Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rough n' Loose... just the way I like it

Rain in these parts seems to be a distant memory and things were no different this past weekend, when the Whistler Bike Park played host to the 2015 BC Provincial DH and XC mountain bike championships.

I can't even imagine trying to race the XC on Saturday in the blistering hot conditions... and thankfully that was not on the menu for my weekend.

The DH course put riders down Joy Ride, Schleyer and Detroit Rock City... some of the roughest trails on the mountain, which I was a huge fan of!  Things got super loose as the weekend progressed on upper Joy Ride/Schleyer, but in the Detroit Rock City woods section things stayed nice and predictable and there wasn't too much breakdown of the course.
This weekend was all about finding my DH mojo again.  I've had a frustrating 4 weeks on the big bike (not feeling fast or confident) and was getting really down on myself.  I decided to break out my FreeLap system for training this weekend to really get a good sense of where I was at, time wise, from one run to the next... and I think I've found what really works for me in practice and how to carry this over into race day!

With each practice lap I took off some much needed seconds and was able to lay down a good time in seeding on Saturday.  I hoped to clean up a few sections and "lay down the hammer" on the last stretch of pedalling before the finish for Sunday's finals in hopes of hanging on to top spot.
Blasting out of Schleyer on the way to the "W" 
I'd been brushing up on a good book about focus (Terry Orlick's "In Pursuit of Excellence") prior to the race to get myself in a better head space...and I think it paid off.  As Terry states in the book, a big part of success is visualizing positive outcomes before your race and then working at not breaking that positive, committed, focus during your performance.

I have discovered that I have a tendency to slip into some negative thoughts during key moments on the race course... so my goal was to try and overcome this by utilizing some of the techniques noted in the book.  I did have a couple little breaks in focus during my race run which led to some major errors, but I was able to bring it back and hang on and avoid crashing.  To top it off I took over 1 second off my seeding run time (despite the break in focus) and came away with the win!
Keeping me focused!
I felt strong the whole way through and my new Fox Suspension seemed to just eat up all the roughness of the course allowing me to relax a bit more!  It was great to come away with the win and be on top of the box beside some super fast ladies, one of which was my training buddy and good friend Lula who came in 2nd!
Pro-Women's Podium
I was also super proud of Stephanie Denroche (the young ripper I'm mentoring for the Ride Like A Girl program) for the double podium over the weekend, in XC and DH!!
Steph taking the win for the Jr. Ladies
There was a great battle on the pro-men's front too, and in the end Chris Kovarik was able to slide into 1st place, knocking Lee Jackson off from top spot from seeding the day before.  
Men's Pro Podium
Overall it was a successful weekend and I'm looking forward to National DH champs coming up in a couple weeks.  I hope to keep this momentum and mind set going!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Road Hawk

So this year I've gotten on board with a new "on board camera" company, Road Hawk, and I was out testing some of the new Bullet R+ cameras around some local trails in Pemberton, BC.

The Bullet R+ camera is super light weight and has lots of settings configurations, which can be changed/updated on your PC... and to top it off, there are a wide range of mounting options!

I really love the fact that I cannot even notice the weight of the camera even when mounted on my trail helmet!  The cameras have two HD quality settings, 720p and 1080p, which can be changed on the fly and allow for different frames per second options.  The cameras also have the the option of adding a remote which also allows you take take still photos and start/stop video recording with the push of a button.
I'm still playing with some of the settings and mounting positions but here's a sneak preview of some recent trail footage!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

GoFest Fun!

Just a few short days after returning home from an 11 day stint coaching in Santa Cruz it was back to racing!  Victoria Day long weekend would see Whistler host the GoFest Enduro, which would also kick-off the North American Enduro Tour series.  The race was comprised of 5 stages in total, sending riders all over the Whistler valley and down some favorites in the Whistler Bike Park.
Steph and I celebrating her win!
On top of having a ripping time exploring some Whistler trails I'd never even heard of, the GoFest Enduro was also a great opportunity for me to catch up with my Ride Like A Girl athlete Stephanie. Stephanie was one of 4 chosen athletes to be part of the "Ride Like A Girl" mentor-ship program and I was selected as her mentor for the season!  I'll get to impart some wisdom and experience on her, in hopes of creating another lifelong cyclist and community ambassador.  
Steph on course!
Steph killed it throughout the day and ended up taking the win in the junior ladies category!  For me however, I had a bit of a frustrating start to the day, falling victim to 4 mechanicals within the first 3 stages.  I still persevered and had a blast and ended up with a 6th place in the pro-ladies field.

Even though my day was a bit of a disappointment, it was great to help Steph through some of the fatigue and sorting through how to approach some of the technical root sections.
Me on course! Photo: Scott Robarts
The GoFest Enduro saw us riders cover about 40km and and roughly 1400m of elevation and was great practice for the Crankworx EWS.  If history repeats itself, Crankworx will be a heck of a lot more elevation and Kms so this weekend of racing was a great way to judge some of the things that'll I'll need to focus on heading into August!

Big congrats to all the racers and looking forward to more fun days out on the Whistler trails!  Check out the full results here


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Go Girls!

It's no secret that mountain biking is a bit of a boys club...but if you were to visit Whistler, BC you'd never know it!  Sure the ratio of guys to girls is still a bit swayed to the opposite sex but there are tons of women shredders in these parts and it's a trend i hope to see continue.

This year I started coaching for the Dirt Series and I think this Girl Empowering coaching program is such a great way to get more ladies out there on the trails and progressing in a safe, fun and encouraging atmosphere!  

