Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bici Rodeo Cross, As Fun As It Sounds!

A cross race on a windy flat prairie rodeo grounds
in Airdrie... was not very luring - photo Masa Higuchi

Ended up being such a super fun course - photo Masa Higuchi
The riding was on very hard-packed lumpy hoof-ridden land
 - photo Masa Higuchi

Duked it back and forth with Anna Felton and Lesley Baldwin
 - photo Masa Higuchi

Section around the corral had potential sand slip-outs
 - photo Masa Higuchi

HILLS! - photo Masa Higuchi

3 speedy women with PONIES! - photo Masa Higuchi
Had an amazing autumn-coloured drive home via Highway 22, then Hwy 53 to stop off for spring water at Open Creek Dam!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Race The Rockies AR, why not!

Diversion to jump into the local urban adventure race
put on by - photo Mike Melnick

Track running buddies from the late 80's -
Rhonda Bell & Marg Fedyna - TEAM Running in Circles!

6 hours to find as many controls as possible
Last minute peruse of the map before the Start.
Did well on the bike navigation

Dug my old mapbag from solo adventure race days... 
(neck-string, duct-taped Ziploc bag, space pen attached,
waterproof paper on-top for easy writing of checkpoints)
 - simple, though still an awesome system!

Our orienteering needed work - super easy control FOUND
A little bushwacking was to be had on other controls!

Rhonda - up high on the orienteer!

Come try one of these urban races sometime... Edmonton, Calgary, Golden (a little more rugged)

Lots of fun, as fast-paced as you make it, as relaxed as you want it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

From Alpine Climbs to Cyclocross!

Less than 1 week home from the incredible Haute Route Alps & Pyrenees races, it was hard to pass up the local cyclocross races.

Saturday Sep 14
After helping ERTC with course prep Friday afternoon with power raking from all the fresh weed-whacking, I arrived to the School of Cross Sat morning a little under-the-weather. I picked up my race number with 1 min to spare to registration cut-off time.

Marg hovering 2nd line on photo left - photo Brent Topilko
Nice to see a good group of women on the start line. At the gun, I chose to linger and not charge for a top spot. Worse fear was having to drop out with not feeling great.

Nice off camber tight swooping corner descent - photo Brent Topilko
All crappiness soon forgotten once I got into a good pace. It was a nice weather day, awesome course, and I managed to claw my way back a few spots. It was fun to duke it out with Shawna Donaldson!

Sunday Sept 15
Next day, Redbike put on Redcross race with similar course, reverse direction. Where the course was intense and choppy the prior day, it was now flowy, fast and tough to shake riders.

From the start, I chose to go hard as the first bit was flat. This course had the field closely knit together.
A racer with a different kind of slamdown.
Nice shadow! - photo Shantel Koenig
The wind was super strong with the tape and pegs viciously blown inwards. Into the 2nd loop on a slight fast descent, I was wary of the tape though it inevitably managed to grab my handlebar and slam me down quick. I tumbled forward. Fortunately unscathed, I got back on after at least 4 women passed by.

Awesome old brown truck podium -
Marg Pepper Chantel Andrea Shantel, placing 5-2-1-3-4
Had a nice effort regaining position and keeping just in front of Lesley Baldwin who is getting stronger each race.

Meanwhile, local Tuesday night cross races put on by United Cycle have been great. Different course set up each week with A, B & C categories. Only $5, need to be an ABA cycling club member to ride.

Saturday Sept 21
Took a whirlwind day flight to Kelowna from Edmonton for a fun family-like get-together. Since travelpoint flights are never available to get to races, gotta use them for fun trips.
Young bear showed up for the birthday party in Kelowna

Had an evening flight to Calgary where I got to meet Lily-Goat and stay at Deadgoat Linda's. Linda was also racing in the Drie Zussen Cross race in Canmore on Sunday.

Sunday Sept 22
Very cool course in a super scenic venue in Canmore

Nice stair action with Lesley Baldwin, Shawna Donaldson
 and Marg Fedyna - photo R. Haskell
More awesome shotz of the women's race showing the technical finesse of the top riders!

Thanks to ERTC 'mate Martin Tolton for getting my bike to Canmore via motorhome, and a lift home. Lucky guy along with his two sons, got to gather spring water with me! - photo R. Haskell

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Haute Route Pyrenees Day 7 - Happy & Sad

Day 7 - Pau/Arette to Anglet Basque Coast, 177 km, 3000m+, 3100m- - course revised

revised course - flat 16 km neutral start to the green line, then up Col D'Ahusquy.
Neutral descent, then furiously fast to the finish at Cambo Les Bains 131 km mark.
40 km convoy to finish in Biarritz. Long mileage last day!

