Saturday, August 22, 2009

Norm has termed me "the preggernaut" (closely related to juggernaut) so I thought I would define the term for everyone to make sure there was no confusion that it is indeed a term of affection (I think).

Preggernaut (preg-ger-naut)

A preggernaut is a term used to describe a pregnant force regarded as unstoppable, that will crush all in its path. It is especially applied to a large (hungry) pregnant woman or collectively to a team or group of pregnant women working together to crush all in their path.

Etymology
The word is derived from the Sanskrit जगन्नाथ Preganātha (meaning "pregnant Lord of the universe") . One of the most famous Indian temples is the Pregannath Temple which has an annual procession of chariots full of pregnant women. In the festival's past, people were crushed accidentally as the massive, multi-ton chariot filled with pregnant women slipped out of control as the hungry women were feeding. Others suffered injury in the resulting stampedes. This sight led the Britons of the time to contrive the word "preggernaut" to refer to examples of unstoppable, crushing pregnant forces.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Huh. Apparently my "auto blog" program has malfunctioned. Better get on it.

So what the hell does a prego athlete do during the busiest part of the race season? Sit and sulk was an option but the weather in BC has been absolutely incredible so I have been getting a sweet tan and keeping myself pretty busy. Who would have thought a summer of play could be so much fun!?

SUZIE SUPPORT
BC Bike Race was on the list of races for me this summer but "in my condition" it was not meant to be. So I decided to help support Norm and his partner (Power Pole Pete) and the Kona crew. I soon realized that we run with a pretty talented group of friends as I would go to cheer and after the top 30-40 riders I would be done. Amateur friends and all. Poor soul beside me usually had another 2 hours before their friend in 287 th place would be coming by.... See ya.

Norm on his way to winning Master men at BCBR

NATIONALS vs WAR
The weekend of nationals we has a huge outdoor paintball war for Norm and Careys birthday. 25 of our closest (most hyper competetive) friends armed with guns played for almost 7 hours. Dont worry I padded up for the war, turning a lacrosse kidney belt into a bebe protector. Who would have thought there was no market for this sort of equipment?? We had so much fun I almsot forgot to check results when I got home.

I would like to claim this kill as my own but sadly my aimn was not that true

The hyper competetive players in full gear

ROLE REVERSAL
Soon after Nationals I received an email from my superfans Ariane and Marine Lewis. The little KONA rippers had BOTH won their races. With me on the sidelines I will have more time to follow their up and coming careers. I can be a superfan too.


New National Champ Ariane Lewis

New National Champ Marine Lewis

Ariane showing her true superfan support

THE NEGLECTED SPORTS
The last few years, with so much time away racing and so much of my time at home spent training I have neglected a lot of sports over the past few years. So I have been taking this opportunity to catch up on lost time and spend some quality time with Marty who is about my pace these days. Lots of trail runs, hikes, paddling, swimming and even a 3 day canoe trip. Rough life.
Marty "training" for his canoe trip with his panniers.

Our not-so-successful fishing trip

Norm wore this shirt the ENTIRE trip

The coolest looking outhouse
I have never seen Norm sit still for so long

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I really dont have much of a bump yet so we pulled out the fish eye lense to make it look more dramatic.
photo by Norm Thibault


TEST OF METAL


So I am technically not supposed to race anymore. My doctor said its too risky with the elevated heart rate and dehydration issues. But he did say I was still allowed to train, just at a lower heart rate. So I have been riding and running and swimming and paddling and gestating nice and easy like, just going off of perceived effort. Its actually been pretty enjoyable. But I am not gonna lie, occaisionally I have strayed on the high side of effort. But its interesting how your body shuts you down when you are pushing it too far. Its like I can feel every ounce of energy being shuttled from my arms, legs and head straight to my core to provide for the wee one. You start to feel like ass and you pretty much get the hint. Back off!

