the back of the chase group as I realized the cramps were getting worse. I was in no-mans land for a few laps barely able to get over the mini barriers because my calves were constantly flexed. Rachel Lloyd (Proman/Paradigm) caught me on the last lap and I sucked it up to outsprint her for 10th. I was disappointed as I thought I could pull this one together….. BUT I couldn't be bummed out for very long. I was in Vegas with the Kona crew and I had lots to check out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Slovenia World Cup Final

Slovenia. I have to admit that I needed a map to find out where the country was located (maybe I should have asked Miss South Carolina?). I had to make sure it wasn’t too close to Slovakia, as I had recently seen “Hostel” with my horror movie buddy, Alison Keple. The movie was about these backpackers traveling through Europe that got lured to a hostel in Slovakia, only to be tortured by people that pay to “hunt” humans. Not exactly a PG movie. It OBVIOUSLY wasn’t based on a true story but if Slovakia suddenly saw a dip in their tourist industry I might have a hint for them. Good thing I am safe here in Slovenia, although I haven’t seen “Hostel 2” yet…...

The course
The XC course in Slovenia was probably one of the best I have ridden this year, and we have lucked out with some great world cup courses in 2007. It was held at the base of Pohorje mountain near Maribor, a major recreational site for the area. The course had everything – twisty, rocky, rooty, dipsy, doodle trails, a long fire road climb at the start to spread things out, an out and back so you could get a look at the competition, short steep climbs and even a bit of the 4X.

The race
I had a decent start up the opening climb and went into the first descent mid to high 30s. I got to catch my breath, as it was a big line up of girls in the singletrack – the leaders long gone. I could make up a few spots here and there when someone screwed up a section, so I moved up slowly every lap. But gone are the days when you passed someone and never saw them again. At this level they rarely fade, but keep coming back for more. I was battling it out with Heather Irmiger and Nathalie Schneitter somewhere in the 20s on lap 3 when I blew out my stans’ed tire on a fast swoopy corner (bad). I pulled over and used my sealant to refill and it stuck (good!) but it seemed too low to ride for long (bad) so I pulled into the tech zone to get my spare air and top it up. It WOULD have been fast, but the adapter had fallen off and the spare adapter was stripped so the air wasn’t going into the tire. No pump and no spare wheel and a few people yelling “just ride it” and I took off (stupid) because by then I had watched a lot of girls pass me. I should have just waited for Shimano neutral support to give me a wheel because 1km later my tire blew again so I had to run the last uphill, the 4X and the big downhill (bad). Shimano was waiting with a wheel by the time I got back to the tech zone and did a speedy change (thanks) but by then the damage was done. 15-20 girls had passed me and I only had one+ lap to gain back time. I picked off 4-5 girls but they were so spread out I couldn’t do much better than that. 41st in the end. Not the big bang end of season finish I was looking for but at least I felt strong….and I got in some cyclocross training running to the tech zone.

Bizarro world
The Kona Les Gets gravity team was racing in Slovenia that weekend too, so Kris and I got to hang out with Tracey, her squeeze James, Fabien (sigh*), Kamil and Paul the Master DH Mechanic. It was like the parallel euro Bizarro world of the Kona Team. The same comfortable, fun vibe as our North American XC team, but with a little euro twist. With the downhill race on Sunday, we got to hike the DH course and watch how insanely fast the pro DH racers can go. It made us XC racers feel pretty pathetic…Unfortunately Fabien (sigh*) had a major crash in the seeding run and was taken to the hospital but he was released later that day, in a lot of pain but walking.

*my keen skills of observation have noted that everytime I say Fabien’s name there always seem to be some girl in the crowd that just makes a dreamy sigh!

Thanks
So that is the end of my MTB season for 2007. The highlight was definitely racing the Trans Rockies with Norm and dominating the Open Mixed Category every day – pretty hard to top that! Thanks to Kona Les Gets and all of the team sponsors for a great season, Mark Matson for being such a solid mechanic, Mark Peterson for believing in me enough to get me on the team, the rest of the Kona team for making the season super fun, Shimano Europe and Shimano Canada for mechanical support at the World Cups, Norm for being my ultimate support, my brother Kevin for coaching me, the Malaspina crew for being my super fans, Helly Hansen for the great gear, Pacific Sport Nanaimo for all of the local support, Frontrunners for being my long time sponsor, Maxxis for the great tread, my family for understanding why my visits are always on the way to or from a race and the Kona gravity team for hanging out with us weeny XC racers in Europe.

