Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Edmonton Canada Cup June 13

So I had a good race on the weekend at Edmonton. We were racing in the river valley smack in downtown, so it was a pretty cool venue with lots of spectators. The course was relatively flat, but lots of fun, with tons of singletrack and most of it was fairly rooty and technical.

I had a good start and never rode in worse than 2nd for the whole race. Tim Heemskerk led for part of the first lap, and then there was this technical root drop into an off camber corner that I thought he might run, and I was planning on riding, so I got in front for it and rode it. Tim ran it and that meant that I got about a 8sec gap on everyone behind me. This was actually a decisive move, as only Tim was able to catch back up and we rode lap 2, 3, and part of 4 together. There were times where we would attack each other to get into a section first or try and drop the other. Probably these efforts weren't the smartest thing, because by lap 4 even though I had dropped Tim, Watson caught me and attacked me super hard on the start climb. I kind of tried to go with him, but couldn't and just rode as smooth and steady as possible to finish 2nd, 1min back and 1min ahead of Tim.

It was a pretty fun race, and I am happy with my consistency and improvement in results compared to last year. I am now ranked 2nd overall in the Canada Cup Series.

Many thanks to the support of Terry and Dianne Jones for the great accommodations and meals during the week. Also thanks to my sponsor XPREZO for making great mountain bikes. Check out more Xprezo news at http://www.xprezo.ca/

Race the Ranch June 6

So I did the BC cup #2, only because it was 800m from my door. Yep, that's right, I got off my couch 30min before the start and rolled up to the line. It was pretty sweet not to have to travel at all.

The race was 10deg cooler than last year, which means it was only 32deg! I made sure I went hard at the start, because last year I got caught up in a dust cloud and did a somersault into the sage brush. I lead the first lap by about 10sec, and then just kept opening up the gap from there. My dualie was awesome on this course, as there are tons of little bumps from pedaling, almost like washboard from cars. There were some pretty fun sections that I had helped build, one was this near vertical run down into a compression that then sling shot you right back up the hill on the other side. If you hit it too hard your legs would collapse and you'd get all squirrely on the bike. I do believe there were a few crashes there on the weekend.

The course did get super rutted out and dusty. It is just so dry there and a very silty soil. The course actually became a lot more technical as the race went on. It was awesome having some of the local crowd out to cheer us on. Mike, Aaron, and Pete all had me laughing so hard I almost fell off my bike while racing with some of their antics.

Anyway I had a good race here and ended up getting my first win of the season. This is a photo of Evan, who was 2nd. I just wanted to show all the dust.

Back in the Loops

So I flew back out to kamloops the monday after Hardwood, and it turns out I was on the same flight from Vancouver back as my housemate Catherine Pendrel, so that was nice to have someone to hang out with for part of the trip.

Flying over the mountains reminded me 100% why I moved out west, as they were all snow capped and beautiful. The weather was also gorgeous at 25 to 30deg with sun, unlike 3 to 18 and rain in Onterrible (no Ontario really isn't that bad).

I spent most of the week weeding our garden and playing fetch with our cat Oly (who can now open drawers to find earplugs to play fetch with!!!). The garden had this super nasty vine-type weed that has roots about 45cm under the surface, so I think I'll be dealing with this bugger for a while. I started to bonk a few times while I was weeding, I just got so frustrated at the vine and wanted to get it out that I didn't want to go inside and eat. Maybe I should have drunk more, as it was 35deg and direct sun.

The rest of the time I went riding, and did a wicked ride up on Harper with Keith, Kika, and Evan Guthrie that ended with a swim. The next day I did big 3hr epic with Evan, we had to start at 9 AM as it was so hot that day.

Here is a video of Oly playing fetch www.youtube.com/watch?v=653KT_Kn-Dc

Hardwood Hills Canada Cup May 31

This was a tough race. It was super flat and not very technical, both of which are my strong points. For race day it was really cold, at 3deg in the morning. I warmed up with my xprezo cycling jacket and then a hoodie on top.

For the race I had a good start in 3rd after a bit, then I slid out on a corner and lost a position, and then a little gap opened up. Hardwood is a hard one to race, as more than anywhere else, every second counts as you really can't close gaps. I rode fairly well for lap 1-3, got caught by Peter Glassford on lap 3-4 and rode with him (which was a good pain train), and then for lap 4-5 I rode with Steff Widmer. Riding with Steff was super fun, as we were railing the singletrack at mach speed (as in 45km/hr) in places, and I was trying to drop Steff or at least not let him pass me, so it was fun to be racing him.

