December 1, 2010

Winter is here!

Exciting news! I have officially joined the 21st century and finally watched the first Star Wars movie. Now you people can stop making fun of me.

Lots has changed in the last few weeks. Winter has officially arrived in Squamish with a huge snowfall. There were some amazing snowflakes this past weekend that were almost an inch wide! The snow kind of forced me to learn how to change my car tires to snow tires, definitely a necessity for driving in the mountains in BC. A couple of my friends were kind enough to teach me how.

Since its Squamish the snow came with some rain, making everything extremely icy. I've had to resort to wearing my polka dot rain boots just to make it up the hill to class in the morning, they are the only footwear with any sort of grip.

Other exciting news, I now have a fork that works for my mountain bike! My fork had seen better days and sort of stopped working this fall, making for some very bumpy training rides. But I now have an amazing new fork that moves thanks to a very kind Squamish local! Thank you! I'm really tempted to go out snow riding soon to test it out.

I've moved onto Organic Chemistry for my December class. It's a pretty tough, but my class has a really helpful professor. This is his 47th time teaching org chem and he has an impressive number of chemistry shirts along with two chiral ties. I'm ready for break soon, just a few weeks until Christmas!


November 22, 2010

November Already?

Ughh I just wrote the best blogpost but then my computer decided to eat it. It's quite unfortunate, but here is another one!

A lot has happened in the past three months that I have completely neglected to post any sort of update about. To write a post about it all would end up being a novel so here are some key words to describe the past few months: school, India, racing, snow, chemistry, nutrition, crashing, skiing, pumpkins, crayons, stress, rain, chemicals, computer, biking, planes, mud, sleep, bike shop, sun, Squamish, climbing. I won't explain all these words but you use your imagination or ask me!

A highlight was travelling to India for the Commonwealth games in October. My favourite thing was seeing people riding two elephants down a highway in the middle of the night, so cool and random! The race itself was pretty fun. The course was right in the heart of New Delhi around the India gate monument. I was completely flat with tons of corners, sort of like a really long crit course, my favourite! The women's race was aggressive, but still came down to a bunch sprint in the end. We were hoping for a medal with Canada's best sprinters on the team, but the sprint unfortunately did not turn out in our favour. It was still a great learning experience and has helped prepare me for future high profile events. I was really impressed by the organizers who pulled together a fantastic event despite all of the controversy leading up to the games.

I'm back in Squamish now where the weather has been unusually cold and windy for this part of Canada. I've been spending lots of time experimenting with new recipes whenever I'm not studying or training. I have had a recent obsession with pumpkin themed recipes with it being fall and thanksgiving season. One of my favourites has been Pumpkin and Kale pasta, it is really fast and easy to make, try it!


July 2, 2010

Summer Racing update

It's about time that I write a new post, I've definitely been slacking. I just returned to Vancouver after three weeks of being on the road racing around Canada.
 First off was the new UCI race held in Gatineau, Quebec, the Grand Prix de Gatineau. This race was created after all the Canadian UCI women's races were cancelled this year. There was a strong women's field present at this race with numerous teams traveling from Europe and the states to race. The weather in Ottawa/Gatineau was the first time it actually felt like summer after all the BC rain and cold. The race itself was quite aggressive with a lot of attacks, though no moves ever stayed away so it came down to a sprint finish. The finish was pretty crazy, the course went around a 180* round a bout about 300 metres from the finish. A cyclist near the front took the corner too fast and caused a pretty bad crash. Luckily I narrowly avoided crashing and finished 6th! I had some extra time to do some touristing in Ottawa, so I went to observe the parliament buildings, eat hamburgers at the Works and contemplate strange modern art at the National art gallery (one display included a horse turned into a unicorn, preserved in formaldehyde.. strange). 

