Sunday, August 30, 2009

Race Report: Provincial Championships, Kelso Conservation Area

And so the exciting 2009 season comes to an end. And what a finish! Today's race was intense stuff. Started my warm up feeling a little out of sorts but figured it was in part due to all the time off the bike to let my shoulder heal up from the last race.

Mom and dad came out today to help in the feedzone and cheer me on. Always always always appreciated. You guys are the best. So I met with them and handed over my bottles and then it was time to line up. Dad switched my warmup bottle for my first lap bottle (felt like the pit at a grand prix!), mom gave me a hug and took my ipod (and my gel wrapper) and then into the start gates I go.

11 of us came out today. Four of our top riders are in Australia at the moment for the World Championships to be held next weekend so be sure to check their progress! A little smaller than usual, the field got some last minute instructions from the commissaire and then we were off!

My first lap I felt ungood (I don't care what you think about that word). The course begins with a three part climb up the ski hill that takes about 6 minutes to clear, your heart beating in your ears at max power the entire time. When I got to the top, I was hot and cold at the same time and seeing stars. Bad wiring or something. But I somehow avoided a short circuit and by the time the second lap came around, I had found a comfortable groove.

Lap two I began what became the most exciting three laps of my life! Back and forth I went with Celine. On the climbs, I'd get around her, gap her on the flats only to have her reappear in the singletrack where traffic got us all bunched up. Then we'd repeat the process. On lap three, Tricia joined in our little game. We three finished within 30 seconds of each other and although I'd done a lot of leading, my timing was unfortunately a little off and it was Tricia, Celine and then me over the line. We had a good hand shake over that one. Good stuff!!

Because I was so busy all the time, I know I didn't drink or eat very well -- all the places where I could get away one-handed seemed to come up when I had some work/passing to do. Thank goodness the weather was cool today so I got away with limited hydration.

The course was great, super fun, and I managed to complete the race with only some minor calamities on the first lap (you know: a mistake here, a tree there). Even the weather held which is a first in the 2009 Ontario Cup series I think. Better late than never!

Once I was finished, we hung around to see what the overall results were. I knew I was in the running going in but didn't do the math to see what result I'd need to move up (I did that on purpose to avoid obsessing over arithmatic). I could see my dad was getting all Ocupped out so I suggested we just go but my mom said we'd stay and wait to find out. Thank goodness she was there! I would have missed my big moment! Collecting one last bit of prize money and standing up on the podium with the other top five Elites. So it was a great end to a great day. I came into the season ranked 11th (hence my super sweet number plate: 111) and i'm going out 5th. Don't worry, I patted myself on the back.

Thus marks the end of my race season. Usually at season's endI'm all too happy to put the bike away for a month of mental/physical relaxation, but this year I do feel a little bit sad. It was a great season -- my best ever. I got up on the podium more times than in the rest of my career combined; I rode in the east and even in the west; went for big goals -- some achieved, some to wait til next year.

What's next? Not Cyclocross, I can tell you that ;)

G and I are going to take a little breather up on the north of Superior ... so all's quiet on the blog front til we get back I suspect. Thanks for tuning in!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Atherton Project

Dropped the ball a bit on the Atherton Project updates so apologies -- here are the next two episodes for your viewing pleasure.

After heading to Maribor for the UCI World Cup, the Red Bull trio return home to Wales. While Dan and Gee hit the trails, Rachel heads out on her road bike in a bid to race at the World Championships in Australia.

The 7th episode of Red Bull's Atherton Project, with Gee, Dan and Rachel. This one contains guns, explosions, time trials and Mont Sainte Anne World Cup action.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poison Ivy

I have spent the last week scratching up a storm thanks to a recent run-in with some Poison Ivy (or Poison Oak as my doctor suspects, but since I was caught sitting in Poison Ivy, I'm assuming the mess on my butt is more than coincidence.)

Since I wouldn't wish this on anyone, I thought I'd share what I've learned.

1) The itching is worst when you want to sleep or relax. Take two Benedryl: either you'll pass out from the drugs, or it'll stop the itching so you can sleep. A win-win!

2) It feels soooo good to scratch. Like so good. But don't.

3) See your doctor for some heavy duty steroid cream but don't let them give you the oral pills unless you're in real trouble. Apparently, the pills have been known to cause spontaneous disintegration of joints and other unfortunate side effects. Definitely a last resort.

4) Apparently, if you realize you've been sitting in a scratch-patch (and by the way, it can get through your cycling shorts as I discovered), there's still hope for about an hour or two afterwards if you can get some soapy water scrubbed on.

5) Benedryl makes a an anti-itch spray that works great. Makes the rash feel blessedly numb and the beauty of the spray is that you don't have to touch it, thus avoiding further itchiness.

