Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Belgie Christmas

With the Zolder World Cup race on Boxing day we didnt really celebrate much of Christmas on the day. Stefan and Helen, sporting her "I HEART CHRISTMAS" pin, woke up early to open presents but the rest of us rolled out of bed much later and all that was left was ripped paper and a few things under the tree. I got some yummy Belgian chocolate and a heart shaped frying pan for my eggs! (I had cracked last trip and bought the house a couple of new frying pans so my eggs wouldnt taste like burnt bacon). A preride on the course and race prep was about as festive as we got after that. Ok maybe I had some of my Xmas chocolate...

The Zolder course was super fun. A lot of the girls were surprised at what they had put together but I thought it was a great course. Twisting in and around a formula 1 race track, it used the sandy banks and woods to make a short fast loop that on the day, was pretty frozen as it hovered around zero.

As I looked around on the start line I realized that I was one of the few gals that did not have legs or knees on. Hmm. Usually I use Georgia Gould as my litmus paper as she is always wearing fewer clothes than me. Not today. No time to reconsider. The light turned green and we were off down the loooong paved straightaway. Unfortunately the stretch pinched at the finish banner and as a result I got pushed back further than normal. And then things got chaotic. Every second corner we turned had bodies on the ground or piled up in the corner. I am not sure what the hell happened but I do know someone tried to ride OVER me as I have tire burn marks up my calf. I stayed pretty calm and passed girls here and there. I made my way up to the chase group and could see the lead group but as things got more technical it was harder to make up time. Frozen descents. Brick wall run ups. Sandy corners. When Maryline Salvetat came by me with a few gals on the start of the second lap  I knew it was now or never for the bridge. Apparently I had the 2nd fastest lap but never quite made the jump to the lead group. Salvetat did.

So that left me "drafting" off a wee Czech girl. I was trying to race smart but I the 5ft-er was doing nothing for me and a few girls were closing in so I decided to push on. The wee one drafting off me the whole time. Once she realized where I was making time on her, she starting to CHOP me.  I got pissed off and started to chop back. two can play at that game. Unfortunately we started to focus too much on each other instead of the overall picture and lost a couple spots out of stupid passes. On the last lap, after my battle with the wee one was over and I was spent, I saw Luna colours charging hard. What the hell? I just assumed Georgia was ahead of me. She passed me and then proceeded to fly head first over her bars and eat shit on the last sandy corner. I had to scramble around here and run scared up the finish chute to stay ahead for 9th place. 

We celebrated Christmas last night (27th) with a big feast. Stefan spent all day in the kitchen roasting chickens, veggies, making custard and nutroast. It was so yummy it did not last long. But we will need the fuel as we have hit a cold snap here in Belgium and its hard to stay warm. Next race Azencross Dec 30th. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shaky take off

So I am back in Belgium and it hardly seems like I left. Back in the Tielt-Winge house with the Brits but this time with a few extra canucks in the mix (Natasha Elliott, Derrick St John, Aaron Schooler and Andre Sutton). More of us seem to be coming over for the Xmas racing scene and the Brits seem to take pity on us. Cheerio. Tut tut. 

It was a long haul from Nanaimo as there have been snow storms since the weekend before I left. Norm says there is now about 40cm of snow in Nanaimo! He has apparently been doing a LOT of trainer rides....poor Norm.

With the snow, every flight out of Nanaimo was cancelled the day before I was supposed to leave for Belgium. We started to think of a plan B. It involved ferries, buses and a lot of extra grunt work as I was traveling with a double bike case, a regular bike bag full of wheels, a carry on suitcase and a regular bag that was packed FULL. Not very mobile and no porters....semi pro. I checked the first flight the next morning and it was cancelled. Uh oh. I kept getting ready and checked the flight before mine and it was scheduled to go ahead so we made the decision to go for the flight and hope for the best. Except...Nanaimo drivers aren't known for their snow driving skills so it took a  loooong time to get to the airport and I was a late check in. With all the cancellations and Xmas in the horizon the plane was full and my bikes & bags did not make the flight. They even tagged my file LATE CHECK IN. Bugger (as the Brits would say). Oh well. At least I got first class seats all the way to europe. Ahhhhhh. And at least I packed some underpants and Ts so I didn't have to wallow in my own filth for 2 days waiting for my bags to arrive. I have done that before and its not pretty....

The Antwerp race was supposed to be a blow-out race so I didnt stress when my legs felt like C-R-A-P. And I mean poo. We got there a bit late and only squeezed in one lap on the course. I would have liked more because there was a lot of sand that was a make-or-break feature of the course. In the end I was in the "break" department. I got dropped by the leaders in the sand and I got dropped by the chase group in the sand. I thought I knew how to ride sand but apparently not like the euros. But I didn't expect too much and my legs actually raced better than they felt so an Ok start to the campaign. We drove back ate, got a massage, unpacked, repacked and went to bed. 

We had an early start Sat morning as Nommay was almost 6 hrs away. My legs felt worse and a 6 hr drive was probably not going to help so I pulled on my new SKINZ that Norm got me for Xmas. They definitely helped. The Canucks had rented the Listers sprinter van so we looked legit. It was no Swift pink RV camper van of style but the next best thing.

Race day. We got an early call as the Brits and Canuck were all on random doping control. As were the Belgians and Czechs. Convenient that we were all in the same hotel hmmmm. Blood for hematocrit. At least they wore gloves this time...The Nommay race was a new one for me and it was actually pretty cool. Super muddy course with some fun twists and turns and ups and downs. I had a perfect start and went into the sharp corner into the stairs top 5 without killing myself (it was a crazy start) but managed to hit a stake with my shifter less than a minute later. dammit. Then the masses started to come. 

I was riding technically pretty well but didnt seem to be pumping out as much power as the other girls so they would catch me on the muddy straightaways. It was a great battle from about 8th-18th. Lots of back and forth with pits, errors, strengths and weaknesses. back and forth. back and forth. A ding dong battle as Norm would say. Helen was away up front but myself, Natasha and Gabby were in the ding dong battle together so our pit crew was run ragged with bike changes for all of us at least every lap. I got my mudders back on the second last lap and decided to keep them, as they were riding the mud much better than my B bike tires. I made a move (undetectable to the human eye I am sure) on the last lap and caught and dropped a group of 4 girls with Natasha but then a couple (including Natasha) came back from the dead and caught me guess where - the last mud straightaway. I went into the finishing stretch worked over and looked back to make sure I was in the clear. I saw someone in my periphery but too far back to get me. wrong. Gabby Day nipped me on the line for 14th. serves me right.....

Then as a final smack I was a random for doping controls after the race. again. crap. 

So although I was world number one at the start of the season I seem to keep slipping. slipping. slipping. time to get back on track...

Friday, December 12, 2008

USGP Portland - Pair of 5's

Portland. The heart of CX racing in North America. Maybe I am a little biased because I am from the West Coast but from what I have seen, it really is THE hot spot of CX culture this side of the Atlantic. Rabid fans that come out in the worst possible conditions to wag their cowbells at you, inventors of "the windmill of death" and the only place you will see a full drum corps belting it out while hurricane winds threaten to blow them away. So when the weather called for sun and balmy temps it was hard to believe the usual mudfest might not happen. Huh?