I ended up 7th, and I had rode a good race, it just wasn't my best day or course. Afterwards I indulged in 3 helpings of ice cream, a sausage, a hamburger, a salad, and some pork at a barbecue hosted by Liz Ross and her landlords. It was a pretty fun time.

Mount Tremblant, May 23rd

The Canada Cups: For the Canada Cups this year the level of competition seems higher than ever. Basically all but 3 of the best riders in Canada were at these early season Canada Cups, and there were quite a few US riders, and even a guy from Germany. The Canada Cups this year also attracted the attention of the producers from a new website called Cyclingdirt.org. They do lots of video interviews and even a video clip of us racing.

Tremblant May 23rd
The most recent race I did was Tremblant Canada Cup last weekend . The weather was atypical for Quebec in the spring, with no rain and mid twenty (Deg C) weather. Consequently the course was the driest I’ve raced it in the past 5 years or so. The organisers had also added quite a bit of gravel, which made it a lot faster but also less technical (and I like technical courses).

Race day dawned bright and clear, I had a good warm up and rolled up to the start line feeling very relaxed (in fact there is a picture of me with a huge yawn happening). I had a good start and was third into the singletrack, following Derek Zandstra and Julien Fillinon. We rode together like this for half of the first lap (mostly a climb) and then I passed Julien at the top of the climb and closed the small gap that had opened up to Derek. At the bottom of the descent we worked together, trading pulls so each one could get a little rest. Mid way through the 2nd lap Derek put in a little surge and I decided not to go with it, as I didn’t think I could hold that pace for the whole race. I tried to catch him on the descent (which is a super fun rooty technical descent that takes about 5min), and by the bottom I was 10sec behind. I chased hard that lap, and was pretty close as we went through the feed zone for the start of the 3rd. On the 3rd and 4th, I rode well, I was by myself, and just tried to ride everything as fast as possible at a sustainable effort. On lap 5 I looked back at one point and saw Andrew Watson was about 35sec behind me. Last weekend he caught me at the end of the race, and I really didn’t want that to happen this time, so I put the hammer down and rode really well for the last 2 laps. By the time I crossed the finish line on lap 6 I was in 2nd 1.5min ahead of 3rd.

I was super happy with my race and how I am consistently riding a lot faster than last year. Here is a video interview from after the race in Tremblant.

Baie Saint Paul May 17th

This was the first Canada Cup of the year so all the racers want to see who trained extra well or smart (not hard) over the winter, hence there is usually a little nervous energy associated with the first Canada Cup. It was great to see everyone though, and meet up with those friends I hadn’t seen since last race season.

Baie Saint Paul is situated about 90km north east of Quebec City on the Saint Laurence River. I was a little worried as we were driving there and there was still about a foot of snow in the ditch by the ski hill Le Massif, but by the time we lost elevation to the race course it was all dry. The course at Baie was lots of fun, it is very well designed, in that a spectator can watch the riders about 6 times/lap with just walking 300m or so. It is a fairly rocky rooty course, with lots of singletrack climbing. The race organisers in Baie also are very enthusiastic about cycling, and get lots of spectators to come out from the community. They also make sure that all the small details are well organised, like their bike wash, which drained well and had a tent over top in case it was raining.

For the race I had a great start (first off the line) and rode a comfortable pace until we got to the singletrack, where I let a few riders go ahead. Derek rode off the front, and I was in a group of 5 for the first lap. I had a bit more pressure in my tires than I was used to, and on one very easy smooth flat corner that I was railing my front end slid out and I had a light crash. I got up super quick , turned my bars around and chased hard to get back on the group. It was pretty fun actually because it meant that I was racing super hard to catch the group in front of me. Lap 2 I couldn’t see them at a corner, lap 3 I could see them at the corner, and by lap 4 I had closed the gap. As soon as I caught up, Steff Widmer from Rocky Mountain caught a stick in his derailleur and broke it, so unfortunately for him he was out. Then I caught Raphael Gagne and immediately passed him and tried to chase down Julien Fillion who was in 2nd at that point. I put in a big effort on the end of the 4th lap and caught him and rode with him for the end of the 4th and start of 5th. I should have gone by, but sat in, and he dabbed on a technical climb and because I was following so close I lost my momentum and he got away. Shortly after that Andrew Watson caught me, he was riding super well and put a gap into me almost immediately. I think I might have worked a little too hard too early, and faded a bit lap 5. On lap 6 Leni caught me and I had to refocus and dig deep to stay ahead of him. I got a bit of a gap on him at the crucial point at the top of the descent, and rode it into the finish line for 4th place. I was quite happy with my race, but felt I made a few mistakes that cost me some time and positions.

