Thursday, May 27, 2010

Xterra South Central Champs, Waco TX

Race morning finally came after a surprisingly good nights sleep. Usually I toss and turn trying to fall asleep, then wake up a couple of hours early and can't get back to sleep. Having my homestay just a minute or two bike ride from the race site made things extra easy and stress free, no worrying about drive time or finding a parking spot. I got to transition and got set-up and was already sweating up a storm, it was definitely going to be a warm one. Got in a good warm-up and headed over to the swim start. Again the pros got there own wave start and this time we had plenty of room for a clean start. The one loop river swim headed downstream first for 375m, then a nice 750m stretch against the current, and finishing up with another 375m downstream. Craig Evans, Branden Rakita, and I quickly made our way to the front of the field with Conrad trying desperately to hang on. I was planning on a nice draft and was glued to Craig's feet around the first two buoys, but the pace slowed down heading upstream so I moved around to the front and put the hammer down. I figured the boys would be able to hang on but apparently not and I found myself with a nice little gap off the front. The river bank had a nice muddy steep bank so it was nice to get there first and have the full attention of the helpers waiting to pull me out.
The pro women hanging out before the start brows furrowed, not sure why
Into transition and smoothly out on the bike, I had two minutes on Mel and a couple more on the rest of the women. I knew the bike was going to be technical and tough and just kept my eyes forward and the pedals turning. I got through the first half with just a couple of uphills that I needed to run up and the course was definitely running much faster than anyone had anticipated. The sport race athletes that were on the course ahead of us were absolutely the most courteous athletes at any race I have ever been to and were amazing at letting us through. Mel again caught me quickly then Renata and Shonny. The second half of the course had a short loop with a couple of tricky climbs. With some seriously tired legs I definitely lost sometime having to get off my bike more than I wanted and with the fatigue setting in I frequently had issues getting clipped back in leading to a bit of frustration. The last section before the straightaway to the finish was a cool newly built section where you swooped down through a huge drainage culvert onto a skateboard like ramp bridge. The local MTB guys had just finished building it for the race and overall did an amazing job with the trails and course, definitely hope we come back to Waco next year.

Into T2 in fourth and I could see Shae Rainier right on my heels as I headed up Jacob's ladder, this huge set of stairs right out of transition. I was feeling a little sluggish on the run as I had taken a little more than week off with a sore hip going into the race and was missing the snap and turnover I had in Vegas. I have to admit I really got stuck in no man's land and thinking back on it definitely eased off the pace. There was literally no one in sight either behind me or in front and on a couple of occasions I even started to wonder if I was still on the right course. That was until we came out of the trails and onto the road with a hundred meters or so to the finish and Emma came just flying by me. I heard her just seconds before she caught me and tried to make it a sprint finish but she was just moving way to quickly and I had to settle for fifth. Solid race, but could have ridden the bike smoother and definitely could have dug deeper on the run.

Women's Podium

Big congrats to Renata for taking the win and Emma for her highest placing ever. Post race I again showed off my excellent bike handling skills by completely wiping out trying to hop the smallest curb ever on the cool down ride with Branden, Renata, and Ryan. Thankfully, other than a bruise on my hip, embarrassment was all that I inflicted on myself. Next up ALABAMA!!! Can't wait. I almost think of it as my second home now as I've trained there for the past two winters. Oak Mountain has some of the best trails in the South and overall it is just a great venue for a race. If you were even considering travelling to an Xterra race this year definitely come to this one!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Calm before the storm...

So it's the night before the race here in Waco Texas and I find myself with some time before heading to bed for a few lines. The course here in Cameron Park is going to be a tough one, fun but really really tough. I got here thursday afternoon after 14hrs of travel which is about 5hrs longer than it should have taken but the plane for the last leg from Houston to Waco had some mechanical issues. Luckily Ryan DeCook and I were on the same flight and had some company waiting it out. Once again I am so lucky and have another fabulous homestay. I am staying with Ian and his two kids, Jude and Hanna right next to the course in a historic 1928 Colonial Cameron Park Home. Ryan and I quickly got our bikes set up and headed out to check out a bit of the bike before either the daylight faded or the looming thunderstorm rolled in, it ended up being touch and go for both, though the fireflies out on the trails were seriously cool to see. The course.... as I said, going to be really tough. It is super tight and twisty with lots of steep uphill switchbacks and gnarly fast descents. Bridges, roots, rocks, armadillos check, thankfully no one has seen any copperheads yet. Hopefully they aren't waiting until tomorrow to show up. I think I was really tired and dehydrated (really?!!! after 14hrs of travelling, you think?!!) and probably should not have ridden but I did and really struggled with the course, couldn't get up a lot of the climbs and my balance was so off I quickly found myself flying through the air and hitting the trail. Not nearly as much damage as Vegas but I hope this is not a pre-race trend that continues much longer. No worries, got back to the house before the downpour and headed out to dinner with Will, Branden, and Ryan who are always good for more than a few laughs, politically incorrect comments and generally TMI, thanks guys.
These guys are seriously cool, nothing like them in Canada
Friday headed out for a full loop of the bike course and started to feel more comfortable with it, though still a little off and frustrated. Finished up the training for the day with a swim which made everything all better. There had been talk earlier in the week about e coli levels in the river being to high and the race turning into a duathlon, my worst nightmare. Instead the results came back good to go and with water temperature in the mid-seventies it means no wetsuit swim, perfect. I got to try out my new Rocket Science Sports skinsuit and absolutely love it. For dinner the usually suspects plus Matt Boobar came over for dinner where we absolutely astounded Ian with the quantity of food that five people were going to eat. Today I got out for just a quick spin on the bike after a short run and finally feel really good. Hit the first section of switchbacks that were giving me troubles perfectly and all is good in the world again. Looking forward to racing tomorrow, should be a total blast, it's only suppose to hit 94degrees (34 celsius) and 60% humidity!!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