My first go at coaching kicked off in Santa Cruz, where the Dirt Series would host two Co-ed camps followed by a ladies only camp to close the California trip.  I had a ton of fun and I just couldn't believe how quickly everyone progressed from start to finish of each weekend.  What a great feeling to know that you were part of helping someone unlock some potential they never knew they had, or helping athletes overcome fears.  

One participant, Niki Gruttadauria just happened to be a writer for Live Strong Magazine and put up this great little article highlighting the top reasons why "chicks should start mountain biking" that I think everyone, not just the ladies, should check out!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life is like riding a bicycle...

Albert Einstein once said "Life is like riding a bicycle - In order to keep your balance you must keep moving".  This little gem really seems to resonate with me right now since I've had tons of competing priorities in general everyday life.  Some days it feels like if I stop moving life will just catch up to me....so after returning home from Sea Otter, I had to keep things moving.

I headed back to work for a few days then set back out on the road to head to the first Pro-GRT of the year in Port Angeles!  I had only been on my big rig one day before making the trip back over the boarder, so I was a bit nervous how the weekend of racing a proper DH course was going to fare.  The Port Angeles courses though are always such a blast, so my focus was on having fun and becoming one with the big bike again.
America! | Photo: Paris Gore
As per usual the course set the pro-racers down "Whiste Knuckle" right out of the start gate...the trail name really says it all - It's mind over matter, how long can you go without touching your breaks!  A fairly "one-line" course, but tons of fun and great to feel the wind whipping past once again.

Some big names were present in both the lady's and men's fields, and this year, thanks to a lot of hard work from Jill Kintner, the Pro-GRT series is now a fully sanctioned UCI series.  Racers can now earn valuable UCI points in their hunt to achieve World Cup Racing access.
Me ripping through the trees | Photo: Paris Gore
Saturday saw the pros race for a spot in Sunday's final...having a qualifying round was another first for the series and really helps prepare you for what it's like to race a World Cup DH.  The course was running fast and Claire Buchar of Whistler surprised everyone by taking the qualifications win.  Jill Kintner and Miranda Miller were close behind and hungry for some redemption for Sunday's finals.  I ended up snagging 6th place behind long time World Cup racers Vaea Verbeek and Emilie Siegenthaler and was hoping to find some precious seconds to narrow the gap on Sunday.
Ladies pro Podium | Photo: Eric Ashley
The weather held up for everyone and Sunday's race was one of the best organised events yet.  In an effort to take some time off I found myself riding a bit tight right out of the gate and made some big mistakes early on in the race and completely blew a crucial corner into the infamous "huck to flat" section of the course and would have to settle for hanging on to 6th place.

Jill ended up coming out on top followed by Miranda and Claire.  It was awesome to see Miranda have such a great result this weekend as she had suffered some nasty injuries at the beginning of last season that took her out for the entire year.  Kudos to her for persevering through such a long road to recovery and for smashing the course!!

Now it's time to shift my focus a bit...it's time to head back to California, where I'll make my MTB coaching debut!  I'm super excited to have the opportunity to coach for the Dirt Series program this year and can't wait to put all my gymnastics coaching experience to work in a completely different setting!

Time to just keep on moving forward!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Back to the Otter

After, what was one of the best biking winters ever, it was time to kick-off the MTB race season with some Otter action.

This year I wasn't going to make the same mistake of holding back to conserve energy as I did last year...with lots more confidence in my fitness program and the knowledge that I had worked my ass off during off-season training I knew I was fit and strong and had had lots of time on the bike heading into the race.
Photo: Gary Perkin
The Sea Otter DH saw many of the top female Pro-Downhill and Enduro racers in attendance, so I knew it was going to be a tough race.  My goal was a top 5...and I fell just shy of this goal by less than 1 second.  I had one pretty major mistake but was happy with how hard I pushed the pedals and that I still felt good at the end of the race knowing that I put everything into it...just gotta clean some stuff up for next year.  My Juliana Bicycles Roubion felt great all weekend and was definitely the right tool for the job.

I also decided to try my hand at the infamous Sea Otter Dual Slalom....what a blast!  As we practiced and then headed into the elimination rounds I found myself wondering what the hell was wrong with me...why hadn't I done this sooner!  Such a great vibe and really casual and fun race format...I see more of this in my future.  I surprised myself with a 5th place finish and am now pretty stoked to try my hand at the Crankworx Dual Slalom later this summer.

My Juliana Bicycles "Roubion" felt great all weekend and was the right tool for the job for both courses.

Bring on 2015 and more adventures!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Playin'in the woods

Thanks to a terrible snow season in the Sea to Sky Corridor it meant that off-season for bikes was all-time!

With the ability to ride bikes through the entire winter, it meant that training had a whole lot more fun times and included much more time on the bike.

My Juliana Bicycles Roubion got a big workout this winter and I also ventured into the world of BMX, heading 3 hours south from Pemberton to the Abbotsford Indoor BMX track, to hone in on some new skills and stay dry on some of the winter's less favorable days.
Photo: Carolyn Kavanagh
A week before heading off to Sea Otter for the start of the DH season, I figured it was time to get in some time on the big rig to get reacquainted with her. Fellow mountain biker and Women's Free-ride Movement photographer extraordinaire was able to find a bit of extra time and join me on trail to snap a bit of video footage and get some great photos too!  Thanks Carolyn!!!

Can't wait for more biking to come.