After Ottawa it was off to Banff to meet up with the Trek red truck team for the Banff Stage race. I had never raced this event before and it proved to be challenging, yet fun. Banff is such a great location for a race. The event started with a 1.5 km prologue right up a hill. I didn't pace myself very well, so ended up losing time on the second half of the climb. 
Next stage was the 1A sprint stage, a 80km road race on a highway near Banff. My team had been told before the race that the course was pretty flat. Being from Manitoba I know flat and I don't think this course could be classified as that. It was more rolling, and ended on a pretty decent 1 km uphill. The race was fairly aggressive, but it wasn't quite challenging enough of  a course for a break to be established. I was happy to finish 2nd in the uphill sprint finish. 
The next day was the TT and crit. Banff has the most beautiful time trial course I have ever ridden. Where else do you ride through jagged snowy mountains, pristine mountain lakes and past mountain goats eating on the side of the road? The course started flat, then climbed up to a lake where you started to descend for the rest of the race. I was excited to race to test out my tt skills before nationals, this was only my second tt of the year. I was so pumped to finish 5th behind some of the best time trialists in the country. 
After the tt I was sitting 6th overall in GC, prizes went to top five and I only needed 2 seconds to make that. I was confident going into the crit. The course was very technical was a 180* turn right past the start/finish, and 4 corners after that on a fairly bumpy road. The 180* turn proved to be quite sketchy and there were a lot of crashes, one of my teammates crashed twice and another crashed once. For this reason, I tried to ride at the front of the race to avoid the carnage at the back. On the last lap, Andrea Bunnin threw in a strong attack going into the 180 and got a fairly good gap. I chased and caught her before the last corner, and managed to hold off the pack to win the sprint for the win! I also got a time bonus from the win and managed to finish 5th overall in GC. I think it helped that I had a personal cheering squad the entire race with Uncle Derek, Aunt Tara, Uncle Alan and Aunt Janet out to cheer me on. I found Uncle Dereks dance/cheer moves quite entertaining every time I went around the course. 

Banff Crit podium
My cheering squad!

Nationals Time trial

Next off was Nationals held in Edmonton. The first event was the TT held in Devon. The course wasn't the most exciting. It was an out and back course with some false flats, lots of wind and one descent and climb out of a river valley. Unfortunately my seat completely slipped down at some point during the race which didn't really help me out. It wasn't as good a tt as in Banff, but I still improved from last year's nationals and managed to finish 18th overall and 5th U23. 
The road race was next up. The women did 9 laps of the course for a 120 km race. The course had three climbs in it, most of them had turn arounds and you immediately descended. Right from the start, Lex Albrecht rode away from the group and nobody reacted. She got a pretty decent gap on the group (up to 4 minutes at one point). There were a few attempts to bridge during this time, but nothing stayed away. The pace finally did pick up eventually and we reeled her in pretty quickly. There were other attempts for breaks after this, but it was tough for anything to stick because the group would come back together on the descents. Getting in a good position for the final sprint was a little hectic. Joelle took the win, I managed to finish 7th overall in a fast sprint, and came out as 1st U23 which was awesome!
I'm finally back in Vancouver now a little while to race BC superweek. I'm going to also be attending a track camp at the Burnaby velodrome. I'm sort of scared to ride the track but it should be fun!

Natioanls U23 Podium

May 26, 2010

Racing in Enumclaw

I just finished up my last class today so my summer can officially begin! I'm sort of sad that my epidemiology class is over though, it was the most fascinating class. Here's a race write up from this past weekend's race at the Mutual of Enumclaw stage race in Washington. 

The weekend got off to a great start when I realized that I included my race license in my last load of laundry. The only part left was my photo with little words stuck to it, not good! Thankfully after a quick phone call my coach back in Winnipeg, he was able to make a new license and e-mail a copy to me.  

This year the stage race was based on overall time, rather than an omnium calculated from finishing points like last year. The weekend started out with a short time trial. The weather looked menacing but the thankfully the rain held off for the girls start time. The start felt slow, but I really got into a rhythm later in the race and felt pretty fast. The finish was interesting. There were two cars ahead of me that slowed down because they saw all the cones and cars set up at the finish line. This was a little bit frustrating because they had no idea I was coming up behind them and almost ran into them trying to finish. I still had a good tt time, finishing 7th about 30 seconds back from first. 

