Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Belgium, cyclo-cross, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup
Vicki looks ahead to the upcoming 2011-2012 cyclo-cross season. Our sponsored rider is ready to give it her all and have her best season ever….
Dudes, I’m super stoked right now. I’ve got a fire in my belly and really I just need to get out and ride my bike. What has caused this urgent need to pedal, pedal, and pedal some more? The UCI cyclo-cross calendar for 2011-2012 is out… Oh boy, it is going to be a great season.
I’m pumped that the first two World Cups are in the Czech Republic. I really enjoy racing in the Czech Republic and there is nothing quite like racing in Tabor (where I raced my first World Cyclo-Cross Championships). The UCI calendar looks really good. I’m pleased that are a lot more opportunities for women to race in UCI races in Belgium/Holland. To name a few new races for us gals: Overijse and Baal. I race Overijse in 2008 – what an experience – one of the hardest courses I’ve ever done – can’t wait to race it again.
The only disappointing factor in the UCI calendar is the lack of double-header races in the U.S. For someone like me who has to drive typically eight hours to get to a race in the U.S. – this is a long way to go for one race. But it is what is so I can’t complain – just need to get on my bike and ride.
Yep, so feeling pretty jazzed right now. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to rebuild my fitness, build new fitness and to really get my technical skills where they need to be. No issues here – this is just the kind of challenge I thrive on.
Yesterday I was talking with Marc about the World Cyclo-Cross Championships in St. Wendel, Germany… The first year I tried to make the Canadian team, the World Cyclo-Cross Championships were in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands – I didn’t qualify for the team and really didn’t have an emotional connection to the weekend of racing. In 2010 I was honored to be chosen to the team and to race in Tabor, Czech Republic. This year, I did not make the team and really I found this past weekend very hard. I so badly wanted to be there and was thinking about the races all weekend. I guess this is because I now know how special it is to race at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. I want to have this feeling again.
So, I suppose the next logical step is for me to step away from the computer, to put on my kit and go out for a ride! This is going to be a good season – I can feel it.
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Belgium, cyclo-cross, disaster recovery software, Hoogerheide World Cup, St. Wendel Germany, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup
Vicki checking in here from Belgium with thoughts on riding and training…
I rolled out of the house this morning at around 10:30 for a ride. To be honest, I really didn’t feel much like riding. I wanted to ride but I just really felt kind of lost on the bike. It is strange to be riding with no fixed goal or reason for the ride. I know I’m riding right now to rebuild the lost fitness and strength. But I’m used to having a goal for each work-out – specific power goals, intervals, etc. Right now I’m really just riding. Don’t get me wrong I love doing it, but somedays it is hard to get out there.
So this was how I was feeling at the start of my ride this morning. Directionless. I pointed myself to my favorite twisty roads and decided to ride for as long as I felt. Gradually the sun started to come out and with it my spirits began to lift. I found myself in Veerle and decided to keep on going – typically I turn off and head back to Blauberg via Averbode. Not today. Today I found myself on more twisty roads and on my way to Eindhout.
I ended up having a great ride. I let me bike take me where it wanted. I had some excellent podcasts loaded up on my iPod and really relaxed into the ride. Those twisty roads seemed to give me some excellent therapy. My legs opened up and began to find their rhythm. My heart and soul relaxed and I was able to enjoy the ride for the sake of the ride. In the end, I’m super happy I went out.
I’m guessing that part of the reason I’m feeling a bit directionless right now is because we’re in the big build up to the Hoogerheide World Cup and the World Cyclo-Cross Championships next weekend in St. Wendel, Germany. Well, I’m not in the build up for these races… But pretty much all of my friends are. I’m super stoked for them, but I’m also sitting here wishing I was part of the big show this year. Hoogerheide is one of my favorite World Cups and well, what can you say about the World Cyclo-Cross Championships – simply the ultimate race. I know that I’ll be there next season but next season feels very far away right now….
Tomorrow I’ll get out for another ride. This one will be a longer one, I’m thinking close to three hours of riding on the twisty roads and a few climbs. Just what my legs, heart and soul need right now. I’ll simply let the twisty roads guide me – this seems to be working so far.