This weekend was Test of Metal, probably the biggest mountain bike race in Canada. Definitely the most fun. Last year I won it and smashed the course record and walked away with $1100. A year later I am getting winded taking the compost out...All for a good cause but it doesnt make it any less of a blow to the ego.


A big group from Nanaimo was going over to race Test of Metal and Norm was racing so I had a few options:
1. Stay at home and sulk
2. Go to the race and play Suzie-Support-Crew all day but probably be bitter for not getting to ride the sweet trails or
3. Start the race with the understanding it was just a fun ride and pull out when I felt tired

I went with option 3. I really wanted to see everyone, ride a bit and help out Norm. This was my option to do all 3. I would start the race, ride to the first aid station and then pull out and help feed the Nanaimo crew. My body seems to shut down at 2 hrs these days anyway, so it should be a perfect length for me.

I saw a whole whack of faces I havent seen in a long time. It was good to catch up with people. Word had spread pretty quick that I was pregnant but I am notreally showing yet. I am in that in between state where you could be packing on the pounds or pregnant but its too rude to ask. More than once I recognized the surprised understanding of a few as they said "Ohhhh, I THOUGHT you looked a little fff (as in fat) or thhhh (as in thick) or chhh (as in chunky)." They always managed to cut themselves off as they realized that might me taken so well but it hung on the tips of tongues.


In my head I was a little worried about starting the race as its pretty hard to turn off that circuitry in your brain. For the past few years I have taught myself to push through the pain and fatigue so now I just felt like a wuss if I stop at the first sign. I had read somewhere that you should keep your heart rate below 140bpm but I personally dont think I would get out of bed for that "workout" and I am sure it was set up for chicks that shop for exercise, so I went with the 150 rule. I even strapped on a heart rate monitor to keep me under tight reins. Unfortuantely there are quite a few major climbs that dont fit the 150 rule so I dutifully pulled over and waited for my heart rate to drop after a few climbs. I caught myself punching it to pass horrificly slow technical riders. I caught myself scrambling to hold the wheels of the 6'5 guys that could block a tornoado. And I caught myself hammering through the fun trails. I didn't stay below 150 the whole race but my head didnt explode, I had a great time and I confirmed that I am definitely in no shape to race. I am not even sure I could have finished the full course. Catharine Pendrel won it and shattered my record. BuT I am pretty sure I won first prego to the feed zone. Small victories...

Me and a small bump. photo by Norm Thibault

Super supportcrew Rollin (he was in charge of feeding 12 riders) me and Norm. photo by Matt Dawes


Norm was third in his category but they only did awards for Elite - LAME. So he went up to the step afterwards for his glory. photo by me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

RUMOUR MILL

Its funny what you hear about yourself when you sit back and listen. I haven't been on the race circuit for a couple of months for totally preplanned legitimate reasons yet I started hearing some great rumours as to why I havent been on the US Cup and/or World Cup circuit. I probably should have set the record straight sooner but its pretty funny hearing what I have been up to.

Rumour: I went back to work and quit racing.
Not true. I went back to work in March with plans to have a late MTB season start, race closer to home and focus on mostly multi-day stage races, the first of which is in 2 weeks so by the book I am right on track.

Rumour: I stopped training and got slow.
True. Sort of. I did take a big break off the bike after CX worlds. I went on a holiday, ate poutine and drank milkshakes and it was divine. But as always, the bike calls and I was back to training within a few weeks.

Rumour: I bought a new car and quit training.
True. Partially. I did buy a new car. Sweet little Mini Cooper S. My dream car and it is a blast to drive so I admit I didnt commute to work by bike for a full week. But the guilt caught up and I am back on the bike.




Rumour: I was in Belize for a month doing some underground training.
Not true. I was in Belize but it was for work. I help put on a Biology field school and was there for a month hiking and canoeing with a few trail runs but no bike. Check out the cool critters.