With a few loud drunken locals bellowing on the street up until we left in the morning, no sleep was to be had! It was too muggy to close the windows in the room. Groggily, I dragged myself to the Palais Beaumont to the awaiting shuttle bus. I actually caught a few winks on the 45 min bus ride to the race start in Arette.
Finally, the race course was announced and the 2nd Col was in. After the early morning rain stopped, I still dressed warm for the 16 km neutral start to Tardets-Sorholus.
In the slow-moving peloton, I decided to stop for a pee around 13 km with a quick removal of a jacket, gloves and headband. It was easy to chase back into the front group at the calm neutral speed.
Once over the timing mat, I went with the peloton on the gentle climb. The pace was super fast. The rain began, and it poured so hard water was flowing over my eyewear. Luckily, the rains stopped within 10 min.
I faded off the fast pace sooner than I would have liked, and kept at my own pace with the odd guy to mark off.

Will Levy from Australia snapped my photo as he passed by me

As the pitch steepened, it was inevitable for Valerie to power on by. Will Levy from Australia (met at 2011 Alps) rode by and commented that I was not breathing hard enough, and if I was ok. I decided to go a chill pace on the steep pitches.
The road was leading us into the fog again. The “Summit” marker came early, and it was surprising there was no timing mat as a descent began. Then, around the corner the climb continued around swooping corners. The marker was obviously misplaced.
Will Levy snapped my photo as I proceeded to pass him

Within another 1 km, the pitch was back to a fun 5% and I hammered by Valerie and straight past Will. As my breathing indicated I was putting in a good effort, I asked him “Is my pace ok now?!”. Will said “yes”, and joined me up the rest of the climb in the fog.
Into the sinister fog again - photo Will Levy

A few of us questioned when the climb would end. Voila, within 10m the timing mat was visible and we crested the real summit of Col d’Ahusquy. The descent was now neutralized.

I stopped briefly to put on a jacket. The road down was super bumpy, cow-crappy, and narrow. It was not pleasant to ride. (came across a new name for this section "Col du Cowshit" from Stacie Hall's blog!) I rode by a few guys and made my way down the 700m descent still at a quick pace.

At the bottom before the next timing mat, a large group of 20 guys were gathering to ride together. I caught on just in time before they departed. With a slight decline on the road, the pace was erratic and insanely fast.

It was crazy how quickly we rode the course especially around the round-abouts. I stayed with this peloton for 25 km working hard to stay in the lowlands draft. Fortunately for the ascents, I was able to hang in.

Eventually, I was blown off the back on a descent. Lucky for me, Colin, one of the Brit-Geneva connection guys was just catching up. We worked with another guy for a few km.
When the Team Tempo-Sport came by strongly, we latched on until 8 km to go when we were both shelled at the same time. I must admit it was not fun to ride erratically with either peloton.  

The Geneva-Brit connection... Colin Apel, Iain McCluskey, Jan Dieleman, Marg, Pete Moorhouse, Fergus Garvin (missing in action: Rafael Huber, Hans Apel, Craig Cameron)

Colin and I shared climbs and descents amongst us, where he let me go with the last climb to the finish - the last rise to the finish, yay!

Chilled around town until everyone arrived, and had lunch.

Canadians Yves LeFebvre and Pascale Legrand
Found an interview with Yves LeFebvre with a clip (below) regarding my riding! I laughed when I read it. Yves would pass by me in the race and cheer "GO Big Gear"!

Laurent FR: As-tu sympathisé avec d’autres Canadiens et Québécois sur les Haute Route cette année?

Yves Lefebvre: Pas beaucoup avec les autres Québécois, que j’ai à peine vu. Par contre, comment oublier Marg Fedyna, 48 ans, une Canadienne de l’Ouest du pays qui termine 3e du général dans les Alpes et qui gagne dans les Pyrénées!! Elle était incroyable, toute petite, 110 livres mouillée, elle riait tout le temps et elle montait les cols sur le grand plateau de son pédalier compact, style 50-25 ou 50-27, la chaine en travers! Vraiment, une fille très forte qui aime assurément la montagne. C’est également elle qui gagne l’IronRider chez les femmes qui a couronné le meilleur temps des deux Haute Route. (ndlr: une entrevue avec Marg est disponible ici, et son blog personnel est ici).

Rode a long 40 km to Biarritz at a slow convoyed pace in the odd drizzle of rain. Good times to chat amongst the riders. Lots of congrats from fellow racers.

Made it to the Atlantic Ocean! Not enough time to dip a toe in it.
After arriving to Biarritz, it was a mad dash to go to finish line awards, acquire my bike bag and baggage, pack, shower,... It was frazzling with no time to stock food for the late night bus trip.

At the awards party, Volker Rohrmoser, a racer from Germany gave me an 80% Fair Trade chocolate bar for my bus trip back! He overheard me talking about chocolate one night with the wife of Matthias Koppe (another racer from Germany). The bar was yummy and appreciated!