My parents had driven up to Baie, and they were very excited to see me have a good race. It was also great to see them since the last time was in February.

Many thanks for the great support of my team Xprezo, which has been super supportive and helpful at all these races.

Here are some more links to interesting videos from Baie Saint Paul.


Pan Ams, Chile March 21

Hey All,

I just got back from competing in the Pan Am Championships in Santiago, Chile for the Canadian National team.

Catharine Pendrel and I left snowy cold Kamloops after a week of preparing in our heat chamber. (For our heat chamber we rode the trainer in a plastic walled off area where we cranked the furnace and the space heater to get the temperature up to 33deg C, yeah it was as bad as it sounds). We flew for 18 hours of travel before arriving in Santiago with the rest of the team. There we went through customs, where apparently I had a small bag of raisins I had forgotten about. I guess it is a bad idea to bring any fruit, vegetable, or seed into the country, because the customs agents proceeded to take the raisins, my passport, and me into a back room where they weighed the raisins, and fined me that amount (200g) in US $! Those were the most expensive raisins that I have never eaten!

Following this hour long procedure I was finally able to get outside into the beautiful sunny, dry weather. We drove with all our bikes and gear out of Santiago and east up into the Andes to the small mountain village of Parve. The mountain road we were on was quite crazy. It tops anything I have been on in North America or Europe for the length (40km), number of switchbacks (46) and just how narrow, off camber, and tight those switchbacks were. It took us about 1hr to get up it, where we were then delivered to an awesome little house, complete with excellent hosts and cooks Alexis and Cathy.

The next few days were filled with figuring out the location, race course, and logistics of our area. Thank goodness that Catharine and Max could both speak Spanish! On Day 2 we drove down to the race course. It was about 40min down the mountain from the 2800m we were staying at, to the course at an elevation of 1000m, however, our 2hr ride took 5hrs just due to logistics and the nice “relaxed” South American pace of life.

The course was pretty good, it consisted of many 1min climbs and two longer 4min climbs, and then lots of off Camber singletrack, that was exceptionally loose with ruts in it. It was actually quite challenging to ride, and there was one downhill that I think maybe only one racer rode during the race, as it was steep, with corners, rutted, and you really couldn’t slow down with so much “loose over hardpack”. On my first practice lap I crashed here (went straight into a bush), and during the week just about every racer had a few scratches here and there from unexpected falls on the loose terrain.

Race day was a nice sunny 32deg, (just like every other day). We sent all the bikes with the team mechanic and manager Jerome Sanfracon and Steve Lund, as that way we knew they would get there safely and on time. However, it was not so easy for us, as our bus never showed up, and now we didn’t have bikes to ride down the hill. After a while though we were able to convince one of our hosts to drive us all the way down to the race course!!

The race was scheduled to be 7 laps, which we worked out to be around 2:15 for the winning time, which we all thought was too long for a race that early in the season in such a hot climate. However there was nothing we could do about it, so I just planned on racing a little slower to be able to last long enough. I had a good start and paced what I thought was maintainable for the first few laps. I was riding in the 30’s with 3 Chilean guys, and we were steadily moving up as people blew. The crowds and cheering (for the Chilean’s) were phenomenal, and the course was quite fun to race. From the one downhill that we ran, my shoes got filled with pea sized sharp rocks that went under the arch of my foot, and then there was another loose uphill that we ran where they really, really hurt. I also crashed into one thorn bush while avoiding a rider, and got my arm cut up with 100 or so scratches and 20 thorns left imbedded in it. I was able to brush most of them out with my gloves.

By about lap 4 I started to fade a bit, basically it is still very early in the season and I don’t have full race form yet. Lap 4 and 5 were a bit slower, and at the end of lap 6 I got pulled and finished in 19th place. Overall I was expecting a bit more, however it was still a success as I got a ton of UCI points.

Catharine had an excellent race and easily won by nearly 5min. Emily also won the U23 category, and Derek had a great race to place 6th in the men’s category.

The day after the race, a group of us did an amazing ride, on single track all the way to the bottom of switchback 1. It was 13km with 1300m of descending. Thankfully Steve (who was getting really good at driving the mountain road) picked us up at the bottom. We then proceeded to pack up and head to the airport for a 22hour travel day for me back to Kamloops, where it is now sunny and a manageable 10deg!

My next race will be Sea Otter Classic on April 18-19. Hope all is well! Many thanks to my sponsor Xprezo for providing great bikes hand made in Bromont, Canada.

Here is a link to some photos: