November 17, 2013

Bike building with the 49ers

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to build bikes with the San Francisco 49ers down in sunny California. It was a very fun event, and a nice break from training. For the event, Optum partnered with both the 49ers, and Turning Wheels for Kids, an organization that build and provides bikes to under served children.

The first day, we actually built the bikes at the 49ers training facility in San Jose. Various alumni and current players dropped by through out the day to help out. It was pretty funny to compare the size of these guys to the cyclists in the crowd!

The next day was even more fun, when we got to surprise 49 kids with their new rides! The kids were all part of a group called EHC Lifebuilders that helps out families in the Silicon valley. There were some incredibly excited faces in the crowd when the surprise was announced.

We set up various stations set up for kids to get accustomed to their new bikes. They practiced hand signals and stopping, decorated their new helmets with stickers, practiced using their new bike lock, answered some cycling and football Q and A, and even played a bit of football!

It caught me off guard that some of the kids didn't actually know how to ride a bike. I had never taught anyone before, and found it rewarding to witness the transition from frustration to joy with more practice. I hope these bikes can offer the kids the same feelings of freedom and empowerment that I get from my own bike.

Bicycling magazine wrote an excellent story on the whole event that you should check out:
Hilarious to compare cyclists to football players Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe

Sourdough Sam was a BIG hit with all the kids Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe
Built up this bike with 49ers alumni, Guy McIntyre  Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe 

Getting the helmets all sized up Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe
The whole Optum gang photo credit: Sam Wiebe
Another blog post is coming soon as I just finished up two awesome days at the Clif athlete summit in San Francisco!


November 4, 2013

Cyclocross Provincials at The Forks

Yesterday was one of the most exciting Manitoba cycling events of the year, Cyclocross Provincials at the Forks! Nearly 200 cyclists of all ages and categories showed up to race. There were 80 people in my race start alone! The Forks made for a perfect venue, and attracted many non cyclist spectators that just happened to be walking by. I'm sure the miles of winding tape and poles must have confused a few people until they saw the bikes.

The event was especially exciting because Winnipeg was most recently awarded Cyclocross nationals for both 2014 and 2015, so provincials was held as a test event. Here are some photos to give you a preview of next year's course and venue:

Not too many straight sections on this 3 km course..

A crowd favourite was "The Beach", a long sandy section that a talented few could ride clean. There were many spectacular crashes as many tried to avoid the leg draining jaunt through the section.

My favourite section wound through this central bowl, so fast and flowing! 

 Lots of twisty, tight turns through the start of each lap.. can't imagine how long it took to put up all that tape!

The new, nearly completed Human's Rights Museum made for a spectacular backdrop near the pit area.

Here is a short clip of the racing action:

And some news coverage with some race action photos (kind of awesome that cycling made it onto the front page):

Another advantage of the Forks is there is lots of yummy recovery food available on course in the market terminal. I recommend grabbing some chocolate milk and some cinnamon mini donuts, or a Tall Grass Prairie cinnamon bun to replenish those glycogen stores post race :).

Huge thanks to Dark Red Racing, Olympia, and all the volunteers that made this event a success, hope to see lots of people out at nationals next year!



October 28, 2013

Fall Adventures: Wind, Cyclocross and the Perfectly Cooked Eggs

Life has been busy since Worlds capped off the season at the end of September. I've since taken some time off, and am now back into training. Lots of fun hours spent riding in Winnipeg's windy, cold flatness. I've even seen a few snow flakes floating around! I'm so thankful for all my thermal Champion systems riding gear, didn't need it all summer but it is amazing in this cold weather.