Dying leaf mimic katydid


Red eyed tree frog

Spider monkey

Green iguana

Mayan ruins

Red rumped tarantula

Jaguar (Ok... from the Belize zoo)

Rumour: I am bulemic/anorexic and that is why I was sick at Sea Otter
Not true. At the time, I thought it was something I ate. I later found out it was my belly but not so much food related.



Rumour: I got a boob job
Not true. Sure my boobs are bigger but no silicone


Rumour: I got slow
Getting truer.....


Rumour: I got fat
Getting truer...


Rumour: I have an alien growing inside of me
True.

So if you are expecting race reports you can tune out now as there wont be any for the summer but I will still be posting blog reports of my perspective on races (I will still be at races but as a pro spectator and supporteure) and other cycling related issues if you are interested. Hell, maybe I will toss out the cycling part who knows. Tune in if you are bored.









Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SEA OTTER

Well by now you probably have seen that my Sea Otter was a bit of a bust. With 3 events you would think I could pull something special out of my butt but alas it did not happen. Momma always taught me to look at the positives so here they are:



It was hot and sunny!

I got to travel with my dreamy boy Norm!

My new Hei HEi Supreme is awesome


We got to hang out with the smiletron.


The California wildflowers were blooming

Our new kits were super flash.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where do all the kits go??


Better dust off the old blog here now that the season has started again.....

One of the questions I always get asked is: what do you do with all of your old kits? Our sponsors are pretty generous, clothing us for the season with everything from skinsuits to jerseys to jackets. Most of it is just used for training and racing. Riding 6 days a week all year with only an apartment sized laundry takes its toll. But Kona factory team gear size smalls have found their way to different parts of the world. Some get signed and go to promotional events or fundraisers, some are gifted to the people that have helped me along the way, some are thrown in with the purchase of a bike, some are sold off so the local timetriallers can be more aero, some go to my favourite up-and-coming juniors but I always save one kit from every year so that when I am an old bitty, slow and gray, I can roll up to watch the local races in full factory team kit circa 200X. They won't know who the hell I am, but they will certainly wonder.

Kevin and Hannah out for a mid-winter ride.

The Lewis family, waiting for the snow to melt.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Norm's slide show from Hoogerheide Cyclocross World Champs 2009

The quality on the web is a little less than ideal but hopefully still enjoyable.

IF you want a good quality one fire Norm an e-mail and he can burn you a nice CD or DVD one.


video

Monday, February 9, 2009

MINIs of Malta

I was supposed to be helping Norm make a slideshow of Worlds but he was doing such a good job on his own, I went ahead and made a slideshow of all the sweet MINIs we saw on Malta. 


video

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

World Championships highlights

Monday, February 2, 2009

Death or Glory

Quick World Championship report as we are headed off to the Maltese Islands for a much needed holiday. I will try update from warm, sunny malta with some photos of the Canadian view of worlds.

Death or Glory. That is what Norm always says to me before a big race. You have to go for it. So I went for the glory. Unfortunately it backfired. But noone can ever accuse me of racing conservatively. I had a good start off the second row. Up the hill things were looking good but then chaos at the first corner. I dont know what it is about girls but they seem to get jiggy off the line. Cant control their speed or something. I saw out of the corner of my eye a crash just waiting to happen almost in slo-mo. A Dutch gal going into the corner waaaaaay too hot so I cornered tighter to avoid the inevitable. In the video footage you can actually see another crash just behind me happening at the exact same time. Somehow I managed to thread the needle and squeek through both crashes and found myself with a select group off the front. It was now or never....death or glory. 