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Belgium, Bell Lap Coaching, Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships, Champions Systems Canada, Clif Bar, cyclo-cross, cyclo-cross training, Hasselt, KingsBridge Disaster Recovery, Koksijde World Cup, Marc Boudreau, Neil, Oakley, Outdoor Gear Canada, Stevens Bikes Canada, Stevens Carbon Team DA, The Cyclery, ulcerative colitis, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup
Vicki here with my ruminations on this past cyclo-cross season….
For a cyclo-cross racer, this is kind of an odd time to be writing about my cyclo-cross season. But as you know, my season was cut short in December… I’ve had some time to think about this 2010-2011 cyclo-cross season and I thought I’d let you in on these thoughts….
In a nutshell, this was a very disappointing cyclo-cross season. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted or planned. The goals I set weren’t achieved. And quite frankly I didn’t race the way I can or wanted. This was not for want of trying. In fact sometimes I wonder if I “tried” to hard. I wonder what my season would have been like if when I first got sick again last May, I’d backed off on the training and let my body heal. But hindsight is 20/20. I felt good on the bike and everything was pointing towards the training benefits paying off into the cyclo-cross race season. But this didn’t happen. I fought my body each and every time I got on the bike to race this year. Is this an excuse for why my season didn’t live up to my expectations? I’m not sure – it is what it is.
I worked hard in the off-season on my technical skills. But still I have much more room to improve in this area. In fact more than my struggles with the ulcerative colitis this season, I wonder if my technical skills held me back more than my health struggles? I pushed myself technically this spring/summer/fall, but I still believe I can push myself more. There are skills that I simply need to “get”. Being smooth in my transitions. Really understanding gearing and how it applies to different terrain: sand, mud, steep climbs, off-cambers, etc. Technically I’ve come along way, but this season has shown me that I still have further to go. By making improvements technically, I think I can really improve my cyclo-cross racing.
Really there are no results to write about here. After a few weeks into the season it became pretty clear that the results I had attained last season were going to be pretty darn hard to achieve. Instead I had to look at each races as an opportunity to test myself technically and to simply just focus on getting around for 40 minutes. Not really what goes through the mind of an elite cyclo-cross racer on the start line. But it is what it is. I did have some races that I was happy/content with – my ride at Niel was decent for my first muddy slog of a Belgian race, I had a blast at Aspere Gavere and was stoked to be able to ride the crazy descent, Hasselt was fun as usual, and I really felt like I had a decent ride at Koksijde. Sand is still very challenging for me, but I felt like I rode better at Koksijde this year than I did last. Actually, even the Canadian Cyclo-Cross Nationals were okay for me – I was 16th – not the result I wanted or expected… But through it all, I didn’t quit, I stayed positive and just focused on leaving it out there. It just so happens that this year it was 16th (rather than 7th the previous two seasons…). If anything this cyclo-cross season has taught me more than ever to focus on performance rather than outcome. It would have been so easy to quit and crack if I had been only looking at my name on the results sheet.
Mentally, this has been my strongest season ever. There was a point at the start of the season when I didn’t know about the ridiculous anemia and the effects the ulcerative colitis was having on my ability to perform that I did worry that my “head had fallen off”. I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t race the way I believed I should be. Immediately I started to worry that I just didn’t want it badly enough. But deep down, I knew this wasn’t the case. Honestly it was a relief to find out I was fighting my body and not my brain. I’ve come a long way mentally in this bike racing game. It hasn’t been easy. But I think I’ve found my groove. I’m confident. I believe in myself. And I’ve learned to ignore the idiots out there – yes, in our little Ottawa cyclo-cross community there are people who were (and probably still are) talking “trash” behind my back and to others about how “Vicki sucks”. Well, I let this get to me for a bit but then I realized that I just simply don’t care about those idiots. I don’t have time to let them get in my brain. I suppose the hardest part with this has been wondering why people bother saying “crap” about others – what is the point in being outright mean to another person? Sometimes I’m tempted to say something face-to-face to these people – but what is the point – idiots just don’t get it. So thanks to my strengthened mental resolve and confidence, I was able to come out of this negative aspect of the season on top. I’m a good bike racer. I’m a strong bike racer. Those who know me, know this. As for the others – I just don’t care.
So where does this leave me for 2011-2012 cyclo-cross season? Well, I’m eager to start training again. But I’m not rushing things. I have to get healthy before I can do this. I have been out on my bike for the last three days and the riding has been slow but enjoyable. I find the riding now is not “effortless” like it was. But I know the strength and form will come back. I’ve got some goals set for the upcoming cyclo-cross season and I’m hoping to get out to do some road racing this summer as well. I’ll be out on all three bikes this spring and summer: mountain, road and cyclo-cross – plugging away and enjoying every minute of it.
One aspect to this cyclo-cross season that can’t be overlooked is of course my sponsors. I’m a very lucky bike racers. I’ve got amazing sponsors who support me for who I am and what I represent. They are not hung up on my results or podiums – they’re about getting the brand out there with a positive image. For this I’m very fortunate. It was very hard for me to contact my sponsors in December and let them know about the end of my cyclo-cross season. I have such a solid connection with all of my sponsors that I really felt like I was letting them down. The response I received from each and everyone of them was overwhelming. In a nutshell: get better don’t worry about the racing. Yep, pretty darn lucky. So a big thanks to:
- KingsBridge Disaster Recovery
- The Cyclery
- Stevens Bikes Canada
- Champion Systems Canada
- Clif Bar
- Bell Lap Coaching
- Outdoor Gear Canada
And many many thanks to the sponsor behind all of these fine companies: Marc. Marc has once again made this cyclo-cross season a reality. His faith and belief in me really keeps me going. It would have been easy to pack it in this season and change my plans and goals. But Marc wouldn’t let me do this. He was there to keep me steady and to remind me of what is important to me. Right now, I’m getting so much satisfaction from seeing Marc race so well. He is having an awesome cyclo-cross season and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Hopefully his success and experience will trickle down to me.
So there you have it. My thoughts and ruminations on my 2010-2011 cyclo-cross season. It wasn’t what I expected or planned. But it happened and I made the best of it. Do I wish my season was still happening and that I was getting ready to racing in St. Wendel, Germany – damn straight I do! In the end I was 5 UCI point short of making the qualification standards. Pretty darn good, all things considered. This time next year, I plan to be writing a blog post about my thoughts on the upcoming World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Koksijde, Belgium – my thoughts on what I want out of the race. That’s right – I’m going to be there on that start line on January 29, 2012.
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Belgium, cyclo-cross, Kalmthout World Cup, Karl Hoppner, Marc Boudreau, ulcerative colitis, vicki thomas, World Cup
Ever wonder what it is really like to race at a World Cup?…
Up early today, lots of snow on the ground and the drive to Kalmthout is going to be slow. No problems, this is why I always pack my race bag the night before. Okay into the car with Marc and we’re off. We made it with plenty of time and now I can get settled into my pre-race routine. Marc is off to check out the course and to cheer on Karl.
My race is at 1:30 so I’ve got lots of time to get ready, pin on my numbers and eat my pre-race meal. Just the way I like it – lots of time to relax and get in my groove before the race. I put some music on and let the course run through my brain. I see the start and the first entrance onto the course. It is going to be icy and it is going to be slippery. Fine with me, I’m pretty comfortable in these conditions. I’m running the file treads today and I’ve got the pressure set just right so I’ll get some good traction and still be able to roll over the bumps and lumps in the snow and ice. Really there is only one line today. Keep your wheels in this line, head up and remember to keep pedaling and everything will be fine. Super icy corners – I’ll likely dismount and quickly run them. Up and over the stairs as quick as I can. Sprint into the fly-over and let the bike flow on the way down. Keep pedaling. Eyes up.
Time is starting to tick by. I like to eat two hours before my race so it is time to dig out my plastic container with my homemade ride pudding. This is white rice cooked in water and then I add sliced banana, a blob of natural peanut butter and rice milk to give it the pudding texture. Carbs. Protein. Comfort. Perfect pre-race meal. Marc is back and is busy with my bikes. Luc and Ignance are here now as well – everyone is starting to get a bit excited. I’ve got my skinsuit pinned up and my race clothing is ready to go. Cold one today so I’ve decided to go with leg warmers and my Sealskinz socks and gloves.
Alright, what is the time? 12:00. Okay, time to get some warm-up clothes on and hop on the trainer. I like to ride for 45 minutes to an hour to get loose and ready for the race. It helps me stay relaxed and actually takes my mind off the race a bit. I ride, chat with people as they come by and just enjoy the moments. My warm-up routine is roughly 20 minutes or so of easy riding followed by 4:30 minutes of tempo with a 30 second all out effort, recover for 5 minutes and repeat the effort – I follow this with more easy spinning.