To break up the certain monotony that results from riding in fields, I've signed up for a couple Winnipeg Cyclocross races. The growth of this discipline in Manitoba has been exponential in the past few years. It has been lots of fun to reconnect with everyone in the cycling community. Last race of the season is Provincials next weekend at the Forks. There is even an open race for unlicensed riders to come out to try racing (seriously, do it! I even convinced my dad to race yesterday).
Check it out here:

Sloggin through the sand pit in Altona credit: Marc LeBrun

This fall has been a whole new experience for me with no school to think about. However, I think Quest instilled a lifelong passion for learning, so I'm taking an online Science of Cooking course. Chemistry has never made more sense! Making perfect eggs, ricotta cheese and ice cream have made for excellent labs so far. I'll continue to share any particularly interesting facts I learn for the foodies out there.
And for anyone interested in education, the quality is impressive for a free course, it's worth checking out the website

Stay tuned for more updates!


September 25, 2013

World Championships Team Time Trial

This past weekend I raced with Optum at one of our main goals for the whole season, the team time trial World Championships. We placed 8th out of the 16 best teams in the world, only 1min30 off the podium. Specialized-Lululemon were dialed as ever and dominated the race by averaging over 50 km/h over the 43 km course!
Prerace calm Photo credit: Sam Wiebe

The race itself was an awesome experience (yes, riding red lined for close to an hour can be fun). We raced from Pistoia, then followed a newly paved straight flat road all the way into Florence, where the course became more technical as we rode through the historic city. The most spectacular part of the course was riding past the city's most iconic landmark, the Duomo. Apparently this cathedral took 150 years to build back in the 12th century. Can you imagine designing something to never actually witness the finished product?
Preriding the course through Florence

The race went fairly well for our first time trial ever as a team. Our strategy was to start out more conservative and ramp up the pace as we went along. I think as a team we were sort of hoping for a result that would shock the cycling world, but realistically we rode a decent race given our experience at the event. There are so many small details in pacing, aerodynamics, team order, cornering etc. that can make a big difference in this event. It's exciting to reflect on these small details and think about how to improve for next year.

On the start ramp Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe
An interesting fact is that Optum was one of only five teams that entered both a men's and a women's team for the event. I am so grateful that Optum is supporting the expansion of the women's program. This was our first year as a registered UCI team, and first team trip to Europe and to worlds. It's very exciting to be part of a program that is setting a standard for other teams to follow.

Lucky number 13 Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe
Check out full results here:

And more photos are available here:

Next up is my final race of the season, the Road Race World Championships!


September 13, 2013

2013 Cycling World Championships

I'm excited to announce that I've been selected to represent Canada at the World Championships road race held September 28th in Florence, Italy! I will also race the World championship team time trial with Optum on September 22nd.

My teammates for Worlds road race include:
Lex Albrecht
Karol Ann Canuel
Joelle Numainville
Denise Ramsden
Veronique Fortin 

Team time trial roster:
Janel Holcomb
Jade Wilcoxson
Denise Ramsden
Joelle Numainville
Lauren Hall

Hopefully they will televise some of the racing back home!


September 10, 2013

Campgrounds, Mountains and Cappuccinos

Buon Giorno!

Last week I raced Le Tour Cycliste Feminin International de l'Ardeche in France. Accommodations were the same as last year, and the teams were hosted in a campground complete with mini trailers and a waterpark, 4-star camping isn't so bad! The stage race was six stages long and can be quickly summarised as up, down, up, down, up down, etc. My garmin recorded close to 21 000 feet of climbing at the end of the week. The only advantage to all the climbing is the reward of some amazing fast and winding descents, a cyclist's dream. These same roads were not quite as appreciated during race transfers as we all tried to keep our breakfast down.

Overall the team had a successful week of racing. Optum claimed 1-2 on stage 4 with Joelle and Lauren after an awesome team lead out on Stage 4. We also claimed a few other podiums through out the week and won the overall team classification! Many of us have raced in Europe before, but it was the first trip racing for Optum overseas. We definitely showed that the team is competitive racing against an international field.

After the final stage, we packed up and first drove to Grenoble, and then through the Susa valley mountains to Montecatini Terme, Italy for our next adventure. Next race is Toscana, a five day stage race through Italy. Racing kicks off to an exciting start with a night prologue this Wednesday.

