Saturday, December 06, 2014

2014 Vert180 - First Skimo of Season

Into the 2nd climb of the Vert180 with heavy legs and high breath-rate, I determined that skimo racing is way tougher than any other endurance sport I've done!
Skinning up the slopes of COP - photo Kent Toth Stockflo

Just returning from my epic cycling trip in Taiwan, I just removed the storage wax off my skimo skis race day morning. I was going to be winging my transitions at the 6 pm event that night at Canada Olympic Park (COP)!

photo Stockflo
With a top-notch field of women on the start line, I went out at a fast though self-preserving pace for the 180 minutes we were to be out there.

Kept in pace with Michelle Katchur Roberts, fellow skimo teammate from last season. At the top, Michelle's transition was lightning speed and she was gone.

I doddled methodically with removing my skins, a little bit of a gong show to watch.

Former National team racer Kylie Toth Ohler just behind, passed me before beginning the descent. Good thing, as I had no idea where to go or how to take the descent. It was a great feeling to ski down hoping I did not forget how from last year (not my 2nd nature sport!).

Trail of skiers bootpacking up - photo Kent Toth Stockflo
2/3 way down, had a sharp hockey stop to the right for transition to bootpack up a short climb with kicked in steps. All went smooth on this transition to bootpack.

almost to the top - photo Kent Toth Stockflo
I found it easier to chip my boot toes into the untracked path and run up for parts of the climb, then use my poles on the steeper sections.

At the transition, it was a total gong show to clip into my bindings. Frustration did not help, as the calm volunteer pointed out. The descent was bombing fast straight downhill to complete a loop. Max speed on this section hit 65 kph!

I impressed myself with cleanly removing my skins with skis on, without toppling over! - photo Kent Toth Stockflo

Just as my transitions were finally getting better with removing and putting back on the skins, I had a scary incident on one of these speedy descents near the end of my 7th lap.

As I was in a tuck position bombing for the finish, midway down my right ski wobbled and completely took off with speed in front of me. I managed to balance on one ski, then took a fall to prevent further carnage with a bad crash. Hobble-skied down the hill with one ski all the way to the bottom to grab the lost ski. Skate-skied back up into the finish. Lucky to come out of that unscathed!

With the balmy temps, the air still felt cool. At the top of the hill, while the nightlight views were outstanding, the headwinds were cold coming from the west.

Within a few loops, my gloves were soaked from all the ski handling in the snow. I finally changed them after lap 6 to my super waterproof gloves.

The wicked music playing at the lower transition zone kept motivation going as it was heard most of the way up the climb. It was a small though hearty crowd.

Ended up with 12 laps, 1833m elevation gain in 180 minutes, 17.4 km distance. Max speed was 65 kph!

This is a great event to practice transitions early season and get a feel for skimo. Awesome training event as well.

Thanks to Kylee and Travis Brown and all others who helped out with putting on this event.

Canadian Skimo Women racing that night - Michelle Katchur Roberts, Tele-Martha Burley, Melanie Bernier, Marg Fedyna; missing in photo Kylee Toth Ohler, Jean Ann Berkenpas

The volunteers were super awesome at the transition points with their cheers and calmness!

The timing control crowd who cheered for every person who came in for a loop were amazing to hear all the way up the hill.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Exploring Taiwan as a Cycle Journalist

The Taiwan KOM Challenge event was brought to my attention by fellow ERTC club racer Greg Nicholson after the inaugural event in 2012. I finally got my toe in the door and was able to attend the event this year as a journalist with expenses covered by the Taiwan Tourist Board.

Jo Hogan and Marg Fedyna at a freebie photo booth at the Come! Bike Day event
Once I arrived to Taiwan, I figured I would need to figure out what to do on my own until the press conference mid-week for the event, and the actual race on the weekend.

Once all 8 of us journalists & photographers from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Malaysia and US were together, we were treated royally every moment with nice accom, a guide and luxury bus to show us amazing sites, and fed way too much at restaurant three times a day. Another 6 joined us from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia & Korea mid-week.

I will document my travels with this motley crew in the next while. So many photos to choose from! I had an amazing time.

To sum up... the hospitality of the Taiwanese is unlike any other culture I have experienced. This started before I even arrived... in the check-in line-up in LA airport, other than me being the average height of everyone in line (!)... it was a noticeable calmer demeanor of people. Exchanging money at the airport before even going thru customs, I was boggled and a woman in line made sure to help me. Could brush it off as just a nice person, though every person I came across thereafter was helpful like that!

One day when we heard a horn honk as we were riding in the busy city streets, we all commented that was the first horn honk we had heard! Amazing with 23 million people on an Island the size of Vancouver Island.

Update to come....