A little late with the race report seeing as I am already in Texas getting ready for the next Xterra Cup Race but here goes. Headed out to Vegas early Thursday April 22nd for the first Xterra race of the season. I was feeling really well prep’d but one never knows what is going to happen at the first tri of the season. I had a direct flight, which is rare these days and with the time change arrived in Vegas quite early in the morning. I was fortunate to have a great homestay for the race and was going to be staying in north LV with Kurt and Stacy. I totally missed seeing Kurt coming to pick me up as I was enthralled with the goings on at the airport. 8:30 in the morning and an intoxicated bachelorette party wearing what looked to be high school prom dresses were stumbling around the passenger pick up area. One had even managed to rip open her dress all the way up the back, only in Vegas. Got to the house and unpacked the bike with enough time to head out to the course for a quick loop on the bike. The course was going to be very close to the same as last year, a two loop bike and run, with the transition area thankfully moved to the parking lot of the Loews Lake Las Vegas resort instead of the middle of the desert. Kurt was going to be racing the sport race on Sunday so he decided to join me for a lap. The course, which got dubbed the moonscape last year, is held on roughly graded loose gravelly, sandy, jeep roads with a few washes and a tiny bit of singletrack thrown in for good measure. There is really only one sketchy downhill section and I quickly showed off my expect pro skills by planting my front wheel into a rocky washed out section of it and going over the handlebars. Ouch, skinned up my elbows and knees pretty badly and planted my right knee right into a rock. It instantly started to swell and stiffen up, nice. We finished up the lap without further incident and headed back to the house for some ice and first aid treatment. Friday morning I rolled out in style in Kurt and Stacy’s Audi (yes I do get the best homestays) and met up with Renata and Emma for a quick swim in Lake Mead as Lake Las Vegas was closed to pre-swimming. I then decided to just go easy and ride only the second half of the course and do a short transition run. I was still a bit shaken by the crash and wanted to take an extra day for my brain to forget the image of me crashing and also to let others pre-ride the course a bunch and hopefully work in a nice line down the hill. Thankfully they did and by Saturday morning a nice line had been packed down and pretty much cleared of the larger, chunkier stuff. A quick bike-run on Saturday, then it was just relax, get all the gear ready and get a good night’s sleep. Sunday morning was an early start. Kurt went off at 8am for the sport race and me at 8:30 for the championship race. Got to the race site with plenty of time to get everything set-up and get in a good warm-up. It was good to see everyone and catch up after six months of no racing. There was a pretty good size pro field and the swim start was a little narrow so I tried to get an outside line. Unfortunately I got boxed in a little and missed the feet of the lead group of guys, Jorden Bryden, Seth Wealing, Branden Rakita, and Craig Evans. I spent most of the swim chasing hard and finally caught them with a little time to draft before heading into T1. I got through transition relatively quickly and out onto the bike hopefully with a nice gap on the rest of the women. I was a bit disappointed when I got passed by Mel, then Shonny, in just about the exact same places as last year. Before heading to the race I had gone back and reread my race report from last years race and was determined this time to not ease up on the bike but just keep hammering away. I was riding technically really well, no troubles on the downhill, and easily over the water pipe that took more than its fair share of casualties. I held off Lesley and Renata until almost the end of the bike, much better than end of the first lap last year, and headed into T2 in fifth right on their heels. I had a good gap on sixth and knew that catching the fleet footed Lesley Patterson was probably out of my reach so I set my sights on catching Renata and fourth place. I felt nice and light on my feet and got into a nice high cadence for the two-loop run. The run was pretty much straight up, turn around, straight down, twice. I quickly caught Renata on the uphill section of the first lap then just kept the pace going all the way to the finish. Shonny used an insane bike split to catch Mel and take the win, Mel held on for second, Lesley third, myself fourth and fellow canuck Rosemarie Gerspacher taking the last spot on the podium. (yes that is, count’em, 3 CANUCKS on the podium!!!). Kurt also had a great race placing near the top of his age group. He decided to walk the sketchy downhill saying visions of me endoing stopped him for giving it a go, oops. Overall I was much happier with my race than last year, definitely better effort on my part, both mentally and physically, but also I’m closing the gap to the top girls on the bike. I just need to keep working on my technical skills and high-end power and I will get there. Post race the gang and friends headed out to this crazy Cajun restaurant where they serve you shrimp, crab, or crawdads right on the table, very messy but seriously tasty. This year I couldn’t rally for a trip down to the strip for some late night shenanigans and opted instead for an early night to bed before a long day of traveling back home. Big thanks to Kurt and Stacy for hosting me, always makes a trip easier and more fun having a home to stay at. Next up, a couple of MTB races then off to Texas (well already here actually) for the Xterra South Central Champs. Race Gallery -