One of the most important lessons I've learned so far in Italy is to never order a cappuccino after 11 am.

Our cute accommodation between races

Found some very steep climbing riding around Italy


August 31, 2013

Optum in France


Optum has arrived in Europe! Jade, Lauren and I flew directly from Denver a couple days after racing. The airport was full of cyclists flying out after the Tour of Colorado. Travel was off to an exciting start when Jens Voigt struck up a conversation with me in the airport. He asked if my wheel was made of gold since I had to carry it on the plane. Well actually, I was just cutting down on baggage costs, but our HED wheels are practically gold. He was really awesome to talk to and even asked about the WCA and our thoughts on improving women’s cycling.

After long flights over the Atlantic, we were all quite tired and jet lagged. I slept for a solid 14 hours the first night. Denise won the sleeping award however, as she slept until 2 pm due to the wrong time displayed on her phone.

Rachel managed to rent us a cute chalet just outside of the ski town of Villard de Lans in the French Alps, it’s not far from Grenoble. My room is just big enough for one bunk bed, but apparently it’s quite conducive to sleeping.

The riding here is simply amazing! We discover new roads every time we roll out of the driveway (well actually up the super steep, off road driveway). There is awesome climbing up to all the ski resorts, a fun winding road through a nearby gorge, and we even found a flat road for team time trial training yesterday. Our staff have set out to ride Alpe d'Huez today. The climb is definitely on my bucket list, but maybe not two days before a major stage race.

I already want to come back to the area for a winter vacation. There are signs everywhere for nordic and downhill ski areas. I've even even seen a few rollerskiers rolling around preparing for the upcoming season! It has been awhile since I've spent time on my rollerskis, I can't imagine descending some of the mountain roads here.

We leave this Monday to start racing in Ardeche. None of us want to leave this cute little ski town, but are also quite excited for the racing to start soon!
Map of the nearby ski areas

View from the top of a major climb near Villard de Lans

Leah :)

August 29, 2013

Summer Racing

Quite a bit has happened since my last July update, so here is quick recap of my summer adventures!

Racing in Vancouver for BC Superweek was fun and successful for the team. It was the strongest field the series has seen with representation from multiple North American pro teams. My favourite victory of the week was at the Gastown Grand Prix. Huge crowds, a large prize purse and fierce competition made it a race to remember. Huge thanks to Global Relay for bringing back the historic race last year (this company is also doing awesome things by supporting young Canadian cyclists such as myself with their Bridge the Gap fund). I picked up a couple other wins at the Delta road race and UBC Grand Prix, and Denise soloed away from a break to win Giro di Burnaby. I was happy to see BC friends and to get my sushi fix all week.

After Superweek, we took a fun road trip down the west coast to Oregon for the Cascade Cycling Classic. After a lung burner prologue, it was straight into the mountains. The race was not off to the best start, as we all suffered the first mountain stage. This changed our goals for the rest of the week to go for stage wins rather than the overall. We did pick up momentum as a team by the end of the week with Lauren winning the crit, Jade placing second out of a break on the final day, and I won the sprint jersey. The week finished off with a successful team World Bicycle Relief silent auction fundraiser held at a local brewery.

Next up on the schedule was the Tour of Elk Grove near Chicago. This was an exciting race as usual between the sprinters and time trialists. The stages are relatively short with tons of time bonus sprints. This race was my first major NRC stage race win of my career back in 2011, and Jade won it almost exactly the same way last year on the final sprint. The team was a on a good path towards a triple victory. A strong lead out saw Joelle on the top podium step for Stage 2, which put the top three riders within 0.5 seconds on the final day. However, after a hectic final stage that included some ttt training to bring back a dangerous breakaway, Joelle took 2nd overall to Shelly Olds (Tibco) in the overall standings in a very close finish.   

After Elk Grove I had a good block of training back home focused on the upcoming World Championships Team time trial. In addition to riding, I’ve been trying to get back into building my core, and have added more yoga to stretch out after too much time in the time trial position.