Ah, good warm-up. Legs feel really good. They ticked over really nicely and I was able to really open up the legs. Just the sensations I want before a race. Okay the race starts in 40 minutes or so. Off the bike for a quick pee. Back on the bike for more spinning. 1:00 – time to pull on my race clothes and then back on the trainer for a few more minutes. Wow, it is 1:15 already – time to get over to the start. Quickly change my shoes and socks – I always like to start with dry shoes and socks. Quick hug and kiss from Marc and I’m off.
I love riding up and down the start/finish straight of the race course. It is relaxed yet tense at the same time. A collision of all ranges of emotions happens in this very short space. Some of the other racers are visibly nervous. Others are super relaxed and are joking. The fans are starting to come out and crowd along the course barriers. I see Luc and Johnny – they’ve got their cameras ready and are already cheering for me. I pedal along up and down, chatting with my friends and really just wishing the race would start.
The whistle blows and we’re all in the start area waiting for our call-up. I’m in the fourth row today. Ah well, no big deal. Everyone is pushing trying to move up a bit – trying to get an edge on the start. The gun goes off. We’re off. Okay, sprint, settle in, catch a wheel. Ya – nice start. Here comes the corner, pay attention to drifting wheels and listen for squealing brakes. Crash, no problems you saw it coming and got around it. Onto the snow and ice. That’s it. Settle. Settle. Relax your shoulders. Just pedal now. You know what to do. Look up. Easy on the brake. Here comes that icy corner that Karl told you about, off your bike and around you go, back on the bike sprint up to speed. Settle in. Breathe. Calm. By the pits – there’s Marc and Ignance – they’re cheering and pointing at the good line. Get ready for the fly-over. Sprint. Sprint. Keep pedaling up and over and pedal on the way down. Good job. Okay back into some slippery stuff. Don’t lean the bike too much. Relax. Pedal. Good job. Ah the bike is sliding, stick out that foot and catch the bike. Nice! I hear Luc cheering for me. By the pits a second time. “Nice ride” “Good job” Onto the pavement and time to go around again. It is a fast one today. Five more laps to go. I can do it. I’m loving the course and having a great day on the bike. Keep going. Pedal. Focus. The bell lap! Yes, the bell lap. I’ve done it. Good job Vicki. Just keep it going now. By the pits – Marc is so pumped up. “Awesome ride” Okay, just stay calm and upright now. Onto the pavement, there is the finish line. Give it one more big hard effort. Ah, I did it. There’s Denise with my warm-up clothes. Luc is there taking some pictures. I’m ecstatic. Excellent race today. What a feeling.
I roll back to the car. Put on some more warm clothes and onto the trainer. I like to spin out my legs for 20 minutes or so after each race. Helps me keep them fresh for the next day and it gives me time to think about the race. Today I can’t stop smiling. I just had such a great ride. Everything seemed to come together today. What a feeling. I love this sport. Marc and Ignance are back from the pits – Marc is stoked. We talk about the race as he and Ignance clean my bikes. Okay, time to get changed and eat some food. Ah, what a day. Couldn’t have asked for more.
Car is packed and before I know it we’re back in Blauberg. Great day. Karl and I vote for Sultan’s for supper. We monopolize the supper time conversation by talking about our races and what we loved about the course and how it felt out there. Marc, Alex and Denise try but they can’t get word in. Great day. Can’t wait for the next race. Thanks for the cheering and support.
(Of course this is a fictional account of today’s World Cup race in Kalmthout, Belgium. I wasn’t able to race today due to my illness. But this is how I imagined the day and I’m pretty sure how it would have turned out. Nothing quite like the emotions of race day.)
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Belgium, Bell Lap Coaching, Bend, Champion Systems Canada, Clif Bar, cyclo-cross, Hoogerheide World Cup, Kalmthout World Cup, KingsBridge Disaster Recovery, Oakley, OGC, Oregon, Scheldecross, Stevens Bikes Canada, The Cyclery, U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Championships, ulcerative colitis, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup, Zolder World Cup
It is Vicki here checking in from the land of cyclo-cross, chocolate, beer and waffles…
As you know, I do my best to be honest with you at all times about how my racing and training is “really” going. So I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m sick. Really sick this time. Sick with the ulcerative colitis to the point where I can’t even think about my bike let alone get out and ride it. This flare came out of the blue last Thursday and initially it wasn’t too bad – I was able to ride and to eat fairly well. This is not the case anymore.
