Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cdn Road Nationals - Challenging wicked race!

I'm a climber that likes to get out of the saddle and climb forever... the Canadian Nationals road race course in Edmonton was a short hill sprinter's climbing course. I gotta say... it was a tough race and strong women made it a challenging effort. I'm glad to have finished with the peloton!
Marg & Danika in dark ERTC jerseys - photo Darcy Reynard
I was impressed with the fast start from the get-go. For the 27 short climbs we had in this race, the racers eased the pace on maybe 2 of them. Attacks happened here and there, on this flatter course, no-one broke away threatenly. The peloton did let a couple women just ride off the front a few times.
Saw Anne Samplonius and Julie Beveridge chatting it up (both National team members though wearing different team jerseys for this race). Next thing, Julie just rides off the front with 2 laps to go and Anne at the front slows up the pace. No-one reacts! Don't let a strong TT rider get away, Julie has potential to finish solo! The peloton eventually bridged up to her.

At times, it took more energy than necessary to ride in the peloton to be "wary" for anything sketchy. Was it due to young inexperienced racers? Corners were cut and riders were forced into the curb. Braking occurred. Lines weren't held, especially down twisty Groat Road... More of a safety thing to not crash the peloton. Riders I knew were awesome with their bike handling.

Marg climbing out of the saddle... why is the hill so short?!
Definitely a sprinter's course as the pace up steep though short Emily Murphy was fast. One time I was working thru a leg cramp and off the back and found that the pack just sucked me up in the flow. So much for being at the front for all the other laps I did!

The last 2-km from the whole length of Groat Road from 107 Ave was full out fast. On the corners, it was like watching roller derby! I played cautious, yet still saw a couple women racers squeezed into the corners almost causing a crash.

500 metres to go a few more women were shoved into a corner and another close call to a crash... I squeaked by on the far left which was clear. The top sprinter's had their pole positions to the 1% descent into the finishline 200m later. Happy to finish safely with the peloton!

All in all, it was cool to get to race at home! The spectators were awesome!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Canadian Road Nationals in Edmonton tomorrow!

Come check out the races: women at 8:30 a.m., men at 1:00 p.m.

Race course: Hawrelak Park, up Emily Murphy, down Saskatchewan Drive to Groat Rd north, cross river, up Victoria Hill, down Victoria Hill, up Groat Rd north to 107 Ave, down Groat Rd to finish in Hawrelak Park.~13 km course, elevation gain per loop around 105 m

women - 9 loops 117-km, 945m (3100') not huge but repetitive!
men - 14 loops 180-km

Two ERTC women racers, myself and Danika. Looking forward to racing on a hometown course!
I think I hold the position of oldest racer and I sure want to show well for us :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Banff National Park Stage Race

4 days post facial injury crash, I went into the Banff road stage race. I decided to take it day by day, better than sitting at home!
Day 1, Stage 1 was a 1.5 km hill climb called the Surprise Corner Prologue. A gradual climb for 500m, steepened the next 500m lulling one into believing that was grade the rest of the way, turned a corner... surprise... grade steepened excessively to 13% with a short flatter road to the finish. A a definite surprise to anyone missing a preride. Not a climber's race, more-so a power race, so finished 10th amongst the amazing world class field of women. Field included Tara Whitten - recent World Cup Track champion from Edmonton, and National champions, and many strong women racers from BC, SK and MB. It was cool to race with a high calibre field close to home.

Day 2, Stage 2 was the highway 1A sprint road race. There is no big elevation gain on the roads in the Canadian Rockies as they go on the flat valley between the mountain ranges. This race started in beautiful Lake Louise on old highway 1A. Out and back for a total 77 km. There were two major spots with a long hill climb, long relative to this flat course. I went hard when I could up the climbs. Ample action on the flats with a few attacks after attacks. The strong girls kept each other in check, especially GC leader Tara, and bridged back to the break each time. Being a climber and not having the sprint-mode, I got pulled up in the draft.

epic scenery Hwy 1A sprint race
I was ready for the last km where there was a rise, a flat and the last climb 400m in distance. No-one went hard on the first part. The peleton cranked it on the flat section in the middle which propelled us into the last climb to the finish. I was pleased to be in a good position... until I got behind the one rider that all of a sudden blew up. No room to pass on the ditch side, so decelerated and went around her. Meanwhile the pack was on a full-on sprint 10 feet ahead. I put in a good effort and caught at least 5 riders going backwards and squeaked into 9th place. I was ready for a good uphill finish with the sprint-tired leaders. C'est la vie.
Another note, to make this stage truly epic... would be a hill-top finish all the way up to beautiful Lake Louise with the glacier in the background, another 300m ascent. That is what makes the U.S. races so cool! The climb is right there, why not use it. The road race on highway 1A typically ends with a mass finish with only a 40m rise to the finish - wow!

Day 3, Stage 3 was a 21-km time trial in the morning. I'm not fond of time trials except if they are straight uphill! I was pleased with my effort despite finishing in the bottom half of the field. The course was super scenic and most enjoyable with the mountain views and waterfall. Passed sheep on the road though scary when one ran into my path.
Day 3, Stage 4 was the 26-lap criterium downtown Banff in the evening. It was a crazy course and shortest one I've ever done at just under 1-km a loop. The course included a 180 degree turn. Riders were clipping their pedals on this turn and some went down. Once was enough when I grazed my pedal, especially with my fresh injury at stake. After that I chose to take the sharpest turn on the inside. It was a technical turn like in cyclocross at a near standstill. Safer though had to accelerate out of it each time. Within laps women dropped off the pace of the leaders. I chilled as my goal was to finish upright with the minimum laps to maintain GC. Ended up in a small chase group and finished without getting lapped.
Day 4, Stage 5 - would have been an awesome road race up Tunnel Mountain. The organizers took the women's race out of the stage race! The stage race felt so incomplete without this final stage. WHY? All about making money. Allow Category men racers (not in the Elite field) to race Sunday instead. More money will come in as more Category men racers will likely race the TT and crit on Saturday. They could have easily included the Women's Elite field within the Category Men's race.