Since I missed the first USGP weekend in Kentucky I wasn't really in the running for overall series standing. In fact with all the issues my belly was throwing out at me Portland was more of a tester to see if I would be leaving for europe as planned. I was starting to feel better but my training had taken a bit of a hit. Its pretty hard to throw down hard efforts when you are surviving on rice, applesauce, yogurt and bananas. I don't know how vegetarians race...I was craving red meat and feeling oozy for lack of...No meat makes Wendy a useless feeb.

Me leading out eventual winner and overall USGP series winner Katerina Nash (LUNA).photo by Russell Anderson

Sunny skies on Saturday or rain and mud on Sunday, the outcome was the same. I had great starts and managed to ride with the leaders for a couple laps but just could not hold it. Once the pressure was applied I slipped. A bit depressing yes, but deep down I knew it was a good sign that I at least had something in there to play with. It didn't last as long as my 40min race but it was there and I didn't want to puke after the effort. Euro was a go. I had taken a hit but I could only get stronger - right? Nothing like the world stage to get your ass in gear quickly.

Me, in the Portland mud pre-fade. photo by Russell Anderson

While I was squeeking out 5th place finishes, Norm was the one piloting his Major Jake like a pro as he finished 3rd on Saturday and an easy FIRST on Sunday! Impressive, most impressive. The best part was that every lap he passed the Kona tent he looked over and had a HUGE grin on his muddy face! He wanted to make SURE that I saw his dominating performance.

Norm Thibault and his muddy 2-pack after his big WIN at the USGP in Portland. photo by Joe Sales

We decided to skip the after party and head North. When we crossed the border the guard asked us where we had been and as usual, we replied with the generic "bike race". But then he asked us if we had been at a road race or a CYCLOCROSS race! Norm laughed and asked him how he knew about cyclocross and he replied "it's my job to know everything". You know the sport is growing fast when the border guards know what it is.

So while the US crew are racing for the stars and stripes jersey this weekend I am packing up for a long haul in europe. The doctors called back and finally figured out what was making me feel like crap for so long - apparently somewhere along my travels I had some undercooked sausage and one of the bad guy bacteria started the party. Stupid pork.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Me, before compression sox were hot.

I am good at the bull, no?! (bonus points if you can name this quote). Me proving I am worthy at my stag.

Me in my BMX days (on the left, the not-so-cute one) with my sister Sharon
The Simms family muscle. L-R Sister Heather, Sister Sharon, Sister-in-Law Wendy & me

Hanging out at the Sneddon household means guns for everyone! No animals were harmed in the taking of this photo. Actually if you must know the truth most of us (OK the one girl) had to be told how to hold a gun.

Proof that my "suffer face" makes me look like I am smiling. photo by Joe Sales.

The underpants-on-head war. Norm lost.

My sister Sharon. On the right, duh.

Its been a couple weeks and people are harassing me for a new entry so I better blog, else I get beaten with a wrench (at Master got me workin'....

New Jersey USGP
Updates: So since I have returned from Europe I raced the USGP in New Jersey, quite possibly the muddiest cross race I have ever seen. Normally I would be ecstatic with so much running (we counted 8x off the bike/lap) but I still had my belly issues so I was in survival mode. I almost quit half way through the race Sat but since it was only THREE laps, by the time I was contemplating curling up in the fetal position and crying for my mommy I only had 1.5 laps to go. I went into damage control and rolled in 5th. My body was wasted with the effort and I couldn't even go out for dinner Sat night. Sunday's race seemed a bit better as I accepted that I just wouldn't be able to go off the front with the Luna gals so I didn't demo myself off the line. With a little extra energy I could at least respond to attacks, most importantly the one Mo threw at me with half a lap to go so I rolled in 4th. I am never happy with 4th but this one didn't seem so bad.

Cross on the Rock
At least now I was going home. I could see my doctor, eat my own food, sleep in my own bed, ride my own trails and Norm would be there to nurse me back to health. Well, sort of. We had the last Cross on the Rocks race of the season in Nanaimo a few days after I got back from NJ. We had a house full of volunteers and I was out in the pouring rain sledge hammering wooden posts into the ubdergrowth for 2 days. BUT it was sunny and warm for the last race of the season and we had the biggest whirly whirl I have ever seen so somehow it was worth it.

So 5 weeks later I am still keenly aware of the nearest toilet and doctors can't tell me what is causing havoc in my belly. I even broke down and went to a naturopath so I am sitting here drinking stinging nettle leaves after spending $200 on pixie dust. Hippie. So forgive me if I haven't updated my blog recently. Maybe when the pixie dust kicks in and I have my energy back I will have some good news to write about and be eager to share. So until then I have decided to share some entertaining photos. Enjoy

Friday, November 14, 2008

I miss skinsuit Fridays.....Nothing like eating breakfast in your chammy.

Monday, November 10, 2008


ugh. Im not doing so good here. There is a party going on in my stomach and after a week and a half its turned into a bit of a rager. Fireworks. Beach Volleyball. Food fights. Water slides. Think - girls gone wild - but in this case its "Bacteria gone wild." I think it started out pretty tame. Some foreigners moved in next door. Maybe Czech, maybe Belgian but definitely not Canadian. My good guys were just being polite and invited them over for dinner but the foreigners started to get a bit rowdy.  Hanging from the chandelier, doing cannonballs in the pool and sneaking in their buddies. Eventually they took off their fake mustaches and exposed themselves for who they really were: the Bad guys.  My good guys tried to kick them out. They were holding strong for almost a week, patrolling the perimeters, identifying the bad guys and battling them liek Spartans. But.....then I made the mistake of having a glass of wine with dinner one night. The good guys weren't used to alcohol and got a bit drunk and fell asleep at their stations so the bad guys had a mass orgy and snuck in some buddies and thats when the party got a bit crazy. As the world cup race approached I brought in the reserves to help me get through the race. I called in Immodium to block the back door.  It was either that or poop my pants during the race. Not cool. I thought it might put a damper on the party but it just pissed them off and they went OFF in there and now I am paying the consequences. The place is getting trashed and the good guys are in rough shape. But I have called off Immodium and the new strategy is to block the front door. No more deliveries to this party. I am going to starve them out. See how fun a party with no food is, boys. My apologies to the good guys left in there but I need to start from scratch.

Oh yeah the race. I guess you want to hear about the Pijnacker world cup. I had a phenomenal start. One of my best. Second into the mud. Perfect position as there was going to be chaos behind me in the thick mud. Unfortunately I did not have the energy to back up my start. I just did not have the power to push through the mud. So I got passed. I could not even capitalize on crashes around me. I had to change my strategy after the first lap and put in my small ring hoping to maybe spin through the mud but it was only marginally better. Even 3 bike changes did not help me, I was losing time there too. Everytime I rode a section and passed a few girls, they would pass me back on the power sections. I was getting schooled. Rolled into 14th exhausted, not sure whether I was going to puke or soil my skinsuit. At least I wasn't called for doping control, that might have been a bit awkward.......

Monday, October 27, 2008

Robbie giving the Queen Ann some love

Jergen and Stefan prepping the bikes

The CZE smog 

They are rubber boots. But they look like converse! How cool is that?

Tabor, CZE World Cup #2

I have never been to Czech Republic so I was pretty excited to race in a new country. It was a long haul but traveling with the Swift crew in their sweet pink camper van makes travel a hell of a lot smoother. Our crew was Stefan Wyman (Helen’s husband and the Swift team manager), Robbie the mechanic and Jergen the soigneur. Luckily Helen and Gabby were willing to share their mens. On the way down I watched the 2006 Tabor race to get an idea of the course. Grass. Fast. Not much else to report. When we got there Sat afternoon (after everyone playing a viscious game of scrabble in the back got brutal headaches once we hit the twisty turny roads of CZE) it hadn’t changed much. Grass. Fast. And long. There were 3 big metal up and over bridges and 2 sets of stairs scattered on the hilly course.