Thursday, August 23, 2007







TRANS ROCKIES 2007

Seven days of mountain bike racing through the Rockies - not exactly the "traditional" approach to getting ready for cyclocross season, but I couldn't have planned a more perfect CX training camp. Super fast starts, killing yourself to hold wheels, long steady climbs to get back some base miles and even a few huge hike a bike sections to get the calves burning. All this, with a super support crew to help with the day-to-day logistics of such a major event (Norm's dad and uncle - Rollin and Hu). I don't know why everyone was so shocked when I said I was doing TR for cyclocross training - it was perfect!

Although Norm and I have never done the TR together, he has done it twice, we did Trans Alps together and we have raced a lot of adventure races together. I am not ashamed to admit that Norm is the brains behind the operation and I just follow. He knows how to parcel out his energy to last the full seven days while I would likely start too fast every day and then self combust by day 4. Not so s-m-r-t, this one. We thought we would do pretty well but realistic goals were to wear the leaders jersey at least one day and see some cool stuff. Well... it worked out better than expected as we won the leader's jersey day 1 and kept it all the way to the end, winning by almost 2 hours! We were even top 15 overall in the open men category which I am sure pissed the hell out of a few boys...I also saw a moose, a bear, osprey fishing and some absolutely incredible views of the Rockies. Oh yeah and it was sunny the whole time which was amazing because we have had some seriously crappy weather on the coast this summer.

Day 1: Panorma to Invermere. No staging on this short day with a HUGE hike-a-bike section and some twisty fun singletrack down castle rock. Smart Norm found out where and when the staging opened and we were fifth team in line - fifth of 340 teams is a major advantage. The "neutral" start was CRAZY FAST as the lead moto was a bit keen and everyone wanted to get to the fresh cut singletrack first. I am a master fast starter so we were up there with the top 20 teams into the hike a bike. 45mins into day 1 and people were blowing up already!! The twisty descent was worth the hike a bike and we were catching tons of teams that were blowing out the tight switchbacks. We caught the Dead Goat boys (who we would see most of the week) and rode some more sweet singletrack into Invermere. Cool purple leader's jersey and a 20min buffer.

Day 2: Invermere to Nipika. Once we had the leader's jersey were were golden as we got to line up front row! Another FAST "neutral" start up and out of Invermere. Our stratgey from day 1 (go 'till you get blown off the leaders wheels) seemed to work well for us so we stuck with it and killed ourselves to stay with the fast boys until the big climb. Then we eased off a bit on the granny climb so we could rip down the fresh cut Bear Creek descent. Our CX skills were useful as we had to pop on and off our bikes for almost an hour. Another purple jersey! It was looking like we might not have to do laundry for awhile.

Sidenote: our support crew Rollin and Hu were getting just as competeive as us! They would watch the start and then roll out to the next camp to get there FIRST so they could suss out the best RV spot. They were even bribing the parking guy with beer!

Day 3: Nipika to Nipika. Forest fires in the area caused a last minute change to the TR route but lucky for us the result was an amazing loop around the Nipika area that had some super fun trails and incredible views. It also meant our support crew could take it easy with no move which I think they appreciated. Day 1 and 2 we had used hard tails because my Kula Supreme is uber light and zippy but by day 3 it was time to start saving the body so we pulled out our dualies. It was perfect terrain for the Hei Hei supreme with a crazy fast start straight into double track and then almost 4 hours of wicked mountain biking. Another purple jersey.

Day 4: Nipika to Whiteswan. Hump day. People were starting to look tired and pasty. Everyone was a little slower to get up, milking a few extra minutes of sleep. Line ups for the crappers were longer as stomach issues from eating gels and sport drinks all day caught up with people. Fewer people warmed up before the race. With a 56 minute lead Norm asked me if I wanted to take it easy now. I said HELL NO! We came here to race and get ready for cross so no slacking off. Besides, we had been duking it out with the same mens teams for 3 days so I wanted to see how we could do overall. Another purple jersey was not enough. I was greedy.

Day 5: Whiteswan to Elkford. Fred Dreir from Velonews was riding the stage with us today so it was fun chatting with him and joking around as we rolled up the hills. Unfortunately he wasn't used to the big hike-a-bike sections so we dropped him on the way up to the big rocky descent into Elkford. When we were hanging out with Andreas Hestler the night before this stage he was telling us about the 3km rock slide we had to get down. I asked him if it was rideable and he said HE could ride it but warned me to be careful. I told myself right then that I would ride the whole thing. I wasn't going to to do the walk of shame. It was worth the bumpy ride just to see people's faces when I rode past them - a girl! More purple.

Day 6: Elkford to Sparwood. This was the longest stage of the race, with the most climbing. You might think we would take it easy as a result but there was singletrack 5km in (5km uphill) so we just killed ourselves to try to stay with the lead group. We fell back a bit but tagged back on the end in the singletrack which was super fun. Worth the pain just so we could ride it all. Unfortuantely we were a bit off the back when we hit the fire road so we had to gut ourselves to get back on. A 100km to go and we were both pretty blown so we suffered through the first huge climb and most of the day. Painful but another purple jersey. Now we had enough for Rollin an Hu.