My latest race was the Fort Follies Grand Prix this past weekend in Fort Collins, Colorado. The crit was held just before the finish of the men’s stage 5 of the US Pro Challenge. Whitney Shultz of Colavita did an amazing job organizing the entire event in less than a month, I can’t even imagine how much work that was!

Between myself, Lauren, Jade, Amber and Brie, we had a strong crit squad and wanted to race aggressively.  A constant stream of primes and sprint laps meant constant race action. There were several moves that looked like they might stick, but it ultimately came down to a bunch sprint. We lined up as a team and executed one of our best lead-outs of the year, delivering Lauren for the win, while I held on for third. In addition to the win, Lauren received the sprint jersey, I won the Best Young Rider competition, and Brie was awarded the Most Aggressive jersey. 

The official launch of the Women’s Cycling Association was held that evening in town. Check out the website here to learn more and become a member: Also be sure to check out the facebook and twitter pages for updates. It would be really cool for the US Pro Challenge to create a women’s stage race, or even crit series at the end of every stage of the tour. It would definitely provide some extra entertainment for the fans waiting to see the men finish.  

I’m now hanging out in France, ready to start Optum’s first Euro racing block! The team will race Ardeche, Toscana and the World championships team time trial. Many of us have raced in Europe with our respective national teams, however never wearing the Optum colours so it is a very exciting opportunity.

Stay tuned for updates from Europe! 


The team at Fort Follies GP- Brie, Jade, Lauren, Rachel, myself and Amber! credit: Sam Wiebe

July 6, 2013


Are you from BC? 

Do you like bike racing? 

Do you like yelling loudly? 

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then grab your cowbells and come out to cheer for Optum as we race in Vancouver this week!

Tour de Delta

July 5th Stage 1: Delta Criterium 6:30 pm

July 6th Stage 2: Brenco Criterium 6:15 pm

July 7th Stage 3: White spot Delta Road race 9 am

July 9th UBC Grand Prix 6 pm

July 10th Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix 5:45 pm

July 11th Giro di Burnaby 6 pm

Go here for more race info:

Hope to see you there!


July 2, 2013

Canadian Nationals

Last week I raced in St.Georges, Quebec for the Canadian National Championships. By the end of the weekend Optum had three new national titles and a total of five podiums! I was especially motivated for some solid racing after being sidelined last year with an injury.

The week started with a 27 km individual time trial. The course was fairly hilly and there were strong winds on race day. 27 km is a long time to suffer, but I dug deep and pulled off a 5th place finish, only a minute off the winning time. Joelle won the race and claimed the first title for our team! I was pretty satisfied with the race, my training has focused a lot on time trialing this year and it’s nice when hard work pays off.

With little time to recover, next up was the 110 km road race. Denise, Joelle and I knew we were one of the strongest teams in the race and expected to do a lot of work. The day was off to an exciting start as we rode 6 km neutral which included a newly graveled section of road. Turns out that instead of patching the incredibly mangled piece of road, road maintenance decided that a fresh coat gravel was the best option. Maybe a good option for cars, not so great for bikes. Three flats later, we started the race.

It was fairly tame as we made our way out to the hilly circuit which we completed three times. We then raced aggressively through this section trying to bring back a small early break. On the second lap we took a new approach and rode the front through a cross wind section, quickly bringing down the gap and splitting the peloton. The group splintered even more the next time up the climb, but everything was back together with fewer numbers as we left the circuit.

A breakaway including Denise and Joelle formed as we rode the climb out of the circuits heading back to the finish.  With some of the strongest riders represented I thought it would be the winning break. However, a few strong individuals missed it and chased hard, eventually killing that break. 