Coast of Biarritz - photo Dave Moran

Earlier that morning, I saw Laetitia in jeans. She said her knee had been hurting her for a few days and decided to not race.

For me, the race was won with my hard effort on Day 6 to stick with the front peloton as long as possible. It was much like the Sunday group ride (race!) in Kelowna from the Bean Scene. 

It was a bummer not to have all the women racing in the end who were on podium during the week. Each woman had her own strength and it was the luck of the cards of how it finished up each day, almost a roulette!

Awesome to have Greg Lemond help present the final awards
On that Day 6 first climb, a few of the guys from the peloton commented they could not believe I was still hanging in there with them. I laughed hearing this as my breathing was so laboured like a steam engine to cause them to look back at me in wonder.

Race announcers Ludovik Collet and Monica Delavaux were familiar voices during both Haute Route events

In events I've been involved in, the women racers are the heartiest as they show the most perseverance… the strength to my comment is a little weakened by facts though I still believe it is true! A woman racer commented that “heart” injuries were the factor… a term I had not heard before, finding out it meant the emotional factor. If so, still a “hearty” reason!

The friendships formed this week were OUTSTANDING. It was really an intimate time of work, sharing and caring.

Quote from the Day 7 Haute Route NEWS:
Marg Fedyna, who achieved an incredible triple result as today’s female stage winner, overall female lead, and lead female Iron rider, described this last day on the Haute Route asFun, fast and furious! Nice to be complete in a way, but sad to say goodbye.’
The organizational staff bent backwards to make any quirk work of the already amazing service provided. If feedback was given, they willingly look at it for the future.

After each race day, it was comforting to put my bike in the secured corral, pick up my backpack and know that the bike was safe while I went about my post-race activities of shower, massage, lunch, briefing.

Mavic was there ready to help with mechanical issues.

The Haute Route race has developed into the best multi-day road stage race going.

Coming from my bike racer viewpoint of racing most weekends in a season, the entry is high. The comments from the racers that the Haute Route experience was well worth it meant it. It is an event where the racer gets treated like a pro - priceless!

I still wish there was green salad and raw vegetables added with lunch!

New Zealand connection - Dane Christensen, Jodi, Ben Allen

Many many enquiries, and not just jokes(!), were made about my green drinks and eating habits. I had a couple guys follow me to the organic markets for fresh figs. Ultra cool to have an effect on other racers with my normal eating habits. The best comment of “obviously must work” indicating my performance!

Marg Fedyna, Stacie Hall, Pascale Legrand

The three Iron women made it to the end in good form and spirits. It was nice to know we were in it together. Congrats to Pascale Legrand from Quebec and Stacie Hall from Australia. Check out Stacie Hall's TravelPod Blog for her awesome race story.

Stacie was travelling with her whole family in an RV which Is an extra Iron effort in itself. Watch out for them in Canada as her partner James will be taking on BC Bike Race 2014!

Rare sighting of Marg riding IN the saddle on Day 1 - photo Will Levy

Final Stats:
50th / 307 finishing solo racers with 331 starting
10th / 32 finishing IRON racers (both Alps and Pyrenees events)

28 finishing women (with 33 starting or 10% of the field - impressive though need MORE women!)

All Haute Route POSTS

Biarritz beach view - photo Dave Moran

Anglet Beach - photo Dave Moran

Flight leaving Barcelona after the night bus from Biarritz. Still had time after checking in bags to jump on the BLUE bus to downtown to gather some fruits and veg

Meanwhile at home, the Tour of Alberta was a huge success!
as was the Kettle Bell Cyclo-cross race!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Haute Route Pyrenees Day 6 - Into the Col d'Aubisque Fog

Day 6 - Argeles-Gazost to Pau, 101 km, 2300m+, 2600m-

Summary - Road race-like, yay. Expected outstanding views vanished amidst the fog. Nice climb gradient day!

I see four climbs!

After the 3 km neutral start, I stayed near the front of the group. As I was tucked in nicely, I managed the pace well. Approaching around 11 km we hit the first steep rise in the road where the guys easily floated away.

After the grade lowered, I worked to latch onto the rear of the pack though had trouble lowering my high breathrate. I resigned to climb hard at my own pace.

Stuck with a few straggler guys. Descended and started the next climb. Before I knew it the 5k to go sign was up as we rolled into dense fog. 

Found this on the Haute Route NEWS:
The pace and gradient took everyone by surprise, getting the better of even the most elite riders. Australian Chris Dick racing with El Canto team finished 45th in an impressive 02:33:43, but was dropped from his group on the steepest section, “The first climb I tried to hold on to the leading group as long as I could, but it ramped up and I just slid off the back. I ended up riding with Marg Fedyna who is the contending leading woman which was fantastic. We stuck together coming over the Aubisque then the descent through the mist was quite incredible. Very happy to get with a nice bunch at the bottom and we were just freight-training it all the way home. A fantastic day, it was epic."

