Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Aigle, Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, KingsBridge Disaster Recovery, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup
Vicki here to fill you on how things are going leading up to the Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships…
It is almost time for the most anticipated cyclo-cross race in Canada. The Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships. This is the race where for many hopes, dreams and goals are realized. For a lot of Canadian cyclo-cross racers, this race is the big race of their season. While it is an important race for me, I honestly hope to be racing in a much bigger race at the end of January. This being said, I’m looking forward to the race.
The past two years we’ve raced in Edmonton, Alberta so it is very refreshing to have a short drive from Ottawa to Toronto for this race. Set in Cedarvale Park in Toronto, the course promises to feature lots of grass, a couple of hills, and some bicycle path riding. I really have no idea what the course is like. Just have to wait until tomorrow when out for the official pre-ride to determine how it really is.
In years past I’ve been very stressed out before the National Championships. Not this year. This year I’m really looking forward to racing. I’ve taken the pressure off myself to achieve x or y. Rather I’m just going to line up and focus on having my fun. My goals include: to keep pedaling at all times, to look up, and to go faster. If I can achieve these, I’ll be a happy bicycle racer.
The extra bonus of this race is that my parents, brother and sister-in-law will be out for the race. It will be great to have them there to cheer myself and Marc on as we race around in our red, white, and black KingsBridge skinsuits. And to top it off, we’ll be able to cheer on our friends racing in some of the earlier and later races. All in all, it will be a good day.
I’m taking off for Belgium on Monday, Nov. 8 so the trip to Toronto will be a quick one. In on Friday and home on Sunday to clean bikes, do laundry and cram everything into my bike boxes. Nothing like a little bit of craziness to keep me feeling young and fast!
Be sure to visit the KingsBridge Facebook page to see photos from my recent trip to Europe to race in the Aigle and Plzen World Cups. I’ll try to update this page after the race on Saturday so you’ll know how I did. Marc is racing at 10:00 and I’m racing at 2:30 – so send some fast vibes our way at these times!
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Aigle, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, Czech Republic, Ottawa Cross, Plzen, ulcerative colitis, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup
Vicki here updating you with my recent racing trip….
I’ve just returned from a 12 day trip to Europe that saw me racing my bike in Aigle, Switzerland and Plzen, Czech Republic. These two races were the opening World Cup races of the 2010 – 2011 cyclo-cross season. The World Cup races feature the top racers from each country – with everyone racing for the top step on the podium and the coveted UCI points.
I had my dad along for this racing trip and this really was one of the highlights for me. My dad got to experience and truly understand why I love the sport of cyclo-cross. He got to see first hand how friendly and supportive the cyclo-cross community is – with friends of mine helping out in the pits, showing how to properly clean bikes, and just generally making him feel welcome. To top it off, he got to see me race with the fastest women in the World.
We traveled around Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic in our trusty rental RV. The RV is really part of the cyclo-cross culture in Europe. All of the top racers travel to races in RVs – each one trying to have a bigger and flashier one than their counterpart. Ours was a medium-sized RV that gave us everything we needed – a portable home on the road. We found some excellent campsites and even parked up in a public parking lot one night. Thankfully my dad was in charge of all things RV – driving, maintaining and parking. I was merely the co-pilot, managing the GPS system and ensuring that we had tasty food to eat. A good traveling team!
The racing was okay. I learned a lot of lessons about myself – both on and off the bike. My fitness is not quite where I’d like it – due to some complications from my ulcerative colitis… I’ve been battling a pretty severe bout of anemia and fatigue. Which makes training and racing a challenge. But my goal for this trip was to earn some UCI points that would help me earn my spot on the Canadian National Team for the World Cyclo-Cross Championships in St. Wendel, Germany. Mission accomplished. And now I’m ranked 55th in the World. Not too shabby.
Next up for me is the Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships in Toronto, Ontario on Nov. 6. Then to make my life extra busy – I’m hopping a plane to Belgium on Nov. 8 and will race my first race on Nov. 11 in Niel, Belgium. I’ll be in Belgium until Feb. 7. Really looking forward to the season of racing and training in Belgium.
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Aigle, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, KingsBridge Disaster Recovery, toronto uci, ulcerative colitis, vicki thomas, World Cup
Ah, so nice to have Internet access…. Just sitting in the Ibis hotel in Thonon-Les-Bains, France. Had a great supper here at the hotel with my dad, Gabby Day and Greg Germmer. Not bad food and excellent conversation. Great way to unwind after a good solid day at the race course.
Well, we stopped up last night in the public parking lot in the RV…. It worked out fairly well and we both slept until 9 this morning. I think I’ve still got a bit of jet lag but nothing too terrible. We hit the road just before 10 with a couple places in mind. First up was the Decathlon sports store – excellent sports department store and then a quick hit in the grocery store and we were off.
It rained today. Steady. Not crazy hard – just enough to make the course wet and a bit greasy in spots. First surprise of the day was seeing Luc, his wife and friend Johnny! They came from Belgium in their RV to watch the race. So had a few words with them and they showed us how to get to the rider parking. Pulled in next to Jonathan Page and had a good chat with him. Then it was off with Gabby to check out the course. It took us a while to get on the course as we kept on bumping into people we knew! So nice to be back here with the European racing crowd.