Closing in on the finish, I made it into a group with Joelle, Veronique Fortin, Karol Ann and Lex. With two riders in the break, this was the ideal situation for our team. However, disaster struck as we hit the gravel section with 6 km to go and Joelle’s tire went flat. With the team car close by, I wished her good luck and started to think about how to win from the break. Two more riders bridged across as we came to the finish. I was shocked to look back and see an orange helmet barreling towards us as we closed in on the final kilometers. Denise bridging?  I quickly realized it was Joelle in beastmode.  She caught onto our group in the last kilometer. I saw she was on my wheel and sprinted into the final corner into the last uphill drag. I maintained enough speed from the lead out to still finish with the silver medal, while Joelle claimed another victory for Optum!

The road race gave me some confidence going into Sunday's criterium. Even with this confidence, I was still incredibly nervous going into the race as the only Optum rider. Ideally I wanted to force a breakaway, but despite being an aggressive race on a hard course, a break just wouldn't stick. On the final lap, Lex Albrecht attacked up the climb and opened a gap. Not wanting to leave Lex off the front,  I attacked into the descent and final corner, catching Lex, then kept going all the way to the line. Longest sprint ever, but it did lead to victory!

Crit victory Photo credit: Rob Jones
Overall it was a highly successful nationals for Optum, I'm super excited to wear the maple leaf in criteriums for the next year!

Best prizes ever! Apparently the race organizer also produces Maple syrup!
Next up- BC Superweek & Cascade Cycling Classic 


June 24, 2013

Fast times at Nature Valley

The exciting thing about bike racing is that it can be so unpredictable, which is why both racers and spectators love it. Race conditions can swing in and out of a cyclist’s favour in the blink of an eye; it really is a chess game on wheels.

Last week, my team Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies lined up for the Nature Valley Grand Prix held in and around the city of Minneapolis. This race was a big focus for the team because Minneapolis is the headquarters for many of our major team sponsors including: Optum, HED wheels, Park Tools, and Lazer helmets. 

The team showed up confident with a powerhouse squad, which included other Bridge the Gap supported cyclists Denise Ramsden and Joelle Numainville, as well as newly crowned US National road racing champion Jade Wilcoxson, along with teammates Brie Walle, Amber Gaffney, Janel Holcomb, and Lauren Hall.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix consisted of six stages, including a “Merckx” style time trial, two road races and three criteriums.

Our team was a dominant force in the stage one 12 km time trial, with all eight of us placing in the top 15. Most impressive was my teammate Brie who rode half the race in her small chain ring following a mechanical and she still managed to finish third, also claiming the Queen of the Mountains jersey.
Getting aero on my Orca Photo credit: Sam Wiebe
The stage two St. Paul Criterium took place later in the day. Thankfully the thunderstorms we rode through earlier in the day cleared and we were left with dry pavement. There were time bonuses on the line at two intermediate sprints and at the finish line. A strong team lead out saw Optum claim the top two spots on the podium with Lauren and Jade! With time bonuses, Jade jumped ahead to take the race lead by a few seconds.

With Jade in the yellow jersey, the 150 km Cannon Falls road race was a long day of defending the lead.  Amber and I rode tempo while letting several small breaks go up the road, not allowing too big of a gap. We brought back the final breakaway on a gravel section before heading onto the final technical finishing circuits. Our team then adopted a more aggressive approach, and finally put Jade in an ideal position to launch a perfectly timed attack up a small riser on the circuit, where she got a gap and held it all the way to the finish for another stage win!
Jade takes the win! photo credit: Casey Gibson

With two stage wins as a result of dedicated teamwork, we were confident going into stage three, the Uptown Criterium. I had mixed emotions starting this race, as this was where I broke my collarbone last year.  Determined to replace those memories with better ones, I stayed away from the barriers and rode hard for the team. Instead of adopting a defensive approach and riding on the front all day, we decided to instead race aggressively and force the other riders to work. The other teams couldn’t risk letting any Optum rider to get away because we were all high up on the overall GC and could take over the lead. Denise was the last solo rider to be brought back with about four laps to go. Things became a bit disorganized as the final laps counted down; however, our team magically came together for the last lap, and a near perfect Optum lead out saw Jade sprint to her second stage win!  