Swiss racer, Samuel Kummrow, who worked
at The Bike Barn in Penticton
For some reason, I thought we had 4 climbs today. While on what I thought was the 3rd climb, I prepared mentally for the final one. When I saw the 5 km to go sign was at the distance marker for the last climb… I got excited knowing THIS was the last climb and the top was near – my misjudged bonus!
Could barely see the markers to the summit of Col D’Aubisque with 30m to go. Apparently, we also missed seeing the breathtaking balcony views of the magnificent Aubisque.

Starting the descent was scary going down into the fog with only 20m visibility best. I followed a guy down with a couple guys following me. It was very hard to see when the corners came. We descended quickly on misty wet roads, and fortunately came out unscathed.
photo - Manu Molle
I was concerned with the brakes working effectively though had no issues to slow down quick when needed. Glad to finally escape the fog to fast still dew-y roads.

A nice peloton of 6-ish guys formed and we flew on the rest of the bumpy narrow roads in the valley. Some thought it to be similar to the English countryside. If not for the twists and turns, it would be similar to following an ERTC peloton out to Devon.

Caroline and I standing in front of our hotel with her pink jersey barely visible from the top floor hanging out to dry

Closer to the finish there were still rises where a few “ughs” were heard. Finished at the top of a slight rise to an old historical area. Phew.

Laetitia came in strongly many minutes back, with Valerie next.

We still had a leisurely 12 km ride back to the large town of Pau. Nice to have extra time in town.

Squeezed between Laetitia Roux and Valerie Berthod
 - not a bad place to be :)

At the awards, it was ultra cool and appreciated to get many cheers when I was announced as the first woman today. I think my weird climbing style & overall smallness has won the underdog cheers.

Joined the Black Widows for dinner.
Got the Team invite for next year!
The only lure would be a black jersey with a pink spider
vs the pink jersey with black spider.

Award was a HUGE basket full of the best of the best local foods. I shared it all at the aperitif party with the racers. Lots of fun to pass out the goodies. The guys have helped me out and it was a nice way to say thanks.

DAY 7 Preview
Day 7 course has been changed due to weather. The first epic Col is cut out. There will be a 16+ km neutral start. In the morning, pending good weather, the 2nd climb will stay in. If not, it will be a long neutral start with a short timed section in the rolling hills.

 All Haute Route POSTS

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Haute Route Pyrenees - Day 5 ITT Hautacam

Day 5 - Argeles-Gazost to Hautacam, 16 km, 1088m+, 0m-

Summary - Awesome view 4 km from the top, not the most epic climb, challenging with interspersed 12-15% grades just like the climb to Apex (ski hill out of Penticton, BC). 

Even though the finish pic looks like I'm working it,
didn't have the superwoman powers today

I did not have one of those "leave it all out there" races which feel great after recovering from hanging over the bike at the end.

Most fun, was playing in the waterpark at the camp ground!  :)

Very nice to sleep in today! All other mornings had a 7:30 am start or earlier. My slotted start time (slowest to quickest GC) was 10:49 a.m., yay. Put in a short warmup on a few climbs in town. Super excited to see where the organic market was located to head to later.

Oldest racer Francois Le Maut, 70, out of the start
 - photo

After the release from the starting ramp, the actual time did not start until 2.7 km into the climb to get the racers out of traffic safely. I did a few fartlek efforts on-route.


My roomie caught my photo on her descent
after her TT
- photo Caroline Guest

Marina did not show up to the TT, not sure why. Laetitia started 40 seconds ahead of me, and my earlier prediction was the TT would be a duel between Marina and Laetitia.

Racers cheering after their race - photo

I did what I could, though did not have my normal racing zip feel. Despite that, it was alot of fun to get a bunch of extra cheers with having the Leader's jersey on. Especially a ton of cheers from Stacie Hall (Iron Woman) that had me crank up the speed for abit!

Post-race, into the pools with the Leader's Jersey on! 
for now anyway

Road Statue - photo

2 km from the top, had to maneuver through horses standing solid on the road like statues. I smiled. A flock of sheep on the hill around the corner.
Otherwise, the scenery really hit me at 4 km to go and it looked oh so Canadian Rockies-like.

Cool shot as I was riding up to the centre for dinner

Looks like Laetitia and I will have fun deciding who stays in red in the last two stages, as well with Marianne and Valerie for 3rd.

Not a bad place to be after 5 stages!

Found out Marina was sick with stomach troubles. She may yet ride one or two of the last days.

 All Haute Route POSTS