We went to find our Hotel but the signs looked more like a strip club than the official UCI accommodation. Hmmm. The smog (pollution filled fog) was rolling in when Stefan returned from the manager meeting with news and numbers. They were doing call up by UCI ranking so my “world number one” status was getting me on the line first. I figured if there was ever going to be a time when I would be a “random” choice for doping controls it would be now. Did I mention I was world number one?

The vampires came for me the morning of the race. But they were pretty nice vampires. I was a little disturbed when they went to take blood from me and they didn’t have gloves. What is the deal? Can the UCI not afford gloves to work with the blood and piss required to test athletes. The blood was for a quick hematocrit test that they would do at the race venue. If it was “abnormal” I wouldn’t be allowed to start. 

So as world number one I was part of the front row club. I am not going to lie. It’s a lot different up there. It really IS that much better. I had a great start without burning too many matches even after sustaining a massive blow from 66kg of pure German muscle going into the first corner. I may only have 60kg to hold my ground but I was a solid kid nicknamed “The Wall” in soccer. You are going to have to do better than that. I settled in behind Hanka and Daphny. I know we had just started but it wasn’t even that fast up here. This is what the front row club is all about. I wanted a permanent membership. I was sitting 3rd wheel for most of the first two laps. Nice and comfortable. Everything was great until I slipped a pedal and tried to make up the time on a fast steep bumpy downhill. I went in so hot I blew out the corner and shot UNDER the course snow fencing. Rung my bell. Stunned I crawled back underneath, almost got gunned down by the chase group and jumped on my bike. But my chain was off so I had to get off and manually do it. More riders whizzed passed me. Possible podium to 15th. arrrrrg. Dammit! I was starting to despair at the distance to the next group when Helen bridged up and stomped on the gas up the long hill. Her “come on, Wendy!” was all I needed to focus again. I rested up behind her for a bit and then took the lead at the start/finish. No more front row club. I was back to working my ass off. All alone. It took me 2 laps of suffering but I tagged onto the end of the first chase group. But the effort had taken its toll. I was dangling dangerously. I was wiped. I rested up a bit and then Robbie and the boys were yelling at me to move up so I struggled up to 3rd wheel. It was not pretty. Then we caught Daphny. I knew I should keep moving forward but I didn’t have the juice and stayed put to end up 7th overall. Bittersweet…

My doping control chaperone had to wait a few minutes for me to be able to talk. Long enough to hear that poor Gabby Day was running the last half lap. I was a “random.” Again. I started drinking as soon as I could. When it was my turn I could only eek out 60mL so I was relegated to the wait room until I could bring the cup up to a solid 100mL. Sitting in the wait room with a sample of my own pee. Not cool for conversation. 4L of water, 3 tries and 125mL of amber urine later I was allowed to go.

So my membership to the front row club has likely expired as European champs are next week and with it, points I am not allowed to get. I am surely bumped from World Number One and likely bumped from the front row. But I got a taste and -Wendy like - so I hope to be back soon.

-The mullet is alive and well in the Czech Republic
-The fans are no where near the numbers you see at Belgium races but you can always count on the Czech fans for a real air raid siren and I was not let down
-2010 World Champs is in Tabor but it will likely be a different game played on ice and snow in Jan of that year

Thursday, October 23, 2008

kmag just sent me a great quote:

Talent is nice. Guts are better

- John Munroe

Im getting HUGE-er in Finland

(YAWN) so maybe you have heard the news, I am currently ranked #1 in the WORLD at the moment. I am for SURE going to be even bigger in Finland. When I ride down the street here in Belgium, people yell out "Hey Wendy Simms, world #1!!" (OK it was Helen and Gabby). I figure Canada should really name a stat holiday named after me now. 

2009 UCI Cyclo-Cross Rankings
Women Elite

Last ranking / Women Elite : 20.10.2008
Ranking Winner

Mondial Ranking SIMMS Wendy (CAN)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Tielt Winger crew. photo by some random Belgian in the crowd....

Back in Belgium!
After Nationals I went home for a day, unpacked everything, washed everything and then repacked everything. 40 hour complete turnaround. The Air Canada check in lady was a little frazzled with her deja vu as a few days ago when I checked in she had gotten in trouble for not charging me for the bikes. This time I was traveling with a big double bike case AND a separate bike bag full of FSA wheels (I couldn't leave them at home!) so I thought for sure she would be double dinging me for 2 bike bags. I was ready with the VISA but she must have really hated her job because she waived me through with no excess baggage charges. Apparently someone had been a tattle-tale last time and that was why she had to call me out of the boarding area to pay when I was almost through, scott free. Suzie Suck-up was not there today so free bike travel combined with my business class upgrade and things were looking good. I was traveling so smooth I didn't even mind the overly chatty guy next to me complaining about the shoddy decor and seating in Air Canada planes. Blah blah blah. Yah I get it, you have $$$. Headphones on.

I am staying at the Wymans in Tielt Winge for the month so Stefan picked me up and Helen had dinner waiting for me! More smooth. The house was full of cyclists from around the world as per usual and whose American twang do I hear when I walk in, but Garry and Betty, friends of Barb Howe's that I met last year in Belgium! Small world. There was lots of talk about racing and racers and bikes and everything else but I was fading fast. I crashed hard and slept until almost 10am. Yikes. But a few fuzzy jet lagged days and a leg flush from Jergen and I was ready to go.

We took the pink Swift "camper van" (translation: RV)  to the race. Traveling in STYLE. Checked out the course at Kalmthout and I loved it! FOUR sets of stairs (yes I said FOUR and two were almost on top of one another), a few lollipop 180degree turns and a lot of twisty, turny, swoopy tracks through the woods plus a couple of sand pits. I do love the world cup courses. They is just SO much going on. 

I had a pretty good call up from last years UCI ranking - 9th - so I was on the second row. I needed a good start as the course had some turns coming up pretty quick. Unfortunately the gun went "click" pause "click" so the start was a bit crazy as some bolted at the clicks, some rolled off the line, some laughed and I stupidly paused thinking that they would call a false start. I should know better. This happened to me last year and they never call a false start (unless you are Sven Nys). Go with it. So my start was not great and I went into the dirt in the 20s as I got squeezed out by many in the terrifying corners off the start. The race was strung out immediately so I had to pick people off whenever I could. I soon realized my long legs could do it on the stairs with ease so one by one I picked the minis off. I was moving through nicely but the lead group of 6-7 was gone. So when Maryline Salvetat from France bridged up to me I decided to play smart and get some rest on her wheel. It was a good place to be until a few girls bridged up and on the last lap sharpened their blades, I mean elbows. I had forgotten how pushy and aggressive these gals are. I got slammed into the gates twice by the same chick, squeezed out by another and T-boned (on purpose) by a third, all in about the span of 2mins. I was pissed. I had not worked this hard to get shut out by demolition derby style racing. I passed mini#1 on the stairs and then set my sights on the menace, but by then Salvetat had made a break. I squeezed some anger into my legs and bridged and then passed the menace in a sprint finish for 8th. I was wasted but happy my legs could talk back. But next time  missy, it will be elbows. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships & Jim Horner UCI race
Edmonton, Alberta

As we boarded the plane to head to Edmonton for CX Nationals, the Air Canada agents laughed at us and told us to expect snow. They weren't far off on the temperature scale (it was hovering around freezing) but we were lucky to get mostly sun for the weekend. I had raced the Jim Horner event here last year so I had a pretty good idea of the course - a long (3.1km), fast, mostly grassy loop with a few tight corners and a fun bowl section with some ups and downs. Nothing too extreme, but not a lot of rest.

Edmontonian love
As always, the Edmonton hospitality was in full effect the moment we arrived. Dan from the Juventus Cycling Club that hosted the event gave us a guided tour of the course before it was even set up, Don Fox the organizer invited Mike Garrigan and myself to be on Breakfast TV to promote the event as the defending National Champions, and Tom from River Valley Cycles (second biggest Kona dealer in Canada) gave us a guided tour of his shop and helped out our Junior travel buddy Nick Holatko (team BC) whose bike had a catastrophic failure while we were doing a 5 up sprint pre-riding the course. For the record, Nick did get the holeshot on the sprint but a few pedal strokes later his bike exploded and ended up in pieces. Not bad for an 80lb 16 year old kid (should have bought a Kona).

The main event
With Lyne Bessette retired, the question was whether Alison Sydor would start. She hadn't shown up at a single CX race yet this year and she did not seem like the type to "wing it" unprepared so I had my doubts. In the end she was a no show. So there would be a lot of strong cyclists at the race but only a few pure CX addicts. It wasn't a very technical course so I figured if they were smart, a few could work together and pose a problem. Star crossed 2007 ring a bell to any of the gals that ganged up on me? Boooo. But that didn't change my stratgey. I wanted to go off the front from the gun and see who was game. I got a gap on the first lap and it was only young Pepper Harlton (Team Alberta/Juventus) that posed a threat. I had raced her last year and knew she had speed, skill and guts but not a lot of endurance built up yet so I kept my eye on her. Any problems and she would be able to close the gap quickly. She held the ~20 second gap steady for a couple laps but then faded a bit near the end of the race so I got to cruise into the finish and savour my 4th National Championship title. Red and white for another year!

My fourth National Championship title! photo by Joe Sales

Overzealous Officials

Its a bit unfortuante that even though the Juventus Cycling Club put on a great event the talk of the weekend was the overly anal officials enforcing random UCI rules. It was like they had scanned the rules manual (and there a LOT of UCI rules) and cherry picked their favourite obscure ones to enforce. At registration they told everyone that there would be a mandatory bike check 30mins before the start. ?? A bike check, WTF?? Apparently they were going to check and enforce rule

1.3.013 The peak of the saddle shall be a minimum of 5 cm to the rear of a vertical plane passing through the bottom bracket spindle

So 30mins before my race I went to the tent for my bike check. On an uneven grassy field with the wind blowing the plumb line they eyeballed my bike without a ruler. The "expert" said ohhh, uhhhm, yeaahhh, I don't know, this one is pretty close and called in another official expert. Ohhhh, uhhhmmm, yeahhh, I don't know, this one is close, get her on the bike. So I got on my bike against a table and they "measured" from my knee. They made it seem like they were doing me a favour and let it slide but I was supposed to go in the box now 30mins before my race or risk getting checked again. I chose to continue my warm up.

Contrary to UCI rules which state that the podium event should take place right after the race, Norm's awards ceremony for the Masters race was 2+ hours after his finish so he decided to stop the festering in his crotch and change out of his chammy. He went to the podium for his third place in pants and a Frontrunners jersey. As this is against rule

1.2.113 Unless otherwise stated, riders shall appear at official ceremonies wearing competition clothing.

Norm got FINED for wearing inappropriate gear to the podium. And he also got a fine for giving sass to the officials (although I can't find this rule in the UCI handbook....). They didn't actually tell him that he was fined, the posted it on an official communique that he happened to see outside the clubhouse. He was pissed! You can guess he will be protesting that fine. Two can play at that game.

After my award ceremony (in full accordance with rule 1.2.113) I asked an official if I could wear my pre screened KONA National Champion jersey for the UCI race the next day. They said yup no problem. Wait let me check with another official, yup no problem. But I had remembered some random rule reference a few years ago that you couldn't wear any sponsors on the jersey for 24hrs (I can't even find this rule, but i am getting a little dizzy). Since my race was 23hours later I decided to play it safe and wore my orange KONA skinsuit with the plain National Champ jersey over top (sorry Kona).

All bikes were supposed to be checked again for the UCI race on Sunday (you never know I might have slipped in a TT bike in while they weren't looking...) so as they were doing call ups (15mins before the race which is contrary to UCI rules) there was a line up of people waiting for their bike check to pass. I missed my call up. They called up everyone again and I was still in line. When I finally got through I was second last to pick a spot on the start grid. Our brand new National Champion in row 3. Respect. I wasn't the only front row racer to miss their call up so someone in the crowd yelled out "your start grid is all wrong" so a few of the girls moved aside and tried to let me through but the officials got very angry and said we would all be fined if they moved their position. You want to prove a point, I will prove a point. So I held my third row start position for the gun. The gun went off and I blew out all my anger and proceeded to get the holeshot. Bite me.

In the mens race, our new National Champion Geoff Kabush missed his call up and the racers moved aside to let him start on the front row. He was FINED $100 for not respecting the start order.

2008 Canadian National Champions. The commisaires tried to fine Geoff Kabush for wearing a hat on the podium but he reminded them this was not an official UCI podium. Suckers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Island Racing

So the reason we did a 48 hour turnaround in Vegas was because we had to get back to the Island for some local events that are too good to be missed. The Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race (MOMAR) was up in Cumberland Saturday, after-party Sat night up at Mount Washington and then the Ramble Mountain Bike marathon event was in Parksville Sunday. I was doing the double which ended up being about 10 hours of training and left me almost crippled.

I have been on an adventure racing hiatus for the past couple years but Norm convinced me to partner up with him at 8pm the night before the MOMAR race. With 1 paddle this summer (3 last year), minimal running and zero navigation we would not be back to our winning ways so we decided to go for the spirit award. Norm pulled out his golden box of 80s workout gear (a birthday present from Stefan and Ceri whose mom used to sell fitness gear). And team Frontrunners Fitness was born.

Wendy and Norm stretching Geo style after the MOMAR race. It turns out with 2.5 hours of hilly trail running (~30mins of that because of "misnavigation") we needed a lot more than stretching to recover. photo by Lisa Ludwig

Unfortuantely we only got an honourable mention as "Team Haggis" outdid us in the spirit department. 4 gals dressed up as Jimmy 1, Jimmy 2, Jimmy 3 and Jimmy 4 with kilts, orange matted wigs and matching plaid hats. I just about killed myself on the mountain bike portion of the race as my split shorts kept getting caught on my saddle. I am not sure how they managed riding trails that were in BC Bike Race in kilts?? At the after party Norm decide to pay tribute to the 20+ MOMAR races he has done in the last 9 years. He put on every Tshirt he had from every race and now I have a pretty good idea of what he will look like if he gets fat.

Fat Norm (with 20 MOMAR T-shirts on) caught loading up at the after-party dessert table. photo by Lisa Ludwig

I am not sure how I managed to get up the next morning and go to Parksville to race the Ramble marathon event. I could barely walk. But it was worth it. Bluebird day to race on some sweet singletrack and hang out with friends in the sun for burger and beer after the race. Ahh Island Life. Good times. Fat Norm never made it....

Cross Vegas

What can I say about this race other than its crazy. Thousands of fans spilling out of the beer garden onto the course, legends from the sport showing up to race and getting swarmed by fans trying to steal his number, vegas lights in the backdrop. Its nutty. Not my favourite course in the world as it is all grass that is so thick it feels like you are racing on shag carpet but its more about the "show". Norm came down with me this year because he wanted to see the show first hand and check out Interbike. He got dizzy there was so much stuff to see. 48 hours later we were back in BC waiting for a 20min flight home to Nanaimo. It got cancelled so we had to stay in the airport hotel. Should have stayed in Vegas for the KONA marriachi party.....

I got a picture taken with THE Jen Tilley. photo by Norm Thibault

A little muddy at Star Crossed. Photo by Joe Sales

Me in the "NACT" leaders jersey after the Rad Racing GP. Too bad I won't be doing anymore in the by Norm Thibault

Demo Dave looking buff in the pits at Rad Racing GP. No problem, he had it all figured out by Sunday. photo by Norm Thibault

Norm suffering on the Dale Knapp run-up. Dale Knapp getting a taste of his own pain. Photo by Joe Sales

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Star Crossed

Star Crossed always marks the start of the season for me. I love this race with its big crowds, beer garden and twisty course but unfortunately it usually ends up being the race where I work out the early season kinks. Even though it was the first race of the new "NACT" series (not the catchiest name boys....) I didn't have too many expectations. Norm finished putting together one of my two new Queen Ann's at about 11pm the night before so I almost expected something to go wrong. But it was a suprisingly smooth weekend of early season racing.

It poured the entire drive down to Seattle. Hmmm. Star crossed in the mud, I had never even thought about it. But when we rolled in there were puddles everywhere and the course was getting nicely chewed up by the early races. Interesting. Kona had sent down Demo Dave and Smiley to help us out. After calling cyclocross the "red headed bastard child of cycling" and admitting they had never been to a cyclocross race before, Norm whispered to me "don't worry I will be in the pits for you." Now, Dave is a great mechanic and a bright enough cookie so I wasn't too worried about him figuring it out until he helped me pit for Norm. Norm was having brake issues and needed my bike as a spare. I showed Dave what to do and he executed the bike catch smoothly...but....then he started casually walking away with the bike. "Uh Dave?" We need to get that bike fixed here and now because Norm is going to back for it in about 4 minutes. " He quickly returned and "we" tried to get it fixed. But when you mix someone who has never seen Spooky brakes before (Dave) with someone who is not very mechanically inclined (me) you sure as hell don't get the bike working in 4mins. Damn boutiquey bike parts. Poor Norm had to do a few drive by's only to keep moving on through on my "midget bike" as he called it. The mini screws were a bit stripped and the cable frayed so by the time Dave got it rideable Norm was almost done his race and finished it up on the midget Queen Ann. Maybe it would be best if Norm stayed in the pits with Dave during my race...

Unfortunately I missed my opportunity to pre-ride the course so I ended up on the start line blind. I had a good start but scaled back a bit to let someone else lead the way. Kristi Berg (Redline) had some great lines so I followed her but then she started to fall back so I moved up to wee Amy Dombrowski (Velo Bella) who is a roadie and I am guessing from her lines, not a mudder. Sue Butler (Monavie Cannondale) was riding smoothly up front and pulling away so I bridged up and let her show me the way. With no pre-ride I screwed up my gearing on a small climb and almost lost her, and probably got cussed out from those behind me. But I tagged back on and we worked together to get a good gap. I tried to drop her mid race but she was strong and had the fire so could not be scraped off my wheel. I changed my strategy and tried to rest up for the last lap but waited too long to make a move and came in for second. No mechanicals, no kinks, just have to get the brain back into a tactical mode for cross season. 

We were passing by the tent when the boys were getting ready for their race. Dave all chipper-like asked if there was anything special he needed to know for the pits. All we heard was a "yeah, just don't f*ck up." Norm gutted himself laughing. Poor Dave. Better hope for a clean race. There is no fury like the wrath of Ryan Trebon. But this time it was directed at the lapped rider that took him out, not Dave.

The next day the Rad Racing GP was more of the same, except this time I was better prepared. Sue and I got away and worked together to grow the gap on Amy Dombroski whose roadie legs were much quicker on the fast open terrain. I tried to drop Sue once but she was too strong so I waited patiently for the last lap. I punched it just before the 80m Dale Knapp run up and dropped her but punched it again at the top of the run up just to be sure. I kept the gap to the end to steal the NACT leaders jersey from her. Not bad for  early season racing. 

We missed the mandatory team Kona blackberry picking to race back to Canada and caught the 8:15 ferry home. Nice capper to a good weekend. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Me, eating SHIT over the barriers at the first cross race of the season. Its a little fuzzy but if you look closely you can see that my hands are still on the bars as I am pinned beneath my bike. Yep. Thats me. A professional cyclocross racer. No. I was not trying to bunny hop the barriers like Jeff Beeston did (smoothly). I just clipped my foot on the barrier, and as Sue Haywood likes to say "the hand of God came down and smacked me." Hard. Boom. I was down. The worst part is that I taught the Learn to Cyclocross Clinic about 3 hours earlier for all the beginners. Barriers were my specialty. Let's hope that is out of my system....
Thanks to Dave Shishkoff for the photo. I think its fuzzy because he was laughing so hard.

Canadian National Off Road Triathlon Championships.
Me, Melanie McQuaid and Danelle Kabush.
photo from

Norm has a theory. He says that ever year you should do some event that you are totally uncomfortable with and you are completely untrained for so you can remember what it feels like to race like a rookie from the back of the pack. Its actually a pretty good theory. It hurts like hell and its hard on the ego but it helps you develop some serious mental strength. This year my ego crushing event was the XTC off road "National Championships" at Buntzen lake near Vancouver. You might wonder how it could be ego crushing when I placed third, but lets get it out in the open right away - there were only three girls racing in the elite category.

If you know me at all, you know the Simms' are sinkers not swimmers. I am a cyclist and a runner but I am not a fan of the swimming and I don't swim well. That's not exactly true. I can breast stroke forever, but I flail at the freestyle. Norm was racing the triathlon so I was going to be there anyway but I was planning on doing the duathlon. Unfortunately no girls signed up so I decided to go for the triathlon. Hell, why not? My sister did an Ironman last year, the Simms' can't be that bad.

The morning of the race I got those pre race nerves that I haven't experienced for awhile. Just get through the swim. I hate cold water so I decided to go for the shock method and skip the warmup swim to stay dry onland. I started near the back of the swim pack to avoid the chaos. I didn't want to drown. The gun went off and within 100m I rememberd why I hadn't done a wetsuit swim for 4 years. The wet suit I borrowed doesn't fit me, so it felt like I had 10lb weights on my arm. Oh yeah and I hate swimming. So I switched to breaststroke. It was supposed to be temporary but I felt so comfortable I ended up breast stroking pretty much the entire 1.5km swim. I could swim in a straight line, I could breath and I could see the whole race. I felt like a bit of a fool but I wasn't here to impress. 2 laps of the swim course and I wasn't last! Goal#1 achieved. Sweet.