6) If you haven't got any spray on hand, another great way to achieve numbness is with a good ol' fashioned ice pack ... still trying to figure out how to fix frost bite though.

7) Your friends, family and colleagues will have a long list of home remedies to share with you including but not limited to: bathing in bleach, baking soda or milk compresses, and applying a blow torch to the affected area.

And there you have it. Prevention is the best strategy so take a tip from me: don't sit in Poison Ivy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Race Report: Mountainview, Ocup 6

I knew the course was going to get some weather, but still, after the drive up - which consisted of just haze at the worst - arriving in midland to torrential downpours and lively thunderstorms came as a bit of a shock. How dare it rain on another Ocup?!

Making my way to registration in my good old yellow slicker, I was travelling against a current of drenched, muddy riders whose smiles were conspicuously absent. Still, my race was still a few hours away so I tried not to worry. However, with that much water, I had to concede that in all likelihood the damage was done. Wet and shivering (but only half as much as the racers) I made my way back to the minivan to hide from the elements until it was time to kit up. I was grateful to have G there for company so together we perused some books and magazines and enjoyed some snackies. "This is the life" I exclaimed and G said "sitting in the van while it pours outside?" Guess I'm easy to please.

Having my nose stuck in a magazine meant I didn't get to witness the miraculous transformation, which made it all the more dramatic once I did finally look up. By noon hour, the sky was clear blue. A few fluffy white clouds completed the picture of a perfect summer afternoon. The temperature was on its way up, too.

Even when it was raining I was excited to get going. I had an incredibly bad race at Mountainview last year for provincials so I was determined to exact my revenge. My legs felt good, right where I needed them, and I was hungry after the excitement at Buckwallow. Plus, I'd done a lot of "Mountainview specific" training so I knew I had the chops to take a good bite out of it.

We lined up, had a brief conversation led by Chico on the megaphone about how those racing at World's in AUS should imagine every tree as a potential kangaroo. Then it was straight up the ski hill for a lung bursting start. Counting on my ability to recover (heh) I pinned it and was third wheel at the top of the hill. One more got by me headed into the first of the singletrack. My oxygen indebted brain was having difficulties negotiating the wet roots and tight corners but I stayed up and only dabbed a few times. Then it was back to business.

On lap two, I came upon Laura in the singletrack and got by her when the course opened up. She became the proverbial "devil on my back" because passing the Junior National Champion is one thing but gapping her is quite another. However, my front brake appeared to be rooting for Laura, because it was at about this time that it began rubbing noisily on the rotor, whining away while I worked extra hard to make up the difference.

Since part of the course was still unrideable and I was off the bike running anyway, I did what I could to remedy the braking issue but not sure how much gap I'd opened, I didn't know which way to gamble ... I mean it was still rolling -- kinda -- so better to just keep going and hope I don't run out of real estate, right?

On the next lap, the running section was getting smaller as the course dried so I was stoked to be able to turn the cranks over instead of slipping and sliding around with a 30 pound-mud-laden rig on my shoulder. I looked back and there she was again. I dug in and just kept telling myself to push. I kept on it through another couple sections of singletrack and sneaked peeks on the double track and not seeing her, thought "She hasn't caught you yet, you've got this." Just then, on the aptly named section of trail called "innuENDO", the bike inexplicably made a 90 degree turn into some trees and brush, stopping abruptly enough to send me over the bars Superman style. I landed on my chest and forearms and thought maybe my chin, but wasn't sure. Winded, I got up gasping and after a quick assessment climbed back on even more determined to make up for the lost time. My shoulder hurt right away but once my brain clicked back to race mode, all the pain shut off. On the bright side, the bike's collision somehow seemed to solve the brake issue. I rolled through for my fourth lap and the announcer said "third". That was all the fire I needed to finish it off.

After grabbing my bottle from G and Tara in the feedzone, I headed up for my last time on the singletrack lung-busting climb. Just as I was about to duck in, I heard Tara yell "Go Kris" from the feedzone with a tone of urgency that I took as a warning that Laura had once again closed in. I fought hard, barely even risking time on drinking (which is a dumb move btw, not recommended in 40 degree weather ... "this is your brain ... this is your brain on racing") and crossed the line holding onto my second podium spot of the season. Some bronze hardware for the 2009 collection. STOKED!

G was waiting for me and I gave him a muddy, sweaty hug and as my body released me from it's "fight/flight" clutches, the things it had been hiding from me were revealed. Number one, my legs didn't seem to want to hold me up anymore. Number two, my arm was conspicuoulsy limited to only a few degrees of motion. Number three, forming words that made sense was not within the realm of possibility. And four, despite standing in the sun and 32 dgree + temperature, I was cold and goose pimply. Better hit the watermelon table!

