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…