So the course…. Well there are lots of steep ups and downs but nothing that needs more than a sprint and a solid burst of speed to get over. There is the tricky off-camber onto the road – I tried this numerous times with multiple lines and cannot get it 100 per cent. So my strategy is to commit to get off and run the part where I’m stalling. The bumps in the BMX park are a lot of fun. There is an intense sand pit – it is not long but it is not rideable. The sand is sooo deep and very very fine – even running it is challenging. After the sand it is a big sprint up a steepish grass climb, a ride across a very narrow ledge and an almost straight drop down. Then up and over some very large steps/stairs and with only a bike length of flat ground, onto the bike and down a very bump and steep descent. Onto the grass, over some double barriers, tight turns and then onto the pavement.
So the course has pretty much everything. Steep ups. Steep downs. Sand. Bumpy grass. Pavement. BMX bumps. Stairs. Barriers. “Catch your breath descents”. All in all, a very fun course.
I got in three good laps with Gabby. Super helpful to ride with her. We tried different lines and gave each other courage for the two intense descents. Many thanks to Greg for hosing off my bike for me. Got some tips on tire pressure from Nicole and Danny – apparently I’m running too much pressure! 18 psi is recommended! Then it was off to number pick-up and the manager’s meeting.
Now we’re just relaxing at the hotel. The room is a mess with my bikes, went soggy clothes and various other things scattered about. Pretty good room considering the price – not spacious by North American standards but good for European standards.
We are heading out at around 9 tomorrow morning so we can get some good parking. Definitely nice to have the RV at the race – plenty of room to relax in and to get changed in. The awning is great to keep the bikes out of the rain as well.
I’m racing at 1:30 so send me some fast vibes then. Looking forward to racing the first World Cup of the 2010-2011 season. I’m feeling good. Legs felt good today. I feel confident about the course – there isn’t anything that is stressing me out. Good times tomorrow.
Marc is just about to start his race in Toronto so think of him now and send him some speedy vibes. The trip so far has been great. Wish Marc could be here to experience these races.
(I know promised to post some photos… But it is almost 10 and I haven’t dug out the stuff I need to download the photos… Sorry! At least this way you have something to look forward to.)
No guarantees on when I’ll get a race report up… All depends on the Internet connection. At the very least I’ll try to get Marc to post something on his Facebook or on my Facebook.
Remember to send me those speedy vibes!
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Aigle, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, KingsBridge Disaster Recovery, ulcerative colitis, vicki thomas, World Cup
Well, now in Thonon-Les-Bains, France – just 45 kilometers from Aigle, Switzerland. After a bit of driving on Thursday night and then some more today we made it to Aigle at around 2:00.
First stop was a bicycle store as I had a problem with my rear brake. Lucked out and found an excellent bike store called Dom Cycles and was treated to some amazing service by Stefan. Stefan fixed the brake problem, straightened my derailleur hangar, checked out my shifting, took my rear wheel apart and told me that the free hub was almost “kaput”, double-checked that I put the stem together properly and then did the same for my other bike. So both bikes are now in top condition with everything working properly. He definitely does not like the “lawyer tabs” on my front forks and offered to shave them off. Stefan showed me a special skewer nut that you can use if you don’t have the lawyer tabs – it still gives the security of the lawyer tabs but makes it easier to do wheel changes – though they don’t work well for cycle-cross (these skewer nuts were invented in France).
Got out for a great 60 minute ride today. Started at the UCI headquarters and jumped on some pretty awesome bicycle paths. The bicycle path system is comparable to that of the one in Holland. Had a great ride along a river with the mountains looming on either side. (Took some photos that I’ll post with the next post.) Took a quick look at the course – from what I can see it is going to be very challenging. Lots of off-camber corners/climbs. We ride on the BMX track over a part of the pump track. The elevation is pretty flat but there are very steep ups and downs (but short). Speed, acceleration and keeping a high cadence will be critical. It is super dry right now and I’m hoping it stays that way. I did see some guys running some of the cambered corner/climbs – hard to know what to do.
Planning on going to the course a bit early tomorrow so I can practice the key technical sections when it is not super busy. Took a poke around the UCI headquarters as well – the indoor velodrome is pretty swank. Lots going on with the velodrome, BMX course, cyclo-cross course, and the bicycle paths just behind it.
We are stopped for the night in the RV in a public parking lot with two other RVs. So far the RV is working out well. Plenty of space and it is super convenient to not have to worry about finding restaurants or hotels. Tomorrow night we’re staying in an Ibis hotel in Thonon-Les-Bains.
I’m feeling pretty good. The legs felt good today – I didn’t push it but I did a few accelerations to test out my body. So far so good. I think my body is responding to the iron infusions I had and the rest has helped as well.
Well, that’s it for now. (Sorry for the delay in posting but there is no free WiFi to be had and the SIM card I bought only works in the iPhone and not in my iPad. So you’ll get a bunch of posts at once – since we have WiFi at our hotel on Saturday… Again it might be a delay for a race report – but I’ll get Marc to post something on Facebook for me!)