I finished off the day at Mountainview with some Dr. Pepper, some delicious watermelon, a good sit-down in the shade (and a patch of poison ivy ... whoops. Thanks for pointing it out, Andrew!) and some fun and prizes.
Of course, with the good comes the bad. We decided to pay a visit to the hospital as per first-aid guy's advice. It turned into a three-hour ordeal including xrays which showed everything was a-okay with my bones, phew. However, my rotator cuff is pretty angry at the moment so I'm in a sling for a week. Doctor says to check back in a few days once things have got past the acute stage to find out more about potential cartiledge tears and which muscles in particular need some tender loving care.
We didn't leave Midland until 8 oclock ... sorry guys! ... which put us perfectly in line with some of the CRAZIEST lightening I have EVER seen. We had a three hour light-show for the drive home with the rest of cottage country. Traffic reports included words like "debris", "flooding", "tornado" and "power outage". Avoiding the 400, we found many small towns and intersections completely in the dark, and guys out with flashlights and chainsaws clearing downed trees.

Finally, with the lightening dying down and my hunger grating, we made it back to the 'hood by about 11:00. Long day for sure, but one of my favourites this season just the same.

Congrats to Sweet Pete's teammates Jerome (12th, Sr. Elite), Brianna (5th, Sr. Sport) and Martin (5th, Minime) on their fine finishes! Congrats to Tara and Andrew who both placed 2nd in Sr. Expert. Full results are posted here.

To close, here's some more lightening, lifted from and The Star.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Congratulations Dad!

I got to have lunch with my dad yesterday while he was in town collecting his new bike from Sweet Pete's. He is the proud new owner of a Trek Madone (named after one of Lance Armstrong's favourite training climbs in the south of France). It's really lovely with a light carbon fibre frame decorated in everything Ultegra. And he got some Sidi Genius shoes to go with it. So when you see the macked-out dude pedalling his way to work, making a difference on the MS Bike Tour or training up for the 2010 Ride to Conquer Cancer, you'll know that's my dad!

Congrats dad! It's a really beautiful bike. I might have to get a matching one ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Now Playing!

Those close to me know that this summer has marked a bit of a revolution for me. I've been devouring all kinds of materials on our collective diets and am amazed at how easily a complete change in my attitude about what I eat has come about. Who would have thought a Bruce County born-and-bred gal would ever forsake her carniverous tendencies!? Fact! I've been mostly vegetarian now for about two months. The books I've read and the people I've met this year have literally changed my life.

So in my usual "hunting and gathering" efforts for more information and research, I came across this documentary: Food Inc. If you're in Toronto, this is playing at the Cumberland now. It's so important that we do our best to be conscious consumers. As the trailer says, every time you swipe a bar code, you are voting on the future of food production.

Check out the trailer, and consider leaving-out meat for dinner tonight. Or even better, keep it raw!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Today is a very important day: top commentator "Sheree" is my mom, and it's her birthday!!

So Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Buckwallow Fundae

Have I mentioned Buckwallow is my favourite?

That's why this weekend, G and I headed up there for one last taste. Banking on a leisurely Saturday morning drive up, we loaded up the minivan and departed. DVP was smooth sailing but once we got to the 401, it became apparent we were going to need a traffic report. Sure enough, westbound collectors were closed. Thus began our traffic woes. Hoping for better flow on the 400 we pressed on. It wasn't better. It was the worst we'd ever seen it. So bad, that we decided to get off at Major Mac.

I don't want to spend too much time griping about traffic because even though it took us double the time to get up there, and even though we were crabby, car sick and thinking about calling it quits at about Wonderland, we ended up having a great great day.

So more on that ...

We got to Buckwallow just after two and rode until almost 6. I think we hit every single trail Buckwallow has to offer ... even The Weasel which was just retarded. I would like to know who's cleaned that trail start to finish, no dabs. Wowsa.

G is new to mtb as you may recall from previous posts, but when we go riding it's easy to forget that. Which is nice. Today he was aboard Trek's Fuel 9.8 ... a carbon, XT-equipped beauty.

Buckwallow is a great mix of trails so we checked out everything from gnarly, rooty drops and rocky obstacle-courses to fast and flowy single track over on Burnt Pine Road. All whilst trying to keep ahead of the mosquitos.

At the end of the day, we hit up Weber's for some burgs and fries and then each had a double scoop for dessert. If you see "Polar Paws" ice cream anywhere, do not delay -- get it.

Calories replenished, we got back on the highway and headed home in the expected amount of time to wrap up the night with a movie and some serious couch-time.

Great day. Huge thanks to Sweet Pete's for the use of the Trek!