I expressed my point of view back in February when I first heard about the exclusion of the women in Stage 5. I was given very poor excuses. With the organizer's reasoning of giving all categories opportunity to race, it means the Elite men will NOT get to race Tunnel Mountain in 2011!

In the end, a world class field of women showed up, over 50 racers, with a compromised stage race! One piddly 77-km road race... I've raced many epic U.S stage races and potentially Canada could have a comparable Canadian stage race with the Banff stage race. Please let the women race all stages!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

There was NO banana!

Took a trip out to Canmore Nordic Centre for the Organ Grinder 5-hour enduro race Sunday June 13. I hadn't raced in Canmore since the last World Cup race though did do a trail or two in the last section of Transrockies 2005. Lots of new trails.
Wicked course... expected lap times 45 min for 11.5 km. It had the best of the best technical trails in it... laundry chute and devonian drop from World Cup days... new vertical crazy drop eye-dropper (with an easy option to go around)... super fun rolling in/out trail pumptrack... crazy 4-section triple-arrow descent ass-whooper... epic Georgetown ascent... which made it a super fun challenging course.
photo from - eyedropper trail

After a good start, I had a comedy of errors... missed the wooden plank at the bottom of Devonian drop and got tossed. Ok, though spent time twisting back handlebars and getting air into my tire. Then, doh took a wrong turn though realized pretty quick and backtracked. Started passing riders again.

At the transition area, topped off my wheel with air (valve stem was bent and leaked air slowly)... into the next loop, stopped yet again to put air in with my CO2. By now, I was back in the field. I chilled out riding the technical sections safely. Any catching up to was done in the climbing sections, my strength, and I started re-passing riders again. I felt fresh!

Each time the finish area was passed, riders had to dismount and run with the bike around the timers before re-mounting. Into lap 3, I was excited to get back on with a cyclocross mount and started accelerating focussing on the orange area in my sight ahead, the colour of the bridge overpasses in the biathlon area. I put my head down for a second and when I looked up I realized the orange area was not the exit to the trails but was the only orange barrier amongst the grey ones! I remember correcting my line to avoid it.

Next, I was being asked who I was, where I was, what I was doing! I was on the ground with blood from my eyebrow. To make things worse, I kept being told I had been eating a banana and crashed with only one hand on the handlebar! There was a banana at the scene but it wasn't mine. I guess it helped create a logical reason why I crashed. If anyone claims to have given me a banana I'll go with it. I know I did not eat a banana. So, I was confused for abit 'cause I could not recall the darn fictitious banana!

I was helped kindly by a crew of people... the woman EMT, Kris Dahl driving me to the hospital, Tessa keeping tabs on me, Ingrid Dahl checking in, Ed Garvin helping find me a ride back to Calgary with Tim B. The Canmore hospital staff were awesome and efficient.
Quite a bummer being in the most awesome technical race and crashing in the least likely spot on the pavement in the feedzone. I was bummed not to get to complete the race. My actual lap times were decent despite the extra time with mechanicals. Next year!!

Telling people it was from a bar brawl wasn't cutting it! Even more colour days later.

Results of my CT scan that took an in-efficient 14-hours to get at Emergency U of A hospital on a slow night! A few fresh new structures to my right cheekbone and orbital.

Healing well and will take any positive energy sent my way!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Cali Training

My last 2 weeks of cycling were spent in San Diego. Awesome and amazing rides inland and on the coast.

One of my favourite rides called Swami's, 131 km ride with a wickedly fast group of road cyclists and triathletes. Ends on the coast and I love seeing the waves.
Rode the epic desert ride going up the Montezuma Pass from Borrego Springs. Temperature not so hot though super scary windy!

Had to get the bike in a shot before the wind toppled it over.

A good inner city mountain bike ride up Cowles Mountain and down the backside. Elevation gain is 1200'.

The riding gets technical with the rocky terrain and waterbars.
Another short but awesome ride is in the Elfin Forest at Mt. Israel recreation area. After a steep challenging switchback 2-km climb up on the "Way-up" trail, a smile creeps on my face as I hit this super technical fun roller loop.

On Thursday evenings, anyone can join in at 6 pm for the fast and furious crit-like riding around Fiesta Island. Scary but a super good workout.

Finally did the Kitchen Creek climb with my friends Tom and Terri. Resting at the store at the top of Laguna Mountain before the fun descent.

A sign we just wouldn't see in Canada!

Took the opportunity to stay with friends and animals (Lupe, Negrita, Rita & Misha) in Hillcrest. Venturing on my bike, I took a tour of Balboa Park and was amazed with the many museums and architecture.

My friend Lance was running in the Rock 'n Roll Marathon. I got up super early to watch the 6:15 a.m. race start just blocks from my residence. It was awesome to pick out Lance amongst the first 50 or so runners out of 30,000! And even cooler that he heard my cheer and smiled when he looked my way.
One of the many walking bridges across the canyons in Hillcrest.

Every Thursday morning, I can count on Don & Sue to ride from La Jolla to Rancho Sante Fe and back along the coast. I first met and rode with Don & Sue back in 1998 and the ride continues. Sue raced on the 7-11 women's team back in the day, and Don raced pretty high up too.
Ah... until next year...