The next stage was one of my most favourite 8 cornered crit courses. That being said, I enjoy this course a lot more when it's not pouring rain! The sun was so promising. The rain did split up the race very quickly though. There was a group of 9 of us who got away very early on in the race when people let gaps open on the corners. I was extremely sketched out going 
around all the corners. There were sewer grates on almost all of them which had to be avoided. My super pumped up, no-tread tires didn't really help the situation. I sprinted and won a prime early on which was fun. Unfortunately the time prime was the very next lap which did not play out in my favour at that moment. I unfortunately crashed going around one of those fun eight corners. It was sort of a strange crash though, I'm not sure if I actually ever let go of my handlebars! I just sort of ended up with some road rash on my knee and hip. It was nice to get a bit of a break in the wheel pit for a free lap. Just my luck though that I just happened to miss the second time bonus sprint. I got back in though and felt really good. With 4 laps to go they announced the big money prime and I just had to sprint for it. I had a bit of a drag race to the end with another girl and won it by the smallest distance! Going into the final laps the speed just kept ramping up. I was sprinting out of every corner to stay with the group because I sort of lost faith in my ability to keep my bike upright. Still finished with the group in 7th position. 

Sunday's stage was the road race. I had moved up to 4th in gc after the split happened in the crit. I wasn't that far back and knew that I could move up in gc if a break happened. And that break did happen on the second lap of four. The enumclaw road race loop includes
a pretty long 3 km climb. The Total Restoration team hammered up this climb at the front and formed a break of 10 of us including my team-mate Noe. It was a fantastic break, none of the three riders ahead of me were in the group and I realized that if this break stayed away and nobody got away from the group then I could take over the lead. Thankfully everyone in the group really wanted it to stick and worked together. The finish was sort of interesting. There were quite a few attacks on the last descent.  I chased so nobody could gain any time and take over the lead. The sprint wasn't on the loop that we had been riding all day and the finish line came a lot sooner than I expected. I thought it was later and timed my sprint a bit late oops. Still finished third in that race. It didn't really matter anyways, the break had stayed away and gained enough time that I took over the overall standings! I was so incredibly excited with this result. 

April 23, 2010

Fleche Wallonne

Amy and I at the team presentation
The men's finish about 150m from the line, right before
Cadel attacks Contador
The crazy crowds

(I'm a bit behind..update on the last race we did- Ronde Van Gelderland- Finished 20th in a group sprint.)

Wednesday was my second world cup experience ever in racing the Fleche Wallonne Feminine in Huy, Belgium. I was really nervous about racing on the hills after all of this flatness, but it turned out that they were not as bad as anticipated as most teams did not ride that aggressively off the start. I had so much fun on the downhills, even though they were a little sketchy at times with some people skidding their tires. The race really got going at the first time up the mur de huy at 80km, this was also where my race sort of went downhill. I think it was about where the max grade reaches 26% where I went to stand up and felt like my legs might fall off, not good! Unfortunately I lost contact with the group at this point and had to do some chasing for the last 30km in a group of ten including another teammate. I barely made it up the huy that second time, a 27 cassette would have been amazing. The gigantic crowds really helped get all the racers up that climb. It was crazy how many people were out watching the race! The way the race was set up, the men's and women's races alternated coming through that area, which made for bigger crowds than women's racing usually draws. One thing that sucked was that even though we finished the whole race, apparently my group didn’t make the time cut being around 10 minutes back at the most. But it doesn’t really matter, I still had fun and there are more races to come! It's really cool to see how many hard core bike fans there are in Belgium. I think at one point there was four people helping out with one girl's bike before the start. And my team mates have had people come up with printed photos for them to sign, or to give them a gift. I got a little biker as a gift! It's really different than what you experience at home. Anyways I'm off to bed, racing two more races this weekend, apparently mostly flat again, hopefully not too windy!


April 17, 2010

Euro update

photo: Denise Ramsden

So three more races have happened since I last wrote an update. The Drenste 8, a World cup and a Eurocup. Denise Kelly wrote a great write up on these races:

One thing I've learned from these races is that positioning can make or break your race very quickly. It's so hard to get to get to the front with so many racers! It gets so strung out with the crosswinds and the group breaks up. You are also more likely to get stuck behind crashes the further back in the group. Hopefully I'll figure out in the next few races!