A slow transition (I guess most triathletes don't dry their feet, put on sox, change their shirts and tie up laces these days). and onto the bike. But my body was in a bit of shock when I jumped onto my Kula 29er and tried to chase down all those swimmers. It took my legs awhile to come around. A slightly faster transition and I was off running. I actually had a pretty good trail run except I was wearing a long sleeve jersey and was overheating like a non-Finn in a sauna. The run was a double loop so I got the opportunity to see just how far ahead 3X Xterra World Champion Melanie McQuaid (Nature's Path) was and Danelle Kabush (Luna) who was second at the Xterra World Championships in 2006. Ouch. I finished third of three girls. To rub it in even more, Melanie outsplit my shell shocked legs on the bike and Danelle had to nurse her baby on the start line. That stings. But I like to think of it as a podium at the Canadian National Off Road Triathlon Champiosnhips. It sounds much more impressive.

The next day I was absolutely wiped. Muscles in my body that I didn't know existed hurt like hell. More than a week later my groin is still tight from the out of the blue 1.5km breast stroke. So maybe it wasn't the best physical training I could have done for the start of the cyclocross season but it sure as hell makes me apprecioate the sport I chose. Stupid triathlon. But when the results came out I poured over all my times and compared them trying to figure out where I could shave time. There might be a little tri-nerd in me somewhere.

Im HUGE in Finland.

Almost a year ago, I inserted some Google analytics code into my blog site. It tracks who is visiting your blog and gives you a bunch of stats. I forgot about it until a month ago. I think part of me thought it would just pump out a few words:

"get a life, only your MOM reads your blog."

But I finally looked at the stats and it was actually pretty cool. How many people visit your site, when they visit it, where those people are from, who is a potential stalker etc etc etc. The most surprising stat was that FINLAND had the third highest number of people reading my blog after Canada and the US. Interesting. I figured it would be Belgium because I have raced there a lot, or Luxembourg because they adopted me at World Champs last year. But no. It was Finland. I have never been to Finland but apparently Im huge in Finland. If they ever have a big cross race in Finland I will have to go.

Better yet, I should go to Finland for the Sauna World Championships.

"Sauna aficionados Finland withstood the heat longest to win the 2008 Sauna World Championships in Heinola, Finland, defending their current reign as sauna champs. To do so, the Finns had to outlast tough competitors from Belgium and Belarus.

The competition saunas are much hotter than traditional Finnish saunas. “This is the wrong way to go to sauna, this is not about relaxing, this is competition,” Ossi Arvela, the head of the competition, told AFP. But that doesn’t stop dozens of sweaters from around the world coming to Finland each summer to test their personal heat endurance.

This year’s men’s champion, Finnish Bjarne Hermansson, stayed in the 110 degrees Celsius sauna for 18 minutes and 15 seconds. His skin dripping and beetroot red, Hermansson said “it feels wonderful, it is a dream come true.” The Finn has been training in hot saunas for 30 years, and has entered this competition every year since its inception in 1999.

This year’s female champion was Leila Kulin, who withstood the heat for five minutes and 21 seconds. In a nail-biting finish, Belarussian Natalya Tryfanava lost out by only one second. “The secret to my success was Finnish persistence,” Kulin told reporters just moments after she emerged from the sauna as the 2008 champion.

The sauna world championships have been held in Heinola since 1999. There were 164 combatants representing 23 countries in this year’s event. The Finns certainly have an advantage, however. Their country of 5.3 million boasts some 3 million saunas, and every Saturday virtually the entire nation heads to the nearest sauna to unwind."

My first magazine "cover" (OK it was the BACK cover but its still a cover)

When I first met Norm, he told me that one of his goals in life was to be on the cover of a magazine. I thought that sounded like a pretty cool goal so I stole it and made it my goal too. I am currently winning. The Kona Major Jake ad starring ME, made the back cover of Bike magazine this month. Not too shabby for a stolen goal.

If you feel bad for Norm - don't. He stole my goal to compete in as many different world championships as possible and is currently beating me at my own goal. Norm has raced World Champsionships for Xterra, Ironman, Cyclocross, ITU Triathlon and Muddy Buddy (a team of 2 does a marathon with crazy obstacles and one bike between them). I have Mountain Bike, Muddy Buddy and Cyclocross World Champiosnhips under my belt but I kind of got addicted to cyclocross and stalled out and now I am running out of time. So I have been searching for obscure World Championship events to surpass Norm: Rock Paper Scissor World Championships, Extreme Ironing World Championships, Texting World Championships and the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships. Maybe one of those will get me a FRONT cover....

Extreme Ironing World Championships.

Rock Paper Scissor World Championships. RPS for those in the know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Trans Rockies photos
by Norm Thibault (with his new fisheye lens - don't be alarmed)

If my nose looks big with a fisheye lens what the hell will the Wicknasty nose look like??

Marty LOVES TRans Rockies!

Tent city at Nipika

Our super support man - Rollin. Rollin LOVES Trans Rockies! He won 3 of the 7 stages (being the first RV to get to the next site). There were rumours of a few RVs driving erratically and speeding excessively throughout the week. We are pretty sure Rollin was leading the way.

Marty got a lot of treats for being the first model for Norm to practice with his new fisheye lens

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trans Rockies

DAY 1 Panorama – K2 ranch 52km, 2478m elevation
Day 1 is usually relatively easy. A late start and a short day so everyone can get sorted and have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the week to come. Apparently the TR crew didn’t get “the memo” as the race started STRAIGHT up to the top of Panorama ski hill off the gun. Ouch. I was suffering within 10mins and had to scale back. We tried to keep Katerina Nash and her partner Steve Wallace (Clif Bar) in sight to limit the damage but I can’t say I was moving very quickly. I recovered a bit near the top half of the climb and we caught them just as we jumped into the singletrack. They were pulled over putting more clothes on as it was pretty damn chilly at altitude. Some serious off camber traverses, hike-a-bikes, fresh cut trail and goat tracks took us even higher. We rode together for most of it, which was pretty fun as I never see Katerina off the line at World Cups. Norm and I dropped them near the top of the hike a bike and tried to keep some distance. I was a little worried when it started to SNOW as we had gone with the lightweight approach to the “easy day” and didn’t have a lot of extra clothes or food. But the hike-a-bike kept us warm and then the sun came out when we first started to descend. Norm flatted on the fast descent but even with the quick fix team Clif Bar caught us. We rode together for a bit trying to figure out a good time to stop as Norm’s tire was not holding air. No good time really so we had to stop and top it up losing contact with the small train. But we somehow managed to TTT back up to them and drop them just before the finish to get a small gap of just over a minute. Easy first day my ass….. But we got some sweet purple leaders jerseys for winning the Open Mixed category, a good start to the week.

DAY 2 K2 Ranch – Nipika
This day was insane. It was going to be a hard stage to begin with but we went and made the race even harder and longer. The source of the chaos was the hike-a-bike straight up an avalanche field. It was so steep everyone was just following the leader and putting one foot in front of the other. Everytime we looked up the hill all you could see was racers carrying their bikes so you put your head back down and kept moving forward. It got colder. The altitude started making it hard to breath for us sea level weenies and Norm was cramping badly. Everyone was hating it. We had a 5min gap on team Clif Bar but that wouldn’t last long if Norm seized up. Suddenly there was chaos and voices in the bush next to us and boulders rolling down the steep hill at us, as everyone was turning around and scrambling asking when the last time we saw an orange ribbon. Apparently we had all missed the turn off. Some people went to the very top of the ridge to look around, some people came back down and a group of us decided it was too dangerous to dislodge giant boulders on the heads of 100+ racers below us so we bush whacked back down the mountain until we hit the trapper trail. We eventually found the trail and kept riding. We kept expecting the leaders to catch up with us but they never did…apparently they had scaled back down the avalanche field and by the time they found the turn off, 100+ teams from the back of the pack had found it too and the singletrack was jam packed. Team Clif bar was in this boat so they came in an hour behind us. The TR organizers decided to acknowledge the stage results but not count it towards the general classification. It was probably the only fair thing to do since we had all been affected differently but a hard pill to swallow after putting in a hard 6+hr day on the bike with a solid gap on 2nd place before the chaos. Plus there were a few murmurings that the bush whackers were cheaters so going up for the stage win that day did not have the glory it was supposed to. If I had known it was going to end like that I would have stayed in bed. We still had the purple jerseys but my quads hurt like hell and it was only going to get worse.

