Tuesday, July 15, 2014

National Champs 2014

The Canadian National DH Mountain Bike Championships is the highest level of DH racing in Canada and were held just last weekend at Sun Peaks Resort, BC.  Record high temperatures in the resort last weekend turned the fast course into a dusty, rowdy, hole filled track, making it challenging in its own way.
Photo credit:  CBC Photo
There was a pretty good turnout of racers and a phenomenal vibe throughout the whole weekend!  This was actually my first DH race this season on Canadian soil, so outside of all the regular faces, it was also really great to see so many young BC ladies out there racing!  I think it says a lot about the up and coming generation of women rippers in BC and Canada.
U17 ladies...future rippers!
I had been suffering from a neck and shoulder injury since returning from Europe and I was actually a bit doubtful if I was even going to be able to race.  Thanks to some amazing local practitioners and copious amounts of pain killers however, I was able to get enough relief from my symptoms to ride.

Over the weekend the course broke down considerably, but my whole bike set-up was eating up all the holes pretty well and I ended up seeding 4th during Saturday's seeding runs.  I knew I had some work to do to ensure a podium finish and so Sunday morning practice was really about figuring out where I could find those precious seconds on track.
Photo credit:  Cycling Canada
As I dropped into my race run I tried to put all thoughts of injuries aside and just give it everything I had.  I definitely overrode the course  in several sections, making a bunch of mistakes, but I cranked out those pedal strokes wherever I could to try and make up time.

As I crossed he finish line and the announcer called me into the "hot seat" I was pumped!  I  left everything I had in me out there on the track but I still didn't think I had ridden well enough to secure a top three finish with 3 riders still left to go.  When all was said and done I did hang onto 3rd place, unseated by Casey Brown in 2nd and Vaea Verbeek in 1st, who both put down cracking times.  All the ladies put down some great runs, so I was pretty stoked to take away my first National champs Podium!
Elite women's podium
Photo Credit: Cycling Canada
The men's race was pretty exciting too with Steve Smith, the favorite, narrowly hanging on to his Canadian title for another year.  It was a close race and Kyle Sangers was less than a second behind him, closely followed by Remi Gauvain.
Elite Men's podium
Photo Credit: cycling Canada
It was another great weekend of racing and great preparation for the next two world cups coming up in August.  I had hoped to make my way to a couple BC Cups over the next two weekends, but have decided to get healthy instead to ensure I am in top form and pain free heading in to Mont Sainte-Anne and Windham world cups.

Stay tuned for more...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Euro Trip Part 3 - Leogang World Cup

The next stop on my month long Euro-trip was Leogang, Austria for World Cup #4.  It was a long and cramped drive from Fort William, but there was some amazing scenery to make the journey more interesting and we also got to drive on the Autobahn through awesome to have no speed limit!
Amazing views in Austria
We had a pretty sweet set-up at Tarlack Apartments, our home for 5 days...our balcony backed onto the bottom of the bike park and we could watch the "Red Bull 26 Tricks", the "Four Cross World Champs" and the last couple sections of the DH track right from our balcony!
The view from our pad
All that awesomeness aside, it was time to get out on the course and check things out.  I was pretty pumped on the course, and conditions were pretty epic.  This was another first on the World Cup circuit for me and a course I felt would suit me pretty well. During course walk, outside of engraving the course into my brain, I was also treated to some amazing views!

There were some thundershowers through the evening before the first day of practice and it made things pretty slick for the first lap.  Unfortunately on my first run I had a pretty major crash and sliced up my hand and ripped through my knee pad.  I was a bit shaken up, but after a brief "time-out" and a change of gloves and armor I headed back up the hill.  Thankfully the track had dried up a bit and things felt a little more normal.  I ended up having to take it easy on the first day, and hoped that for qualifications I could turn things around.

There were about 40 women racing in Leogang (a fairly large field) so I had to put down a clean run to ensure I qualified.  I played it a bit conservative, but it was good enough for a top 20 finish and a trip to Finals!  It was a bit of a nail-biter watching the rest of the field come through so I was relieved when I manged to just squeak through. 
Photo credit:  Sven Martin
After a quick suspension tune from Marzocchi suspension god, Piedro, I was ready for finals on Sunday! With really nothing to lose I wanted to just giver'er and leave it all on the course for finals. The track was in pretty mint condition and thanks to heaps of Ibuprofen I was feeling up to the challenge!
Photo credit: Sven Martin
I didn't quite keep it together in my race run, and had a minor crash in the top section of the course.  I finished strong though and after all was said and done I still ended up 20th.  While I was glad to have raced in finals, I was certainly looking to better my position and am looking for even better results. This was one more step closer to gaining the experience needed to be up in the top 10.

I think over the three weeks of racing I certainly overcame some personal obstacles and pushed my envelope to gain a whole new level of experience.  I was pretty stoked to have finally made it to Europe to race, and can't wait to do it all again next year.

To help celebrate all the hard work, it was time for more adventuring in Italy for another 10 days! While there was no more racing on the schedule for our Euro-trip, there was definitely no shortage of bike riding!

Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Euro trip Part 2 - Fort William World Cup

After a few days in Edinburgh, soaking up some Scottish history, it was off to Fort William for World Cup #3. 
The Scottish Highlands - Pretty amazing!
The Fort William world cup is arguably one of the best stops on the circuit, with probably on of the largest and roudiest crowds!  Since it was my first time racing Fort William, I was amped to get up on the hill and check out the terrain.  The day after arriving we jumped at the chance to head up for a few fun laps on one of Fort Bill's "red tracks".  It was a great way to familiarize myself with my DH bike and what to expect on course. 
Once again we really lucked out with weather, and despite some high winds and a few sprinkles of rain we were treated to some Scottish sunshine, which apparently is quite rare.
The view from our homestead for the week
On Thursday it was all business and I headed up for course walk, with buddy Matt Beer, in hopes of gaining some extra insight about the course.  The top section was open motorway on gravel terrain which could be pretty tricky to maintain speed and traction.  The course then moves into many variations of rough and rocky sections followed by a couple technical woods sections and finally finishing off with some high speed corners and jumps before coming into the finish.
The step down coming out of the woods
Friday was about getting a feel for how the course ran, and getting my lines dialed in.  Unfortunately on my first lap I got a huge slash in my tire and had to pick my way down the last half of the course.  This left me with much less time to practice and so I opted to hike a few of the tough sections and get things dialed in and hit all the jumps.  Having my husband Sean on course was pretty amazing as he helped me with my bike allowing me to save some energy repeatedly hiking during practice.  He was a great support over the weekend!

The finish...before all the crowds arrived
Despite only getting 2 full laps in, I had a great feeling of the course, and was able to get most of my lines dialed in before qualifications.  I was a bit worried coming into this race with regards to the length and physicality of Fort William, but I'd have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how strong I felt - No arm pump, and no tired legs or lungs.  I have to give it up to my trainer Nicolle Bortolussi of Revolution Sport Conditioning for all the amazing off-season programs!
Photo by: Sarah Barrett
Qualifications run
On qualification day there was a major storm coming in with some super high winds, and so the whole day started off 1.5 hours ahead of regular schedule, to ensure the storm didn't interfere with getting all athletes up the gondola - Practice started at 7am!  After a few coffees I was ready to go and got 2 more full runs in and felt great!  Winds were high up top, and there was one feature I opted not to hit as I had been blown off-course earlier in practice.
Photo by: Sarah Barrett
Qualifications run
During my run I was a little conservative up top on the motorway but felt great on all the rough rock sections. As I came into the first woods section I hit the first crucial line, but then got a bit hung up on the awkward exit. I went to un-clip and "dab" to keep momentum going, but as I put my foot down I realized my shoe was no longer on my foot!  I looked down and saw my shoe still attached to my pedal!  
What athletes were greeted to coming into the finish line!
I tried to just keep going but there were two really rough sections coming up next; I knew I had to pull off track to get my shoe back on.  I wasted about 1.5 minutes at the side of the track after all was said and done - I could not believe my luck!!!  I considered just not finishing, but when I finally got sorted, it was game on.  I figured my chances of qualifying were done, but you just never know, and no racer likes to see a DNF beside their name on the results page.  I finished strong, and really at that point all I could do was laugh at the situation - It was such a horrible yet comical twist of fate.  I now have a new race tradition...tie my shoe laces three times over to make sure they're tight!  

Special edition Santacruz Stella's to help drown my sorrows
Chillin' in the pits with the Juliana Bicycles crew
For finals on Sunday, there was nothing left to do but enjoy the racing action from the sidelines...not exactly how I wanted things to turn out, but there was some amazing racing and at least I now have the experience of racing Fort Bill under my belt for next year. 
Tracey Hanna on her way to 3rd
There were a couple flats in the women's final and so it was pretty exciting racing and a different crew up on the was great to see Tracey Hannah up there on the box.  She's been plagued by injury and it looks like she is coming back to top form!

 The men's final was absolutely mental!  Troy Brosnan taking the win, and going down in the history books as the first racer to have his first world cup win at Fort William.

All-in-all my first Fort William experience, despite some bad luck, was pretty amazing.  I am pretty amped to go back next year and get some redemption!
The infamous "Scotland Arch Jump"
 Thanks again to all my amazing product sponsors...everything is feeling great and the help from my support crew makes all the racing possible!

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Euro Trip Part 1

About a week following the Pemberton Enduro it was off to Europe for a month long adventure of racing and vacation. First stop, Peebles Scotland for round #2 of the Enduro World Series!  
All checked in a ready to go!
After landing in Glasgow we quickly made our way to Peebles and there was really no time to acclimatize as the very next morning I got right into training for the 8 stage race. 
We were greeted with some nice weather in Scotland, which was a really nice surprise and made training under severe jet lag much more manageable.  It was also really great to have the support of Juliana Bicycles and Marzocchi Suspension in the event arena, especially being so far from home.  Big thank you to both companies for the technical support and a "place to call home" while on sight.
On the way to stage 1 of day two

In the course of 4 days, training and racing, I rode almost 200km of amazing Scottish trails ranging from some surprisingly steep technical sections, flowy single track and just all around fun and challenging descents mixed in with some physical climbing sections.
En route to stage 1 of Day 1

The top of stage 3 day 1
Given all the circumstances, I'd have to say this was probably the four most mentally and physically challenging days of riding I'd ever experienced.  I pushed through many mental and physical barriers and I was pumped to cross the finish line in 29th.
Photo: SingleTrack Magazine
I was later told by many, more experienced enduro racers, that this was one of the most physically demanding and lengthy courses compared to other events.
Race Day 2 of the Enduro World Series
The crowds in Scotland though were so supportive that it made pushing through the pain that much easier!  It was such a great vibe overall and I really can't wait to go back next year!
The finish line!  
Following the race, we spent a couple days touring historic Edinburgh before heading on to Fort William for World Cup #3 and more exciting racing action.  It was great to see more than just the race tracks as there is some great history!
Overlooking "The royal Mile" from Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle from afar
Stay tuned for more....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Some new additions to my support crew!

Just before leaving for Europe I was lucky enough to add a couple more sponsors to help support my racing needs.

Big thank you to Orange Seal cycling Products for the rush order or tire sealants, chain lubes and bike wash kit!  I am certain with all the rough terrain coming my way that everything will be put to good use!
I also want to say a big thank you to Joystick Bicycle Components for adding me to the team and for the awesome new carbon bars, stems and saddles! 
Photo by: Sean St. Denis
 I had a chance to test everything out before leaving and things are feeling great and I was able to shave some weight on both my race rigs! 
I'm genuinely thankful for all the support and look forward to representing the brands well!
Photo by:  Sean St. Denis
Here's a link to a few more pics of my new Juliana Bicycles "She-10" with the new components...thanks to Juliana Bicycles for getting the new DH race machine to me in time for the big trip and to Photographer Sean St. Denis for the photos.  What a sweet looking machine!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Enduro, enduro and more enduro!