The Menomonie road race was another long 130 km day of defending the lead on a difficult and hilly course. No idea how I managed to race with a broken collarbone last year. Jade went into this stage with a very small lead. We needed to ensure that the next two ranked competitors did not win the 12-second finish bonus without Jade also on the podium. We were prepared to give away a stage win if it meant retaining the Yellow jersey. It was a long day of different breakaway combinations and riding on the front. Lauren Stephens of Tibco had the move of the day, riding the final circuit laps solo, while the team made sure her final gap did not grow too large that it would put her ahead of Jade in the overall. Shelley Olds of Tibco won the sprint for second, which placed her one-second behind Jade in the GC.
Crushing gravel at Cannon Falls photo credit: Casey Gibson

The final sixth stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix is a crowd-pleaser. The women race the Stillwater criterium circuit 13 times up the infamous Chilcoot Hill, which averages an 18% grade. The race starts at the bottom of the climb and the finish is at the top, it’s brutal!

The peloton quickly shattered after a couple of laps up Chilcoot. I held onto the lead group for about five laps, but tired legs put me in a small chase group. With six Optum riders still in the lead group, I had confidence in my teammates. However, the race did not end on a good note. Unfortunately, Jade crashed hard on the final corner just before the finishing climb and broke her wrist. In standard race rules, a rider crashing in the last 3 km of a race should receive the same time as the pack they were riding with at the time; however, there were gaps that opened on the final climb, so the “pack” was determined to be the only two riders that happened to finish with the same time. This ruling meant Jade would lose the lead the GC by 2 seconds. The day was a cruel reminder of how unpredictable bike racing can be and how quickly things can go wrong
Jade is hardcore, she still went up on the podium before heading to the hospital Photo credit: Sam Wiebe
Even though we didn’t win the overall GC, Optum still showed that we are one of the most dominant and cohesive teams currently racing the NRC. All week we were committed to a goal, and gave absolutely everything we could to see our team succeed. That dedication paid off with three stage wins and multiple jerseys throughout the race. My teammate Amber was even selected to wear the Carla Swart sportsmanship jersey in the final race. This jersey is awarded by vote to the rider who has sacrificed the most in support of her teammates through out the week- Amber definitely deserved this one! Even when you lose, there is satisfaction in knowing you gave everything you had in an attempt to reach a common goal. 

This past week demonstrated how unpredictable bike racing really is. Even after a week of flawless racing, one mistake on the last corner of a five-day stage race can cost you the win. Hopefully race conditions swing in our favour as the team lines up soon to race BC Superweek and the Gastown Grand Prix! 


March 18, 2013

Tucson Bicycle Classic

The original plan was to return to California after the Old Pueblo Grand Prix and train until San Dimas. That plan changed when I heard there was opportunity for more racing with the Tucson Bicycle Classic, a three day stage race. Jumping on any opportunity to race, I signed up and stuck around Tucson for the week. Super cyclist Alisha Welsh and her husband were very kind and hosted me for the week.

Stage 1 was a short but tough prologue through the desert. The day was off to an exciting start when I sat on a cactus. Bad move. Make sure your bike is an acceptable distance away from a field of cacti before attempting to attach a bike number. The race itself was more painful than the cactus encounter. 3 miles at max effort in the 35 degree desert heat. It was the closest I've ever come to passing out at the finish of a race. The effort paid off in the end and I finished 2nd to Julie Cutts (LaGrange), 7 seconds down on GC.

The next two stages featured time bonuses at an intermediate sprint and at the finish, which played into my strength as a sprinter.

One of the hardest parts for the next day was waking up in the morning, 4 am is not an acceptable waking hour. But after the heat from the previous stage, the 7 am start time had some appeal. It was a bit bizarre to be walking around the start area with head lamps on, stars still out shining. The sun rose just in time for us to start. Chloe Black (Sabino cycles), a fellow Canadian who now resides in Tucson had the move of the day, attacking and riding solo for 40 miles, talk about a long time trial. A chase was eventually organized and Chloe was brought back entering the final lap. At this point Caitlin Laroche (Spy) and Marilyn McDonald (also Canadian) attacked and had a sizable gap. Four of us then bridged up to them. We got organized and stayed away to the finish where I sprinted for the stage win. With all the day's time bonuses and a slight finish gap, I took over the lead by 2 seconds.