Day 7: Sparwood to Fernie. Last day! A short stage and we had a 1:45 lead. So...unless we had a major mechanical off the start line and had to run the whole stage we were pretty safe. But the rumour was there was a single lane bridge 2km into the race so everyone blasted off the start. Fastest start yet. But no skinny bridge. 10km in Sue Haywood asked "where is the singletrack??". I had told her this would be the best trails of all but apparently they had taken out all but the last 8km. Lame. We finished first, keeping our streak alive and went straight for the ice cream! An amazing race to finish let alone win. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Rollin and Hu for being such a great support crew. We couldnt have done it without you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thanks to Mark Matson for being such an awesome mechanic for the Kona-Les Gets XC team!!

I couldnt find any photos of you but this picture is pretty much identicle.

SUGAR MT SHOW DOWN

I should have known it was going to be a shitty day when I woke up at 4:50 am to a wasp stinging me in the face (bad). He must have been on my pillow and when I rolled over I manged to jab his stinger deep into my face which shocked the hell out of me. I jumped up and ran to the kitchen to get some ice. Poor Norm was freaking out, not sure what the hell was going on. Well, at least I was up early for my flight...no lecture from the check in lady this time (good).

Nanaimo-Vancouver no problem. Hang out in the lounge like a rock star (good). But when I checked my flight to Charlotte my connector had been cancelled (bad). Chicago. Damn Chicago. I hate flying through Chicago because something always goes wrong. Stupid "windy city". Apparently it is one of the top ten worst airports in the world. I agree. I sat at the end of a very long line up waiting to see what could be done when a check in lady asked if there were any "star alliance gold members". Flying every two weeks has some priveleges so I skipped to the front of the line (good). Unfortunately my options were stand by for two flights that were already overbooked by 5 or a red eye. Lame choices. I asked about flights into Greensboro and she found me one on another airline, a guranteed spot and a hotel coupon so I wouldnt have to drive to Sugar Mountain at midnight. So I jumped on it. Except...when I got mid way, the flight to Greensboro was overbooked and when I finally got to Greensboro at midnight there were no hotels available in the city and my bags were no where to be found (bad). They decided the best option was to taxi me to Charlotte (2 hours away) and dump me (bad). I was pretty calm the whole day until that point. But I was too tired so ended up in Charlotte at 2am. Next day no sign of my bags so I rented a car and drove to Sugar Mountain. My bags finally showed up just before midnight on Thursday. I think I was pretty ripe by then....

I only got one lap in on the course because my legs felt like poo after two days of travel so I had to spin before I touched the 30min climb I had heard so much about. 30 minutes?? All for 10mins of fun muddy singletrack. Then up again. The race was OK but I just could not climb as fast as the lead girls. I had to go my own pace or I knew I would pay for it at the end of the race. I made time on the descents so I asked Mark to register me for my first ever super D. A 12th place finish in the XC and a 9th place finish in the short track was nothing to brag about but I sure as hell got a lot of respect after I won the super D. My first ever NMBS podium - maybe I should give up on teh enduro events and start shuttling? The course felt super easy on the demo Dawg Supreme. 5 inches of travel was pretty smooth compared to my XC set up. The best part was that the whole Kona gang did it too: Barry, Kris, (Ryan was injured from the XC) and we even convinced Mark Matson and Scott O'Dell. Kona cleaned up!

Next stop - Trans Rockies

Monday, July 30, 2007


CANADIAN NATIONAL MTB CHAMPIONSHIPS

Mucky. That is the only word to describe CDN Nationals this year. After a week of rain, the Mt Washington race course was mucky and it was cold. 8C! Mid July - where the hell was summer?!? My tan sucks. Now I consider myself a bit of a mudder so I was OK with the conditions but it was a bit ridiculous come race day. I had a good start, hitting the opening climb top 5 but it was pretty much unrideable for us XXs (and even most of the XYs although Norm claims he rode it lap 2). I saw powerhouse Marie Helen Premont jump off only a quarter of the way up the first climb and start running so that was my cue to give up on my slow inching forward motion and put my mad CX skillz to work. Although I haven't really been running since March, there are not a huge group of mountain bikers that run so I considered it "advantage Wendy". Until I saw Xterra World Champ Melanie McQuaid (Natures Path - Orbea) rocket past me. I figured she was putting in more running miles than I was. But on the technical descents my Hei Hei supreme and Maxxis Advantage tires were ripping through the mucky singletrack quite nicely. Melanie is a fighter so we battled back and forth the first lap. I should have been smarter and saved my energy because by the time we hit the second climb of the first lap I was pretty fried and Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing) passed me as I fumbled up the climb. I pulled myself together at the start of lap 2 so when Sandra Walers (XO Felt) tried to pass me up the second climb, I jumped off my bike and "ran" my long legs up the hill to get my buffer back.