There really was no question. It was World Championships so I went for it. Race plan out the window. I tried to stay with multi World Champion Hanka Kuperfernagel. Who has been on the podium every single year since the first womens World Champs. Was I a little out of my league? Probably, but that didn't stop me. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaang on Wendy! The pace was insanely fast as Katie Compton was off the front and Hanka did NOT want someone from the US to win (she actually said this outloud at an interview afterwards.....). I had watched the espoir race the day before and things let up a bit at the end of the first lap so I went ALL OUT that first lap trying to hang on. Mistakenly thinking there would be a moment to catch my breath. Unfortunately for me, when we hit the start hill Hanka cranked up the pace even FASTER and I blew up. Sky high. The chase group was close behind so I fell back to them and tried to stay with them. It worked for a bit but my body was a bit jello-y and my legs were screaming. I just needed a teeny rest. For the love of god SLOW DOWN! It was such a windy fast race staying with groups was really important but I had used up all my matches too early. I slid backwards for the rest of the race. I knew I needed to hold wheels but I just couldn't. I made up time on the few technical sections there were on course but to no avail. I slid all the way to 18th. A slow, painful fall from potential glory....I was in rough shape at the end with a vicious headache and the distinct taste of blood. I was as close to puking as I ever could be.

If I had raced smarter I might have been able to stay with the big group that eventually made up 4th-11th. Who knows. But surprisingly I am OK with my 18th spot knowing that I went for it on the day. Sure I would have liked a better finish but this is likely the last World Champs in my career and I can walk away saying I tried to ride with the best. I couldn't hang on. But I tried. Question answered. Now go eat some chocolate and get a tan on Malta. 

Maybe in a week or a month I will get that little niggle that says "well maybe if I did this, or that, or trained this way or ran these tires..or what if____?" Its the what-ifs always brings me back. But for now I am OK with being 18th in the world. Maybe I am just getting soft.

Thanks to everyone who believed in me! I might not have been top 3 in the world but I definitely tried and I couldnt have done it without all your support. 


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Roubaix mud. photo by Mitch Clinton www.clintonphoto.com


Roubaix World Cup
Everyone was pretty excited to be racing at the legendary Roubaix velodrome. Finish of the Paris-Roubaix classic. I think we all felt the history of the place when we arrived. You could almost feel the pain. No cobbles on our cyclocross course but they managed to piece together a really fun loop in a small space in the middle of the city. No features mattered except the BIG DESCENT. It was the talk of the day: did you ride the BIG DESCENT? what do you think about the BIG DESCENT? We (when I say "we" I mean NORM IS HERE!!!!) prerode before the masses so I managed to ride the BIG DESCENT no problem. I am not going to lie, it was sketchy - super steep with big ruts at the bottom - but it was a straight shot with a run out at the bottom and I am a mountain biker so I rode it out of principle. When I left the venue I saw about 12 pro men at the top of the BIG DESCENT looking down and not a sole rode down it for the 5-10mins I watched. At the managers meeting Saturday night they announced that the BIG DESCENT would be removed for the womens and juniors races. WHAT?! Pretty cheezy move as we are trying to prove that elite women should get more respect and then they anounce its unsafe for the women but OK for the men to ride. Apparently Katie Compton was livid. In the end it rained all night and the BIG DESCENT was 10X worse on race day so prooooooobably should have been removed for everyone. Maybe after a U23 guy in the lead group busted his fork and just about killed himself? hmmmm? What about after witnessing 98% of the top pro men in the WORLD running down it? 

In Europe I have realized they do things a bit differently here and for the most part I have adapted. But one of the things I cannot get used to is the !%$#'n FALSE STARTS that they let slide. Today was no exception. Hanka Kupfernagel was probably 3 bike lengths ahead of me by the time I got off the line. I just saw a white streak to my right and unfortunately my left side of the grid was screwed as a result. So I ended up into the mud 15-20th. Nooot a great start to the day but I was not the only one to get screwed by a world champion's itchy trigger finger. Surprisingly there were a couple of front row girls back there with me. I had a good first half of the race and managed to pick people off and move into the top 10. It was slow going but I was riding pretty smooth and steady. Until the second half of the race where my legs just didnt have as much power to donate to the cause. Still smooth, still steady, just not as powerful. I did a bike change and came out of the pit behind a group of 5 girls instead of ahead. A couple small errors and they got a gap and I was struggling to try to catch back on. Which I never did so my top 10 went to a 15th. 