The final circuit race stage took place on a fun circuit, featuring a gradual climb then rolling descent, we completed 7 laps for 40 miles. It was once again an early morning up way before the sunrise. The finish sprint was a wide open, uphill drag. I was a bit nervous going in with only a 2 second lead. There were four of us all separated by 17 seconds and time bonuses again on the line. There were attacks through out the race, but nothing stuck. I jumped early at the finish and held on to win the sprint, defending yellow and won a super cool trophy made of bike parts. Overall I had a fun weekend of racing and will definitely return to Tucson in the future.
only thing looking stealthy was my Orbea Orca
Cactus trophy!

Next weekend is San Dimas Stage race then back to Canada for a little more education.


March 11, 2013

2013 Optum/TMC Old Pueblo Grand Prix

Reposted from Cycling Illustrated:
Photo Credit: Mason Ibas

I was very excited to get my first win of the season at the 2013 Optum/TMC Old Pueblo Grand Prix in Tucson, AZ!  There was some pressure heading into the event, with Optum as a title sponsor and me racing as defending champion. Optum p/b KBS had a strong roster with Annie, Amber, Lauren and me. As a team, we knew we would benefit from a hard and aggressive race. If it came down to a bunch sprint, the plan was for the team to set up a leadout for me.

We were aggressive right from the start, taking turns countering each other’s moves. There wasn’t a break that got up the road without an Optum rider in it. I saw the perfect opportunity to launch a counterattack after my teammate Amber was reeled back in and riding on the front with the group strung out.  After a few corners, I was surprised to see I had a decent gap on the field. I really committed to the effort and pretended the race was a time trial. There was still 30 min left, so I would need to pace my effort to stay away. If I got brought back, I was confident that we could set Lauren up for the sprint instead.

Cheering from the crowd and encouragement from my director Rachel kept me motivated. The gap hovered around 26 seconds for a while. My teammates did a great job covering moves back in the field. A disorganized chase allowed my gap to grow to 40 seconds. I could see the tail end of the field with 3 laps to go, and I held my gap all the way to the finish!

Overall, it was a very different experience from last year’s victory that came from a bunch sprint. Winning solo was a new experience for me.  It was a nice break from the usual fight for position and elbow bumping that goes on in a sprint finish. It was crazy to win all of the available race jerseys. The race was definitely a confidence boost for the team going into the rest of the season.

Leah :)

February 24, 2013

California Sunshine

The 2013 Optum p/b KBS team camp just wrapped up last week in Oxnard, California. Training camp is a fun time a year to reconnect with teammates, and make new friends! All of the Canadians and cold weather riders especially appreciate training camp because it means warm outdoor riding for a change. I don’t mind the trainer for intervals, but sometimes it helps to ride outside with other people to maintain some mental sanity. 

There was not a lot of down time during training camp. Days were full of riding (obviously), yoga on the beach, coffee drinking, time trial fitting and racing, delicious team dinners (we are competitive at everything, including cooking) and planning for the coming race season. 

New teammates Brie and Amber (from left), Courtney and I taking a coffee break

We also got to meet sponsors and learn about new products for this year. The team would not exist without sponsors, and we fully appreciate their support! 

Dino from HED dialing in my tt fit

The team launch was held at the Honda museum, which made for a cool venue. Lots of fast cars in there!

Before camp, I finished up a challenging but awesome course in public health policy. I’ll be in Cali for a few weeks now training, the advantage of attending university on the block program. Just one thesis and one final course to go until graduation! 

Check out this interview I did for Cyclingnews if you're interested:

First race of the season is coming up fast, can't wait! The team will head to Norcal soon for the Merco cycling classic: