Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh Ya We Killed It (Fall Epic 8)

My last race of the the season (as of right now anyway) is over, and I'm a little sad, but it was an awesome race! Erica Leonard and I defended our title at the Fall Epic 8 Hour at Hardwood, finishing off 14 laps of the 10km course to win by a comfy 2 laps. Last year we only finished 13 laps so we must be getting faster (I know Erica is). It was a great race with the best teammate I could ask for, and an amazing way to finish off the season. Hopefully we will be back next year to kill it again!

Our mothers raced as a tag team as well so they came up with some fitting team names...
The girls (left) and the moms
Little Sis racing into 3rd with her team

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crank the Shield 2012

A couple days back home from Austria and I was off again to Haliburton for my first MTB stage race. Crank the Shield is a 3 day stage race through the Haliburton area in northern Ontario, with lots of singletrack and amazing scenery. You can race either solo or as a 2 person team, with age categories for each. I decided to take it on solo and see how I could do on my own against the under 40 women.
The first day was definitely the hardest with rain and 12 degree weather all day. The rain had made all of the trails slick and soft which made for some slow going on the doubletrack sections. I was verrrry happy with my choice of bike for the weekend (Trek Top Fuel). My back was very thankful for the full squish on the bumpy trails and the lockout was perfect for the road (Thank you SRAM). The 66km pushed my limits but I finished with a decent time and after pigging out on the food at the finish and a hot shower, I was feeling much better. In between stages we got to stay at Camp White Pine in some great cabins, with some even better food. The all out buffets for breakfast and dinner were AMAZING, with everything you could ever want to eat. After this very muddy day it was also awesome to have the Trek Toronto guys there to clean and tune my dirty bike (Thanks Taylor!).
Day 2 was a much better day, with the trails drying out overnight and a much nicer 15 degrees in the morning. I was lucky and got to ride with Haley and Watson who were racing in the 2 person mixed category. It was much nicer to have someone to talk to (Haley) and someone to draft (Watson, but we talked too). Riding with them really helped me push myself and we finished the 65km in 3:45.
The last day we started out with a chilly neutral ride from CWP to Sir Sam's ski hill for the start. After riding some great trails at Sir Sam's, we headed out on the road back toward the Haliburton forest. Some of the course was sections of trails that we had ridden on day 1 but in reverse, which was cool to see how the trails rode in both directions. We finished off the 67km stage at Haliburton Forest and were greeted by an amazing and much needed BBQ.
Overall it was an amazing event that exceeded all my expectations. Chico Racing has always had great races, but this one was truly the best. All the organization, food, lodging, volunteer support and atmosphere were the best of any race I have been to. I want to say a HUGE thank you to Sean Ruppel, Chico Racing and everyone that helped organize this event, it was great! It is possible that this may have been the last Crank the Shield, but if it does return I would recommend it to anyone who's up for a challenge!
Here are some pictures from the weekend, mostly thanks to Miss Haley... Smith?

1st Overall Solo Women
Saw this on the sign-in board and thought it was a little odd... Does anyone know this woman?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

World Championships Saalfelden 2012

So my 3rd World Championships are over! After 12 amazing days in Austria I'm back in Canada (and can't say I'm too happy about it). I gave you a bit of an update for the first few days of the trip so here is the rest of the exciting stuff that happened (like the race haha).
At the start of the week I got in a lot more time on course, which was drying nicely until a big dump of rain on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. By then I was feeling good with the course so after one lap on Thursday I was ready to race. The Team Relay was held on Thursday evening, so it was a good chance to watch the racers on the course and see what it would be like for my race on Friday morning. Team Canada put a team in for the relay consisting of Geoff, Mitch, Catherine and Marc-Antoine. We got off to a great start with Geoff coming in from the first lap in 2nd position and Mitch closing the gap on the second lap. Mitch came into the pits with France to send off Catherine with Olympic champ Julie Bresset. Catherine had a great ride, putting Canada into 4th with just M.A. left to go. After an awesome battle with Manuel Fumic and Ralph Naef in the last lap, Marc finished strong for Canada, earning a 5th place.
It was definitely motivation for the next day and I woke up Friday ready to race. The U23 women had an 11am start, which was the perfect time for great temperatures and minimum time to be nervous. The course had mostly dryed overnight but the one forested section was still slick in the morning. I didn't have a great starting position but I made the most of it and tried to fight my way through the pack on the startloop. After the startloop we were in for 5 laps of the 4.5km course. The short laps made the race feel like a blur and before I knew it I was out on my last lap. It was a tough course and even though my 32nd place wasn't at all the result I was looking for, I was happy with how I raced. This trip has given me a ton of motivation for next year and the ideas for training this winter are filling up my head.
Once again I want to sincerely thank everyone who helped me get to the World Championships. I had amazing coaching by Peter Glassford and great support from Barry Near, Trek Canada, and everyone at home. It was an amazing experience!
Preriding "Maple Syrup Falls"
Team Canada with Mechanic Andy

Haley made me eat it

Antoine with his rather large cut
Cheering with my huge pretzel

I will be home for a couple days before heading north for Crank the Shield on Friday. It will be my first stage race and I have only heard great things about it so I can't wait!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Few Days in Austria for the World Champs!

I made it!!! After a year without racing the World Championships it feels amazing to be back! I have been here for a few days now and have spent most of my time getting used to the time change and getting my legs back under me, but it has been a great few days nonetheless. (When reading, we usually means Haley and I)
I arrived in Munich in the morning on Thursday after an overnight flight from Toronto. I suprisingly got quite a bit of sleep on the plane, so the 3 hour bus ride with Team Canada to Saalfelden went pretty smooth. We arrived in the evening at our accommodations and after a quick grocery shop I was off to bed for a much needed 12 hours.
Friday we woke up to 5 degree temperatures and pouring rain. I waited until the afternoon when it had cleared a little to go out for a spin through the town, leg warmers and all. I wasn't feeling up to doing much else so we opted for watching a movie and getting rested for the rest of the day.
Saturday the weather was a bit better with no rain but still some chilly temperatures. We took a spin to the course to check it out but the rain had made it a bit slick so we finished up on the miles and miles of bike paths around town. We figured out the bus schedule for Saalfelden and wandered around downtown until we could find our way around. Most of the town seems fairly new but there were some cool old buildings and walls in the older part of town.
Today the weather took a 180 and it was 25 degrees and sunny all day. I went out for another lap of the course which had dried quite a bit overnight. The course has a bit of everything, with a couple longer climbs and a few steep descents. I'll be getting in some more time on course in the next few days to get all the lines dialled in for my race Friday morning. I'll update again in a couple days but for now here are some photos from my trip so far.
Street downtown Saalfelden

The local bike shop tube dispenser

A little chilly and cloudy in the mountains

Some sheep lawn mowers

A cross cut into the cliff (if you have good eyes)

Some amazing weather on Sunday

The view from our house

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here! It has been an amazing experience so far!