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 (, 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!

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.

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.

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.

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!