This past Wednesday, the Canadian women's road team went to check out the Fleche Wallonne course for next Wednesday's big World Cup race. Ruth Corset, the current Australian National Champion came along with the team to check out the course. In the morning, we drove an hour to the little town of Huy. It's a very cute town set in a valley with historic buildings and beautiful architecture everywhere. We even passed by a market selling live chickens downtown, not something you see every day. Our ride started from the top of the famous Mur de Huy, which is the finishing climb for the race. There were a few stops and u-turns while we deciphered the route directions, fortunately we got it all figured out and rode the majority of the race course. Compared to the flatness of last weeks races in Belgium and the Netherlands, this will be quite a hilly race and more suited to the climbers. There are 8 major climbs which are accompanied by some fun narrow and twisty descents. The 110 km course passes through many quaint little towns in the surrounding area, one town even has a castle with a real moat! To end the ride, we climbed the Mur de Huy which makes for quite a steep, spectacular finish! We wrapped up the day with some tasty baguette sandwiches from a local cafe before heading back to the base in Tielt-Winge. Next event on the schedule is the Ronde Van Gelderland in Appledorn, Netherlands which is actually later on today!


April 5, 2010

First European race: GP de Dottignies

I finished my first European road race today, the GP de Dottignies in Belgium! The field was huge with 165 girls. I have never before been in a race with that many riders! The race started out well, then got very split up on the only major climb about 25 km in. I was in a chase group with 5 other girls for awhile with the front group in site. I just couldn’t get my legs moving fast enough though after the effort on the climb. We were eventually joined by another huge chase group. The course was set up in a way where there was about a 55km stretch, followed by 7 laps of a circuit for a total of 120 km. Our group was directed the wrong way for a little while on the way to the circuit portion… that was sort of annoying. The race officials still let us complete 5 laps of the circuit before pulling the group out which was nice for some more racing experience. Everyone on the team stayed upright even though there were some close calls, another rider had an incident with one of the motor bikes which was really unfortunate, I hope that she is okay. Congrats to Denise who had the best race of the day, making the break and finishing in the front group! Overall I thought it went really well for the first race. I just need to work on better positioning in the peloton for the upcoming races. Next stop: The Netherlands!


April 4, 2010

Santa Rosa training camp and Europe Part 1

This past week has been quite exciting, full of training and travel. Last Saturday I took a plane down to Santa Rosa, California for the Trek Red truck team training camp. I had never been to California before and was very impressed with the riding. The long twisty down hills were my favourite and it seemed like you could ride somewhere different everyday. 

We had an awesome setup for the camp. The team stayed in a gorgeous gigantic house with a pool, and there was even a chef to prepare delicious food. It was great to get the whole race team riding together, along with the managers; masters riders, sponsors and guest star Trevor Linden (funny story, I sat beside him on the plane and had no idea who he was, I clearly don’t follow hockey!). Overall, it was great to meet everyone on the team and to get in some solid training. 

After four solid days of riding, I left a bit early to fly all the way to Belgium! I’m here now to race ten one day races in the month of April for a national team project. The first race is tomorrow, called the GP de Dottignies.

My first impression of Belgium is that it is very rainy and windy, the fields sort of remind me of riding in Manitoba. I really like all the old brick buildings, and the chocolate is delicious (the Easter bunny came for a visit this morning, yum!). I’ll post some updates after racing…


March 21, 2010

Winter is over

It's about time I post something new on here. . 

Looks like the last post was December so I'll attempt to give a bit of an update since then! 
The university was closed for the Olympics so I went and spent some time at home in Winnipeg. I spent most of my time either working at the Windsor park nordic centre or training with the provincial team at the rowing club. It was really nice to have some people to train with. It makes training indoors a little more bearable. It was so nice to spend some time at home!

I returned to Quest at the beginning of March and am currently enrolled in my Question block. It is basically a class where you come up with your Question (which is sort of like a major) and plan out the last two years of school. The class is great for actually giving you time to focus and develop your interests. I'm quite excited, because after years of having no freaking idea what I wanted to do, I've come to a decision to focus on epidemiology and public health. It is basically the study of the spread and prevention of disease within populations. I still have lots of work to do to develop my focus, but at least this is a start. I have to present my Question proposal to a panel of students and tutors on Wednesday so I'm a little nervous for that.

All the hard work will pay off if/when I make it to the end of the week. I'm off to the Trek Red Truck training camp on Saturday which is down in Santa Rosa, California this year! I'm so excited to ride in the warm weather and (hopefully) escape the rain for a little bit. After the training camp, I'm actually flying to Brussels, Belgium to race for a month. I'm nervous but excited at the same time. I'll try to get some updates posted while I'm there!