Covered in mud and freezing my butt off, I was called for doping control AGAIN!? I thought I could just go right away and be done before the leaders came in off the podium but I misfired with only 60mL of pee and had to drink 4 bottles of water and wait and hour before I could finish the job. Rookie maneuver.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Castles and Cathedrals and Chocolate, oh my
A day off in Antwerp with Sue B.





Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Whereabouts Program

Lucky me. I have been chosen to be part of the Whereabouts program. That means I have to account for 1 hour of my day, every single day of my life , minimum, so I can be randomly tested out of competition with no notice to prove that I am a clean athlete. I am all for making sure our sport is clean and fair but this is going to be a pain in the ass. I can tell that already because of the introduction I got to the program.

The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) apparently sent me a letter on Dec 22 which informed me that I had been chosen for the whereabouts program. I guess my one week stint as world #1 caught someones eye. This letter must have sat in the CCA inbox over Xmas holidays because I did not receive it until Jan 5th. As it was the start of a new "quarter" I am assuming I was already in violation as my whereabouts information for Jan had not been inputted into the ADAMS website (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System). I read the letter over and over but had zero guidance of what to do next. I emailed my UCI contact person on the letter. Its Jan 10th and I still have had no response from them. I emailed people at the CCA (Canadian Cycling Association) who had forwarded me the letter, but they could not answer my Qs and forwarded me to the CCES (Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport). So I finally had someone from the CCES who sent me a link to a PAPER  copy of the form I could fill out TWICE because one copy had to go the UCI and one to the CCES. Uh no thanks, I would rather use the electronic method. It is 2009 after all. All I needed was a login and password. Noone seemed to know it. Someone from the CCES eventually got back to me with a login/password. He was keen. He even used an exclamation mark when welcoming me to the whereabouts program. I knew he would be good. I sat down ready to start inputting my wherabouts into the ADAMS program but the login/password did not work because of "inactivity". They use big BOLD red lettering when you have an error. And errors seem to be common. I am assuming this "inactivity" refers to the gap between me receiving my letter Dec 22 and my first attempt at input Jan 9th. My keen CCES guy transferred my account from the UCI custodiam (not so helpful) to the CCES (helpful) and I got a login/password that worked. 

So yesterday I sat down and tried to get started. Login/Password worked! Step 1 complete. I had been warned by Tony Theriault and Helen Wyman that the ADAMS program was not very user friendly. And I had read Simon Whitfields blog about his frustrations with the program. He basically said - I would rather you inplant a GPS chip in me than have to fill out all this paperwork. Hmmm. Doesn't sound promising. Helen gave me a tutorial but even though she had been part of the Whereabouts program for a few years, the input software had changed 3X since she started so she was still figuring the latest one out. This was the least efficient of the bunch apparently. Well, it took me over an hour to enter my whereabouts for the next 1.5 weeks of my life. Then I was exhausted and needed to go to bed. With an MSc in science I like to think I could do pretty well in "Americas Most Smartest Athlete" TV show so I would hate to see how much time the not-so-smart athletes clocked for this event. I hope to hell I get faster but I really should start tallying how many times I have to type my home address into the system. I guess that is what you get for being world #1. If only for a week.....


Gary sweeping the driveway (he's from California....)

The Major Jake in full winter mode. I have to wash it after every ride because of the salt. Sounds easy but our hose is frozen so I have to shuttle buckets of hot water from the house to thaw the frozen slush off the bike. 