The "good" thing about pushing your bike up a steep muddy hill is that things are pretty slow going so 1. you can see where your competitors are (Premont, Catharien Pendrel (Norco) and Kiara Bisaro (Opus) were no where to be seen while Sin and McQuaid looked closer than they actually were) and 2. your super fan club can get a good long look at you suffering. Since I live only an hour and a half from the venue some friends came out to cheer me on in the pouring rain. Hard core. Did I mention it was only 8C? I might not have been winning the race but I definitely had the best cheer squad. Catharine Pendrel told me after the race that a little girl kept asking her "where's Wendy?? is Wendy coming soon??" whenever she climbed past. Yeah! Score one for me. There were also (soggy) foam fingers scattered about the race course cheering me on which I love!

My second lap was pretty good after I collected myself together and recovered from the first lap. I was riding the descents really well and was making time there but losing time on the climbs (until I started to run). I started to reel in McQuaid and was within 5 seconds of her but she pulled away again. I thought that might be it for me but my super fan club was screaming at me so I couldnt let them down. I was making time on Melanie again in the final lap so I started to gear up for the catch. This time I had to be smarter. Don't use up ALL my energy in the catch so I could gap her a bit. I like to think of it as "catch and release". I rode a section she had to run and opened up a small gap. But she kept coming back like a zombie. Everyone was yelling at me and I was SO close to the finish. I dug deep and held it together to stay ahead oh her. I rode the rock garden section perfectly while I could hear McQuaid behind me bobble and start running. That was enough for me to take off and finish the race in 5th. Not a podium but it felt like a podium effort to claw out that 5th place finis so I was pretty happy. Its been a long rough season with not a lot of energy for clawing. It was good to feel like I was racing again. Unfortunately 5th was not enough to get me a spot to Worlds for Canada (they are only taking a team of 3) so the disappointment came later.

Thanks to all my friends and family who came out to cheer me on and support me. It made the difference. I wish I could bring you to ALL my races!

Friday, July 20, 2007

HOME SWEET HOME

After a long haul out of the country and then 2 weeks in "la belle province" it has been pretty nice to just putter around home again. Dont get me wrong, I DO love traveling all over the world to check out new places but sometimes you just need a dose of home to recharge. Riding with Norm on my favourite trails, walks with Marty at the beach and catching up with friends and family always puts me back in a good head space. This dose at home has been especially good because I just started my year off from work. Wahoo! Now I can add things like: sleeping in, rides in the MIDDLE of the day in the sun, hot tubs after rides in the MIDDLE of the day and cooking good food after rides in the MIDDLE of the day to my list of rechargers. It is going to be one sweet year off. Sure I will have more time to train but I think I am more excited about having time to rest and recover.

One cool race I had to pass up because I was in Quebec doing the world cups was the first ever BC bike race - a seven day mountain bike stage race from Victoria to Whistler. BUT lucky for me Andreas Hestler who was helping organize/promote the race asked me if I wanted to do a "guest stage" of the race and hand out awards. Hmmm lets see, ride some fun west coast trails, with no pressure of racing, in the hot summer sun, in the MIDDLE of the week, to chat with people and check out the event. Tough choice. I signed up for the Squamish to Whistler stage because I would have some turnaround time at home after Quebec and I knew the trails would be super fun. I partnered up with Lesley Tomlinson (Rocky Mountain Haywood) and Karen Eller (Scott) for the day. I rarely get to mountain bike with girls so it was a blast riding with them, although I did feel a bit guilty about passing people that had 5 days of riding in their legs.....The organizers took great care of me with a big loot bag, dinner and some awesome riding. Definitely a race I will have to add to the list. So many....

Another "local" race I got to do was the Padden Mountain Pedal - a classic race that has been running for 15 years. In fact, it was one of my first year pro races. I remember it well because the crazy organizer (Mark Peterson my Kona Les Gets manager) had us line up one deep across this field and sprint for a narrow opening to see who won the hole shot $$. It was nutty for the girls race and absolutely chaotic for the men. He resurrected the start format for this years race. I had a blast racing some great single track, having fun with the twisty, flowy trails that would never be found on world cup courses (not up to code....). It helped me remember why I race mountain bikes. Its so easy to get caught up in all the world cup hype with points and selection criteria and start getting down on yourself but riding some super fun trails at a grassroots event brings it all back into perspective. Now I am not getting soft on you but I have had a frustrating year of racing and I think I just needed to remember the fun side of racing again. So with a couple weeks at home recharging I am set for Nationals - bring it on!