It has been a little bit since my last post, but for good was a busy couple weeks of enduro racing before heading off on my trip to Europe and what has, turned out to be, a few weeks of intermittent internet access.
Post race at the Squamish Enduro
It all started with the first race of the inaugural "Sea To Sky Enduro Series" kicking off in Squamish on May's a cool little video by Max Berkowitz:

 Round two was just a couple weeks later in good 'ol Pemberton.
Pemberton Enduro Training
I didn't fare too well in the first two rounds of the Sea to Sky Enduro series due to a mix of mechanicals and crashes, but it was still good practice and tones of fun, not to mention a great opportunity to test out my new Marzocchi 350 enduro fork!
Pemberton Enduro...pinning it on "Rusty trombone"
These two races were training to help prepare me for my first ever Enduro World Series which are to take place on May 30th and May 31st in Peebles it's time to start packing for our month long trip to Europe for lots of racing action with a bit of pure vacation thrown in at the end!

Stay tuned....

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Back in the N-Dub

It was a hectic and short week following Sea Otter...Fly home, work a few days, try to get some time in on the DH bike, set-up new suspension and then hit the road for North West Cup #1!
En route
The North West Cup MTB series is one of the most fun and chilled racing atmospheres...and it never disappoints from a racing perspective.

This race was all about getting back in touch with my DH bike and testing out my new Marzocchi suspension.  This past winter, most of my training was on the trail bike, and I didn't really get to log much time on the big bike...needless to say things felt a bit off through the weekend, but it sure was fun ripping down the muddy, fast track!
My steed pimped out with new Marzocchi suspension
The new Marzocchi 380 fork and the Moto shock felt amazing!  I'll need to make a few tweaks but all in all I was extremely happy with how everything performed.  The bike was snappy out of the corners and tracked great through all the ruts and high-speed bumps.
The shuttle system...different but it works!
It was great to see such a massive Canadian contingency out for the weekend and I think we all made a pretty good showing!  For the Pro-Women it was Miranda, Vaea, Danice and myself followed by the other Jaime from the USA.  For the pro-men it was Kevin Aiello followed by Canadians Remi and Kyle, then Luke Strobel and Kirck Mcdowall.  Check out the full results here
Coming into the finish
I moved one step up the ladder from Sea Otter, so that was definitely a plus and I was happy that despite feeling off all weekend, I was able to put together a decent run with just one slight ride-off the track after getting cross-rutted.
Ladies podium...Canadian girls killin' it
Some things to work on for sure before heading to Europe for the worlds cups, but I am feeling positive and confident and can't wait for more racing!  

Next up is the first Sea-to-Sky Enduro held in Squamish BC this coming weekend!  Looks like I may be partaking in the Enduro World Series in Scotland at the end of May, so this will be a good warm-up!

Until next time...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The results are in...

Race day has come and gone and I'd have to say that it was a fairly successful start to the race season.  I felt great on the bike all weekend and had probably one of the best times at Sea Otter so far!
Gettin' ready for race day...sweet tail gate cover!
My race run felt relatively good from an actual riding perspective; however as I neared the bottom section of the trail I realized I had way too much "left in the tank".  For some reason I just didn't trust myself to push 100% from top to bottom and I conserved too much energy.  While I'm somewhat satisfied with a top 5 podium finish (You can check out the full results here), I really felt a top 3 finish was mine to lose.
Photo credit: Vern Fisher
On a track that's won by pedaling your brains out, you just have to be pushing the whole way.  It's tough when you cross the finish line and your legs and lungs aren't that moment, you just realize you didn't leave it all out on the track.  When I came across the line and I didn't even feel tired, I knew that I had lost my opportunity to be on top of the box.
Photo Credit:  Chris Rasmussen
I believe my fitness is much stronger this year, as are my technical skills on the bike, and now it's just time to start believing in myself and gaining momentum and confidence.  I'll take a top 5 finish for now and use that as fire to fuel me as I really get into the busy race season to come.
Post race visit to the beach and pier
Until next time...