I had a couple of good rides on Monday and Tuesday – though I was pretty much wiped out for the rest of the day, but it still felt good to get out and ride. As for Wednesday and Thursday – there wasn’t any riding. Really all I did was lie on the couch.
Until yesterday I still did think that I could keep racing and that I’d be lining up at next weekend’s double-header of Scheldecross and the Kalmthout World Cup. But it is just not going to happen. I can’t eat or drink much right now. All I want to do is sleep. So racing is out of the question.
This is hard. Really damn hard. I’m so frustrated with my body. Some days it would be easier to understand why this is happening to me if I was a person who lives an unhealthy life. But I don’t – I do everything I can to be healthy and still this ulcerative colitis shows up and puts a stop to my dream and goals.
The only thing I can do now is focus on getting better. Since I’m not racing I have the chance to take some medicine that normally I wouldn’t be able to take. I’m hoping this will help and then I can get myself back on track for next season. (I’m still secretly hoping I can be well enough to race at the Hoogerheide World Cup at the end of January…)
I know that I’ve got a big engine inside of me and lots more kick left in these legs of mine. I’ll be back next year ready to race the season I had planned to have this year.
Many many thanks for your ongoing support and encouragement of my racing and training. I really do appreciate the amazing comments and emails that you send. Each time I race I know that I’ve got your support with me while I’m racing through the mud, sand, grass and crazy descents. Please know that I’m trying to do the same for you – if you listen closely during the race you can hear me shouting “Keep Pedaling”, “Good Job”, “Awesome Ride”, “You’re Doing Great”.
Have a great Friday and get out and spin some miles for me. To all of my American friends who are racing this weekend in the U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Championships – best of luck. The course in Bend, Oregon looks pretty darn narly – looking forward to seeing how all of you do.
A big shout out to my sponsors for the overwhelming support I’ve received this season. These companies have made it possible for me to chase my dreams and goals:
- Clif Bar
Filed under: KingsBridge Train | Tags: Belgium, vicki thomas, world championships, World Cup
Vicki here with some pre-race thoughts….
Last year at this time, I was pretty amped up. It was the day before the Koksijde World Cup. I’d been training on the course all week. I felt good. I felt too good – I was over confident. I felt like I was going to have an awesome race and ride like I’d never ridden before. I also needed to only “finish” the Koksijde World Cup to get the last points I needed to qualify for the Canadian Cyclo-Cross Team and the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. Well, I didn’t have a great race. In fact I didn’t race well at all. The good news is I got the points that I needed. I did qualify. But as I was racing I was in a such a negative headspace during that race that I convinced myself that I didn’t “deserve” to go to the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. Yes, I was in a very bad spot. I had done a very good job of crushing myself mentally.
And now here I sit, the day before the 2010 Koksijde World Cup. I’m in a very different spot this year. If I have an amazing race, I can potentially get the points I need to qualify for the Canadian Cyclo-Cross Team and the World Cyclo-Cross Championships. But it is a long shot. A very long shot. I know this. I’m comfortable with this. Yes, I’d love to get the points so I can qualify. But I’m realistic. I know where I am as a bike racer. This year is a different year for me. I’m focusing on small improvements that will take me to the next big improvement.
So today I sit here with no false hope. No crazy thoughts of having the best race of my life. Instead, I’m going to go out there and race my bike. I’ll pedal as hard as I can. I’ll run as hard as I can. I’ll stay off the brakes. I’ll keep my legs spinning as smoothly as I can in the sand. I’ll attack the power sections. I’ll sprint into the climbs. I’ll keep my eyes up and focused forward. I’ll keep my brain clear. I’ll listen for my supporters out there cheering me on.
I won’t shake my head. I won’t shrug my shoulders. I won’t let my neck slump. I won’t let negative thoughts enter my head.
Nope, it is a new year. This is a new me. I’m just going to ride, smile and try to remember as much of it as I can.
Can’t hardly wait to race at the Koksijde World Cup.
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.