Geo stretches in the snow. Running seems easier and warmer than riding

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

HARD CANDY

I checked the weather this morning and it was -10C. With the windchill: "feels like -17C". brrrr. Everyone was gearing up for trainer rides indoors. At home I probably would have done the same. Rent a couple movies and get it done. But I had a 3hr ride on the books and new house rule 5.3.7a said no more trainer workouts in the living room in front of the TV. I dont want to name names so lets just call her "Sweaty Sweatersons," sweat too much on the living room floor and the new rule came into effect. That left crappy Belgian TV in the hall or the dark and dank basement "catacombs" so I decided to gear up and see how long I could last outside. It took me almost 20mins to dress. Top to bottom:

1 ear warmer
1 Helly Hansen toque
1 pair Rudy Project sunglasses
1 leg warmer pinned around my face & tucked under said sunglasses (couldnt find my neck warmer)
1 Helly hansen l/s sleeve base layer 
1 Helly Hansen wind jacket
1 Champion systems soft shell jacket
1 Champion systems winter jacket
1 Champion systems bib short
1 Sugoi thermal running tight
1 Champion system thermal bib tight
1 Sugoi winter ski gloves
1 Sugoi wallaroo sox
1 Shimano WM80 shoes
1 OBB neoprene booties

The scary part was I wasnt too hot in the house...hmmm this could be bad

I put cross tires on my bike and set out not knowing how long I would last. Helen said she would give me a medal if I lasted an hour. I had 20 euros in my pocket in case things went horribly wrong. I dont even know if there are taxis in Belgium but I am sure I could bribe some one to get me home.

I am not going to lie. It was pretty damn cold. I had zero skin showing when I first set out but my fingers started to get cold almost immediately so I did a few efforts to warm up. That helped. Then the sun started to warm up and I found some great side roads with hard pack snow and some trails that had a foot of snow to keep me working hard enough to stay warm. It was pretty fun. 1hr clicked by. participation medal guaranteed. I got a bit lost and then headed for home and another hr clicked by. Hell, I wasnt going to get this far and do my actual workout on the trainer. I found a bakery and got a chocolate croissant to get me through the intervals. Damn right I deserved it! Plus my bottle had frozen so I needed some hot water to thaw it out. Found a good spot for my workout got it done just as my toes and fingers were starting to go numb. 3.5 hours. As my nephew Noah would say: yeah me.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself until on my way home I saw this young Belgian boy riding his bike to the store with no hat, no gloves, and his jacket open at the neck like he was overheating. Freak.

Teveuren


Another mechanical that took me out of podium contention. I don't want to talk about it. It makes me ANGRY.

Friday, January 2, 2009

video


Azencross Womens CX race - lap#1

I borrowed a mini video camera from Rick (Gabby's man) and attached it to my Major Jake for the Azencross GvA race. Its a pretty big file so I had to chop it down. Here is the first lap.

Quick race report to go with it:
I had an OK start but got swarmed by bodies into the first few corners so Marianne Vos (red and blue butt), Katie Compton (butt with stars), Daphny van den Brand (blue DESTIL butt) and Hanka Kupfernagel (white butt) got a bit of a gap. I sifted through most of the bodies and tried to chase down the leaders. They were SO close. But I didn't want to tow everyone around all race so I pulled aside to get some help. Rachel Lloyd (Giant Strawberry butt) took up the chase on lap 2 and closed down the gap to the leaders. We were together for most of the race although I am not going to lie, I dangled a bit. The pace slowed down a bit on the second last lap so Myriam Melchers van Poppel (red white and blue butt) caught back on. We were 7 on the last lap and I had caught my breath. Things were looking good. Although I can't guarantee how I would fare against 3 world champions, I  have a decent kick on occaision. But.... with half a lap to go my PINS of STEEL stomped on the pedals and snapped my chain. crap. I had just passed the pit so I turned around and ran back into the pit and got my other bike. Unfortunately I had lost a few spots as a result. I tagged back onto the end of Georgia Gould's group but had a hard time moving forward as everyone was trying to do the same thing. I ended up 13th. Bummer. 

I will try to figure out how to post the entire race but this should entertain you until then. Enjoy.