DAY 3 Nipika – Nipika TTT
Last year we had a forced Nipika – Nipika stage because of the raging forest fires. Everyone loved it so much they decided to keep it again this year. It was a chance to avoid the hassle of packing up and the luxury of sleeping in! They also decided to try a team time trial format which was pretty cool. ~50km of the best singletrack Nipika had to offer. They split the racers into thirds and had 3 start times, 9am, 11am and we started at 1:00pm with 1min intervals between teams. With stage 2 results nullified we were still only just over a minute ahead of team Clif bar and one spot ahead of them on GC (18th overall) so they started right behind us. We were riding pretty well or so we thought until 25mins into the ~3hour TTT we saw Katerina and Steve RIGHT behind us! Uh oh. We better get our butts in gear. We pulled the Wicks maneuver and as soon as thy got close we charged ahead. We were running scared the rest of the race and put ~15mins into them. Apparently they had started a wee bit too fast and had a rough go after we dropped them. What was supposed to have been a pretty mellow day ended up beating the crap out of us. But we had another win and had a bigger buffer for the purple jersey.

DAY 4 Nipika – Whiteswan Lake
Hump day. Today Rollin won the support crew race! It is a competitive scene, with the support crew and Rollin is probably one of the most experienced. He packs up and moves the Rv to an easily exit-able location, cheers us on the start line and then hightails it out ahead of the RV train that moves too slowly for his liking. He likes to arrive first and get a sweet spot for camp and brag about his race to us when we arrive. Ah Rollin! For us it was a long day too. Lots of road and lots of climbing. We were in a great groove riding along well 15km from the finish on a fast road with super strong teams when Norm flatted. Damn! So much for our free ride into the finish Norm tried to refill his tube with a CO2 cartridge but it wouldn’t hold. So he went for the full fix but when he tried to get the valve out it was seized. Sticky Stans is good for some things, not so good for others…Uh oh. Ring a bell Stefan? We tried a sealant cartridge to see if it would seal but he just managed to get it ALL over him. I couldn’t help but laugh! He smashed the valve with a rock for a bit and got it off. Shoo. We got a tube out and did the change and although a whole whack of teams passed us, we were on our way. But the tube wasn’t holding air. So we had to stop again. Tried another tube but it had a hole in it. Our third and last tube was an ancient old school green latex tube that had been kicking around for about 10 years. It held! But just as he fixed it, the single speeder open mixed team passed us. We got back on our bikes and charged so hard. We caught and passed them on the downhill (they were spinning their one gear out so fast it wasn’t that difficult). Norm nursed it to the finish but it was a bit sketchy. Another first and more purple jerseys for the collection.

DAY 5 Whiteswan Lake - Elkford
It was a clear blue sky at 8am when we started today. Of course the sun hadn’t gotten over the mountains surrounding our campsite. Whiteswan Lake is one of our favourite stops on the TR tour. It is absolutely gorgeous here. The stars at night are incredible. But we were too tired to enjoy them for very long….sleep was more important. Today the group stayed together for a bit longer as there was about 15km of fireroad off the start. Nice little warm up as each day our pre race “warm up” was getting shorter and shorter. 5min spin in the sunny part of the field was about as good as it gets on day 5. We had a great ride today. Really steady climbing and stayed with fast teams at pretty key times. Norm had a bit of an energy dip with 20km to go. He shoved a whole bunch of wagon wheels in his mouth at the last aid station and took a few chocolate bars for the road. I tried to encourage him – only 20km to go! But realistically it was 15kms straight up that was granny gear climbing or hike a bike ending in a really long rocky rocky descent that ends in the dreaded “rock garden”. But his sugar rush helped him get through it and we rolled in first again. We have a 40min buffer on the Open Mixed lead but you never know what will happen so we have 2 days left to survive.
Day 6 Elkford to Crowsnest Pass
I am not going to lie to you, today was bit of a bitch. 100km of riding with 3000m of climbing. Ouch. The worst part was the first 5km of teh race climbing up and out of Elkford. Normally this would be fine. Hide in the group and get pulled up. But at the top of the climb was tight singletrack so the pace was furious as everyone tried to get their first. I managed to stick with the top men until about the last km when I popped off the back. I was bogged down by a few guys who forgot how to ride a bike, but not as many as those behind us. Unfortuantely we popped out onto the fireroad in no mans land. The fastest mens teams ahead and our normal group behind. We should have eased up until they caught us but no, we decided to chase down Garrigan and the leaders of the Master category. SOOOOOO close. We got within 5ft but missed the boat. It was too long of a day to kill ourselves so we settled in with Team WORC. Until I flatted. I was pissed off! We had worked so hard to get ahead of all those teams in the singletrack and they all blew past us while we fixed my flat on teh side of the road (including Team Clif bar). The only cool thing was I saw a marmot trying to cross the road between all these teams. Funny! He had no clue what was going on. We caught up to Katerina and Steve and rode with them for a big chunk of the day which was pretty fun. It was obvious they were getting stronger. That was until Steve crashed hard on a rocky descent and broke his thumb. Ouch. Norm was there when it happened so he made sure they were Ok but they decided to keep riding. Hard core. We felt a bit cheezy winning the stage against a broken thumb but Micaal and Dallas were riding strong so we had to keep racing.
Day 7 Crowsnest Pass to Fernie
Last day. I am usually a "cracker" on the last day of these multi day stage races. Norm gets stronger mentally and physically as the race goes on whereas I seem to start strong and deteriorate. I think its mostly mental. Its not that I crack completely and lose the race on the last day, but moments of weakness show through that could potentially unravel all of our hard work. So I told myself all morning: "dont shit the bed, don't shit the bed". The stage "only" had 2500m of climbing. After yesterdays stage it sounded easy. But it started straight up the local ski hill and Team Clif Bar was on us immediately so we knew it wasn't going to be an easy day. We got a bit of a gap and found a solid group of mens teams to work with. But everytime we looked back on a big climb we could see the yellow Luna helmet coming for us. Both Norm and I had mixed feelings. Part of us (the tired part) didn't really care too much if we lost the final stage as long as we kept our overall but this stubborn, hyper competetive voice kept reminding us of our winning streak. If we won today we would have won every stage of our last 3 stage races (TR 2007, BCBR 2008 and TR2008). That was a pretty strong voice so we pushed on and kept the winning streak alive. 21 stage wins in a row. Not too shabby.
-Marty is having a great time! Lots of time in the creeks and rivers, road trippin’ with Rollin, the occasional leftover steak thrown his way (special occasion) and lots of buddies to hang out with
-we have been riding the Hei Hei Supreme’s all week. The 29ers hardtails are on standby but our bodies are beat to shit so the full suspension has been pretty sweet. We actually don’t even lock out the suspension on the climbs all the time…..too bumpy!
-Kona Team mate Kris Sneddon (Mr. Five) took the stage down today ironically the 5th stage……
-The race is taking a good toll on our equipment so far we have thrashed: 3 tires, 3 tubes, 1 FR DR, 1 chain, grips, cassette, shock lock out, brake pads…..that is all I can think of right now but I am sure there is more things that we have killed now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Future

So the best part of my 2 weeks in K-bec was meeting these 2 little rippers – Marine and Ariane Lewis. I spotted them decked out in full KONA gear on matching Kula Supreme hardtails so I rode by and gave them a big thumbs up and yelled something at them to acknowledge their KONA loyalty. Jerseys, gloves, sox, stickers, they had it all. Nothing is cooler to me than seeing little girls on mountain bikes and if it’s Kona’s they choose all the better. Little did I know that gesture would get me two superfans for life. 