Alright, time to shut this down and read a bit. Thanks again for all the encouragement and supportive emails. Looking forward to the race on on Sunday.
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Aigle, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, Ottawa Bicycle Club, Stevens Bikes, Switzerland, vicki thomas, World Cup
Vicki here – checking in the day before I take off for Europe for two weeks of racing….
This is how I feel, a tad frenzied. It is 9:30 and I’m not very close at all to packing. I’ve made a few piles of clothes and other stuff on the floor. But I’m not anywhere close to being ready to jam things into bike boxes and into my carry-on. Today has been a very good but busy day. I did get lots done and most importantly I connected with a very good friend for some coffee and a great chat.
As for the rest of the day? Well, I got in an excellent road ride. Felt so nice to be out on my familiar training roads and just enjoying the crisp fall air. I didn’t think about racing. I didn’t worry about the garbage from the weekend. Nope, I just focused on pedaling, smiling and taking it all in. I did do a little bit of “mental packing” – putting ideas and thoughts in little spots in my brain for future reference.
Oh, I suppose I did think a bit about racing since my mind wandered to the excellent training day I had yesterday. Marc and I zipped out to Karl’s to play in his front yard. Karl’s cyclo-cross course is great. Sand. Steep climbs. Fast descents. Mud. Ruts. Barriers. Grass. Can’t ask for much more. The atmosphere of the training session was bang-on with all of us constantly laughing at each other and also learning a bunch as well. I can’t thank the guys (Karl, Conor, Evan, and Marc) enough for their advice, patience and help on Monday. With their help, I conquered the steep climb and with their encouragement made it down the descent. All in all a good time on the bikes.
Now my bikes are clean and ready to be put in bike boxes. I’m hoping to get in a morning ride but considering that I don’t have much done in the way of packing or even collecting stuff to pack, the ride is looking like a distant memory. But you never know, I’ve been known to work miracles before!
Checked the start list for the Aigle World Cup – lots of fast girls on the list (myself included). Looking forward to connecting with my Belgian, Dutch, and Danish cycling friends. Amazing how time and distance are erased as soon as you get together with your cycling pals. I do have to say that I really can’t wait to get to Belgium permanently for the winter. It is a chance for me to put the ridiculous from the weekend behind me and to forget about the silly people. Most importantly, I can get settled into my racing, training and enjoying life in Belgium.
Right now even though things seem a little bit disorganized and crazy, I couldn’t be happier. This time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Frankfurt and soon enough I’ll be pre-riding the World Cup race course. Life is good. The only thing that could make this trip better is to have Marc come along. Oh well, at least he’ll be there with me in Belgium very soon. I’m looking forward to spending time with my dad – wonder what he’ll think of his first World Cup experience? Perhaps I’ll see if I can get him to write a blog post on his impressions of World Cup racing?
Alright, my tea is getting cold and I really should do some packing….
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Aigle, Bell Lap Coaching, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, Switzerland, vicki thomas, World Cup
This is Vicki, updating you on my new travel/training plans for October and giving you a taste of how we train for cyclo-cross…
Some exciting things happening lately…. Originally I was traveling to Aigle, Switzerland on Oct. 14 to race at the World Cup on Oct. 17. Now I’m not doing this….
Instead I’m traveling to Aigle, Switzerland on Oct. 2… To attend a 15 day cyclo-cross training camp taught by the legendary Erwin Vervecken! This is a camp run by the UCI – so I’m confident that it will be well run and a really good use of my training time. We’ll be staying in Aigle, training daily, staying together and prepping for the World Cup on the 17th. I’m pretty excited to be able to attend this training camp. At first I wasn’t sure if I should go, but such opportunities don’t come along every week. Seize the day!
My dad is still coming to the races – change is that instead of meeting him in Frankfurt, I’ll meet him in Aigle. So luckily everything works out quite easily. I have to say that I received outstanding customer service from Air Canada getting my flight changed. Also big shout out to Simon Burney for me in navigating some bureaucratic hoops for me – I owe you Simon!
Had a great day of training yesterday. Met up with Karl and Conor to do some ‘cross skill work out at Karl’s place. He has built a pretty cool ‘cross training course that has some challenging terrain. We all had fun tackling the sand, run-up, steep descent, and testing our limits. Just what I needed since I’m in a rest week right now… (Steve, I took it easy and made sure not to go into the red zone.) I took some photos of Karl’s course so you can see what is possible with a bit of hardwork and creativity:
Fast descent or steep climb – look out for the ruts!
The course after the descent/before the steep climb:
The really steep descent or quick run-up (other side of the dirt hill):
Part of the sand track:
Many thanks to the Hoppner’s for their hospitality – we kind of took over their house last night with our training, endless chatter and then enjoying the fine meal. Thanks again – it was a great night.
Today is looking a good training day as well. I’m kicking things off with a cyclo-cross practice session with John – he is new to cyclo-cross, so I’m sure we’ll have fun learning the basics. Then I’m off on my road bike for recovery ride. I received some wise words from my coach yesterday and they deserve to be shared with you:
“Just a gentle reminder to make sure you take your recovery days as seriously as your rest days!”