I was racing the Nationals course the next day and there they were, the two of them, screaming my name on the steep climb. Cheering for me madly. And after the race they came over looking for my number plate and Kona water bottles to autograph. I chatted with them in my pigeon French for a bit and found out they were racing the “kids race” the next morning. 

Well, I called it the “kids race,” but as we watched the call up for the Nationals races the next day I soon realized this was no follow-the-wicknasty-circus-clown “kids race”. Marine and Ariane were the real deal. They were called up 1-2 for leading the provincial series in the Pee Wee category (under 13). And their faces on the start line said it all: they were fierce! I gave them a quick wave but I didn’t want to throw them off their game. My brother and I rode around cheering them on at different sections of the course (I think he was checking out the competition for Hannah). They were flying! Picking off boys every lap and ripping up the downhills. When they heard us calling their names they would go even faster (a la Sneddon). The two sisters were battling back and forth for the first 2 laps. Blood meant nothing when they were racing. It was going to come down to the last lap to see what sister would take it but unfortunately Marine flatted and had to run. She looked pretty upset so we encouraged her to keep running and finish strong. Her sister Ariane pulled into the lead and won the race with a big grin on her face. Marine ran it in and finished in top 10 but on the verge of tears. We found out from her dad that she had been sick that morning but still wanted to race. Tough cat! 

We got some photos together because I figure the Lewis sisters will probably be taking over Marie Helene Premont’s spotlight in the future. Kona should keep these 2 on the roster. 

The whole Lewis family came back the next week for the World Cup at Mont Saint Ann with custom coloured signs saying "Go Wendy". As much pain as I was in on that steep climb, I HAD to look over and check it out. And the whole family showed up again in the POURING rain in Bromont to cheer me on again. Wow. That is dedication. Unfortunately I didn't put on much of a show for them on that day but they still cheered me on. Thanks guys!

Rain, rain, rain.

Bromont World Cup
It pretty much rained ALL week in Bromont, K-bec. Not just drizzly rain but mighty east coast thunderstorms with torrential downpours, crazy lightening and hard core thunder. When it wasn't raining it was humid. The course was a bit of a mess so we didn't ride it very much. Huge bogs that you couldn't ride through, giant puddles that could swallow your front tire whole and lots of sklick off camber roots and rocks. It did more damage to the bike (and my ego) so it was best to just stay away. Everyone was sick of the rain and a bit cranky as we had all been away from home for close to a month and wanted desperately to wrap this trip up. It didn't help that everyone was raving about the weather back home. It wasn't the best attitude to have so we tried to stay busy. We went go-karting, outlet shopping, ate local pie & poutine and we watched a LOT of Discovery Channel. At least it was Shark Week.

Wicknasty ready to rumble

When the race did finally come around it rained all morning. Surprise surprise. At least there was no question what tires I would run.... I had an OK start. For what the start was worth. 10m through thick awkward mud than a left hand turn and start climbing a looooong steep climb. I rocked the first 10m. And apparently the first couple minutes of the climb as a whole bunch of girls got bogged up in mud and had to get off their bikes and run. It wasn't because I had rockstar legs it was because I stayed on my bike. And that first few minutes was about the highlight. I climbed sloooowly and everyone passed me and I rode what I could in the mud and ran the rest but not fast enough to make up too many spots. I seemed to find a groove on the last lap but it was too late. I passed a couple of girls and ended up 20th in a slow motion mud sprint against a Japanese girl. However I WAS told that I won the muddiest person award. Thats worth something isn't it??

My slow motion sprint finish for 20th. That is me in the "white" kit (#23). They are still not clean. photo by Lizzie

Lizzie and Geo were my saviours and took me to the airport right after the race so I could jump on a plane and get home that night. So good to me! Norm was kind enough to plan a 4hr mountain bike ride coined "the impossible ride" the next morning at 8am. But it was a blue bird day so I could not say no. It wasn't my smoothest, fastest ride ever but it was one of the grandest. Nanaimo's best trails, great friends, and hot summer sun. Exactly what I needed.

Mont St Anne World Cup

It was pretty sweet not having to travel after Nationals. Too bad the week was full of rain. I get enough of that on the west coast, no need to throw more at me on the east coast. Lame. So the big debate (for a tread nerd like myself) was tire choice. The course was sloppy and wet in the woods but as soon as the sun came out it would dry up pretty quick in the open sections. Lucie from Kona brought in some new tread for me as my old tires were not hooking up. After testing them out I had my mental flow chart established. No rain: small block 8. Rain: karma. Rain the night before but dry when I woke up: half and half. But at 11pm the skies opened up and absolutely dumped its load on us. I hadn’t added “tropical monsoon” to the flow chart but my guess was no morning sun was going to dry that up by 11am. Go with the karmas. I turned my brain off and tried to go to sleep but the postDH “Bleu Nuit” rave in the village was going strong and I could hear the DJ until about 6am. 

Everyone had assumed that they would shorten the number of laps from 5 to 4 with the downpour the night before. Even 2 mins before the start girls were whispering about it. But they stuck with 5 laps so it would be a long haul. I had a great start! Almost no effort and I was sitting in 5th on the first start loop. First climb a few girls were starting to swarm but I was still top 15. When we hit the first singletrack and it was a mess. A long line of girls in the mud. Georgia Gould (Luna) snuck by on foot but then everyone tried to duplicate and the holes closed up. Once the course opened up things started to move a bit better. I was riding the technical pretty well and climbing steady, working hard to make up a few spots and ride in 9th. But I must have burped my front tire at the start of lap 4 because I started to feel it fold in the corners. I checked it on the run and it felt like I had enough air to get to the pits for a wheel change. But then I hit a rock on the descent and flatted. I ran to the bottom pulled over and got out my air cartridge to try the quick fix. Amanda Sin (3 Rox Racing) passed me. Damn. But the quick fix worked and I was on my way. I passed Lucie on the course and told her I would need a new front wheel. Not too bad. Not much time wasted and still top 10. I was feeling pretty smug but then I could feel that the tire wasn’t holding air and I rolled it and ate shit on the fast bumpy downhill section. A small hole in my knee, bruised ego and then 4 girls passed me. Not so smug anymore. I just needed to get down the hill to the pit. Alive. So I scaled back my speed and limped down. I made it to the pits and pulled into the Shimano neutral support and got a new wheel. At this point I was pretty bummed because I had worked hard to get past all these girls and now I needed to repeat the effort. I didn’t have that much energy left in the tank so could only muster 13th. My best world cup finish to date but hard to choke down as I was hoping for a top 10.